Therapy Thursday

crystalToday therapy was difficult, but then, my life is difficult, I need to remember, I don’t pick this stuff up from therapy.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping, waking up several times at night, sometimes frightened and lonely. And I’ve been struggling a bit at work. Nothing is going wrong there, in fact, last time I was in my client came and told me what a great job I’m doing. So that’s good I suppose. Just I have a hard time staying there all day, and I’m exhausted at night.

Today I was feeling pretty tired. I went in, and talked about my sleep issues. And work. Work had actually improved somewhat since last week. Last week we’d discussed a bit how meetings were freaking me out – I panic when I want to stay calm. The kid pops out when I need to stay adult. Talking about it last week seemed to help improve the situation. It wasn’t so much what Ron said, just the chance to air it out and consider it, mostly. So I told Ron that had helped.

I keep starting and stopping, not knowing what to talk about to make things better.

Ron comments that I seemed to be coming from quite a young place, when I came in. I’m not sure what he means. We talked a bit about hockey (this is Canada, you can’t avoid hockey at the moment, even in the wine store, the cashier chatted about hockey). And it was a different day than usual, I mentioned that. I try to think how I was young, but really, that may just be me when I don’t feel great, with the kid kind of flickering through.

I have forgotten several things I meant to talk about, and fall silent. I feel a bunch of parts wanting time, or being agitated, and I don’t know what to do. I suspect it’s parts that are waking up scared at night, so I want to let that part speak, because that will help with sleeping.

First I feel like there is a wall. It is transparent. I’m on one side, where the air is clear. On the other side is a whole bunch of confusion, an avalanche. Ron asks which side the parts are on. I tell him I suppose it’s the other side of the wall.

We go back and forth a bit more. We talk about the inner critic that just hammers me constantly. It’s a part, it’s like a child part but it’s furious with me all the time. I’ll talk about that another time.

Then in the last fifteen minutes – why is it always the last fifteen minutes? the kid takes over. She starts listing all the difficulties she has. The kid is interesting, because she is oriented to the present, in a way the other parts I’ve met aren’t. She talks about things that happen in our daily life.

First I feel lonely, just stabs of loneliness, so I mention that. Ron wonders if we are not connecting, if I’m feeling alone even though we’re there together. I don’t really think that’s it. My feelings towards you haven’t changed in the last few minutes, I say. Maybe it’s more of a memory of loneliness.

And then I think the kid starts talking. She wrote Ron an email but we didn’t send it. It was about how tired she was from work. And how at work, we sit in a cubicle, and we have to sit there all day. She doesn’t know if anyone likes her or doesn’t like her. But we can go buy tea, and we can walk around, and we can buy sweets, and we can buy lunch and pretty much anything, we can buy it. (According to the kid. For her, it’s excellent that we have money, unlike when we were actually five years old.)

The kid cries a lot, about how difficult working is for her. And other things which I now can’t remember. It’s amazing how much emotion this part of me has – sadness, longing for connection, loneliness. She talks in a childish way, and I just let it happen. I’m tired of it all going on and hanging on to it by myself.

Ron says that this part of myself was abandoned in my family, so now we need to listen and care about it. It’s easier to do that with someone else, rather than trying to do it alone.

Then another part of me is angry at myself for letting all this stuff out. Ron wants to speak with this part also, but she won’t speak with him.

At the end of the session, I’m having some trouble switching out again. I wish I had my grounding crystal with me, but I forgot it at home. Turns out Ron has a basket with crystals in it – much larger and nicer than the ones I have. He hands me the basket. There are shells also. I pick out a pink one, then one with some black in it also. Wow. I never knew he had this basket in his office, after several years! I feel a bit better holding the crystal, then quickly put it back and scoot out of his office.

So – I had adult stuff to talk about – a situation with my ex and my son, and one with a friend I saw on the weekend – everything whooshed out of my mind, and just the kid stuff stayed. We don’t have careful insightful discussions, that’s for sure. We do these child talks. But they are what I need. When we talk with ‘insight’, mostly it feels very distant and unreal to me. I seem to need the let the kid speak. So that’s what I’m going to keep doing. Though it feels crazy, when I think about it, I guess that’s my path.

Art: Russel Leng: Landscape Painting 2

  1. Gel said:

    I love that you let the kid speak in therapy.
    It’s good that a client told you that they like your work. I wish people did more of that kind of feedback.

    I can relate to the sleep issue…and the lack of it. I’m still struggling with that myself.

    There is a good feeling about all you’ve shared…a bit of a more balanced sense of things.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it’s nice he did that.

      I’m sorry you lack sleep also!

      Thanks. I’m trying to convey more how I appreciate the therapy I do actually, how it does make sense to me on some level. Plus I am feeling more in tune with Ron – I see how he’s trying to support me, and sometimes just figure me out. When I was struggling more with him, I learned stuff also, and in a way I felt closer to him. But now, I kind of use him to explore myself, and accept his support, and it’s calmer, in a way.

      Thanks for commenting Gel. xox

  2. plf1990 said:

    I often find the sessions where I go needing desperately to talk about adult stuff (like jobs, relationships etc) are the sessions where Little screams and screams until I can no longer focus and so let her speak to my therapist. It’s almost like, now she knows she is in a safe place to be heard, she isn’t afraid any more to jump in and talk. A bit like when children say ‘mummy mummy mummy’ when adults are talking – we were never heard by adults when we were small, but now we are and she seems to choose the most annoying times! I am glad the kid got a chance to talk. I don’t think it’s crazy at all. Maybe it’s more like righting the wrongs. x

    • Ellen said:

      He he. I love how you describe Little. Just I bet she chooses the best times for her, not the annoying times at all….Your experience sounds very similar to mine. And it is like righting the wrongs of not having been heard and appreciated as children. I hope Little gets to express herself as much as she needs to. Thank you plf.

  3. Ashana M said:

    I feel like being in parts is inherently lonely in some way: when I was less integrated, I felt lonely for the rest of myself. I don’t know if this is related at all to the loneliness you are feeling. I was also thinking that it must be pretty frightening to think that working with these other parts means admitting the chaos from the other side of the wall into your nice clear air. Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, being in parts is lonely. I thought afterwards the lonely feeling was coming from a child part who wasn’t being heard. Once the kid started talking, that feeling went away. Yes, that fear is a hindrance to approaching parts that are behind that wall. You put things very well. Thank you Ashana.

  4. Hi Ellen, Obviously my understanding of parts is extremely limited…
    But I feel like oftentimes the simplicity of raw (youthful) emotion has an intelligence all its own. That basic intelligence (even dogs have it!) is something that can be almost beaten out of us by a cruel childhood environment.

    So I feel like it might be very good for you to explore that very basic child’s emotions and feelings, and that in fact it will start to improve your “adult” problems as a result. The adult’s world is complicated, but in many ways, stupid. The adult world tries to squash emotion and live on intellect. It values the slick and the superficial, and you score points for “behaving” politely and within cultural norms.

    The world of the child is free, deals in the present (as you stated), and deals with the internal truth. This is a very simple, but in my opinion, highly intelligent aspect of consciousness.

    Good for you in exploring it. The negative voice is really just that–a voice. I have negative voices too, critical voices, mean spirited and fearful voices. I suspect this is much different from your more distinct parts. But I can still relate to the highly judgmental voice.

    I hope you know that in time, that critical voice will begin to fade out. I find it loses a lot of energy when I’m not quite as interested in what its telling me. Not saying that’s easy, but over time, the negative voice holds less and less power in my life.

    Good job Ellen. Keep listening to little Ellen.

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Aaron – I loved this comment. Thank you. I hadn’t thought of things like this.

      Yes, I think a lot of us can relate to the negative voice. If for me the voice is a part, it’s likely a child part that thinks the way to make things better is to beat other parts up. Which is a child-like mistake to make, like bullies make. I need to learn to deal with it somehow.

      I’ll keep listening. Thank you for listening too.

  5. weareonebyruth said:

    It does feel crazy. Interesting how it feels like it is getting worse when it is actually the path to getting better. You are progressing even when it doesn’t feel like it since you are accepting parts that were rejected much earlier in your life. Internally arguments start to happen when different parts trust Ron and you differently. For me, it finally worked out. The younger parts were more trusting than the teenage parts, just like children are more trusting the teenagers.
    You are doing great.

    • kp said:

      Hi Ellen….it does sound crazy, tiring and painful. I am impressed that you get up and go to work every day even though you are dealing with all of these painful and scarey feelings. Hang in there; from the outside, it feels like you are making progress. Virtual hugs from Kim

      • Ellen said:

        It is painful. But I definitely need to work and function, and I’m proud that I do. In fact, I make a pretty good living. I have found a job that gives me quite a bit of down time, so it makes things more possible for me. Thanks for the encouragement Kim.

    • Ellen said:

      It is a lot about acceptance, for me also Ruth. Those parts were rejected because they were unacceptable to my parents, so it takes work for me to feel differently about them now that it’s OK to do so. Thanks for the support.

  6. Tilda said:

    You’re doing so well Ellen.
    And it’s great you are letting those smaller parts talk and be heard.
    I’m sorry it’s frustrating and lonely at the moment, and hope this eases for you soon. xx

  7. I really related to this post. I started typing out a huge long screed about why I related to it, then deleted it – instead I just want to say “thank you” for writing something I really relate to, something which will further enrich my experience of therapy.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you Bree, I’m glad you can relate. Wish you hadn’t deleted your thoughts though – I’m interested. Another time, please send any thoughts along! I’m not critical I hope. Nice to meet you.

  8. And as we’ve so much in common, I’ve decided to follow you to keep reading your wisdom!

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks. Not always wise though. šŸ™‚

  9. Cat said:

    I admire your courage for exploring parts and allowing them some freedom to speak.

    I’m also very aware – sometimes in constant battle – with the inner critic. The roots are obviously in childhood because the critical voice says all the things my parents would say.

    It’s nice to read one of your comments saying you’re getting on better with Ron. Good work!!

    • Ellen said:

      I’ve found the first step with the critic is just hearing that voice and realizing it’s not accurate at all. Hope your battle with it goes well.

      It’s amazing to me how badly I felt about Ron, at least in parts, and how well we’re working together now. Amazing that this is the same person. For me it has been key to work through things and not hold them inside.

      Thank you Cat.

      • Cat said:

        I think you were right to work through that stuff with Ron. I imagine most people go through some kind of a battle with their Therapist

        • Ellen said:

          I’m not sure if most do battle actually, Cat. I think people like me, and maybe you, need to. A lot of therapists are not up for that though. In previous attempts at therapy, I’d simply quit if I became angry with the T. I think it takes someone special to hang in with a client who is sometimes angry with them. cheers

          • Cat said:

            I’ve had similar experiences of anger towards Therapists and maybe there are those who find it all plain sailing. I recognise now that my anger was more towards myself and the memories rather than the poor T’s who were probably baffled with my inability to gel. However, that’s not to say there are times when we are justified in getting the hump!

            I hope it’s a positive turning point in your relationship with Ron

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