Therapy Friday 2

blue2The last fifteen minutes are again devoted to parts, which for me is the part of therapy that actually helps.

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.

E. OK.

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.

  1. Gel said:

    I like the photograph. Did you take it?
    I’m really glad you can let your parts speak to Ron. And I’m glad he can listen. It makes sense to me that that would help some, just to be heard by a caring person.

    You wrote “Perhaps when children aren’t allowed to feel, everything goes underground”. I think that can be true. I that happened with me. I think for some it goes in the other direction…in the form of acting out against the world.

    I noticed you said that letting parts speak is really helpful for you. Can you devote a whole session to it rather than just the last 15 minutes?

    Do you think it would ever be helpful to let the grief out more substantially…the crying that seems to come up at the end of sessions? or maybe it’s not grief….I notice that Ron often asks you questions when you are feeling intense feelings. The kind of questions that seem to be speaking to the rational mind, rather than the raw feeling part. I’m sure there is value in finding out the why of how we are…. or just telling the story of the past objectively. But I guess I experience a lot of healing value in really letting those intense feelings out….that it IS healing. Especially if it’s in the context of a session with someone who is very centered and caring.

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Gel. I woke up really lonely and it was really great to get your comments just at this time.

      Thanks, yes I took it.

      I’m sorry this happened to you also. I think for me I acted out against myself mostly. That’s a good idea, to devote more time to parts, as we could maybe discuss what happened, or let it go further. I feel as though I need to warm up to it though, kind of transition maybe from a more ordinary conversation. I do have problems in my regular life I want to discuss. Then I’m discussing them, and it starts to seem pointless to go at them in this way, and I start to do the parts instead, which brings up a lot of feelings. When I’m discussing problems, I’m a bit detached and rational.

      I actually don’t experience Ron as pulling back into the rational mind, though I’m sure I’ve written it like that somehow. He mostly sits and listens. Sometimes he does ask a question about what’s happening, but it seems to me it’s more to encourage me than anything else. Plus we both want to know more about what exactly happened, though I don’t seem to be able to say / remember at the moment.

      I also find it healing to let the feelings out. And Ron does seem caring to me at those times. I have my issues with him more in the other parts of the sessions….with parts he is just caring and receptive I find.

      Thanks for your thoughts Gel, appreciated.

  2. Ruth said:

    I agree with Gel the photograph is beautiful. I also agree with Gel about the feelings going underground. I experienced the same thing. I also felt embarrassed when the feelings started to surface. It as if I was taught that my feelings were some how bad and unacceptable. The healing process for me involved accepting all my feelings and my counselor also reassured me that he expected me to cry and feel angry and all the other emotions. This post sounded a lot like some of the sessions I experienced. Very cool that Ron is giving you the option for a phone call. Take care, Ruth

    • Ellen said:


      I’m sorry you too were taught that. That does sound exactly how I too am experiencing things. I suppose it makes sense that if I start to have feelings from a time when feelings were deemed bad, I will also feel at fault, even though my adult self no longer believes that. Reassuring to know I am not alone.

      It is nice of Ron isn’t it. Thank you Ruth.

  3. Ashana M said:

    I think partly that’s just how you come to think things are done: something goes wrong, and the correct, adult thing to do is to be very harsh about it and punish the person you feel is responsible.

    • Ellen said:

      In my FOO, when anything went wrong, there was immediately a search for the person at fault. So likely I do this as well, though I don’t wish to do it. Sometimes things go wrong and it’s no one’s fault. Often in fact. Thanks Ashana

      • Ashana M said:

        Yes, that makes sense.

        The funny thing is it usually makes very little difference whose fault it was. We all make mistakes anyway. But placing blame doesn’t fix the problem–no matter who caused it, it’s still there and you still need it to go away. Blame just makes people feel better.

        • Ellen said:

          Exactly. Unless you blame yourself. Maybe the trick is to avoid blame as much as possible.

          • Ashana M said:

            I think of blame mainly a waste of time. Yes, there is some value to thinking how can this be prevented in the future. But the future is always a little different anyway and all of those thoughts on “next time” are often for naught. Better just to focus on how to fix things if you don’t like them.

  4. Ashana M said:

    On another note, I was thinking that when emotional expression isn’t supported at home, you may start thinking of emotions as something that only little children do–as if you are supposed to mature out of having so many feelings. So that may be why you experience it in the “kid” part of yourself rather than an adult part–emotions may seem inconsistent with being mature and in control.

    • Ellen said:

      It’s really not a conscious decision on my part. For sure, I was not encouraged to have or express any feelings. But I don’t have that value – that mature people don’t have feelings. Thanks for the thoughts.

      • Ashana M said:

        No, I’m sure it isn’t conscious. But we tend to organize things according to what makes sense to us. My “boy” parts don’t buy skirts. Your “kid” part probably doesn’t do work meetings.

        But it sounds like it wasn’t really relevant, but that’s okay. 🙂

  5. Cat said:

    Ellen… I am always in awe of your courage and determination to confront your issues. Showing parts cannot be easy.

    I agree with what Gel said about feelings going underground. In my case, they became destructive.

    It sounds like you maybe take on too much responsibility when things do not go as well as you might expect, including meetings at work. That probably goes back to treatment as a child, eh?

    I hope you do okay while Ron is away. Have a writing therapy session!

    • Ellen said:

      I’d say I beat myself up internally a lot, as many of us do unfortunately. Thanks for you thoughts and good wishes Cat.

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