Therapy Friday

The city is beautiful this month – trees with leaves of all different colours, including bright red, set off by mid-blue skies with big white clouds.

Ron’s door is open when I get there, but I don’t see this, so I sit waiting for him in the waiting room, while he sits waiting for me in his office. Finally he comes to look for me.

From feeling quite bright and on top of it at last night’s group, I now feel slow and stupid. Ron is wearing his blue suit, casual white shirt, no tie combo. I carefully note this, as I realize I have no idea what he was wearing at the group. I always feel I haven’t really seen a person when I can’t remember what they wore.

E. So…last night was fine I thought. I don’t know. It was interesting that every single person came back, except for A. I’d been thinking, when you said you were having trouble getting enough people for the group, that maybe I’d scared everyone off.

R. What could you have done to scare them off?

I consider.

E. I don’t know really….I fall apart sometimes.

Ron doesn’t say anything. I decide it would be unlikely I’d scare people off.

R. I noticed you had trouble meeting my eyes at the beginning of the group.

E. Did I? Hmm….I might have been nervous. I was talking with Z, before the group started, and you don’t like us to talk before the group, so I was maybe worried you disapproved. I hadn’t really noticed that though.

E. Actually, I was so nervous and scared before the group – I took some medications just to calm down.

Ron is carefully non-committal if I ever mention substances. Yep, a professional. Don’t scare the client off from confiding about substances, even if you disapprove. You want them to confide.

R. What did you take?

E. How high was I? Oh, not that much. I’m not a big drugs person. Just half a xanax, and a glass and a half of wine.

E. I guess…I was wondering if I was a bit fake at the group. I was a bit like I am to cope with my family. I felt as if I was jollying people along a bit.

R. What does that mean, ‘jollying along’?

E. Oh, just saying, ‘you should talk…’, you know. I wasn’t getting into the darkness and the seriousness of it all.

R. Maybe your fear before the group was the darkness and the seriousness.

E. Maybe……I don’t want to get into things with E this time. I don’t want to aggravate her.

R. I think you’re handicapping yourself with that plan.

E. I don’t think so. I’ll still say what I want to say. Just, it’s not safe to have kids parts talking with her. And….she just gets right into her own issues if I talk to her. It’s like the experience of being missed. It didn’t do me any good last year, and it doesn’t seem to have done her any good, from what she said.

R. Do you think, when you interrupted E and R, that you were envious of E, talking with R?

E. No, I don’t think that. I just didn’t follow what they were talking about. And no one came and said, oh, we were talking about this. I wasn’t following, and I wanted to talk to D.

R. Sorry to put it rhetorically like that. That maybe wasn’t the best thing.

OK, Ron has never apologized for anything off the bat like that. I wonder what’s going on. I didn’t really feel insulted. At home I do. He was thinking I have a major crush on R, so I’m jealous of anyone talking to him. Wrong.

E. Oh, that’s OK. Maybe it’s true….it doesn’t strike me like that. In general, when R gets into the subtle complexities of his feelings, I don’t really follow.

R. I think E was worried R was angry with her, and R was responding that he wasn’t….

Ron explains the details, which I now can’t remember.

E. OK. Well. It doesn’t seem like a major issue to me, that’s all. Whatever.

R. So you are not jealous about R?

E. I am irritated with R, for dropping me as a friend. But R did not look good. He looked a lot worse than in the summer or last year. I wonder what’s happened.

Ron looks at me but doesn’t say anything.

I happen to know that R has huge reservations about E, and I didn’t see that changing. If I was going to be jealous about R, it sure wouldn’t be because I think R and E are fantastically close. I don’t say that though.

E. Also, I noticed that everyone seems to have strong feelings about R. I hadn’t really crystallized it out like that before, but everyone is concerned that R should like them. Everyone except for D has talked about that at some point, about how they worry about what R thinks of them.

Ron nods his head slightly but says nothing.

We sit in silence.

E. I was upset when you didn’t respond to my email last weekend. Sorry, I can’t think of anything else to say about the group.

R. How did you feel about the email?

E. I felt…upset. I thought maybe you were dead. That’s more of a kid thought. Then I thought maybe something in the email really upset you.

R. I think that’s a kid thought also. What could you say that would upset me?

E. Nothing I say could upset you?

R. If it did, I’d know that was about me, not you, and I would deal with it. There is nothing that you cannot talk about here.

E. Oh.

We sit.

E. After last week’s session, I felt OK. It’s unusual, because usually when I come here we talk about really difficult stuff, and then I feel bad. Last time it wasn’t like that. But I did feel tense and couldn’t sleep. It was kind of like I feel after visiting my parents.

R. Do you think you talked here the same way you talk at your parents’?

E. I don’t know, maybe. I felt similarly afterwards. And then….I also had the suicidal voice. I felt fine, but there was that voice popping up. It was disturbing. And there it is now, again.

R. Try talking from that place.

I feel black despairing feelings as I move into that part.

E. Well….I want to die.

R. How come?

E. Because….things are black. It seems like. And….I feel mad. Because…we are talking about stupid things.

R. What should we be talking about? What’s important?

E. I…want to die – that’s important.

Ron nods his head.

E. I feel….things don’t make sense. I’m mad and things don’t make sense.

R. What doesn’t make sense? Try to stay with that. What is it?

E. And….I don’t know why they would do those things.

R. What did they do? Not listen to you?

That part won’t say anymore, though something seems to be happening to me. I feel taken over by heavy dark feelings. I visualize it like this.

E. It seems like I’m alone, locked in a dark room. I’m pounding at the door, trying to get out. I’m crying and scared. And my mother is on the other side of the door, pushing it closed, so I can’t get out.

R. Why is your mother pushing it closed?

E. Then after a while, I give up. I give up the struggle, and sit down on the floor, just small and alone and in the dark.

We sit.

E. My mother…I wanted her to help me. But I couldn’t explain what was wrong. Anyway, my mother was….unresponsive. She was there, then when I couldn’t explain, she got mad.

R. She got mad.

E. Then she left.

I just sit there. I can’t really cope with talking any more, and the session is almost over. After a bit, I pick up my bag, say thank you, and head out.

The rest of the day turns into one of those stay in bed and stare at the tree kind of days.

  1. aallegoric said:

    So painful. I’m sorry. xx

  2. Ruth said:

    Sounds like you are on a verge of a memory that the parts have held for a long time. When I had sessions like that, I would lay on the couch and just go to sleep. I couldn’t even eat dinner. That is a hard place to be at. Hugs. Ruth

    • Ellen said:

      Maybe it is the verge of a memory. It is like that for me too. Thank you Ruth

  3. *Hugs* I have those “staring blankly at tree” days too. I agree with Ruth above; this must have been a tough day and a tough post to write. You continue to inspire me…

  4. Harriet said:

    Sounds very difficult. You are very courageous for plowing through these memories and your sessions with Ron, and the group. Wow. I always wondered if there was anything I could say that would upset my t – probably not, I don’t think I mattered that much to him.

    • Ellen said:

      I don’t know if it’s because I don’t matter that much to him….I think he means it’s all about me, whatever I say, and it’s his job just to hold it, because this is therapy. I hope I do affect Ron somehow though. Thanks Harriet

  5. the resting and staring out the window sounds like good self care, in my opinion. i have often done the same after an intense therapy session. how is the beginning of your week going?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, self-care combined with the inability to do anything else. 🙂 My week is OK so far. Thanks Catherine

      • ah well, why the need to do anything else? i look on it like it’s one of my camera batteries… it works hard, very hard, while i’m shooting. and then it becomes depleted. and i have to plug it into the wall to recharge. it cannot do anything else while it is recharging, and i don’t expect it to. therapy IS hard work. rest is necessary and good.

        • Ellen said:

          OK, I’m a depleted battery. Hope I took some good pictures first! It’s true, you have to rest. Thanks Catherine

  6. Penney Knightly said:

    This part is important: everyone is concerned that R should like them

    The attachment issues are important – I think you may be treating Ron like an invasive thinking-you-are-broken parent. Try approaching him as an adult who is trying to help, and see where that gets you. Though, I understand how dissociation, alters / parts, and anger can develop. He is evoking all of your hurt emotions, within a very small amount of time – of course you’re furious – but where is the fury really coming from? That’s the question.

    • Ellen said:

      Sorry, this is confusing I’m sure. R. is a member of the group, not Ron. Yes, if I had those feelings about Ron, I would have to address in therapy. I might change R’s initial to A, now that A has left, to be less confusing. Thx

  7. Penney Knightly said:

    I have been thinking about you a lot, Ellen, trying to think of something helpful to say – but honestly, I am stick in such a similar position, only I have therapy of extreme intensity everyday – though I did look at fall leaves in the rain water and thought they were magnified in color and beautiful, like what I’ve seen of you.

    • Ellen said:

      You have therapy every day? How come? Aw, thanks for the image and the compliment. I’m actually doing OK – I bounce back. I would have trouble doing therapy every day though for sure.

  8. Penney Knightly said:

    A few weeks ago, I was so overwhelmed by a close friend alluding to stories of her incestual abuse, that went she went to sleep I just sort of was blank in my mind, overwhelmed and filled with emotion. I sat in my living room staring at a picture of a cat someone had painted, tracing out the lines, shadows, and identifying colors on a palette for hours – this was my sort of dissociation and overwhelmed mode. Eventually, I went to sleep, and was able to be helpful to her the next morning – but I NEEDED that down-time, that time of subconscious processing and no demands being put upon me. Your reaction is normal and healthy. Don’t be worried you are insane or having an unhealthy coping mechanism – everyone needs quiet brain time, especially when things are stressful – it is in higher demand.

    • Ellen said:

      I’m glad you gave yourself the down-time you needed. I find I need it – my brain resets or something. Thanks Penney.

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