School girl

birdI’ve been feeling a bit removed from things and blank the last few days. I know there are things underneath, but I either can’t get at them or don’t want to. Hard to tell. Meantime, a lot goes undone – dishes are waiting, meals scraped together, while I spend a lot of time staring out the window. Work is light this week, though I did pop in this morning. I feel like I’d be OK at work, just I can’t motivate myself to focus and do anything on my own. My sad balcony remains unplanted.

I haven’t wanted to describe the last part of my session. This is the reason for the past days’ blankness….if I don’t talk about it, it won’t be true. It wasn’t gruesome or anything, just – unsettling. Another proof that I have parts, they know things I don’t, and I don’t know what they’re going to say. I never want this to be true, but it is.

With twenty minutes left, I finally say to Ron – I wrote you this email. How I felt after last session – incredibly lonely. And I thought it might be coming from parts.

R. Would now be a good time to hear from parts? Is anyone saying something now?

E. I don’t know. Not really. It’s different to call them up on purpose like this….In group, when the kid was talking, it embarrassed me a lot.

R. Did anyone indicate in any way that it was not OK for her to speak?

E. Well….E. She said when I asked why no one would answer R about what happened that week he was away, she didn’t answer because she was afraid I’d get back into it.

This was the only negative comment I’ve had about the kid though. Ron doesn’t say anything to this.

I let the kid speak. First she talks about a picture in Ron’s office she likes, then his palm tree – it has brown leaves at the bottom.

E. I like to talk. My mom doesn’t want me to talk, but I like to talk.

R. Does that make you mad at your mom?

The kid doesn’t want to answer this.

E. So I went to the group. There is a lady….and she has shoes with gold sequins sometimes – they’re pretty. And….there is a man, and he is angry with me, and when I tried to talk to him, he got even more mad.

R. Do you know the man’s name?

E. It’s A. And I don’t like it when men are angry with me. And I don’t like it when they yell at me, I don’t like that.

R. Who else used to get mad at you?

E. My dad. He’d get mad. He’d yell. And stuff.

The kid and Ron talk a bit more, with the kid crying.

I switch out.

E. Now I just want to kill myself. I’m going to let that dark voice speak.

E. I want to die. Because…because….I don’t like it when people tell me what to do.

R. That’s good. Who tells you what to do?

E. Teachers. And there are projects…and they tell me what to do, and I don’t like that.

So now this part talks about school, how difficult it is, and how some kids bully her. She cries a lot.

I’m totally surprised. I wasn’t thinking about school days at all, let alone grade school. What the heck?

Ron is very kind. He talks to the part just as if she is really a child who is very upset and coming to tell him her problems. I would never actually have told anyone anything when I was in grades seven – eight, I don’t think. I never cried. I didn’t know I was this upset about school. I was good academically at school, so wasn’t shamed in that way as many are, but socially, I was a misfit. Though in those grades I still had my best friend, whom I was to lose in high school.

R. So what happens when people don’t like you?

E. crying. Well, they don’t talk to me, and they say bad things about me….It’s my fault because I don’t do things right.

R. It’s not your fault. Sometimes people are just mean.

Still crying.

I switch out. I don’t want to be more overwhelmed – I have to get home.

E. OK, that’s enough.

I sit and try to pull myself together. This has been like getting hit over the head with my past, wham, totally unexpected. Ron starts talking, asking me something, and I tell him I can’t talk.

R. OK, you don’t have to talk. I think that dark voice has spoken more than she ever did before, and I think she’s linked pretty closely to the kid part of you.

We say goodbye and I head home. I don’t feel too bad, just like something has just happened to me but I don’t know quite what it was. And I’ve been feeling kind of blank ever since.

I suppose the group is bringing up memories from school – troubles fitting in, worries about who likes me. It makes sense.

Ron had offered me an extra session for this week, I supposed because he thought I’d be horribly upset by A’s anger. That hasn’t happened – I seem OK with it. Just it’s reminded me a bit of other men being angry with me. I like that A can’t actually do much to me – he won’t be throwing things, or talking behind my back, or freezing me out, or even yelling for a long time. The structure of the group makes it safe.

I decide I should save extra session for when I’m feeling completely terrible, so I don’t take it. I don’t like the extra expense, for one thing, and for another, it can stir up more stuff, and I still have to cope with a week of work.

It probably doesn’t sound like much, these parts, but to me, it’s extremely disorienting. I feel like a bit of a freak actually. Other people remember childhood experiences, but it seems I relieve them, complete with turning into an actual child. Children. Trying to accept this as who I am, but I also just wish it wasn’t so.

Art: Moon Girl and the Black Bird by Gosia

  1. Sometimes, I have a blank feeling myself and I always wonder when the other shoe is going to drop, because usually things unblock for me all at once and it’s overwhelming.

    There are multiple theories as to why memories might be stored with dissociated parts. One that makes sense to me is that at that time, you were not given the support that you needed to be able to process extremely stressful experiences into normal memory. You were traumatized very early on, right? (I’m sorry, but I don’t know that part of your story and am making a guess based on things that you have said.) If so, then your mind developed this way of dealing with overwhelming events in the absence of support at an early age, and it looks like it fell back on it as a way of dealing with extremely distressing and threatening events when you were in middle school.

    Just a guess on my part, but maybe it might help.

    And I agree that connecting with a dissociated part can be very disorienting. You have my utmost empathy on that!

    • Ellen said:

      That is a really good explanation, thank you. Yes, I was traumatized extremely young, which probably led to a tendency to dissociation for stressful things that occurred later on. Thanks Cat for understanding so well – I feel like a very strange thing is wrong with me, and it helps that it makes some sense to others.

  2. It is disorienting. Extremely so. It’s very odd to see yourself as composed of parts, some of which kind of don’t make sense even to be. I mean, who thinks of themselves as being still 12-years-old and not having grown up and matured? It’s hard to see that and not, say, start imagining yourself as a childish, immature person. But that isn’t what it’s about. Because you have grown up, just in a different segment of yourself. Yes, disorienting it is. But as they integrate, I think you find yourself becoming a richer, more 3-dimensional person. It’s worth the temporary strangeness of really not knowing how to see yourself. And it isn’t permanent.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for understanding Ashana. The disorientation is such an odd feeling – as if I’m seasick on a tilting boat. I hope this happens as you say. take care

  3. Ruth said:

    Familiar description. I got frustrated with a professor that tried to describe my memories as soft and out of focus. They weren’t. When I finally remembered, I could remember the coolness of the tiles. The smell that still makes my stomach clench. So I either had no memory or intense vivid detail. Soft just didn’t exist. Remembering is hard but processing the information and letting it become part of your grown up past is an awesome feeling. My five year old self would only draw pictures and wouldn’t actually talk to the counselor. You are doing wonderfully well if the parts are trusting Ron enough to share the secrets that they kept for so long. You may want to consider the possibility that they share the less difficult memories first as to test Ron’s reaction. You are doing very difficult work on the inside. I am glad that job is not so busy right now. Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for sharing your story Ruth. I am always surprised at the details that come back – what the exercise books looked like, what the markers smelled like, the names of the children in my class. I think this memory was not actually traumatic, just a painful time for me as a child. The parts do trust Ron a lot, more than I do. Like children, it’s all or nothing for them. Thanks for the encouragement.

  4. Cat said:

    That low feeling of apathy can feel frustrating, but maybe you need this time to ‘just be’. There were times when I used to sit in the same silent spot for hours each day. The time flew by….weeks, months, years…

    I had a very traumatic childhood and, at 50, am only just realising my experiences left me with PTSD
    I can completely understand, even relate to you how you visit memories. While I am not familiar with “parts”, it is an intriguing concept for processing such difficult stages in our childhood.

    Until now, I have stayed clear of therapy. There were times when I would shiver uncontrollably from the shock of just touching on some traumatic memories. I think you are very brave to explore your childhood and allow yourself to be and feel that child. True healing can only be the eventual outcome

    I will be following your blog with interest. Thank you, you have given me something to think about

    • Ellen said:

      Nice to meet you Cat. I think it’s probably best to start a new therapy slowly and let trust develop before diving into traumatic memories, unless they are already overwhelming you. And at the beginning, there is the issue of finding a therapist who is right for you.

      Thanks for the kind words. Good luck with your therapy.

      • Cat said:

        The trouble is, the NHS (UK) waiting list is normally long. I’m fortunate to expect to wait 6 to 9 months, but it will be worth it

        • Ellen said:

          Yeah, there are a lot of issues with providers who are insured, here also. i went private, but obviously that’s not for everyone. Hopefully you will get lucky and get someone good.

  5. I understand so completely “It probably doesn’t sound like much, these parts, but to me, it’s extremely disorienting. I feel like a bit of a freak actually.” Some sessions with my T mostly one part and/or myself is out talking. Other times, for whatever reason, more will pop themselves out. Sometimes it seems someone wants my T to know she’s there. Other times lots of parts are out, but no one wants to talk or wants anyone else to talk.

    I’m nearly always co-conscious. So I always know when others are coming forward… even though often times I don’t know who has come forward. It’s all very confusing and hurtful. Sometimes I tell myself it isn’t real. It can’t be real. I’m just overly imaginative. But, then something happens and I know there’s more to this than anything I could consciously do on my own. Your description of your session resonates with me strongly.

    On a lighter note, do find it kind of amusing the things inner littles say to your T while out. I have one little chatter box in particular who says and does the silliest things. She’s four or five and once she and my T had a discussion about which animals lay eggs. She’s been known to pout and say she’s not leaving after our session. She tells him we can hide behind the couch. I’m thankful my T is good with my littles! Glad yours is too!

    Take care,

    • Ellen said:

      That sounds familiar to me in many ways RL. It makes total sense at the time, then afterwards I worry about it. For me the kid, a really young part, is quite playful, when she’s not upset. Today she told the T she liked his kleenex box better than hers, because it was red, so he passed it over to her and we exchanged kleenex boxes. okey doke. 🙂 Thanks for telling me your experience with parts, it helps. take care

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