Therapy Friday

Amazingly bright late fall days continuing here. Yesterday I was too down to enjoy, but today I went for a walk with a friend, then a tea, and it was pleasant. We don’t talk about therapy or any dark subjects, and it’s fine, it’s good to talk about everyday concerns. We both feel we need to meet more people, while shying away from events where that might happen, so we discuss that a bit.

Therapy was very upsetting Friday and it’s taken me until just now to recover any perspective at all. Friday and Saturday I kept having to lie down and couldn’t really function.

Group Thursday was OK. It didn’t focus on me though I said a few things. A is now upset about our conflict, but shared that he now doesn’t trust the group enough to talk about it. Fine by me actually. Discussion veered around from person to person, which is what I prefer.

I’d overpaid Ron by accident by 10 dollars for two of the sessions, when the price of group was added to the regular cheque. So I thought I’d deduct ten dollars, but leave the other ten as a tip, just kind of fun. Maybe my unconscious was sending a message that I should tip him.

When I got to my session Friday, Ron launched right into the ‘tip’ situation.

R. What do you think it means, that you want to give me a tip?

E. I don’t know – it doesn’t mean anything. I just thought it’d be fun. Though we’re not getting along, so maybe I shouldn’t give one…

R. So we’re not getting along…so you give a tip?

E. I don’t know. It doesn’t mean anything. I just thought it was a fun thing to do. So we have to discuss this now?

R. Everything means something. Why does this make you angry?

E. This doesn’t mean anything. I had other things I wanted to discuss today.

So Ron lets it go and we talk about the group and my stay at my parents’. I felt concerned about Y’ – he’d talked at the end and seemed upset but it wasn’t clear exactly why. Ron says what he thought happened, and I just say I didn’t think Y connected the dots really as to why this situation would upset him.

At some point Ron points out that I’m reacting to him like I would to my father. I’m actually attempting to take his advice on board at one point, something about responding to him instead of cutting him off and disconnecting. But then the way I do that isn’t right, so Ron objects, and I again become angry.

E. You know, I’m trying to do what you’re telling me to do! It’s not so easy. And then it’s still not right.

R. Well, are you trying to do it because it feels true to you, or because I say it? There’s a way of doing things, like you might have had to do with a parent, where they tell you to clean your room, and you don’t want to, but you do it so you won’t get in trouble….or there’s another way of doing it, if you agree you’d like a clean room, so you clean it for that reason.

E. No kidding.

R. Then why did you say you’re doing this because I said to?

E. Because it’s a simpler way of talking. I do agree and I do want to try….

Ron has this theory that when I disagree or get angry, instead of ‘staying connected’, I disconnect and become dismissive or sarcastic. No way do I do that. he he

I tell Ron about staying at my parents’, how it made me really tense.

E. It’s a nice house. They have a lot of art on the walls, tons of books, things from their travels – and everything is taken care of, well kept. There are a lot of good things with my family. As well the bad.

Ron nods.

E. My sister came by – she had to plant something for a neighbour. Man, she didn’t stop for one second to talk to me. We haven’t talked, except at these big family events, for maybe two years. So OK, I thought when she was finished with planting, we’d at least have tea. Nope. She came back, I asked if she wanted tea, she’s like nope, she has to give so and so a lift home, and she left without even a pause. And she’s so cheerful and upbeat, but she just completely ignores me.

R. And how come you didn’t say anything?

E. Because….it’s not that clear. I mean, maybe she wanted to beat the traffic – it was about 2:30. Or she had to give this guy a ride, though he could have come in for a tea also.

R. I think, one time, it’s difficult to be sure, but when it’s a pattern over many years….

E. Yeah, the last ten years basically.

What it feels like to me is my sister freezes me out. She smiles and says hello, but she has no time for me and no interest in talking to me. She doesn’t share anything from her life with me ever.

I’ve seen her treat a former friend like this too – just an icy, ‘oh I’m behaving perfectly’ demeanor while completely freezing the friend out. It’s confusing behaviour, because you don’t know for sure it’s happening. Well, she learned from a master.

E. I think I’m going to skip Christmas this year. What am I going for – so that my siblings can treat me as if we just met? What for?

Ron doesn’t say anything to this. The fact is, I will likely be alone over Christmas in that case. Though I will see a friend whose family is in another country, and my son and his dad for a few hours. So I won’t be completely alone. If I don’t go to Christmas, it will be a big insult though to my parents.

Then we sit.

R. What are you thinking about?

E. I was remembering what it felt like when I said last night I felt like leaving….

I had as so often felt I needed to leave in the group, just an upsurge of panic. Y was sitting with his upset, so Ron listened to what I had to say then returned to Y.

E. It did hurt my feelings when you didn’t ask me about why I was scared last night. But I also totally understood why you did that. I mean, Y was upset about something and you were wanting to go into that. But I just remembered how that felt.

R. How did it feel?

E. It was parts. The part who wants to die popped up, that’s why I spoke up. I want to get a handle on why that happens.

R. What are parts saying?

I listen to parts, who are active in the session.

E. Well, one part is angry, One part is sad. One wants to leave. Another part likes it here in your office.

R. What is the angry part saying?

E. I….don’t know.

E. (switched into part) I….don’t like the house. Because it’s all different. I don’t like the cushions. I don’t like the couch. I don’t like the carpet. I don’t like the fridge, it’s different, it’s not how it’s supposed to be. The dishwasher’s different.

I start crying at the awfulness of these changed surroundings.

E. And….where did they all go? My family’s supposed to be there and they’re all gone, there’s nobody there, and I’m just by myself – So where did they all go?

I am so so upset. Crying turns into a helpless howl of loss and pain.

R. Ellen, what’s happening? Can you see what is happening?

E. I don’t know….I don’t know where they went….

And I cry. It’s a young child’s crying, where the world has ended completely and all has been lost.

The session is almost over. I cry and try to come back and calm down.

R. Whatever happened,  you were left all alone to deal with it. And you’ve decided you don’t want to be alone with it anymore.

E. I can’t talk.

I can hear what Ron says but conversation is completely beyond me.

R. OK. Ellen, are you OK to leave? Do you  need time?

I shake my head and get up to go out the door.

R. If you like, we can set up a time to touch base later on. You don’t have to. Just send an email if you want to set something up.

I have only a vague grasp of what Ron is saying, but I nod.

R. Don’t forget your coat. Are you sure you’re OK to leave?

I grab my coat and nod and head out the door.

It’s been difficult to function since. I don’t know why this happened, why this part is upset. Just the fact of switching into her and having her emotions swamps me with the emotions too. But I don’t know specifically what the problem is.

I don’t take Ron up on his offer of phoning. My struggles with him the last few weeks have really shaken my trust that he cares about me. Plus, I just feel like I can’t talk, like what is there to say anyway?

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8 comments
  1. laura said:

    about the “tip”: I notice that when my faith in Howard and therapy is at low ebb, I often think of giving him a gift. it seems counterintuitive. Perhaps it is an attempt to win him back and bring him closer (because he always seems most distant at these times), and not knowing any other way.

    How old were you when you were living in that house? it seems as if you are attached to it? does it hold good memories?

    • Ellen said:

      Maybe that’s the case for me too. It was triggered off though by the mistake I made with the cheques. Whatever the case, I’ll deduct the ‘tip’ from next session’s cheque. I suppose it’s some kind of boundary issue.

      My parents moved there when I was an older teenager, so I only lived there a year or two. It looks quite similar though to the house where I did grow up, with a lot of the same things in it. Just a bit different, which this part hated I suppose. It doesn’t hold particularly good memories. Because this part is so very young, she needs her family no matter what they’re like, and they were sometimes a good family.

      Thanks Laura

  2. aallegoric said:

    I’m sorry you felt so devastated…. I hope you’re feeling slightly better again?
    I know you’re struggling with Ron but I think his reaction really showed that he does care about you. His way really touched me (in this post) but I can understand that your trust is shaken… safe hugs for you. xoxo

    • Ellen said:

      I’m on the mend, thanks A. I’m glad you think Ron’s reaction showed that. I’ve gone from a lot of trust to not much, so it’s hard. Maybe he does care. I know he’s a nice person.

      Hugs. xoxo

  3. attached said:

    I’m sorry that you’ve been swamped with the feelings of being alone and abandoned. It is so painful. I think I find it hardest when I remember that there were good things about my abuser. It makes it feel so much worse in some way.

    I hate feeling like I can’t talk anyway so why call. Maybe just calling would help or maybe it is enough to know that Ron was wiling to connect with you. I hope it helps you regain some trust in the relationship.

    thinking of you

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, the mixture of good stuff in with the bad is so confusing isn’t it.

      It helped that Ron offered the call actually, even though I didn’t actually talk to him. It was nice of him to offer. He knows I struggle with feeling alone, especially with trauma.

      Thanks Di.

  4. weareonebyruth said:

    The dance of trust, boundaries, and therapy is ever changing. It doesn’t stay the same way all the time. Therapist push into areas that not even ourselves want to go. There is pain where they take us. But it releases the fear that binds us to the past. I like what my sister says, ‘The truth will set you free, but first it will make you really miserable.’ I suspect that one of your clues is from your comment that many items were from their travels. Perhaps one of those trips holds the key to this memory. Sounds like your mind is not quite ready to accept what your subconscious already knows. I wish I could tell you differently but I suspect you are on the verge of remembering why the young part feels abandoned and possibly why you struggle with trusting Ron. The two things may be connected. Hugs Ellen. BTW tipped my counselor and it bugged him. It was complicated and went on for several years. You may want to explore further why you felt it was fun to tip him when you are feeling like your relationship is shaky. I brought flowers for my counselors wife once because I felt sorry for her for putting up with him. Very passive aggressive and we spent an entire session discussing how I felt. Consider getting a jar to place all these turmoil of emotions in until your group. You might ask the group what they think about tipping Ron. Might make for an interesting discussion. Hugs. Ruth

    • Ellen said:

      Struggling with trust may have to do with parts, for sure Ruth. I’m glad you think feeling the pain releases us from fear.

      Interesting you had similar experiences with tipping! I’m learning I’m not so unique. As to the flowers – lol. Not a compliment for sure. That is funny though.

      Thanks Ruth. Hugs to you.

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