Therapy Friday 2 – Anger

…continued from previous post

This second part of the session is a little hazy, for one thing because Ron went on a lot about theory, which I tend to forget, and for another, anger is not good for memory. Anyhoo….

E. So what do you think? I’m here, I’d like to do therapy, but I don’t know what to do here.

R. Do you want to know what’s underneath these feelings?

E. Sure.

We sit in silence.

E. So last session….I did get pretty upset afterwards.

E. So…hmmm…I just feel like going to sleep.

R. So the part of you that wants to keep you quiet is making you sleepy.

E. Wow. That’s amazing. No kidding.

E. Ok, I’m still angry.

I feel furious with Ron.

E. I was trying to accept parts more last week. It’s hard though. Like I went for a walk, letting parts have space to talk to me if they wanted. It’s fine, but then when I got home, I started feeling so depressed. I wrote to you about it.

R. Yes.

E. Then….sometimes I try to believe it’s not true, that I don’t actually have parts. Maybe I’m just being creative.

R. Well, I think it’s creative, but I don’t think it’s under your conscious control.

E. So what is it? What is dissociation?

R. It’s something that happens when the ego is overwhelmed, it’s splitting a part of your experience off from the rest of you so you can continue to function. And what happens is you switch into different feelings, for instance, you might switch into feelings of fear, and then you switch out of them again.

E. Yes. That’s what happens to me. Suddenly I’m in one state, and then it disappears. I guess with parts….well, it would explain why stuff doesn’t change. For instance, the suicidal voice. It’s not like I’m really depressed, getting more and more depressed, and start having suicidal thoughts. It’s more like a voice that just pops up when I’m doing other things. I mean, being in parts would explain that.

Ron looks serious and nods his head.

E. How is it different from repression then?

R. Repression is taking something from consciousness and pushing it down to where you are no longer aware of it. You remain whole, more or less, and can go on with your life. It’s talked about theoretically as the difference between a vertical and a horizontal split.

I’m absorbing this, and starting to feel more and more lonely as the session goes on. I’m sitting on his couch, and we sit in silence. I feel impatient, looking around at what’s new in the office.

E. Well, I don’t know what to do then. I don’t know if this therapy is working at all. You know, I feel like I could be wasting my time and money here. It’s a lot of money for me.

R. So what would the marker be, that the therapy is working?

E.I don’t know. I’d be feeling better I guess. It would be really nice to feel better, because I feel like crap.

R. Therapy involves bring buried pain into consciousness, so it often doesn’t feel very good.

E. No kidding. I’ve been seeing you how long, a year and a half? You think I don’t know that therapy is painful?

We sit for a while. I think Ron has some other information about therapy he talks about. I’m more interested in what I can do to heal than his theories, which I basically have read anyway.

R. The idea for most people is to integrate the splits. Not everyone believes that, but most do.

No kidding. I don’t say that.

R. What’s happening?

E. Well, I was thinking there’s an owl in your carpet. Like a robot owl, maybe like R2D2?

R. So that would be dissociation, where you’re switching topics.

E. Oh, OK.

We sit. I decide to venture forth with a part after all. The session will soon be over and no one else got a chance to speak to Ron.

E. You’ve got your winter boots on!

R. Yes….it’s been cold, so I wore them.

E. Yes, it’s been so cold! At work, a woman was wearing her winter coat at her desk, it was funny…..And I wore this sweater, it’s wool. And….I’d like to buy boots – maybe red? Or maybe not red…maybe another colour.

Now Ron ignores this entirely and continues to speak to the adult me, something about dissociation. So I switch back into the adult.

E. So you only want to speak to me then?

R. I’m speaking to all of you when I speak to you.

E. No you’re not.

R. Maybe that’s a problem then, that some parts of you can’t hear me when I’m speaking to you….

This seems so entirely off the point to me I don’t know how to respond. From my point of view, I have these parts that are dying to have contact with Ron. It’s just beside the point to try and do therapy with the adult me and think you’re therefore dealing with parts. You’re not.

So I feel betrayed and dismissed. Ron continues talking about dissociation, and I start crying. I pick up my bag and head for the door.

E. This is not helpful!

I leave Ron still sitting in his armchair. At least he’s stopped talking. I dash from the building, furious and hurt.

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22 comments
  1. aallegoric said:

    I’m so sorry 😦 Said it already but I really hope you’ll work this out with him. Thinking of you.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you for thinking of me Allegoric.

  2. Hi Ellen. I’m speaking from a place of ignorance because I don’t know much about parts, dissociation or what is good therapeutic technique for these sorts of issues.

    However, it seems to me that Ron *may be* trying to draw you back to how and when you are dissociating, trying to refocus you in a sense. By focusing on the moment you dissociate, he is perhaps hoping to make it a more conscious process for you, to make it more transparent so that you can understand what’s happening.

    As much as you may have parts, you also are a whole person. You don’t feel like one, granted, but it seems as though it’s likely you can be whole again. The question is how to get there? Ron seems interested in trying to speak with you and also your parts simultaneously, which is why he encourages you both to “act out” and voice your opinions even if it may not be the most appropriate to do so, rather than repressing your thoughts and feelings. At the same time, he tries to engage your more “adult” voice because I think he sees ALL OF THESE ASPECTS as ultimately coming from the whole you.

    I don’t know what is best therapy, and perhaps just letting your parts speak will be a key to beginning to open up and change this situation. But at the same time, it seems that simply talking with the child part of you about ice cream and puppy dogs will not really change the situation if that’s all that occurs. He needs to try and press you out of your comfort zone and into something that will allow that dynamic to shift.

    Again, for me this is all speculation, but I’m going off what you’ve described about Ron’s process and how he’s explained it to you. I think he sees parts mostly as a coping/defense mechanism that you employ in order to deal with traumatic feelings and situations. But in order for you to heal, he seems to believe you will need to integrate them by understanding how they are a part of the whole you.

    I also believe the parts are aspects of the whole you, as I am not quite sure what else they could be. In which case, its important at some point to start letting go of them and understand that they have served their purpose and no longer need to stay separate from the whole any longer.

    I read this article: http://www.sidran.org/sub.cfm?contentID=73&sectionid=4

    You probably have read lots of this kind of stuff, and I know you don’t consider yourself “fully” DID. However, what this writer describes sounds a lot like what Ron has been telling you, and what you seem to be resisting. These thoughts and personalities are all you. They only seem distinct because they needed to be compartmentalized in some way, so that you could function.

    However, as time has gone on they’re getting in the way of functioning, now that you are no longer in a traumatic situation in your life.

    I think you are going to have to decide that you want to fully heal, and that includes accepting your parts back into the whole of who you are and not continuing to think of them as separate anymore. I am not saying this will be easy, but I think rather than asking Ron, you first need to decide if you really want to heal 100 percent…

    Sorry if this comes off as a “know it all” type of comment. I respect that you have gone through a lot and that you are fighting with everything you have to heal. But sometimes, there are mental blocks which keep us from doing what we need to do. I wonder if you have fully committed to this type of healing, and what that would mean if you did…

    You are still doing great, and I am a huge supporter. I think you are very courageous!

    Aaron

    • Ellen said:

      I appreciate that you’re acknowledging you’re not an expert in this Aaron, because I agree. However, you’re making intelligent points, almost like Ron would also make. Which is kind of scary because you are coming at this as an interested outsider, while he should know more IMO.

      When Ron talks to the adult me, that’s who he is talking to. It’s happened all my life like that, and I can cope. It just means the kid parts are not attended to. I’m totally aware of when a younger part is talking in therapy. In real life, if I am frightened or surprised,and I switch, I may not have as much awareness, but in the therapy hour, I do. It’s not necessary for him to point to it so I am aware. It’s just business as usual if we talk adult to adult, really. The new thing would be having the parts have a voice.

      I know they’re all me. I am not against integration in time, in fact, it seems like a good idea to me.

      I’m pretty sure Ron is with you on the ‘ice cream and puppy dogs’ 🙂 subjects the kids choose. Here’s the thing. Pretend for a minute you are a trauma therapist. You have a client who is a young child, say five or six. Do you immediately plunge into the darkest and most frightening subjects with that child? Or do you think you might build some trust first, have the child get used to you, by discussing more daily concerns and showing an interest in them?

      These kid parts have barely spoken to Ron, maybe five – ten minutes in all. They are like actual children. Children don’t plunge into therapy the same way adults might. I know it might look like I’m avoiding. If it was me the adult that suddenly started talking about winter boots in the middle of a therapy hour, yep, I’d be avoiding whatever deep and dark subject was under discussion. With the kid parts, we were running out of time, and they wanted contact with Ron. It’s different.

      It is a good article, thank you. Don’t know if you noticed but the integration this woman is describing occurred after about a decade of trauma therapy, which presumably engaged her parts. I have no quarrel with anything she says, but it is the end point of a long prior therapy, not the start of it.

      All that Ron’s doing, from my perspective, is telling me to go back to how I was before I really new about parts. Which I can do. It does hurt a lot to have these parts rejected now though. I’m not really functioning this weekend, just processing the pain of it. Usually I would reach out to Ron by email if I’m struggling this much, but it doesn’t seem possible to do that anymore.

      Thanks for taking such an intelligent interest. Your view is not at all unreasonable. I would never understand it either except that it is my own experience.

      • Gniz said:

        Wow. Ellen so eloquently stated by you. You really make a lot of sense. Perhaps you could write these thoughts out and read them to Ron during a session so he could truly get a full picture of where you are coming from?

        It seems that you would benefit from really understanding his process for dealing with this issue and if he even has such a plan.

        But either way you are so clear about it here. Can you bring that to therapy so he can really hear it?

        Thanks for your patience with my well intentioned buy uninformed commentary. 🙂

      • Hi Ellen, I wrote you a response to this, not sure if it went through…?

      • Okay, it seems like it didn’t go through–I wrote it from my iPhone so maybe something went awry. Anyway, thanks for your very well thought out, eloquent response!

        I was wondering if maybe it could help for you to write out your thoughts about what you feel you need therapeutically and what Ron seems to be missing, kind of like you just did with me. Write something clear and not from an upset, emotionally place.

        Maybe you could bring it and actually read it to Ron in session, as a way to help him understand where you’re coming from. This way you won’t need to worry about forming a comprehensive argument in the moment, you can draft it and rewrite it as many times as necessary to get it right in advance.

        I think what you stated to me feels very strong and clear, and I would hope that he would listen.

        Thanks for helping to clear up my misconceptions!

        • Ellen said:

          Everything went through, I think the first you were using a different ID so I had to approve as first comment.

          Glad you found me clear and didn’t have a problem with my disagreeing with you!

          As to writing it out for Ron – it’s true that it’s easier to explain when not emotional. Just – this is
          stuff that he would know about if he had knowledge of DID / parts. You’d get this from reading even one book on the subject – it’s not esoteric knowledge, IF you specialize in trauma. Not sure I can educate him enough for him to be able to help me.

          It’s kind of as if your guru wasn’t too clear on the second noble truth – it’s a little disturbing.

          Explaining to you was easier also because you make your points so clearly, and Ron kind of tells me how it is and it is more confusing.

          I don’t know yet what I’ll do but will consider your advice. I’m pretty down so not thinking that positively at the moment.

          Cheers

  3. oh, and i wanted to say, maybe it hurts so much when he doesn’t talk to the parts in an age appropriate way, it’s because you feel that you are not being heard. and that must be so reminiscent of your childhood and adolescence. ugh.

    • Ellen said:

      Well, it’s basically that I am that child, and not being heard. Since these are traumatized parts, yep, their past experience wasn’t great either. Thanks Catherine

  4. attached said:

    (((Ellen)))

    I got home tonight from the cottage and caught up with your session posts. It sounds like it is very difficult for you when Ron doesn’t respond to your child parts and that makes sense in the way Catherine suggests. Have you asked him if he is willing to have different conversations with your child parts? Have you explained to him why you want to have those conversations? I think that you are asking Ron to reassure you that he knows what he is doing therapeutically in a lot of different ways during this session from suggesting that he attracts clients that he can charm and therefore might not be doing a lot therapeutically to asking him what to do. Unfortunately I think you need to keep having this conversation until his answers make sense to you.

    It sounds like hard work even though it hurts.

    thinking of you,

    • Ellen said:

      It’s a good point that I am trying to determine if Ron knows his job, in all these different ways really. I feel like I need to know what I’m trying to do.

      I really believe if Ron knew how to treat my parts issue, he’d understand about talking to parts. If I have to start explaining it, makes me wonder how competent he is.

      Not sure if it’s hard work or a train wreck – feels like the latter.

      Sorry to be so gloomy. Hope the cottage was good. Thanks for commenting

  5. weareonebyruth said:

    Hey Ellen, I have another perspective. A few I learned the hard way. Feel free to delete if it is not helpful. Early on in my counseling I went to get hearing aides, my counselor said it probably wouldn’t help. I was confused by his comment. Turns out I did need hearing aides. My counselor then explained that with severe dissociation one of the first things to go is hearing. A few weeks after getting the hearing aides I finally knew what he meant, I could see his mouth moving and could hear nothing. I pointed out to him and I found it amusing. He was worried he then asked me what we were talking about, I hadn’t the foggiest idea. I switched in his office and one of the parts just couldn’t hear him. My counselor had worked with quite a few different people with parts. He taught me that I had to tell him how I wanted him to function with my parts because each person reacts differently. My friend that saw him he used each parts name. I didn’t like that. I preferred for him to talk to the adult as a filter for the younger parts. The youngest, ruthy, wouldn’t talk to him directly but would supply information to my adult self to talk about the really dark secrets of my childhood. My friend and I have compared sessions and he treats us quite differently. We each had to tell him how we wanted to be treated. Several years into counseling another part came forward and only wanted to talk directly to the counselor. My counselor actually started to recognize that part because of the way I would sit and how I would talk. I think he was amused but he never laughed at me. I am kind of with Aaron with the idea of take what you have written here in these comments and share them with Ron. I think it might be helpful if you shared what you are talking about here. You articulate very well what you want to have happen. Doesn’t mean he will agree with you on everything but It might give a place to start working out what will work for you. And the point about things getting worse, when the younger parts finally start talking about the tough stuff, it will get real hard. I think it is kind of like the world tilting on its axis or stopping and starting to spin the other direction. Might be that you want to pick a fight with Ron because past hurts are getting so close to being told. Hugs, Ruth

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Ruth, I’m so glad you shared this with me. I wasn’t aware that different people prefer working with parts in these different ways. I guess I did assume that my way is the way everyone would experience this. For me, having Ron respond directly to a kid part is feels like a child being let out of a dark hole, recognized and listened to. No matter what the subject is. It is such a relief. But Ron does not understand this, so perhaps I will venture to try and explain more. My impression is Ron has not worked with other clients with parts.

      To the hearing story – I have experienced where Ron would talk, and I could hear him physically, but it was as if the words were being erased as he spoke them, so they would not register with me at all. A very strange experience.

      I know things do get a lot worse if I get into trauma memories. Sigh.

      As to anger with Ron – yes, it seems to be almost a separate issue from what we are discussing, as I feel so hurt, betrayed and furious when really, I could keep talking about it. Ron is certainly prepared to do that.

      Thanks very much. Such valuable insights. take care

      • weareonebyruth said:

        I am glad you found what I wrote helpful. You are amazing person and I know from my experience getting the hurt on the outside allows the inside to heal. Have you asked Ron if he has worked with other people with parts? I knew my counselor worked with several besides me. I learned later that he usually only works with one at a time. My friend and I were an exception to his rule, probably because I took so long. In my opinion, the more you tell Ron the better able he is to see what you need. Hugs.

        • Ellen said:

          I haven’t asked Ron about his experience with this but I will. Thanks for the kind words Ruth.

  6. Neloran said:

    I think everyone has had excellent comments so far. There isn’t much more I’d like to add. I did have one question, though. Does Ron present the goal of dissociation-related therapy is integration or does he ask you what your goals are? Integration is only one goal (and it’s a fine goal – I admire people who take that route!). The more I hear, the more I am concerned that Ron has one way of treating dissociation.

    Dissociation is complex and lies on a continuum, as I am sure you are aware, and requires great flexibility.

    -Nel

    • Neloran said:

      That is, flexibility on the part of the treating clinician (in this scenario).

      • Ellen said:

        Hi Nel – Well, Ron is certainly full of theories. I’m not sure yet if we’ll be able to negotiate about how the therapy should go. As to integration – to him that’s the goal, which he talks about over and over. I think because he has that goal for a lot of clients, not just those with parts. For me, it’s a good goal. I don’t have DID, so there don’t seem to be fully developed parts except for traumatized kid parts. The thing is,
        he seems to think integration can happen tomorrow, without working with parts first. I think you have to work with parts first. But miscommunication is happening, so maybe I’m not getting him.

        Thanks!

        • Neloran said:

          I can understand what you are saying. Healing from trauma involves talking about the traumatic experience, reconnecting with feelings, integrating them, and making meaning out of it all.

          Integrating in that sense is a very common goal.

          When it comes to severe dissociation, however, whether it be DD-NOS or DID (when discussing ‘parts’ there isn’t much difference imo – dissociation even among DID clients is unique to the individual), I feel you are absolutely correct. A therapist has to be willing to build relationships with those parts and fostering internal cooperation so you may build relationships with them as well.

          I think a client should be given the choice of whether integration is their goal. And then – each part should also be polled what their feelings are.

          Progress in therapy just won’t happen if a part is feeling neglected. Not just their voice being heard – but their goals for therapy as well.

          You do an excellent job writing out your thoughts. I absolutely agree with some others who have suggested printing out your blogs and comments for him to read. I think it would be valuable if you are having a hard time connecting with him on this.

          Good luck!

          -Nel

          • Ellen said:

            Thanks for understanding Nel. I guess I’ll find out more about Ron’s views next time I see him. I agree with what you’re saying – that feels right for me. take care

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