Lots of therapy

Why does writing feel like jumping off a cliff lately?

Therapy has been hard. And not so much therapy, because there I have the luxury of another’s attentive presence – it’s coping with the feelings afterwards that is so very hard. If only it was just fifty minutes’ pain, and then normal life again. It isn’t.

I’ve been so down I’ve had trouble with normal life. Laundry, cooking, cleaning up – none of it is happening. I feel too weighed down to manage it.

I went for two sessions last week, one Thursday, one Saturday. I was ambivalent about the second, and I see why – just more stuff came up for me to deal with. The reason I went was because at end of Thursday’s session, there was a part that seemed to be screaming for attention, but we ran out of time. Ron offered me Saturday, and I went away and thought about it, and then said yes. I love having his attention, having someone to talk to. But of course, it’s very painful. These parts are parts because they hold emotions that were too painful for me to process as a child. It makes sense that contacting them is painful.

I can barely stand to talk about them. Anyway, speaking a bit from a distance, one part, V, is a teenaged part. She has only started to talk to Ron in the last few weeks, though I could hear her loud and clear. I didn’t know she had more to say though. She complains that we stopped taking photos – she loves taking pictures apparently. So as a way of taking care of her, I’ve started trying to take a few pictures again. It does help that part, which in turn helps me.

The part on Saturday was a very young child part, that I can only hear crying from a distance. We talked about how to help her. I feel helpless about this part, like there’s nothing I can do. She doesn’t talk, just cries. Ron says that if she doesn’t talk, that’s because she’s been told not to. That it is our human nature to say how we feel, from the time we are born to the time we die. If that’s not happening, it’s been stopped.

I try talking to this part, but with no response. Ron asks how we can take care of her. How would I take care of a young external child who was crying and felt awful? I don’t really know. I guess I’d try talking to her, finding out what’s wrong. I could drink hot chocolate, watch cartoons. I play nice music sometimes, I tell Ron. Does that help he asks. I’m not sure.

OK, enough about parts. We also talk in a regular way about how I feel people are shying away from me, that I think loneliness puts people off. If you’re happy, you put out a vibe that attracts people to you. If you’re not, it’s like you repel them. That’s how I feel at work anyway – like people don’t want to talk to me.

Well, today I had a long phone call with a very old friend. I really connect with her, and we had a good conversation. I can pretty much discuss anything with her. Though I haven’t mentioned parts. But therapy, emotions – it’s all OK. Then my ex came over, bringing cabbage rolls. We had a more ordinary conversation. But still OK – I tell him about work, and looking for furniture. I do feel connected to him, though less so than to my phone friend.

I haven’t heard from my friend E, and don’t expect to for quite a while. I don’t miss her really.  It’s good to have a friend, but I’d just have to pretend with her, and I don’t have the energy for that. I don’t need people I can’t connect with.

Wonder if I’ll ever work through these parts. It’s difficult to think about much else when they’re stirred up like this. One good thing being, I’m sleeping better again. I guess dealing with a bunch of crap during the day is positive in that respect at least.

At the end of my Saturday session, I walk out of the therapy room and there is A, my frenemy from group two years ago. I had wondered if she still sees Ron, as she seemed volatile, but apparently yes. She didn’t say anything to me, but returned my greeting when I said hi. I wonder if she got married in the end. I wonder if Ron likes her more than he likes me.

I am grateful that Ron cares enough to offer me a second session on the weekend, just because he thinks we’re getting somewhere with the parts. I am grateful he care enough to talk to parts, even though they don’t make sense a lot of the time. He never tries to talk me out of how I’m feeling, even though it’s dark, and it must be tough to listen to. I appreciate that.

  1. Parts work is indeed exhausting, confusing work. Sending support your way.

  2. laneydodson said:

    I’ve done “parts” work in therapy too but called it something different. I have never been more drained after those sessions and never more bowled over by the aftermath. Time and writing help.

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, I find those things help also. Not sure if everything just recedes again, or if I ‘work through it’, but whatever, I’ll take it. Thanks

  3. Gel said:

    Hi Ellen,
    The very young part who was crying and not speaking……If she’s really young maybe trying to put things into words is too big a step….or maybe she needs only your attention and loving presence while she expresses her feelings in crying. Or maybe she needs to be held with loving arms. Sometimes actions speak more clearly than words. Sometimes words get us stuck in the mental space and keep us from feeling deeply. Those are just some thoughts that went through my mind as I read.

    Sending my love to you(s)

    • Gel said:

      PS….maybe that young part would like to draw or dance how she feels??

      • Ellen said:

        Yeah, this could all be true. I have no real idea. She may be too young for words. I don’t feel I can cope with that part – just approaching her as I did in therapy was enough to send me into a bit of a tail spin for days. Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. Ashana M said:

    Before we can speak, we need to know that someone will listen. Maybe she needs to know from how you respnd to her crying that you will be able to respond to her speech. What would you do for a very sad 2-year-old? I think it wouldn’t be so much about words.

    • Ashana M said:

      Another thought: you feel people shy away from your loneliness. I might suggest, if you want suggestions, reach out in ways that are about the other person and not about you. I think we feel “reaching out” has to be about us, but that drives people away rather than pulling them towards us. Be generous with compliments. Notice when someone has a nice outfit out on or is wearing a colour that suits them or a new haircut. Ask them how they are and mean it. Remember how many kids they have and what their hobbies are. People are drawn to others who care. It will attract people who also just want to suck you dry, so notice who wants more of the same and who starts noticing you. But you can do this anywhere. You can go to get a coffee and tell the barista they give great service. There are, of course, lines. In crowded places, there are rules about who you can talk to and who you can’t. If you talk to strangers inappropriately, they will just think you are weird. But there are ways to push this a little. Service people are exceptions: you can always talk to the checker. You can sometimes talk to someone while you are waiting in line for something. You can usually talk to people walking dogs about their dogs. Just some ideas. But these small connections can really help.

      • Ellen said:

        Yeah, good suggestions. I do tend to ask people questions rather than talking about myself. I naturally do that, so if I force myself into social situations, that comes out, and it’s not a bad way to interact. The compliments thing is good to keep in mind too. I’d find talking to people about their dogs difficult, if I don’t know them, but not a bad idea. Thanks.

        • Ashana M said:

          Best of luck. Isolation is so hard, and the other issues makes it more difficult.

    • Ellen said:

      True, I guess I’d pick her up and comfort her. I did have a dream where something like this happened. Thanks

      • Ashana M said:

        So what would be picking you up and comforting you? 🙂

  5. Cat said:

    Is it like stepping off a cliff because it is, in many ways, a continuation of therapy, although not as predictable?

    I think it’s a big step just to be aware of the little one who cries and then to share with Ron. At that age, it’s so difficult to articulate when something negative happens.

    When you say ‘I wonder if I’ll ever be able to work through parts’, what happens when you do finally work through them? Do they cease to exist?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes – I am somewhat scared of therapy, and writing about it is opening it up again. Good thought, thanks.

      As to working through parts – I’d either have good communication with them, so I could listen to their needs and opinions and act on them if appropriate, or else, I guess I’d integrate them, so those parts would become part of my own personality. That’s how I understand it.

      Hope you are well. Thanks Cat.

      • Cat said:

        Yes, that’s how I envisaged working through parts. I would guess the outcome is an individual thing

  6. Jay said:

    It sounds like you’ve been putting in a lot of work in therapy! I am glad you have Ron looking out for you and your needs. It seems like your parts have a lot of unmet needs that they are trying to express. Do you like singing? I know that when toddlers and babies are upset, singing sometimes soothes them. It doesn’t even have to include words. Perhaps just humming a tune xx

    • Ellen said:

      I do like singing sometimes. That’s a unique suggestion – thank you. 🙂

  7. Working with parts can be hard going. Its good Ron talks to them and doesnt dismiss them. Good therapists are hard to come by so I’m glad you have one. XX

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