We talked about how it seems like being in parts impacts my relationships. I was especially thinking of work, because these are all people I don’t know very well yet interact with randomly.
It seems to me that I respond in various child parts sometimes. Especially if I’m feeling stressed, which is a lot of the time at work, I’ll disappear and a child part will talk. You can tell because it’s a kind of different voice, for one thing. For another, I’ll sometimes be completely scared to say anything, because a child part is too shy to speak. Other times if the topic is something the kid likes, such as food, and if I’m nervous, bang, up pops the kid to say something.
E. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is. I tend to never say anything because I don’t know what voice I’ll be talking with. And when that happens, people think I’m stupid or weird. But lately, I’ve become more aware of what this problem actually is, and a couple of times, I’ve managed to catch myself and stay adult instead of switching, and it’s great.
R. What’s an example of when this happened?
E. Like yesterday, I bumped into my former client at the elevator. I know him pretty well, but I was too scared to say anything to him. Well, I asked him questions about his vacation, so he told me about that. But I didn’t say anything in return. Sometimes it seems like I’m in a news blackout – everything about me is out of bounds. But I could have told him I took this writing course, for instance.
R. Did he ask you anything?
E. No. But why should he have to – I could have talked.
R. I think you’re taking on a lot. He wasn’t being very adult either, not asking you anything about yourself. Maybe when people are childish, it brings out the child in you.
It was kind of reassuring to hear this actually, and I see Ron’s point. Just that I was trying to explain about parts, and this wasn’t the best example. Just that I felt suddenly afraid and inadequate for no reason, as if I were a child expected to converse like an adult.
R. I think talking from parts is a really good thing, yet you’re trying to shut it down. We want to open that up and then integrate them.
Ron isn’t understanding me at all. I feel extremely frustrated, though I can see why he’s saying this.
E. I can’t tell you what a huge problem this is for me. It’s huge. People do start to think I”m stupid, because I make these childish comments all the time. But I’m not. And….mostly the friends I’d make, well, they would have severe difficulties themselves, so they would not really notice much about me.
Then I tell John about this one friend of mine, who is actually a nice kind person, but who came from such a deprived background and was living on social assistance. I don’t tend to have friends who have the same level of education or background that I have.
R. So you make friends that have so much going on in their own minds…that they won’t notice your switching, the way you act so differently sometimes.
Well, this is not exactly it but anyway, close enough. I think it’s more that they don’t make me anxious, so I don’t switch when I’m with them, but if I did, they wouldn’t really notice.
What it’s like is that people that I would find interesting, with interests like my own, I’m too afraid to approach, and my experience has been they think I’m stupid and not worth knowing.
I’m struggling to put this into words here on this blog. In my session, I did an even worse job. I don’t want to be disparaging of some of the friends I’ve had either, because they have been good people.
But I’m pretty sure that this kind of random switching, because I get scared, is not healing, while getting some control, and being able to stay adult, will at least enable me to communicate in a more normal way. It’s not the same as shutting things down.
I think opening up the parts in therapy, or by myself, or with someone I trust, would be helpful. But right now they’re operating in a very unhelpful way. That Ron can’t see what I’m trying to explain is kind of disappointing for me.
Actually, I can demonstrate what I mean come to think of it, if I allow myself to do that. I might do that next session. It won’t be difficult, if I remember. It’s something I always try not to do, so I didn’t think of it.