Therapy Friday

A picture perfect day, and there is absolutely no traffic driving to therapy today. I am feeling more cheerful than I have been the rest of the week.

Ron is wearing my favorite blue suit. He doesn’t have a big work wardrobe, so we are similar in that, but this suit is my favorite. I hope it’s a good omen.

E. Being in parts is weird. I wish I wasn’t.

R. Weird how?

E. Just weird. It’s like I’m suddenly in a completely different mood sometimes. Or I experience bits of things that don’t make sense. Like last session. I can’t explain this to anyone and it doesn’t make sense. I don’t have a story about it.

R. You think you have to keep the parts a secret.

E. Of course I have to keep them a secret.

I’m exasperated a bit. What, I’m going to start explaining this to people? How is it going to make sense to them?

Then Ron echoes back what I’ve said, how I experience parts, and it calms me down, that he’s heard what I said.

R. It makes sense that you experience fragments. If you are fragmented, it makes sense that you remember things in fragmented ways.

I find this way of remembering quite frustrating. I don’t get a story I can tell anyone, just slivers of experience with lots of really tough feelings attached – confusion, anger, hurt, pain, sadness. I’m re-experiencing very hurtful things from when I was a child, but without an overview of what’s going on. It’s as if the details have been fuzzed out.

However, rexperiencing these things brings some relief. My symptoms go right down afterwards. I tell Ron that last session helped in this regard – I was able to sleep better again, and I stopped being dissociated.

I tell Ron about a family barbecue I went to on the long weekend.

E. It is in X-town, so I drove down, and I gave my brother a ride, because he doesn’t have a car. It was a little tense. My brother doesn’t really talk to me. I mean, he talks a bit, but not about his life. If I talk to someone, I tend to talk about my life. Not therapy stuff, but things that concern me, like my job. My brother doesn’t do that, at least not with me.

R. So what does he talk about? Say you’re driving along – what does he say?

E. I ask him questions, like about a concert he went to….

R. So he only answers questions?

E. No, he talks, but it’s small talk I guess. About the traffic….I can’t remember exactly. Nothing personal though. Not to me. He must talk to his wife. I mean, he’s not a silent type of person.

R. Maybe he doesn’t talk to anyone.

I hadn’t thought of this. I assume my brother doesn’t talk to me because he doesn’t much care for me, or finds me strange. I know he talks more to my sister, he feels more comfortable with her. I always feel it’s my insufficiency that is at fault.

E. The trip was really long, there was a problem on the highway, so by the end of it, I just started talking, I was tense and tired. I talked about some stupid TV programs I sometimes watch if I’m stressed out, and a bit about politics. He stopped talking to me altogether then.

R. Why?

E. Any time I’m emotional, he withdraws completely. My siblings are both like that. I realized that some years ago, when I was being fired from my job. I was very very upset about this. I tried phoning him for advice, and I was emotional. The next time I phoned, he had his wife pretend he wasn’t in so he wouldn’t have to talk to me. That’s just typical. Now I know he’s like that.

E. Sometimes I feel so bad about this. I think if only I could be a cool person, cool and collected and clever, he would talk to me.

R. Showing emotion isn’t a bad thing.

E. No, I know. I know it’s not, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to talk to you about it like this. I just still feel like it’s my fault sometimes, that they don’t want to talk to me.

  1. Ashana M said:

    Being in parts gives one a discontinuous sense of oneself, as well as a discontinuous sense of life. It’s like one of those dreams where first you’re kissing your boyfriend on your bed and then all of a sudden you’re in a swimming pool. It is hard to construct a narrative out of that, and it’s also hard to form a coherent self-image. I know what you mean. It does feel weird.

    • Ellen said:

      It is like a strange dream. Then one part of the dream doesn’t believe that the other part happened. That’s how I feel about trying to remember the past. The point about self-image is good – I hadn’t thought of that. It confuses me trying to think about this so I’ll leave it at that. Thanks Ashana

  2. “Being in parts is weird.” What a true statement!!!!

    • Ellen said:

      Yep. 😦 πŸ™‚ Thank you Cat.

  3. Gel said:

    Things seem to have settled into a more helpful mode between you and Ron (?)
    It’s good to be hearing some better days for you lately.
    It seems to me that you keeping parts secret is partly just plain social intelligence on your part….that our social structures/norms don’t really support talking about stuff like your parts. So it just seems sensible to keep that to yourself in a lot of situations.

    When I read about how it was with your brother, I thought about how a lot of blood relatives aren’t part of our “real” family…the people we really resonate with and have real relationships with. So maybe that that he doesn’t really communicate with you isn’t about anything you are doing.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes they have. It’s a relief not to have the group stress anymore. He’s being helpful. I feel a little distant from him, in a way, but useful therapy is getting done.

      I agree with you re social intelligence. Actually parts stay hidden pretty much automatically anyway unless they’re triggered out.

      Yeah, my family is not close to me, and I’d do better to find substitute people to have relationships with. My friends are kind of like that, but no one that close unfortunately. It’s a work in progress. Thank you Gel

  4. laura said:

    it’s interesting to hear about your siblings, who grew up with the same parents, in the same household – with the same training. It seems as if you found a way to preserve your emotions, even fragmented and jumbled, and they didn’t. would it be fair to say that you were the lucky one?
    I work on just identifying what I’m feeling because emotions were suppressed in my household. I’d be surprised, even absent trauma and parts, if emotions weren’t confusing for you.

    • Ellen said:

      We seem to have had similar upbringings. I struggle with identifying what I’m feeling also for that reason. Emotions quickly become overwhelming for me once I do feel them. Thanks for commenting Laura.

      • laura said:

        …seem to? how could you not? I kind of know what you mean though, my sister and I were not close – instead of bringing us closer, this kind of upbringing seems to isolate everyone in their own private hell. I think you were a lightning rod, and so your brother and sister had a little bit more of a bond?
        do you think your bro might feel something himself, and is fearful of feeing anything, when you are emotional, and that’s why he avoids you at those times?

        That seems like the NEXT layer of complication. Others’ feelings, and their responses to our feelings.

  5. Grace said:

    I must admit that I’m like your brother when I meet with my sister. I don’t do it on purpose… it’s just helplessness. Because she, like you, talks about her emotions to me – which is something I don’t do with her, which is why it makes me very uncomfortable… I feel so alienated.
    Maybe your brother realizes that some things went wrong in your family but when he meets you he is confronted with that because you still express emotions (unlike him) even if they are not about family stuff. Just my weird ideas. xx

    • Ellen said:

      I welcome your ideas Grace, they’re not at all weird. Interesting how we’re reversed in this way. I actually don’t express a lot of emotion either, but I am prone to getting upset once in a while, which is unacceptable in my family. I wonder if my brother does think some things were wrong in our family. He’s never indicated that. He just seems to toe to the party line. My family is all about being clever and intellectual all of the time. I hate that. Thanks for sharing your experience. xox

  6. Ruth said:

    Want another perspective? Sometimes in families one or two of the children are treated differently. Took me a while to realize that my brothers had no idea about some of the strangeness going on in the house. Plus my sister was the designated scapegoat so her experience was different than mine. My brothers also don’t talk to me about anything other than small talk. I learned it was more about them than it was about me. I think this is why plenty of people, parts or not, keep low contact with families because of this from childhood alienation from each other. My sister and I had to work very hard to get past this social barrier that was placed by our parents. As a parent, I tried to teach my kids to feel closer to each other. I didn’t succeed with all of them. Some feel more distant from their brothers and sisters than others. None of them are in parts but there is still a social awkwardness between them that as adults is up to them to break through. You may want to consider that your relationship with your brother is fairly average.
    I also noticed how much more comfortable you are feeling with Ron. It is like you can now focus on things that concern you instead of always wading through junk that was happening in the group.
    You are doing great.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting about your FOO dynamics Ruth. It’s true, I was treated differently in my family, because I rebelled the most perhaps. It’s sad how parents seem to work at dividing kids from each other. We were taught to compete against each other all of the time. My parents couldn’t have been more divisive if they’d planned it. Glad you could break the cycle with your own kids. I think you’re right – lots of people have these issues with families.

      Yes, things with Ron are a lot calmer. And it’s good I can focus more on my actual life now, instead of as you say, having to wade through junk.

      Thank you Ruth

  7. Cat said:

    My relationship with family members is quite similar – we don’t talk about anything other than the trivial.

    • Ellen said:

      Sorry you have a similar experience Cat.

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