Splinter

Thank you dear commenters and apologies I haven’t yet replied. I’m hanging tough and can’t seem to manage at the moment. I appreciate the comments as always.

My life is a bit difficult at the moment. Actually nothing external is wrong. And I have space to deal with things so that is good.

In therapy once again the past rose up and punched me in the stomach. I relived a bit of early trauma. It’s from when I lived in another country, so I was young. Those ones are the worst.

Ron scheduled a phone check in Friday evening, because I was so upset in his office. This is mainly what I remember – the sheer confusion of that call. I’d been holding things together, then once I heard his voice and we talked about the session, I started crying as hard as I had ever cried. Then I tried to talk, and of course kept switching into the kid.

That was the confusing part. One of them. The sheer unbalanced feeling of having two competing minds switching back and forth. My mind was so different when I was four or five. Everything was so vivid, and emotions so huge. Then I switch back to my adult self, and try to make sense of things, and it’s a confusing mess.

Recovering trauma is like getting back splinters of things, that seem to be enormously upsetting, but I can’t see the story, just flashes of things and feelings. This time there was a flash of a white shirt pressing against me. The kid started telling Ron she hates white shirts, between tears. Ron asked if it was him – he was wearing a white shirt. The kid hadn’t even noticed. No it wasn’t him.

At home I felt enormously guilty – as if I was lying my head off in order to get attention. Ron says we have to let things come up, then try and make sense of it later. Whatever the feelings are is valid. I tell him I think the feeling of lying is part of the memory – I think I tried to tell someone, and was made to feel like a liar.

I also had this sense of being on a road. Some kind of country road with gravel. Which makes no sense at all, and might be a scene from a TV show I’ve been watching.

I have been trying to ‘digest’ this all weekend. I took a lot of naps. What I know is something very upsetting happened to me, I was extremely young, and it seems to be stuck in pieces in my mind.

These experiences always happen at the end of sessions – the last fifteen minutes. Because I spend the first part fishing around for topics, talking about my life. Then all this stuff comes up.

I’m more functional tonight – cleaned the bathroom, and made a decent meal. Now to do the dishes. My life is down to the basics here.

I don’t get how this could have happened to me. I was not able to keep secrets at four years old. How could it have all been hushed up like this? I don’t get it.

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17 comments
  1. Gel said:

    “Ron says we have to let things come up, then try and make sense of it later. Whatever the feelings are is valid.”

    Since you’ve been seeing Ron and not doing the group I’m seeing a different side of him and the about is a good example…that he said that makes me like him…what he said makes sense to me…it’s validation of your experience first rather than jumping to a rational explanation first.

    Wow Ellen, it sounds like a memory of something really difficult. It’s good that it’s coming up right? But hard. Even though it comes up at the end of your session, it is during your session so it sounds like there is some cooperation in yourself among your parts.

    How could it have been all hushed up?….even at 4 years old I think a child will have gotten the messages about what to keep quiet about. I know I did. I remember it wasn’t that I understood at a mature level of rational thinking….it was at a primal survival emotional level…I knew.

    It sounds like you are doing well with this…though it does sound hard.

    • Gel said:

      Oops should have proof read before hitting post comment….meant to write “above” instead of “about” in the second line.

    • Ellen said:

      Gel, I’m glad you like Ron now. 🙂 I felt exactly the same way about Ron – that he turned into a really bad person in the group. However I had the advantage in that I knew him before group also. So is it him? Is he changing personalities? Or is it my perception of him, which is all you get by reading what I write. It’s a conundrum….

      It’s good that it’s coming up but it feels bad. The fact that it happens in sessions means that I feel safe enough with Ron for that to happen – I can’t do that on my own, it is too frightening.

      It’s true – at four years old, children suss out what’s OK and what isn’t, just from vibes alone.

      Thanks Gel.

  2. Ashana M said:

    It seems to me the only way to remember being four years is actually to relive being four years old. It is this kind of out-of-whole-cloth experience because you didn’t have enough language to create a narrative to use to tell yourself what happened.

    You couldn’t keep secrets at four, but you probably also could not necessarily construct a coherent narrative to tell someone what happened. You could have made any number of references to what happened–including leading off with hating white shirts–that might not have made complete sense to the person listening. Or, you might have been very upset, and someone very well might have said you were looking for attention. And you could have just shut up, not even necessarily understanding what you shouldn’t be talking about, but just that you shouldn’t talk, or that you should talk about things that upset you.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’re feeling better. That sounds very confusing and upsetting, and I’m glad you were able to talk to Ron about it.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, that all makes perfect sense. Thank you Ashana

  3. Ruth said:

    I agree with Ashana M. If you have no words for what happens, it is hard to tell. I know when I started remembering more it would sometimes come in splintered chunks that didn’t make much sense. My counselor would remind me that when eating an elephant it is best to do it a bit a time. Sounds like 15 minutes is as big a chunk as you can handle at a time. Hugs…this is progress even when it doesn’t feel like progress.

    • Ellen said:

      I’m determined to think of it as progress. Thank you Ruth.

  4. I understand the feeling as though you must be “lying” in order to get attention- had that reaction for years and years. It’s just so terrible to take in what comes up with those memory chunks, I wish that I could write it off to “just making it up.”

    Supporting yourself as gently as possible and allowing yourself to digest what comes up really is the best thing that you can do. Well, that plus reaching out for contact as you need it. (By the way, I use the same word- digest- that’s exactly what it feels like!)

    Sending gentle thoughts your way…

    • Ellen said:

      I still mostly think it can’t be true. Then some experience like this breaks through, and I think, yep, this really happened, and then it fades a bit, and I think again it’s not really real.

      Thanks you fro the good advice and encouragement.

      • You are describing exactly what it has been like for me, Ellen. This round of therapy has been changing that, though. More of me has believed, more of the time. And now I seem to be giving up that last large chunk of denial. It is painful going back and forth, but I suspect that it would be unsustainable to just keep on believing.

        • Ellen said:

          It is painful going back and forth. I think the way we were affected by trauma is pretty similar actually, the way the parts play out also. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Cat said:

    Ellen… I always enjoy reading your posts – they are honest and courageous.

    I do understand your fears about “lying for attention”, but I doubt you or other people with DID are lying. I think what Ron said about “let things come out, make sense later” is what you need to try keep focus on. I’m not sure if a 4 year old can explain a traumatic experience. Perhaps it is about allowing her to relive the experience and you simply enunciate.

    • Ellen said:

      Why thanks Cat.

      Just to be clear, I don’t have DID. I have some kind of less severe subset of that problem. Yes, it makes sense that a four year old can’t explain clearly….And I need to be kind to that part.

      I’m always amazed how you can take my point of view, when you don’t have the same type of condition. Not a lot of people are able to do that.

  6. laura said:

    hi E, I don’t have repressed memories coming up in bits and pieces, but I do have emotions and reactions that “don’t make sense”, and I can see that it’s really the “making sense” that doesn’t make sense. Like finding puzzle pieces or splinters, trying to figure out the total picture from each tiny piece makes less sense than finding more pieces and allowing the picture to emerge. The “making sense” and “figuring out” could be an effort to control the process. Not that you can help doing it, necessarily, but you can pay attention to, or be suspicious of the intent to make sense, rather than the pieces that are coming up.
    does that make sense? 😉

    • Ellen said:

      That does make sense Laura. It’s an interesting perspective. I think we are by nature driven to make sense of things – that’s what our brain does when left to its own devices. I like the idea of allowing a picture to emerge instead. Thanks.

  7. Cat said:

    I relate to a lot of what you write about because of my own awareness of the child within. It might not be the same experiences but the trauma is very similar

    • Ellen said:

      I also find I relate to a lot of what you write about Cat. Could be trauma affected us in similar ways.

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