Therapy Friday

E. So…what do you think is wrong with me then?

R. In what sense?

E. I feel like something’s wrong with me. In general.

R. I think that because of trauma….you have fragmented to some extent, and this is causing you problems. Splitting feelings off into compartments can make them less painful, but it causes problems.

E. Oh. So what do I do about that? Oh yeah, I remember….you’re going to say listen to them. Listen to the parts. You’ve said that to me before.

R. Yes, at the beginning.

Great. I’ve listened. I’m still in parts. Though I can see that if the therapist could just tell you what’s wrong, and what to do, hey, it wouldn’t be therapy. Maybe neuro-surgery or something. Psychiatry where they can prescribe a pill to cure you quick.

E. Do you find my sessions….chaotic?

R. I wouldn’t say chaotic exactly. Maybe fragmented.

E. Yeah. I know. I kind of having a problem here, which I’m also having in my writing class. It’s a lot of parts breaking in. You said not to censor, so I say what pops into my mind, but it’s parts, so things get confused. In writing class – we do these writing excercises, with partners, and my partner is this 22 year old young guy….and I turn into the kid, and then he thinks I’m stupid….or I don’t know what he thinks. It’s like a bratty kid – I think the exercise is stupid, I say stupid things….So anyway, last time you were mentioning maybe negotiating with that part, so once I realized what was happening, I kind of did that, and my adult came back out, and it really was a whole different person. I had ideas that made sense at least.

This was actually a good discovery for me, that I can switch back like that, if I can grasp what’s happening at the time. Usually this switching to the kid happens but I don’t realize it until afterwards. It is a huge problem in my life.

E. I think the adult part of me is pretty shy, so when I’m scared, the kid, who isn’t shy, comes out.

I don’t think Ron said much to this. Don’t know why.

E. I’ve been on vacation the last few days. I’ve got two weeks off.

R. Are you going anywhere?

E. No. I don’t have anyone to go with….And I don’t feel like going with a group. I’m doing OK. I’ve been going down to the lake a lot, staying down there with a book. I find it soothing. I’ve been sleeping really well, for me, on the days I’ve been down at the lake.

R. Right.

E. I’ve been walking a lot. I still have this problem, with exercise. Coming home, I feel I have to go to sleep. I sleep for an hour maybe. Then I wake up and I’m so depressed.

R. What are you thinking about when you’re depressed?

E. Nothing. I don’t think – my mind has slowed down. I tell myself to do stuff – Walk around, you’ll feel better. Eat – food, not ice cream! I prefer ice cream….

Ron smiles.

R. So you try and feel differently as fast as possible then.

Pause while I consider this.

E. Guilty as charged. You would too.

R. It is a good idea to try and feel what’s there, what is making you depressed.

E. OK. Well, I can feel it now. It’s…..a sadness.

Now I sit there and try and allow this feeling, this depression I feel on waking up after a daytime nap.

E. I feel sad….

I start to cry. I don’t know what about, and I keep trying to get this feeling to come into focus, and it won’t. It feels a bit like a memory – there’s a timewarp quality to it. And my extremeties are tingling, which is what happens with memory type experiences.

R. I think you’re really close….

I cry some more.

E. God, I feel so ashamed for crying. Like it’s this really really awful bad thing to do.

R. Where you shamed for crying as a child?

E. I don’t know.

R. If you cried, what happened?

E. I don’t….I don’t remember crying as a child. I must have, but I don’t remember it.

This experience I’m trying to remember keeps happening.

E. Now my lips feel fat, like they’re unthawing after the dentist. And my nose also is tingling. It’s like, it’s as if it’s after something awful happened. Like my parents are there, they’re picking me up…I feel devastated, shocked I think. Like a small child would feel.

We sit.

R. I wonder….I was thinking it might have been a visit to the dentist. You said that you felt your lips were fat…..and your parents picked you up.

This strikes me as funny.

E. That would be so nice. If it was a dentist, and not a relative whom I loved.

R. I didn’t mean that happened instead of the other. Both could be true.

I don’t say anything, but I know this is not it. By my parents’ picking me up, I meant they were picking me up off the floor actually. I’m too overwhelmed to want to bother to explain this though.

This doesn’t go anywhere else. Interesting to me though that behind my depression, which happens over and over after exercise, like clock-work, there might be a definite experience lurking there, under cover.

Our session time is up.

E. The time is up. Can I have an extra thirty seconds?

R. Yes.

E. Can I borrow a book?

R. Sure.

So we go over to the shelf and choose a book. I’m still upset and don’t much care what he gives me. I get a book on group therapy written by a journalist.

I leave, this time looking right at Ron. He meets my eyes, for a moment looking like a regular person, not a professional therapist.

R. Take care.

E. Have a good time OK?

I dash out clutching my book. I feel quite connected to Ron after this session for whatever reason. I enjoy our sparring back and forth I think.

  1. Mary LA said:

    I’m not sure I would use the word ‘sparring’ — the exchange you put down has a different feel for me, him trying to hear you, you trying to hear yourself, feel what is happening. Able to cry in front of him. Am I misreading you?

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Mary – You are the first ever to comment on my new site – thanks for finding me! Yes, I wasn’t doing the sparring in this part of the session. It’s in a previous post. Silly actually – just me showing I’m in charge of what I want to talk about I think. Still a bit satisfying. Thanks

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