Mud

autumn_sunI took this post down. Then a bloggy friend was interested, so here it is again. I’m feeling differently about all this now. Being in parts is complicated. Now I am appreciating more that Ron is not afraid of trauma or parts. He never wants to shut things down if they’re coming up anyway, and I do understand that part of it also. Dunno. I’m not able to function today, really, but maybe it will help in the end. I suspect some of my anger and outrage was part of the memory. So this was the original post.

I’m back to wanting to quit therapy. I haven’t been here for a while, not since group finished. It seems therapy has made everything worse, and I’m blaming Ron for that. This is a rant from one point of view only – reader beware, ya ha ha.

I know from reading blogs that many clients continually love their therapists. They may go through all kinds of crap, but they never blame the T. I don’t get that. How can your feelings for someone be so unchanging? I also envy it – thinking of someone as continuously supportive and loving must feel good.

I know intellectually I’ve felt positive about Ron in the past and that he has helped me, and that I’ve felt connected to him also. I know he works hard at connecting and ‘being with’ his clients. But right now – I am angry with him. I sent off an angry email in the middle of the night, to which he hasn’t replied.

I felt like I was doing pretty well. I’d got my sleep back to a large extent. I’d been waking every two hours, but last week, I’d only wake once, and then go back to sleep fairly soon. I think it’s partly a new supplement I’ve tried which lowers cortisol, and partly the lack of immediate stress from work. Plus I was paying attention to parts, and therapy was going pretty well.

I knew I didn’t want to go yesterday. Reason being, I’d fallen asleep in the afternoon, then awoken in a deep dark foggy place, which happens to me sometimes. I’m not sure what the problem is – I either am waking up with partial body memories, or in a very young part that can’t communicate well. Or something. I’ve tried to work on this in therapy before, and it’s never helped. I tell Ron about this. He insists on working with what is coming up. And of course it’s made everything worse, so instead of subsiding again, I’ve had this stuff around all day today. Last night it was back to barely sleeping.

I know we can’t approach this directly the way Ron wants to – it’s buried too deep, and it destabilizes me too much. I told him it wouldn’t help, but we continued. He always works with whatever is coming up.

To be fair, I could have changed the subject. I did, towards the end. There were a lot of things I’d been wanting to talk about after all.

I don’t think working with stuff coming up is always good. There is a way it helps, if it’s in small enough chunks so that I can process it. But just being massively triggered doesn’t help me one bit. I didn’t remember anything new about it. I knew I wouldn’t. It’s a mysterious choking blackness.

So, I feel a lot worse than I did. I don’t think it’s helping me heal. I’m so mad.

Any thoughts on being re-traumatized vs. feeling so we can heal?

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23 comments
  1. I think it’s totally fine to be mad at the T. I’ve dumped two already and my new guy is pretty ruthless but I’m bound to feel pissed off at times. Therapists like all occupations are going to make mistakes. The most important thing is telling them and working through it. I think you need to hurt like hell to feel improvement ‘clinical term!’ But not sure about being retraumatised. Thin line. After care is so important both implemented by the T and followed by yourself. The T should have been more available after a particularly full on session. I hope in your next session you get some answers. Maybe you can increase sessions? Or introduce a phone session? I’m sorry it’s gone to custard. I really hope you can take care of yourself, be gentle and get some answers xx

    • Ellen said:

      I did get some vicarious thrills when you dumped those two T’s, I must admit. But so many are not good – I think you had to do it.

      It is a thin line – it’s a big problem figuring this out. I can get triggered on my own, and don’t need therapy for that! But yes, healing is also painful. Plus with me, I have anger about the trauma and other things, and I think that can fly out and hit any available target, like the T.

      After care would have been nice. I think because I wasn’t crying maybe, he didn’t think anything was needed, because at times, he has had a follow-up phone call or extra session.

      I love ‘gone to custard’! Haven’t heard that expression before. Thanks for the good wishes.

  2. Gel said:

    Yeah, I guess the main thing that comes up for me as I read this is that something deep in you was coming up and it’s not that Ron did anything “wrong”. However if you are feeling angry then that has it’s own validity.

    In the later part of the post where you talk about being massively triggered and you point out that it can be good if you can process it in smaller amounts or something. That really interests me. It seems to me that should be a huge goal in therapy – to be assisted in finding your pace with how to deal with the hard stuff so that you CAN process it on your terms.

    It makes sense to me that you’d feel mad about the crap coming up in a massive way and not being able to process it, and recognizing that that is not healing. I’ve been getting more curious about what is the difference between just being retraumatized and theraputically going through hard stuff.

    This reminds me of a therapy session I had many years ago working with a person who used a technique called Bioenergetics. It uses breathing techniques and body postures to “raise energy” to intensify feelings where you block or have unconscious holding patterns. When I started to feel scared and overwhelmed and wanted to run away she told me how to change my breathing and ground more through my legs. As I did that I felt the panic diminish a tiny bit. I still felt overwhelm and fear but to also actually experience how I could have some control over it, that I could shift it a little, made me feel a bit less scared and actually it gave me a little Ah-ha moment. The insight was that if I have some choice and some power in how the hard stuff flows then I feel more willing and capable to face it.

    I will be interested in what you and others have to say about being retraumatized vs healing through the hard stuff. Thanks for reposting this one.

    xxoo

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for being so interested! I find it tough to post these ‘mad at the T’ type posts, because I seem ungrateful, and also, I know my feelings change fairly quickly.

      Processing in manageable amounts is a general goal for trauma therapy. I think that’s the factor that keeps it from being re-traumatizing. However, it’s hard to judge and hard to implement. I can’t say I know if this particular session was healing or too much. It felt like too much yesterday, today I feel better and am not sure. I guess if I never had these difficult nap situations again, I’d know it helped. I doubt that will happen though.

      The bioenergetics therapy sounds interesting. Having choice would make it more bearable I’d think.

  3. Ellen said:

    Hello,

    I can certainly relate to wanting to quit therapy. I was in therapy this last time for nearly three years. The therapist helped me with a lot of stuff but latterly I felt he just wasn’t understanding enough of how my physical energy was impacted by feeling stuff. I have been trying to recover from burnout for nearly a year now. I wrote him several very angry emails and his response seemed to be like making out it was more about my unresolved stuff than anything he might have contributed to how bad I was feeling. Some of it was my stuff, but there are two people in any relationship and I felt he just hid behind being ‘the therapist who knows best’. So I never went back. I felt angry for ages. When I feel fragile I wonder if I would contemplate going back to therapy but I know this would probably happen again, so I don’t. I think the most important thing is to have someone who can really attune to what is going on in the whole body/feeling thing rather than have a therapist try to analyse or address the issue he thinks is most important. My therapist was always wanting to know about my dreams even though I didn’t find it helpful to talk about them. My supervisor though in contrast, is much better at regulating me when I get distressed, because he just tracks whatever I am experiencing alongside me. I never got properly attuned to or mirrored from birth so my trauma is all around a profound lack of attachment. The thing I feel most angry about with my ex therapist is that I think he put his sense of thinking he knew best because of all his experience before my sense of what I could cope with. I think that constitutes a massive power imbalance which I believe to be wrong and unhelpful. I’m a therapist myself, but currently doing very little work because I am struggling so much with trying to heal from my early life trauma. I’m exploring cranio sacral theory at the moment, which has put me in touch with how murderously angry I feel with my mother. I know I need to talk to someone about it but finding the right person is hard. I’m going to start with talking to my supervisor because as I say, he understands about broken attachment issues.

    Don’t know if any of this is useful in any way? All best wishes

    Catherine

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Catherine,
      I’ve approved this several times but it’s not showing up on the blog, so I’ll copy it over and post as a new comment from me I guess.
      It’s too bad you had that experience. It sounds like the T was not comfortable with anger….I can see why you had issues with him. My own T doesn’t really direct what we talk about. Even in this session that made me angry, he just went with what was coming up. Just I didn’t really want to go there, but I could have talked about something else. Having a T think ‘he knows best’ is very hurtful. He can never know what your experience is, not for sure. I think also, there must be a good fit, as you’re saying.
      I would be massively hurt if I left therapy now, when I’m feeling angry and disconnected. I’m going back, and we’ll discuss it most likely. It would have been nice if he’d replied to my damn email. I have experienced him as being very good with anger, but this time not so much.
      It seems very positive that you understand where your issues are coming from. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of your story.

  4. Ashana M said:

    Ellen, I’m sorry this happened for you. That’s difficult.

    I can understand why you feel angry. Ron is helping you with one part of the process very well–he’s listening to the parts and helping you let them out more and understanding them. But he’s not helping much with trying to regulate the intense emotions of it. He doesn’t even really seem to realize that this is necessary to do. You’re right, that it’s okay while he is there, and it’s also okay when you don’t need to do anything else aside from sitting there. But the emotions of trauma are really intense and being able to regulate them is really crucial for healing. Otherwise it is hard to overcome the fear of what happens when you take them out, and the compulsion to just keep shutting them down remains.

    For young parts, I think they need physical comfort. I don’t know what feels physically comforting to you, but for me it’s about softness and warmth. Petting the cat helped. Blankets help. Tea helps. Sunshine helps when it is there. But you have to let yourself take in the comfort. You have to take the time and energy to notice it. Also, you have to expect that it won’t make you feel “better.” It just brings things down a notch so that it’s bearable.

    If it’s any consolation, I can nap now. I sometimes wake up confused, but not completely dazed or in a pit. 🙂

    This is a marathon,and the strategies you use to do it have to be aimed at how to survive it until the burden of it actually starts to feel lighter.

    Having feelings that change quickly is about being in parts. It’s unnerving, because it seems like you never know what you’ll feel later about something.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks for the input Ashana. Yes, regulating would be key I think, and Ron isn’t great at that aspect. From meeting some of his other clients in group, I can see that for most, their problem is more trying to get them to open up and feel things underneath the words. That’s not my problem though. But I can see how he always thinks it’s good to feel bad stuff.

      The physical comfort stuff is a good idea. I do have a soft blanket, though sadly no pets. It’s so true you have to let that hurt part take in the comfort, instead of trying to stuff it back down and switching to a more comfortable part.

      I envy your napping abilities. 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.

  5. My perspective is a bit different. My counselor sat as far across the room as he could be. I joked that it kept him out of reach when I raged at him. What he taught me was that he was not my friend. He is like a doctor that has to clean out an infected wound. I will hurt when I talk to him but he is not the cause. He did try to help me pace myself so I am not flooded with overwhelming feelings. I was still flooded sometimes but he tried not to have that happen because then I shut down completely.

    During this time my cousin was also in counseling. She told me that her counselor was making her relive every moment of her trauma right up to and including him laying on top of her like when she was raped. I was horrified that she tolerated such behavior. She felt it helped her. I couldn’t listen to her tell me about her therapy any more.

    I am beginning to believe that you are the deciding factor what is retraumatizing and what is helpful. Integrating all my parts was difficult and painful in many ways. My counselor helped to guide me through the maze of events and feelings that I needed to feel to reunite myself. Flooding is a difficult feeling with or without a supportive counselor. In my opinion, on this side of integration, it is so worth it. Parts are a powerful way to survive. Intergration is a powerful way to thrive. I happen to love thriving.

    • Gel said:

      I hope Ellen won’t mind me writing this….Though this is not my blog I feel I want to reply by just thanking you for what you say here.
      “you are the deciding factor what is retraumatizing and what is helpful.”

    • Ellen said:

      I appreciate the perspective Ruth. It is tough – I want to feel like Ron is my ‘friend’ – that he cares. I know he’s not a friend as the relationship is not balanced. But I do depend on him to be nurturing and on my side. I do see though that in some respects, he has to hurt in order to heal.

      • My counselor assured me from time to time that my well being was important to him. More importantly he showed me that he cared by little things he did that I noticed. I learned in time that my counselor is not actually the source of my pain rather a coach encouraging me through the painful parts of my life. The pain was there with or without the counselor. The counselor helped me to feel less alone. I hope this makes sense to you. Kind of hard to sort out the distinction and share that in a way that makes sense.

        • Ellen said:

          It does make sense. Thanks Ruth.

  6. Personally I think that developing that intuitive sense of what is needed and when, and what is not the right time or pace, is how we make our therapists obsolete. I’d be honing that sense, not ignoring it. I agree that working with what comes up is useful, but pacing is also critical. If I tipped up every box of stuff in my head at once I would be in danger, and be without the down time, the peace and connection to the now, that make it manageable and worthwhile.

    • Gel said:

      Wow! I love how you put your thoughts out on this. Thanks.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Sarah. That makes a lot of sense. Take care.

  7. Cat said:

    It’s understandable and acceptable to be mad at a Therapist. They seem to bring out so much negativity and I’m not really sure if it’s their job to be nurturing. However, I do think it is important to find your own boundaries and it is their job to respect those and work with what we feel most comfortable. I’m not sure I could work with this idea of reliving the trauma in the therapy office. I might relive it in the privacy of my own home and then talk about it at a later date. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way, but I do believe it needs to be OUR way and the Therapists job to facilitate that.

      • Cat said:

        Yer, this is the comment that’s been on my mind all week, Ellen. TBH I’m not sure if a T should be nurturing or not. As I’ve read more about the importance of the relationship between Therapist and client, I’ve wondered if my own idea of this is a little different. I’m lucky because I get along with Paul and might have put more emphasis on the relationship if I had been placed with one or two of the other Therapists. So, I’m not the best advice to listen to when it comes to this subject! 😉

        • Ellen said:

          I kind of think they should be nurturing. At the same time, depending on the kind of therapy, a lot can come up in the relationship that may be more about past relationships than the present with the T. Then it’s important to explore that. That’s what I think is happening here.

          BTW, I’m extremely fond of Ron, a lot of the time anyway. Not sure if that comes across, because I don’t dwell on it, just take it as a matter of course. Ron is a lifeline for me.

          I enjoy listening to whatever you have to say Cat. Glad you are connecting so well with Paul. You deserve that for sure.

          • Cat said:

            The info I was reading last night online about Mentalization Based Therapy does place emphasis on the relationship between Therapist and client. Perhaps this is something I need to think about a little more… it could even be a ploy to avoid my connecting…mmm…interesting thought. Thanks Ellen, I always enjoy reading about your therapy and, of course, Ron

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