Therapy Friday

An update. Same old same old as regards my therapy concerns I suppose. My last session was again similar – the first half we’ve talking about adult concerns, then in the last twenty minutes, parts are so loud and frantic, I have to deal with them, leading to lots of emotion, and I’ve been recovering ever since.

I was feeling very anxious and dissociative for the whole week. Set off first by a dental appointment Monday, which always trigger trauma. Plus, I suspect my usual hygienist, X, is avoiding me. I know I’m a little difficult. But I’m perfectly pleasant. Just, I do have to stop sometimes, for water or to cough. Anyway, I was assigned to a different one, right next to my old one, who was not busy. So. Then my assigned hygienist actually called X over so she was forced to ‘say hello’ and chat with me, which was OK but awkward. Then, when I went to book my next cleaning, they assigned me the new hygienist, until I told them I usually see X. So they changed it. It didn’t occur to me until after that she might have asked not to do my cleanings. There is kind of an atmosphere, I guess, they can see I’m tense, or I don’t know what. I feel like I get discussed after I leave, and I’m not enjoying that feeling.

That’s not what stirred up trauma. It’s more that things were put in my mouth. I explain to parts that it’s about teeth and health, but to not much effect.

I had good news on Wednesday. I now have a contract, the same one they’ve been dithering over for two months now. So I start the week after next. Nice not to be worried about money once again. I was waiting for their call, as they’d informed me several times I was likely going to get the offer. Then when I finally got it, I was a bit of a mess. It’s good, but it’s such a relief, plus I’d been on such tenterhooks, plus I was still dealing with the dentist stuff – so I ended up feeling really spacey, for most of the time until therapy. Kind of a two dimensional feeling, where I get frozen, or stuck, and even when I’m not, everything feels hollow and two dimensional.

I still feel more distant from Ron than I used to. Maybe it’s that parts are not really talking to him directly anymore. Or something else? I don’t know what it is. I know he’s a committed professional who cares about his clients. I just don’t feel very cared about for some reason. It’s not really fair though – he hasn’t done anything. I sit across from him and search for words. I feel like it doesn’t make any difference to him what I say.

He is quite reserved. Sometimes I long to hear him talk. But then he’ll start talking, and I’ll feel incredibly impatient for him to finish. I don’t feel any patience listening to him. At times, he’ll sit and let the silence stretch out, and I can’t think what to fill it with.

We talk again about trying the more physical type therapy he also does, with mats and props and things. I tell him I only have one more week where I could do that, and he’s not sure he’ll be able to book one of the rooms next week, so we may not try this for a while after all.

Towards the end of the session, a particular SA memory comes up. I am feeling I need to get a handle on the spaciness and dissociation, and this is what comes up. I mostly cry and can’t remember much, except that it occurred in European country, so before I was seven. I was thinking about the small apartment there we used to live in. When I got home, and the next day, I remembered a little more of it, though not much, but enough that I can pin it down as a particular memory, rather than general childhood pain and upset.

Since I have been tearful and lethargic. However, also feeling much more solid, and not at all spacey.

I can no longer remember the adult type stuff we discussed. It seems unimportant in any case, though the bulk of the time was spent on it. What on earth did we discuss?

Another thing happened.

I’ve started going to ACA meetings – adult children of alcoholics and dysfunctional families. The meeting I think I can keep attending even once I’m working meets on Saturdays, so although I was feeling completely clogged with tears and basically in a part, I decided to go to. I never talked to anyone the whole time I was there, except during the sharing for the entire group, so I felt kind of out of the social swing. So that part was not so nice. However, I decided I didn’t want to switch out to an adult part more than I had to. I allowed the tearful sad child part to sit and be part of the group. Mostly she just sat with her eyes closed, listening, but also feeling endlessly sad and tearful. I don’t know how to describe it. These are child feelings, intense and really not modulated at all. However, I wasn’t crying out loud.

Usually, in order to cope with a group, I’d switch in order to be adult and talk about adult topics. But it felt healing not to do so. True, I wasn’t able to say much, though I shared at one point I was ‘finding lost parts of myself’. Just sitting there felt good. I was able to have feelings, yet still be among people, and let it be OK. I probably looked like I was meditating the whole time.

I guess I’m not going to make new friends like that, as people likely think I’m really out of it. I want to explain that this will all shift in a few days, and I’ll be ‘normal’ once again, but I don’t. Let them think what they like. I can also trust that some people are OK with my being there, silently sad, but still listening to other people’s stories. Maybe some there have been there also, who knows.

I got home and felt really calm. I worried that no one had said hello or goodbye. But I was also happy to have stayed in a part and still been around other people. It felt like I honoured that part of me by allowing her to stay. I suspect a lot of my anxiety has to do with parts jumping up and wanting time. So this was different, it was calming, and I feel like basically it was OK.

  1. Ashana M said:

    I have some thoughts on the hygienist. If she’s new to the office (is she?), then she has to work on someone. The hygienists probably discuss every single patient who comes into the office, and not just you. The parade of patients is their day. They discuss it. They make entertainment out of it. Almost everyone who goes to the dentist is difficult. Trauma makes it very difficult for us, but it’s a little bit difficult for everyone and they don’t necessarily shove it down inside and try not to be a bother.

    On parts in therapy, I know when I filter the material, the part doesn’t really feel heard. The information gets across, but the part doesn’t get the experience of being cared about. I wonder if that’s why you feel less connected to Ron. Have you thought about letting the part out earlier in the session, so they get more time?

    It’s good the part could stay more out during the ACA meeting. It doesn’t matter if you make friends. It matters that you feel less lonely. I’m really glad about this. πŸ™‚

    • Ellen said:

      No, she’s not new – I’ve known her for a few years. She’s not as good as X, not thorough. But, she is kind hearted, or at least, she has an accepting manner. Likely it doesn’t matter. You are right about ‘the parade of patients’. He he. I hadn’t thought of it like this, but yep, I bet that’s completely true. Their work is not that fascinating otherwise.

      Yeah, the filtering may be a problem in that way, though I get so entirely overwhelmed when I switch entirely. I have thought of letting them out earlier. I guess because I go there as an adult, it’s not necessarily easy to haul out parts right away. I am embarrassed so I wait until they’re desperate, which is silly also. Maybe it will get easier.

      The ACA meeting experience is really interesting to me. I wonder if that’s more what integration feels like, having your feelings available all the time. And it does make me feel less lonely, oddly enough.

      Thanks for understanding.

  2. Cat said:

    I often feel the difficult patient when I start to stress out at waiting times. I’m sure the nurses talk when I leave, but then I suppose they talk about most patients. The paranoid thoughts are always there, but I try not to give it too much space.
    I wish my T would enjoy the silences. I made the mistake of telling him at the beginning that I have always struggled with silence and my paranoia, now I often feel like telling him to shut up or at least notice my eyes glazed over long ago πŸ˜‰
    I wonder what has changed between you and Ron. You were feeling more positive a few weeks ago, so it must have something to do with parts and maybe the new part? I think, if you feel you need a break, then it is important you go with what is best
    I do hope the ACA people are understanding. I’m sure most have faced their own trauma, so they probably are used to people in all states. When I was reading about your experience, I remembered the group I attended when the trauma was at its worse. I could barely talk (which is unlike me!) and wanted to run out the door. Something amazing happened just by sitting through it, maybe similar to what went on for you.
    Oh and congratulations on the new job, well done, it’s probably coming at the right time

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, paranoid thoughts are the worst. But I like the idea of thinking people gossip about everyone – it makes me one of a crowd, which makes it seem better.

      I’m glad Ron is not trying to fill silences for the sake of it – I would hate that entirely. I’m not sure what’s changed in our relationship….Maybe to do with parts. This evening I actually wish he was here and we could have a conversation about it.

      Yes, your group experience sounds similar. I felt really good about staying with my feelings and having that be OK. It won’t win me friends, but I will be more chatty at other times, hopefully, and they’ll see I’m OK.

      Thanks about the job. I’m very relieved actually – it’s great for me.

      Thanks Cat.

      • Cat said:

        Yes, I remember yu saying recently that you can disengage from therapy when you’re working… it might bring some balance.
        What you say about paranoia… knowing they gossip about everyone, helps me. My sister’s a nurse and she says, of course, they talk… so Ellen, join the club!

        • Ellen said:

          OK, I’ll join. πŸ™‚ Sometimes it’s good to know we’re not so unique.

  3. Congratulations on your contract. That must be such a relief for you. Good luck in your new career. I too have difficulty with the dentist. It is quite anxiety producing and I have to stop as well. That was great you got your self to the ACOA meeting. The gift is that you sat in the room and felt your feelings. That is a big start. I went to AA and never talked to anyone for a while. Eventually I started to talk to a few. That is all I need. I don’t enjoy socializing with big groups of people.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Janet. The contract is a big relief – over two months without income. Yikes!

      Sorry you also have troubles with dentists. I see I’m not alone.

      Yeah, the ACA meetings are pretty good. I always share, as that helps me feel through things and is the reason I go. As to chatting after – I hope also to have a few people to chat with, but I don’t need to talk to everyone. I am looking for some friends who are also working on themselves, so I feel I want to make some contacts at least. I think ACA is more therapy oriented than other 12 step programs, so I’m liking it for that.

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