Troubled

I have been having trouble speaking but I’m just going to go ahead anyway. Um…..

I went back to therapy last week. It was a ‘grown-up’ type session. It was OK I guess but I had a really difficult time afterwards. I think I switched to a young hurt part and couldn’t get back out. Saturday I stayed home all day, unable to function really. I know going out among people helps me switch back, so I got all ready to go out, then just couldn’t make it. I took my coat back off, put down my bag and laid down again.

I couldn’t really get anything done except just be with the pain.

It was a really really awful time. Finally Saturday afternoon I fell asleep, then when I woke up I was again in a more normal state. Depressed, but I could again feel the edges of things, like I could move things around. Some adult abilities returned.

I still feel I’m not connecting with Ron. We talked about a fight I’d had with a friend, and again about the group. I know I sent him an email after, angry about how he talked about group, and how we weren’t connecting. I can’t remember the details now. He’d said when I talk about it, I am trying to change his experience of it. He said that at the start, before I’d said anything. I can see how that would be disturbing I suppose.

I wrote him afterwards that this has been my experience with him – that he is trying to change my experience of group. I put in an example – how I’d said everyone was against me that last group, and he’d said not everyone, and Id said OK three out of five, and he’d said it was only the last group, not two years. And that was the end of the conversation. I wrote him that wasn’t my experience of having been scapegoated enough of a topic? Yes, he brought up some facts, but I thought the whole point was the feelings? And I wrote I was now willing to drop the subject, that I thought he’d been tired of it for a few months now, and I didn’t think it likely we’d get anywhere with it.

Ron wrote back even though I hadn’t asked him to, which is unusual. I was massively upset with him, and it was so nice to receive a response. He just wrote he thinks it’s very important we keep talking about it. Go figure.

We talked a bit about my family – Ron said dysfunctional families have scapegoats, and I am it for my family. Interesting then I felt the same thing in group, no?

We talked about a former friend I had. I admired a lot of things about her – she’s a very intelligent, educated person who reads a lot. However, she was really bad with feelings. I used to confide my problems, to an extent, which caused her to look down on me.

Ron pointed out that I’m taking people’s failings personally, instead of seeing them as their failings. If someone can’t listen and empathize with their friend, that is a weakness they have – it doesn’t mean the person trying to tell her tale is wrong. I do do that. I think it is my fault, then at the same time, I get furiously angry and end the relationship.

I wondered why I feel the strong need to break off friendships like that, instead of weathering the storm. And then, after the session, I felt the same impulse towards Ron – thinking if only I quit therapy, I’d feel better.

I know it’s a problem I have.

Maybe the fact that no parts got to speak was the problem with the session. For child parts, even a week is an eon between seeing Ron. This had been two weeks, two very hard weeks, so it was maybe too much for them not to get any time.

At the same time, I didn’t feel I trusted him that much and didn’t want to be that vulnerable with child parts.

I told Ron in session that I’d been giving him a break from emails from me. Which I’ve continued this week, except the one.

R. How was that?

E. OK I guess. I just realized I have to take care of myself.

R. How did you do that?

E. Well….one thing I sometimes do is read about Buddhism. It makes me feel calmer. It’d be better to actually meditate I guess, but often I can’t manage that. There’s this one author I like, she’s very self-helpy. She has an exercise where you first touch on the hurt or the shame, whatever it is, and allow it. Then the second part is you hold that part in compassion, kind of feeling it and holding it at the same time. That helps.

R. So you held the hurting part of you in compassion?

E. Yeah.

Thinking back on the session, it was pretty reasonable. Ron was interested and attentive. We had our usual skirmish about group, but other than that, it was OK. So I don’t understand how come I fell apart so drastically afterwards.

I’ll go in tomorrow and talk about that. Maybe see if parts can talk. I just don’t want to feel the same way again. Yet when I don’t know what was wrong, what can I do?

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21 comments
  1. Ruth said:

    Having difficulty after an apparently reasonable session doesn’t always make sense. Hugs. I so understand the frustration of rough time after a session. I agree therapists are confusing when you are struggling with a point you want to drop it then they say stay with it. Doesn’t always make sense. At least, not to me. Scapegoats tend to see everyone treating us the same way as our family did. Kind of hard to separate pass and present. I think you are making progress even if you don’t feel like it is. Take care.
    Ruth

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for understanding Ruth. Hope you’re feeling better.

      • Ruth said:

        I am finally feeling a bit better. I keep reminding myself that set backs will happen. Be kind to myself and move forward again. Seems like a never ending process.

  2. Ashana M said:

    I actually did feel better when I quit therapy for a while some years ago when I was really depressed, so I don’t really see it as a failing of yours to want to disengage. I’m not suggesting it’s the best course of action either. Just that it is a course of action. Sometimes it is good to do that and sometimes it isn’t. I also think that when your friends are unable to meet your needs, although it is their failing, you also don’t necessarily need to go on being their friend. Not every relationship is worth maintaining, and you do actually have the right to form relationships with people that meet your needs. You don’t need to keep things going with whoever comes along or struck your fancy at one time.

    Your sense that Ron keeps trying to change your perception of what happened seems accurate from what you’ve shared. It seems that this is the dynamic that you both seem to be locked into. There isn’t a sense that both of you can be there in the same place, seeing the same things, and perceive it differently. But we all do perceive the same things differently to greater or lesser extent. It seems that he doesn’t understand that you have a right to your own perception of reality, just as he does, and maybe you aren’t too sure about this either–which could be why it feels to him you are trying to change his. So long as he sees things differently, maybe you feel you can’t see things the way you do. But the point is to talk about your feelings about it–not his feelings about it. But the overall impact of what he says to you about it sometimes seems to be to minimize how you feel about it. They weren’t as against you as you perceived (he says) nor for so long, so therefore you don’t have reason to be so upset about it. Your upset is about your distorted perception (in his mind) and so what needs to be corrected is your perception. But maybe what’s at stake for you is this right to have perceptions of your own and feelings that are based on that perception.

    I agree with him that dysfunctional groups–whether families or nations–often have scapegoats. His therapy group did too. At some points, that scapegoat was you. It’s wrong to do that. It’s wrong to pick one person as the cause of all problems and then direct everyone’s anger at them. In addition to the hurt this causes, it keeps the focus off actually doing anything useful or productive. But it does make the people doing it feel better, because at least they are taking some action then. It comes partly from an orientation towards harsh punishment and a belief about how problems should be solved–that the person causing it should be punished severely. It reminds me of ancient societies that practiced human sacrifice (and 20 years ago, Country X). If we just kill someone,the gods will be appeased and all will be well again. I guess we’re still outgrowing that way of coping with things.

    I hope the parts get to speak next week.

    • Ellen said:

      I agree there can be good reasons for disengaging. Just if I keep doing that, I will end up utterly alone. I cannot afford to disengage from anyone else unless I find some new compadres – not an easy task for me. At a certain point, I do have to look at my part in these problematic interactions methinks.

      I think Ron would agree with you that the task is to explore my own feelings about group, distorted perceptions and all. Theoretically. Just it hasn’t been able to happen like that, and whether it’s him or me, I’m not sure. I appreciate your vigorously taking my side. Just have to remember though, that all you know is what I tell and how I tell it. You’re getting my side of this story for sure. I’m withholding judgement for now. It does feel right that what’s at stake is my right to have my own perceptions – that’s one thing that’s at stake for me. Something that was not allowed during childhood abuse situations.

      Yes, that’s the mechanism for scapegoating. Hmmm…is Country X where you are headed Ashanna? Yikes. Twenty years is not a long time in the past for this kind of outrgage.

      And lastly, parts did speak, thanks.

      Thanks for the thoughtful input.

      • Ashana M said:

        I don’t really feel that I’m vigorously taking your side in your discussions with Ron about group. I’m just saying what I think, and while you’re right that I know only your side of the story, I also know other aspects of similar stories when I’ve been in similar situations or seen other people in similar situations. If I’m biased, it’s my own bias and not because you’re the one telling me about it.

        On Country X, yes. Next week. I was a little shocked as well.

        Take care.

        • Ellen said:

          Huh. I guess I read that into your comments. I used to have a friend who would analyze situations that I described to her, but then argue the other person’s side, and it was quite hurtful. I like the other way better, whatever the intent is. 🙂

          Take care in country X. What an adventure.

          • Ashana M said:

            🙂 I’ll keep it up then.

            Thanks.I seem to be in the worrying stage. I hope to snap out of it soon. 🙂

  3. Gel said:

    Hi Ellen,
    Just want to let you know I hear you….I’m thinking of you. Also your commenters write some amazing things.
    I don’t have much more to say right now. We are having computer troubles and so I’m not able to spend much time on blogs right now.

    Sending love….

    • Ellen said:

      I do love the wisdom I receive from my dear commenters. Thanks you Gel. 🙂 Good wishes for restored computer health!

  4. Here’s a random thought. Could your need to have him remember group the same way you do have to do with needing affirmation from an adult who is important to you (and little you) that what you remember about your childhood abuse is also accurate. That there aren’t “two sides” or “two experiences” of the abuse. I don’t mean that he doubts you about the abuse, I’m certain he doesn’t, but this ongoing need to “convince” him (his words) not just about the depth of your pain but also the facts of the situation does seem, in my eyes, to be about a larger need. And I’m wondering if it’s something like that. I know when Sharon and I disagree about something or there’s a breakdown in communication there’s a larger hurt in me that has been triggered. Take care, C.

    • Ellen said:

      That’s a really astute observation OBD. I think it makes a lot of sense. My pain about it does seem pretty intense in view of what actually happened. Thank you.

  5. Cat said:

    I could relate to what you were saying about taking people’s failings personally and I have also ended many friendships and relationship because I have taken things too personally and would rather not ride the storm. I imagine Ron wants you to stick with the subject because you are in fact riding the storm rather than blow everything out the water.
    I think the realisations you are coming too through this last session is enough to knock anyone out of sorts. I also think it is understandable not to show parts until you are feeling more secure with Ron again.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting you’ve done the same thing. It feels like a kind of mechanism in me that gets triggered off, and at least I’m on to it now. Could be that’s why Ron said we should continue discussing the subject. Thanks for the encouraging words Cat.

      • Cat said:

        I think you are spot on, Ellen. Through the weeks, as you discuss this unfortunate issue from group, I have watched you come to many realisations and I imagine Ron recognises this as well. From experience, often our greatest healing happens without us actually noticing. I reckon we are so busy keeping our head above the turmoil that we are often oblivious to the healing and transitions. A quote that has stuck with me for months is this (I think I might have shared this before)
        “The way people treat you is a statement about who they are as a human being; it is not a statement about you”

  6. Sounds so very rough, do you always have disagreements like what you’ve described? Do you feel the therapeutic relationship is a good one other than those disagreements? Thinking of you and your parts, sending a hug if ok, xx

    • Ellen said:

      It is rough when I’m not getting along with Ron. No, we don’t always disagree. I am very fond of Ron actually. I believe I have a rough time trusting anyone, and when they get close, I get anxious / angry / scared and push them away. Hopefully the T doesn’t take it that personally. Thank you Many.

  7. My therapist keeps talking to me lately about parts. I really don’t understand it, because I don’t feel like there are parts inside of me (I see myself as just one person, who I am today). She told me everyone has parts. It seems to be putting a wedge between us, and I’m kind of at a loss and at the point where I need to make a decision if I should continue with her. My only fear, is that ALL therapists believe in this “parts” theory. I wish I could understand it better, so then maybe I could start to recognize my parts.

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Purple – There is a theory out there that everyone has parts. As I understand it, these parts are not the same as dissociative parts that I struggle with. I think if I manage to integrate my parts, then I’ d arrive at the level where I’d have these other kinds of parts. I would not quit your therapy over this, if it’s going well in other respects. Instead, you need more info as to what she means. Could she recommend a book that explores the way ‘everyone has parts’? I know of one, but the name escapes me. It’s a way of working with yourself, to explore more of who you are. It doesn’t mean you have the disorder that I have. You might find you can access more of your feelings by exploring them in this way, once you figure out what is meant here.

      The kind of parts I have are caused by fairly severe trauma before the age of six, plus a propensity for dissociation. I hate that I have it, though recognizing a problem is the first step to healing it I suppose. No need for you to worry if it doesn’t apply to you.

      Hope this helps. Nice to hear from you again.

      • Thanks so much for the info!! I’ve been doing a bit of research online, to see if I can try and make some sense out of this before my next session next week, but I’m getting more and more frustrated with myself and with this theory. I trust her expertise and opinion, and I’m not saying that I don’t have parts, but I just can’t quite figure out how to feel these parts that I supposedly have. I have some similar issues (trauma, dissociation), but what scares me is that she wants to “talk” to my parts and have me talk from those parts, but I can’t seem to channel it, and I just feel weird in the process. Anyway, thanks for explaining what it means to you, because it really does help hearing it from someone other than the person (my therapist) who is telling me the opposite to what I feel/believe.

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