Therapy Friday

Therapy this week was somewhat better. I went in determined not to argue and to try and stick with my feelings.

I was tempted to not bother discussing our ‘bone of contention’ the last group at all. However, Ron is all for not avoiding, so we discussed it. I said how I’d felt he didn’t support me at all in the last group. As I’ve discussed here in previous posts.

Ron sees this whole situation as a trigger for me. He said he could see I’d been in enormous pain about it. He doesn’t think that what happened at the group was a problem in any way. He didn’t respond at all to the things I said about wishing he’d supported me at some point.

He wanted me to go into where these feelings about group would take me.

I told him I didn’t trust him enough at the moment to go into painful places. I really didn’t.

Plus, I told him I don’t really function like that. I function more in parts. He said you’re still human and so you can see where this takes you.

We tend to have this argument – he wants me to probe into where feelings are coming from, going from feeling to feeling say, seeing what comes up. For me, that’s always translating. The problematic feelings tend to be coming from parts. It’s a lot more direct for me to just investigate what the parts have to say. Ron didn’t say it this time, but he thinks I’m basically avoiding pain or something, when I say things like that.

So we deadlocked. I felt misunderstood, he felt I wasn’t being a good therapy client. (I know I don’t know what he felt, it’s how I imagine he felt.)

It’s true for me, that I only have a certain amount to say about situations, and then I stop. Because then what comes up for me is trauma or parts. And parts translated never works well. I did a bit of that in the session, and then got mad when Ron commented on the feelings I voiced.

I stopped talking altogether. He said I was in a trap, where I couldn’t talk. I felt like What’s the point in talking, it’s not getting me anywhere.

I could see though that Ron is trying to help me. I have a fear that I’ll just be laughed at or discounted, and I know he is not doing that. He cares and he wants to help.

This session he was a lot gentler and more laid back than last. I’d told him in an email that I needed a gentler approach, and I think he complied. He is gentle actually.

In the last fifteen minutes, I asked if we should do parts. Ron said OK, and I waffled back and forth, not sure if I trusted him or not. But doing parts was good.

First the kid. The kid was upset about waking up the night before and feeling completely alone, like she was in outer space. Then she talked about ice cream we can’t eat, and a DVD that I hadn’t played for us though she wants to see it. And that we haven’t planted our flower pots this year, too sad. She’s upset about no flowers.

The kid cried a bit. I switched out, and then switched to a really problematic part that hates therapy. She said I’d be better off dead than coming to therapy. It’s bad to cry in front of people and to talk about things we shouldn’t talk about. I shouldn’t come to therapy and I shouldn’t talk here and I am doing the wrong things. People don’t like you if you cry and get upset.

This part is disturbing. She thinks I’d be better off dead than talking to people about the past. I’d been hearing from her on the way to therapy, so I let her speak. She is destructive and hostile.

That wrapped things up. Ron said a few things to parts which I can’t remember. Oh, he asked the kid why she hadn’t talked to him for a long time.

After switching back out, I realized I felt better about Ron – less distrustful, more connected. I still don’t agree that the group simply triggered me and that in fact nothing at all negative happened there. I just can’t agree with that. I think both are true. I can be triggered, and something bad can still be the cause.

I have luckily not needed to send any more emails, so that source of anxiety isn’t there. I’m disturbed by this negative voice that feels it’s essential I keep away from people, that I don’t talk, and that wants me dead if I don’t comply. It’s a scary part, and I hear it more now. I wish I didn’t.

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14 comments
  1. I think it’s good that you’re hearing more from this part that thinks you’re better off dead than talking about feelings. She’s always been there, but if you can be connected to her and conscious of that connection enough that you’re hearing her while not actually being her, there’s hope of getting past it.

    And I agree–I think it’s possible to be triggered and for there also to be something destructive or negative going on. In fact, I think that has nearly always been the case for me. I’m never reacting to nothing. I’m usually reacting to a real danger that I believe is somewhat worse than it is. It’s not that I can afford to ignore it, but that I need to learn a new way of managing it that is more effective.

    • Ellen said:

      I like that idea – being aware of a part without actually becoming her / acting that out. I agree with your way of looking at triggers. Thanks Ashana

  2. Cat said:

    I very much doubt that Ron will be thinking you are “not a good therapy client”. I imagine it is everything he might expect. It does sound like he cares a great deal.

    We cannot force ourselves to talk about painful issues. This needs to come at our own pace and in whatever way we choose. Of course, we all avoid the pain, doing too much too soon has the potential of having catastrophic consequences. I do understand the ‘part’ who doesn’t want you to talk. It is a disposition drummed into us at the time of our abuse/trauma.

    If I can be honest and say that the group probably was a trigger but it was also a trigger for other group members as well, but this doesn’t appear to have been addressed. They seem to have had free reign to project their own issues onto you. It made for a very unfortunate end.

    It is difficult, but do try not to let these people (narrow-minded jerks) to spoil any good relationship you have with Ron.

    • Ellen said:

      I tend to worry he thinks I’m not a good client, but it may not be true, for sure. Interesting you can relate to a part who doesn’t want to talk and who defends.

      As to group – it’s actually supposed to be a trigger for everyone, and then we work on our issues. Just it didn’t work for me – too harsh or something. It reminded me a lot of being mistreated, then there wasn’t time to address that. I don’t think they’d have been sympathetic if there had been time either. I’m glad it’s over.

      Thanks Cat.

      • Cat said:

        It did sound like you were being mistreated. None of us like being faced with painful issues. We need to be guided within a supportive environment.

        I hope things pick up with Ron

  3. Grace said:

    Even though I’m not in parts I often have such ideas too… about not opening up to people because people don’t like you when you do it… I can kind of track this back to the source though. I know it’s because of what they call second wounding; where people haven’t reacted properly to the pain when they were confronted with it, which has, in turn, led to only more pain. It may be destructive and hostile but in fact it’s a warped way of trying to be safe and protected. At least that’s how it is for me.

    I’m glad to hear that things seem to be improving in therapy though and that you feel that doing the parts was good. I hope that, in time, you can find even more trust in Ron again.

    Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      It is a way to feel safe and protected, and sometimes that’s a great thing. I think I have that secondary wounding also, because adults didn’t respond when I was hurt as a child. I feel a lot better about Ron this week, so hopefully the trend will continue! thanks Grace

  4. Casey said:

    I wish you courage with that scary part. When she (he?) comes out, do you have a separate awareness of her (him)? Can you yourself ask her why she’s telling you’d be better off dead?

    I know you may not believe this right now, but there ARE people who do accept tears and upset as a valid means of expressing yourself. I spent many, many years not being able to cry. And part of my journey has been accepting tears as a very necessary part of healing. And, from a biochemistry standpoint, they release Adrenocorticotropic hormone, which is a stress hormone. Crying releases this stress-causing hormone, so no matter what people think of the act of crying, it would help relieve stress if you allowed yourself to cry.

    I had a hard time crying in therapy for the longest time (and it really depended on having a really trusting relationship), but when I did, I was glad. Even when I said something didn’t bother me, my therapist was kind and pointed out that my tears were indicating that it did indeed cause pain. Then she’d often say something about her experience with something similar, then she’d or I’d say something humorous, and then we’d laugh. I really liked that therapist.

    My eight year old daughter gets into these very dark places sometimes. She feels lonely and misunderstood – and part of it is from how my husband used to handle her and partly from the asthma medication she’s on (which causes some mood and behavioral changes). I haven’t figured out how to help her cope with her feelings…however I know that her negative feelings are just as valid as her happy ones.

    She was so bad, sometimes, that she’d hit herself, and kick herself compulsively. It was her distress causing her to physically act out what this negative voice kept telling her. I will say that it alarmed me at first, but eventually, and partly through looking at compassionate websites dealing with hearing inner voices, that I learned the value of inviting her to talk about her voices, no matter how frightening they initially seemed to be to both of us. It’s not talking about them that makes them more angry and scary, it’s trying to shut them up that does.

    What I found? The beautiful thing about this dialogue we started to have, was that her negative and self-destructive voice changed to someone positive. He (it was a he) became an ally, not an enemy of hers. This was because I started having a relationship with this part of her. He took on a name, had a specific description, had interests and did these. We still talk about him, this part of her that her imagination created. I told her I loved him, loved that he was watching out for her now, taking care of her.

    He only comes around from time to time now. And he’s never mean to her anymore.

    It’s when we find deep compassion and acceptance for these parts of us that they start changing into benign parts. I think that part of you is coming out more, because she feels you are ready for her to.

    I wonder what would happen if you were able to fully embrace this part of you. To love and honor this part of you as much as your other parts. It’s a valid part of you and needs loving care, just like the rest of them do.

    I think you are stronger than you think you are, and you can meet this part of you with courage.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting re the gender of the part. I assume she’s female, but the energy seems to be quite male. Not sure about this.

      Thanks for sharing about your daughter. That’s a really touching story, and I’m so glad things worked out for you. I think also that it’s trying to shut down parts that makes them scarier and more negative.

      Lots to think about. Thanks you Casey for your encouragement.

  5. Ruth said:

    Baby stepping your way through the maze of emotions is still moving. I continue to feel amazed by the similarities in our experiences. I also had a part that threatened me if I talked. It was very difficult to push past this inner fear that something bad will happen if I talked. I am thankful that my counselor patiently worked me past this challenge. By the way, it really is hard for someone without parts to comprehend how completely separate each part is. I described it like living in a house with different rooms but no doorways in between. I kind of transported into each room then the information from the other room was no longer available. Part of integration was tearing down the inner barriers that kept me from interacting with all my parts directly. Allowing the wounded parts to voice their opinions and perspectives is challenging but I believe the overall benefit of connecting with wounded parts worth the effort.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting. I love the rooms analogy. I think also letting the parts speak is key for me. I know it’s difficult for people to understand, and it’s true also I don’t have full-blown DID. Still, I wish Ron had more of a grip. Or else I’m just not understanding his points – that’s possible also. But it is not like following one thread of feelings – it’s like teleporting to a different viewpoint altogether. Thanks for understanding.

  6. laura said:

    hi ellen,
    “It’s true for me, that I only have a certain amount to say about situations, and then I stop. Because then what comes up for me is trauma or parts. And parts translated never works well. I did a bit of that in the session, and then got mad when Ron commented on the feelings I voiced.”

    I’m not sure I understand this “argument” between you and Ron, but it sounds like an important one to have. discussing what works for you. It sounds to me as if he wants you to pass the microphone to the parts, let them pass to each other, and not try to maintain central control? Certainly translating doesn’t sound good – do you think that’s what he’s advocating?
    For me, allowing whatever comes up to be said out loud has been the most important and satisfying change to occur. I’m glad to be reminded of that, tonight. 🙂

    • Ellen said:

      I’m not too sure what he’s advocating. I think it’s like Ruth said – I function more like rooms in a house, rather than one big hall. I can jump from room to room sometimes, like different viewpoints. But I’m not good at simply following a thread along to see where it takes me. I don’t wander through a house, say, through doors and through different rooms, in order, on foot. There are jumps. If I try to do it like walking around, it doesn’t work very well. It’s like being confined to the living room, while the actual problem is in the kitchen. I can smell it from the living room, something’s burning say, but I can’t actually see it or describe it well from there. That’s kind of what I mean by translating. Not sure if this helps at all, lol.

      Thanks for sharing about your process also.

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