Therapy Friday and work

Eclipse_sThis week work is different. I’m on a ‘special project’ which means I’ve actually had to show up at work every day but Friday. I’m in a room working with two managers, and we’re hammering out procedures for a new system. These women work by talking everything through, so they talk all day long. I talk too, but my role is more to consolidate and ask questions. I’m learning a lot about the organization and people who work there, since this is all also discussed. It’s very entertaining.

It’s lovely not to be lonely – it’s like having instant friends. The women are quite kind to me and include me in the conversation. And it’s nice to be needed – I have a definite role and they’d have some difficulty if I didn’t show up. At the same time, I find it very stressful to be in a social situation all day long. They don’t take breaks, though I need lunch so I take that. By the end of the day I’m really wired and can’t sleep without some kind of pill.

So today I’m trying to relax and regroup, trying to calm my system down again. I get revved up and get stuck in all the anxiety. I wish I could do this work without triggering off my anxiety / trauma responses.

Still, overall it’s a good thing. One more week of it. I hope I get more projects like this.

Going to therapy yesterday I am still somewhat revved up in my anxious state from work. Ron is wearing a suit and looks serious.

Now what did we discuss?

First of all of course the fact that I’d quit therapy by email after my last session. I apologize and say I no longer feel that way. I wish though I’d described more what it had been like for me after the session. Somehow I forget to do that.

The session seems like a ticking bomb to me. I’m afraid I’ll feel like last time afterwards, as I don’t understand what caused my reaction. So a lot of the time I just sit and try and feel what I’m feeling. A strong feeling is that I don’t want to talk. Last session I pushed myself to talk about  my life. This session, I’m not going to do that.

So I sit and I feel sad and alone. I tell Ron I feel as if I’m lost in a grey fog, by myself, with no one else there.

R. Can you shout out for someone to help you?

This seems impossible to me. The sadness and loneliness are completely overwhelming – I can’t shout.

E. No.

R. So someone has to come and find you.

E. I guess.

We try and figure out what happened last time. I tell him he didn’t seem sympathetic to my problems with the previous group. He asks for specifics and I say I can’t remember.

We sit a lot, with me just feeling all this foggy sadness.

E. It seems like when I come into your office, I can’t talk like I normally would. I’m not usually completely inarticulate, but I am here.

Ron seems to understand this and he nods.

R. This is a part of you that doesn’t express herself with words…And this is how you’re showing up, today, at this moment.

I nod and then we sit.

R. Are you aware of any other parts of you that want to say something?

So the kid comes out and talks to Ron about going to work, and how there are ladies and they talk a lot.

R. Do you talk?

E. the kid. No. I’m not supposed to talk. I did once or twice but I’m not supposed to. We have to make money.

We sit and Ron asks the kid what’s happening.

E. the kid. Nothing. I don’t know whether you’re my friend or not.

The kid thinks of Ron as her friend.

R. Do you know what a therapist is? Kind of like a friend, but kind of different.

I switch out.

R. You look irritated.

I am in fact irritated by this. The kid does not understand therapy. She’s five, for God’s sake. Ron misses the point for the kid. She’s trying to determine if he’s trustworthy or not….whatever he wants to call himself. Then I immediately forget how I feel.

E. No….I just still feel sad.

I keep looking at the clock, because I don’t want to be kicked out like last time.

E. I was just thinking about whether you’d like me more if I talked, or if I didn’t talk….

The same old conversation about whether Ron likes me or not.

R. You know, I’m not aware of any change in my feelings towards you. But I’ve said some things you didn’t like. I wonder if it’s you that’s not liking me so much anymore.

E. I’m projecting. Could be. I remember when I first came to see you, I felt so good. I felt like someone out there cared about me. It meant a lot. And now….it’s different.

The atmosphere in the room brightens when I talk about how much I liked Ron in the past. He likes to be liked. Or I like liking. I don’t know, one or the other or both.

That’s all I can remember. There was a lot of silence.

I could have hit ‘over-ride’ on my tendency to sit in a lost silence, but I didn’t. Some part of me gets extremely distressed when she’s not allowed space. I decided if this was how I was showing up, I’d sit with it. I’d be there silent, tearful and lost dammit.

At home I feel pretty tired but OK. No horrible torture and anxiety. I feel fairly calm in fact.

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10 comments
  1. leb105 said:

    were you protecting the kid from his question? glad things are better.

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Laura – No, I don’t think so. The kid just couldn’t answer that question. Thank you. 🙂

      • laura said:

        It seemed like there was no harm in Ron’s asking a question, and waiting to see how the kid would respond, and how Ron would respond – letting them interact, in other words. Instead, your defensive instinct was to swoop in, like helicopter-mom. He seems to think she knows more than you realize (or than you want to know). Maybe you’re infantalizing her.

  2. Ruth said:

    I wonder if when you were a child you were sometimes asked questions that you didn’t understand. Perhaps now you can protect the child that you were that wasn’t protected then. Parts can be kind of complex that way. My youngest would not speak to my counselor. She would tell one of the others what needed to be said. I agree, liking and being liked is a good feeling. Hugs.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting. Maybe that’s so – I can’t say I remember that. Parts are complicated. I don’t know if the way I showed up in therapy was a part or some kind of self-state, but whatever or whoever, I was pretty well unable to speak in a normal way. Kind of frustrating, but it seems to be what needs to happen. Hugs to you.

  3. i am glad you were able to let yourself just “be” in therapy… and not hit over-ride. Sounds like a great approach, and so kind to yourself.

    About his comment to the kid, it seems from my outsider view that what he said would be what a gentle therapist might say to a kid who was starting in therapy… after all… even young kids go to therapy these days, and might be confused as to what the role of a therapist is. It would be like him explaining what a teacher is, or a firefighter, or something. I’m sorry it was so annoying to hear.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Catherine. It kind of feels like I’m wasting my money if I don’t talk much, but really I’m not.

      I hear you about the comment. It’s an odd situation really. Even though the kid has her own voice and her own feelings, I am always there too, unless I’m overwhelmed, which I wasn’t. It gets tricky for me, trying to keep my reactions separate from the kid’s reactions. It’s not exactly like being a whole different person. I was annoyed, but looking back yeah, I don’t see why really. Just that the kid was trying to determine something else – is Ron on her side or not, if he is a good person or not, not what his label is, if that makes sense. Thanks for your thoughts.

      • yeah, i totally hear you. can you tell him next week that what the kid really wanted to hear was if he likes her, is on her side, if he is good? sometimes i ask sharon these things, even though it is mortifyingly embarrassing to be so “needy” (in my eyes). she never minds, though, and i always feel better after even though i’m feeling so desperate for her approval and love in the moment.

        • Ellen said:

          I’ll consider it. 🙂 We seem to talk all the time about whether he cares about me or not, but not with the kid. I can keep in mind that I can stick to my guns more – say explain what the kid was trying to say, not just giving up. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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