It’s as if my mouth were sewn shut and i cannot speak. I know this was a ‘rule’ when I was a child – do not speak about the bad things. I went a step beyond that and blocked them out entirely. In therapy Friday one more little piece came back, and it’s been painful recovering.
The other thing that emerged was that some of my anger is trauma based. Yep. I kind of knew that, but this was a demonstration.
I got to Ron’s office a minute late, and we start a few minutes after the hour.
R. So you left the office…upset…last week.
E. Yes I did.
R. Do you remember what happened?
E. I was upset.
R. How come?
E. I can’t think what to say. I thought of canceling, but then I didn’t, so I must have wanted to talk with you.
R. You find it difficult to talk to me when you are angry with me….
I feel depressed and not at all like explaining how I’d felt last week. We sit quietly.
E. What were we talking about? Parts…how dissociation works.
E. I felt like…..you wouldn’t talk to kid parts, you would only talk to me.
R. Did that make you angry? Or them angry?
E. I don’t know. It made me sad and upset. So….have you had any other clients with parts?
Ron looks offended.
E. And how did that work out?
Ron doesn’t say anything, and I start laughing.
E. You can’t say anything. If you say it went badly….you can’t say it.
Ron smiles. I drop this subject.
E. I had a bad weekend. I was thinking of suicide so much. It was like an obsession. And it’s not as if I had a plan. I just kept thinking about it.
R. How did that thought go?
E. Oh, just that voice. I want to die. Like that.
R. Just the same thing over and over?
E. Kind of. And a couple of times, I tried to go out. I’d get dressed, bag, lipstick, everything, then couldn’t go out the door, I’d lie back down.
R. What was stopping you?
E. I think of it like an electric fence – and invisible line I can’t cross. You can’t see it from the outside.
Ron nods his head.
E. Don’t you think….for kid parts, you haven’t spent much time talking to them. I know you want to discuss deep and weighty topics here. But…if you had a child come in for therapy, say, do you think you might warm up to this with them first, or would you plunge right into details of abuse?
R. I’d warm up to them first. But you’ve been coming here for a year and a half – I’d think you’re used to me.
E. The kid parts haven’t.
R. But they listen.
E. No they don’t.
R. Then how did they decide to trust me?
E. I have no idea. It was clearly a bad idea that hasn’t worked out.
R. How so.
We sit. I’m feeling a heavy inarticulate anger mixed with hopelessness about being understood.
E. I was just considering whether this therapy was working out.
R. What were the considerations.
E. Well, I’m doing better than I was this time last year. I’m having less flashbacks – they were happening all the time last year. I’m not thinking of jumping in front of a train coming back after work. That was a very disturbing experience for me, when that happened. My social skills have improved.
R. And yet – what are the bad parts.
E. I feel angry with you.
R. Try to speak from that anger.
E. Well…I’d have to speak from a kid part.
E. OK. This therapy is stupid. This room is stupid, it’s too small.
R. Why is the therapy stupid?
E. Because we don’t talk about stuff….stuff that happened. It’s stupid.
R. What is the stuff that happened? I’d like to know about it.
We sit. I feel angry, as a child would, not just when something has happened, but afterwards, when a grown-up unexpectedly wants to hear my side of it. I feel the enormous difficulty of explaining myself for grown-up ears.
Words fail me, so we sit, but something is happening for me. I just sit. I start to sob.
E. I’m sorry i spilled it! I didn’t mean to do it. I’m sorry.
I sob. This is a very young child part and I’ve turned into her. I cry, then I get extremely frightened and shake, then I howl, and then this receeds a bit.
E. It’s as if there’s water everywhere. I’m at the beach. We’re on holidays.
R. Do you know who is scaring you?
E. No. I guess I spilled something. Maybe it was pop, lemonade, something sweet and sticky. There’s sand everywhere. There are rocks off to the side.
R. Who do you think is there?
E. I guess my family. Or maybe my uncle, as he was the man for abuse.
R. Did you notice how frightened you were?
R. So someone terrorized you and frightened you.
E. Seems like it.
I’ve switched back. That’s all the memory there is. It’s as if I erase all the people from the scene, leaving just the surroundings and the feeling of terror and severe child upset.
I no longer feel as angry with Ron, just shaken by this partial memory. We sit and I recover. The session is almost over. All of a sudden I feel able to talk.
E. Oh I wanted to talk to you about the group. It starts in a few weeks, right?
R. Yes, two weeks after Thanksgiving.
E. I wish R wasn’t going to the group. I don’t like him. I don’t want to hear what he has to say. Maybe he moved to find work somewhere….Like Calgary. Maybe he move to Alberta to find work.
Ron just looks at me.
E. But probably not. He seemed pretty entrenched here. I don’t want to meet him again.
E. Well, I did want to talk to you about the group, not just that, but there’s no time to discuss it.
R. Why don’t you tell me the topics and I can hold them for next time.
E. To prepare your defense?
R. No, just to hold them. Oh, and I won’t be here next Friday…can you make Tuesday?
So we spend time rescheduling for next week.
I pick up my bag and go to the door. Ron holds the door open. I look at him as I go out. It seems to me he looks at me as if I might be dangerously insane. I mutter a thank you, he says take care.
So I’ve spent the weekend trying to allow this new memory fragment. All that sorrow and fear. I don’t know what happened, but it was severe enough that it was split off and held in a part.