Therapy Friday

Well, I’m continuing anxious with periods of calm. Found out my operation will be on Friday, so at least I’ll be through it in a week or so. Then to recover. And hopefully that will be that, though I won’t know for a while.

I’ll describe my therapy.

I’m too anxious to work, so I log in and then abandon the attempt entirely. I set out for therapy early, and stop at a coffee shop on the way there. Being around other people, whom I imagine don’t have cancer, is soothing.

Ron’s office building seems emptier than usual – lots of people are still on vacation. Ron looks very serious today. I wonder if something happened to him over the vacation, but don’t ask specifically. He says his vacation was fine. I guess I’m wondering about other clients, like one borderline client who has a history of suicide attempts. Well, I’ll never know.

E. How was your vacation?

J. Fine.

E. I’m feeling pretty anxious. I got my surgery date – next Friday. It’s made me more anxious than before. I mean, I knew I was going to get surgery, but getting the date made it seem more awful somehow.

Ron nods.

E. So…I wrote to you about the walking. I’ve been walking every day to be more fit for surgery, so I’ll recover better. But then, I guess I walked too far, and I ended up dissociated. I’m going to keep walking, but I don’t want that to happen.

R. Did you notice when this happened during your walk?

E. No. I thought I was getting better at it, that I was noticing when say I’d start feeling sad, or a part would be talking, but this time, nothing like that happened. Maybe it’s the stress of the operation, that I’ve gone backwards with this.

R. Maybe.

E. So….what is a therapeutic way of dealing with this, having cancer? I mean, do I just tell you my feelings?

I’m not sure what Ron said to this. I know he seemed to find the question strange….he probably said something about talking about whatever I needed to. My thought was, well, he certainly can’t help me not have cancer, so what am I doing anyway. Which is stupid. Ron can’t directly help me with anything in any case.

E. I was thinking about A last week. I still feel really betrayed by him. Which seems excessive for what it was, just a brief friendship. So I was wondering if it was a pattern I have….It kind of reminds me of problems I have had with other people. I had this kind of magnetic pull towards A, so I pursued him. Not very hard, but I did a bit. I was wondering if I mostly do that, pursue people who have no real interest in me.

R. What people?

E. Well, boyfriends I guess. I haven’t had a lot. My ex, that boyfriend who had a girlfriend on the side. They both were people that needed a lot of time on their own, that had a fear of connection…..And my friends too I suppose. I remember, about a year ago, I emailed a friend I’ve known for years that I was feeling lonely. She didn’t respond, and later told me that she was worried I was trying to manipulate her into spending time with me. She doesn’t have a lot of friends either, but she likes to deal with everything on her own….Just maybe, I’m approaching the wrong people.

R. Your family is very distant. Maybe those are the people that seem familiar to you.

E. Yeah, maybe. So now, I exchanged contact info with Y, so we’ve written each other a few emails. It’s so different – he seems to just like me.

E. Man, I’m so anxious.

R. Try and speak from that anxiety. What are the thoughts, fears….

E. I don’t know. I think it’s coming from the kid actually.

R. Let the kid speak.

E. Um…..

I switch to the kid.

E. I got a dragon. And…..we have to change dentists! I like the old dentist we used to have but now we have to switch to a different dentist….And….And I have to have an operation.

R. How do you feel about the operation?

E. I feel like I’m scared. They’ll cut me open….there’ll be blood all over the place. There might be spurts of blood. I saw it on TV. I might get dead. They might……they might cut out my heart, by mistake.

The kid is crying and miserable about this.

R. Well…I don’t know much about the operation you’re going to have, but I can tell you, they won’t be cutting out your heart.

I start laughing at this. Switched back out.

E. Oh God. No kidding. I just…..I know they won’t do that.

R. Well, those are thoughts a small child could have.

E. Yes. Well. It’s exhausting actually, having that going on. I do feel better though, now the kid has had her say.

And I do. I feel less anxious and a bit of calm. Fear has been dogging me throughout the session, so this is a relief.

E. I brought in some dreams. Would you like to hear them?

R. Sure.

E. The first one is a dream about A. I don’t usually dream about people in my life. Do you think everything in a dream stands for something else?

Ron now talks about dreams. I am interested, but I instantly forget everything he tells me. I think it’s something to do with sometimes things stand for other things, but sometimes for themselves….I wish I knew what he said. Anyhow.

E. This is the dream: A is the CEO’s son and I am a lowly office worker. He strides through the halls and pretends not to know me. He leaves with a group of friends. One tall, dark haired smiling woman takes his hand, seems to be his GF. I feel angry with him and betrayed.

R. What associations do you have to the dream?

E. Um…don’t know.

This is the interpretation Ron comes up with. It kind of blows me away, because I really had no insight into what the dream might mean, besides the obvious part of my feeling ignored and betrayed. Ron wonders if it might not be about the group. Ron is the CEO.

E. Yeah…that could be. I did have that feeling in the group, that you had a special relationship with A, and that I was left out. He seemed kind of like your son, and I was an outsider. Wow, I never thought of that at all.

R. And you are leaving the group for a while, it will go on without you.

E. Yes, that’s true.

R. What about the dark haired woman?

E. Don’t know. Maybe I’m jealous….

R. I wonder if that is you.

E. Me? She didn’t look like me.

R. You have dark hair and dark eyes.

E. Well, she had long dark hair and was attractive. I did used to have long hair as a child.

R. How old were you then?

E. Maybe twelve. Then I got it cut.

R. Was it your choice to get it cut, or your mother’s?

E. I can’t remember. Mine probably. That was a hard time in my life. I wasn’t popular at school, the kids teased me…

R. Why did they tease you?

E. I don’t know. Well…the popular girls – they teased me about my clothes for instance. I wasn’t very aware of my body at all. I was dressed in hand me downs. But even if my mother had given me a bunch of money to go and buy clothes – I wouldn’t have known what was fashionable, what kind I should get….

I start to feel all that pain of not fitting in at school, having the wrong clothes, looking wrong. It feels really awful.

That’s as far as this goes. I’m amazed though that all these feelings and meanings can be lurking in this one little dream fragment.

E. That’s really interesting what you say about the dream. I’ll try and bring in more. I find I don’t want to write them down, it’s a struggle, but it’s good when I do.

Ron nods agreeably.

I wonder if part of this pain about A is a memory of how I was treated in school? After all, I know him through group, and school is one of the first groups that we all have. I did feel for a time that members sided with A and not with me, though that feeling did pass.

That about wraps up the session. We briefly discuss the other dream, but it doesn’t go anywhere. Ron suggests meeting again next week, the day before my surgery.

E. OK, I guess we could. So I’ll see you one more time before I go under the knife. Just…it’s hard to know what to do in therapy for this. I mean, I don’t want to stir up some childhood traumas, as the surgery is enough to deal with.

R. You can talk about whatever comes up for you. You may need to talk about traumas, if they come up with the stress of the operation. Or you may need to soothe everything down. It depends.

E. OK. Well, I’ll see you next week then.

I walk out. I’m not upset the way I have been from other sessions. I do feel a bit calmer and have less fear. I go home and do a few hours work.

  1. harrietmwelch said:

    I liked your question about what is a therapeutic way of dealing with the cancer. I remember asking my t what he thought about my cancer. He wanted to know why I wondered what he thought, and I told him that I don’t know what to think, so I figured I would ask him what he thought, and then just think whatever he thinks. He didn’t think it worked like that. I just didn’t know what to think. I didn’t think they would cut my heart out, but I did worry that they would cut out the wrong part. There are a lot of worries regarding surgery, well those surgeons, they do it all day, and when we are on the table we are not even a person to them. But for us, who might only have surgery once in our lives, it is worrisome. I hope you write again before Friday. I’ll be thinking of you.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it’s kind of hard to know how to deal with it. I don’t want to think what Ron thinks, but I don’t quite know how to approach it. It is so different for surgeons – their daily reality is our worst fear really. “I” don’t worry about losing my heart in surgery, BTW, it’s a kid fear. Hard to explain how that works.

      Thanks for telling me your experience – I’m so interested in how it was for other people at the moment. Take care.

      • Harriet said:

        I just want to chime in to agree about how kind and caring the nurses and doctors and assistants were to me in the hospital. I would cry when they were nice to me. I’m sure you will find your nurses and doctors very kind as well, it is a nice feeling to be so well taken care of after surgery when we don’t feel so great.

        • Ellen said:

          Thanks Harriet – sounds like a real plus for sure.

  2. You’ll be in my thoughts on Friday, sending all the good vibes I can sweetie, you’re gonna do just fine and I hope recovery will be smooth. Glad therapy didn’t upset you.

  3. artyelf said:

    I’m so glad to see this post, and that you are sharing your thoughts with us, thankyou.
    And, I have to say, each time I read, I think, ‘This is one amazing woman’.
    You are being so honest, and also doing great things to nurture yourself. And you’re also being open and realistic about your fears. So glad too that you will be seeing Ron on Thursday, perhaps the kid could take the dragon to show him? I have an idea dragons are able to put a protective force field around hearts, and are renowned for keeping surgeons hands steady! ๐Ÿ˜‰
    When I helped my friend Dom, during lead ups to operations like this, there were amazing amounts of fear, for her and also me. We had some mantras we would recite, about staying present in each moment, and her body healing itself with a warm pink light. And these are the times we employed all our distractions, reading, crafts, funny movies, walking, music, anything to keep those real fears at bay. Maybe some of these things could help you.
    This tough time will be over very soon, and I feel strongly everything will go very well, and you will be on the path to healing.
    You are in my heart and thoughts, and I’m sending you much love and comfort โ™กโ™ฅโ™ก

    • Ellen said:

      Wow, I didn’t know that about dragons, and the kid thanks you for telling her! ๐Ÿ™‚ I can totally relate to the amount of fear – it’s incredible how steadily I can be afraid. Will try the distractions. Thanks for your experience, and for the kind words and thoughts. xoxo

  4. Juliet said:

    I’ll be thinking of you too and I’ll keep all my fingers crossed that everything goes just fine for you. xoxo

  5. I hope that the operation and your recovery both go very smoothly… Many healing thoughts your way…

  6. When I went in for my surgery they wrote on my bode with a pen marking this here but not there. It was almost reassuring to me to have it mapped out so I knew that the doctor was going to be cutting the correct place. Afterwards I still felt a shock to see what was done. I was blessed with an awesome nurse that helped me feel like a person that was hurt. I hope you have an awesome nurse and doctor to help out. I think it is cool that Ron is meeting with you the day before. I wasn’t in counseling before my surgery. The day before I ended up with a head ache from the stress. I think having someone to talk to may be really beneficial way to allow yourself to discuss what you are feeling at the time with someone you trust. I hope it helps.

    • Ellen said:

      So interesting to hear how it was for you Ruth. In my case, they placed a tattoo where they cut out the polyp so the surgeon will know where to cut exactly. So it’s unlikely they will miss and cut out my heart, lol. I find nurses and kindness in general makes a huge difference, even just going for tests so far, they can be very kind. I’m glad you had some good ones. Well, headaches….I had one every day for the first two weeks I was diagnosed, and off and on since. I’m really glad I have Ron – without him I would have been even more alone than I am for sure, he’s great. Thank you Ruth.

  7. laura said:

    ruth’s comment above reminds me of how nice it is, in the hospital, to feel cared for. My sister (who died) was a nurse and I don’t know if part of what I feel, being in hospitals and around nurses, is feeling closer to her, but I hope this is your experience, too.
    The doctors and nurses are very kind, caring and expert. Perhaps your young parts will actually love that kind of attention, and be soothed.
    Is this laparascopic surgery?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, kindness is so helpful and healing I find, so I’m hoping for a good experience. Interesting about your sister, and I’m sorry she died.

      Yes, it’s laparascopic, at least to begin with, and they said might turn into a bigger surgery, but hopefully won’t.

      Thanks Laura.

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