E. So doing the parts last time was helpful. It kind of takes the pressure off, I have fewer symptoms.
R. So shall we do that again?
E. Yeah, I guess.
Ron and I grin at each other. “I guess” is my resistance. I do and I don’t want to do this. It feels out of control and I’m leery of it, but i know it helps.
The part this time is still stuck in time in Big American Suburb, where we lived when I was about eight years old.
I have trouble letting this part speak, so I talk to Ron instead.
E. What do you think is happening with these parts? Why is it so difficult?
R. I think you’re trying to do something that’s complicated…..
E. I feel like I’m not doing therapy right.
R. Talk from that place. How are you not doing it right?
So I switch into a part that tells me I’m useless. This I find easy to do.
E. You are stupid and you don’t do anything right! You are doing it completely wrong, and you are hopeless!
So then the kid part starts to cry.
E. But I try to do it right! I try, but then things don’t work out, and it’s hard, and I don’t do things right….
I’m crying my eyes out.
R. Who told you you didn’t do anything right Ellen?
E. I don’t know….Maybe my dad? Maybe my sister? I don’t know who….
There’s more back and forth which I don’t now recall. Sometimes I talk more from the attacking voice, but mostly I just respond like a young child.
It’s time to go, and I am having trouble stopping crying. I switch back out, but it’s a bit shaky. I feel embarrassed I’ve become this whiny child who is upset, but where I can’t really make out what she’s upset about. I talk to Ron.
E. So is this what you signed up to go to therapy school for? Clients turning into kids and crying about nothing?
Ron nods calmly.
R. Yes. Ellen, try not to turn this on yourself now.
R. This is how we find out why you feel about things as you do.
I was just checking if Ron thinks I’m being strange and childish and, um, doing therapy wrong. Since both the attacking voice and the child voice are me, I flip back and forth between their points of view.
E. I need to sit here a minute.
My time is up, but dammit, I can’t stop crying, so I’m going to sit tight until I can. Shortly, I get up. I borrow a book from Ron’s shelves – a habit of mine when he goes away. More Lauren Slater – Opening Skinner’s Box. At this point I can’t stop talking, and I tell Ron about the other Slater books I’ve read, and he smiles at me. I wish him a good vacation, and go.
Earlier in the session, Ron has offered me a ten minute check-in phone call for next Monday. So I’ll talk to him once while he’s away, and it makes the kid part of me feel somewhat better about his absence.
My father could be quite harsh when I was a child. This back and forth seems to have been preserved inside of me. I wonder why that happens. Perhaps when children aren’t allowed to feel, everything goes underground.
I noticed after I wrote the post about the work meeting, how it’s kind of like that still. Things don’t go that well, and I beat myself up very severely. That meeting didn’t go well for a number of reasons. I had something to do with it, but not all. And anyway, it was not some huge deal, it was a little meeting. But when you have severe reprimands going on internally, everything seems like a disaster that I caused.