Therapy Friday – drawing


I’m glad I attended my Friday session. Some feelings still got stirred up, but I don’t feel abandoned or in danger. And it’s nothing like last weekend, which was full of chaos and despair.

The first half, we tried to figure out what happened last time. At least I did. First we sat in silence for a while, as I couldn’t decide what to discuss. I can’t remember the details – I think I laid it  out as I have in my posts, that I think the problem was from the parts that spoke that session and were crying. Then I said I thought it wasn’t great for me to switch out of those parts, and I wasn’t sure why I did that. Maybe in a social situation it would make sense, but this was therapy after all.

Ron wanted to know what he could have done. Maybe encouraged those parts to stay? But, he said, if I did that, you’d tend to be upset with me. I might, I agree, I seem to be volatile. But the upshot was, I’d try and stay in a part more when that part was upset. It’s true it’s unclear what will help. If I stay with an upset part, those emotions can just grow stronger as well, also swamping me when I leave.

I described how tough the weekend had been. In general, Ron was concerned, but he wasn’t sure how to proceed. He said I’d had bad reactions when parts didn’t speak, and when they did. It was unclear what happens for me. I said how he used to offer me check in calls, ‘when he still cared’. How I was completely alone with this after the session.

Ron said his feelings towards me haven’t changed. That I used to be more visibly distressed after sessions, and then he’d offer the check-in, but that was still available to me. I could call or email him and we could set up a time, if I thought it would help. That felt really good, that he said I could do that. Not this weekend, as he’ll be away, but in the future.

I’d brought a big bag of art supplies to session. My blank scrap-book, crayons, my fancy adult colouring book, my artist’s pencil crayons, my dream journal. Huh. Different.

Oh, the other thing before the art was we talked about fear. I felt afraid/anxious about going to therapy, and that feeling continued through the whole first half of the session. Ron asked what i thought it was about. I wasn’t sure – maybe I was afraid he was judging me? We’d talked a bit about how I’d bought better clothes in order to fit in better at work. I think Ron doesn’t really get that, so I said maybe about the clothes, maybe you think it’s shallow. Or maybe I’m afraid of what comes up in therapy.

I opened my scrap-book and crayons. I tell Ron I have no artistic skill whatsoever, and he says he doesn’t either. I pick up a crayon and start to draw. Of course, as soon as that happens, the kid takes over, and from then on, we have kid conversation. As soon as I’m the kid, I stop feeling afraid, in fact, I feel tranquillized almost. Then softly sad. And those feelings have persisted – I’m not at all anxious, I’m sad, but in a calm, quiet way, like I’m waiting to see what happens next, without wanting to do much of anything.

I draw a pink stick figure girl, complete with triangle skirt. Then animals of course – a dog, two cats. The kid chats with Ron the whole time, about liking dogs, but with jobs we’re not home enough for dogs. After a few minutes, the kid is sad, and stops drawing for a while. Then flip over the page, and a duck. Can you tell me a story about the duck? Ron says. OK….Well the duck goes for a walk, and then she meets a dog, so she’s scared, so she hides behind a leaf. Maybe the dog is friendly? suggests Ron. OK – so the dog tickles her with his whiskers, and she laughs, and then they go on a picnic, and they eat…..they eat cake, and drink coke, and have strawberries…..

There were a few more little interactions between Ron and the kid. It felt pretty good to me – definitely connected and peaceful. Then the session was over, and we made plans  to meet in two weeks.

So I wasn’t that functional the rest of the day. Being in a part does that – I get a bunch of that part’s emotions, and it wipes me out. Today as well, I feel sad and lethargic. But it seems OK, like I can handle this. I’m not thinking of different ways to kill myself or anything.

I’m not sure what to conclude from this. The session felt helpful to me. I felt Ron was on my side, and on the kid’s side. It didn’t feel chaotic.

I think overall, I’ve been pushing too hard. I need to trust that staying with one thing in the session is enough. Almost anything stirs up a lot of feelings for me. I think I’ve been overwhelming myself, because I’m not realizing the emotional impact of what I’m going through at the time it’s happening. Even with both Ron and myself steering clear of painful topics, a whole bunch of sadness came up. I don’t think I have to try especially to deal with difficult things in session – it seems to happen by itself. I think I have to try to both be present, and then to care about the part that came up and try and comfort her.

We talked about that also. I said I don’t mean to suppress feelings, but I need more emphasis on taking care of and comforting once the feelings are there. Ron agreed there’s a huge difference between suppressing feelings and comforting, and that comforting is a good thing to do. In general Ron seemed happy to follow my lead and not push at all. He actually doesn’t push very often. I think it’s me that’s pushing too hard.

I also kind of wonder if he did start reading the book I loaned him, The Haunted Self. He seemed like a better therapist suddenly.

So I’m glad I went, and I’m glad the kid got a lot of the session time, because she needed it.

I think as a very young child, I didn’t get much non-judgmental attention from adults. It was never OK to not be much good at something, but still worth time and attention, just because of being myself. That’s what this drawing stuff kind of feels like. It’s OK  not to be much good – I’m still worth having a conversation with, wherever I’m at.

  1. Cat said:

    I like how he asked if there was anything he could have done to make it easier. You both sound more in tune this week and maybe you just needed to say what you said. he always sounds a great T and I am sure he is willing to bend with your needs. I am not sure he needs to read the book to prove his worth for future trauma stuff, but it is maybe enough to be more attentive and allowing you to explore parts and trauma as you wish. I am so glad the break got off on a good footing, but I hope it is also a special time for you too

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, I like it also that he listens and asks how he can be helpful. It’s a good quality.

      Well, I’d like him to have more knowledge on dissociation. I might still need to find someone who already does.

      I’m glad to have had a good session before the break also. It’s usually difficult for me, but so far, I’m OK with a break.

      thanks Cat

      • Cat said:

        Paul does similar interaction and it is a hard quality to find in a T

  2. I’m really glad.

    What you describe at the end sounds a bit like what is happening for me more these days. You were drawing and talking about ducks–it’s not directly connected to your childhood or thinking about it in any way–but you come out of it with this fairly profound insight about what things were like for you as a child and maybe about how it feels to you now. I think that’s more what happens with parts. It’s an emotional processing that’s going on. It’s not analytical or very obviously logical. But it helps a great deal with understanding your own experience more, and it helps in a way that I think is deeper and lasts. You could come to the same conclusion from analyzing the past without delving into the parts, but i feel like those insights never kind of “stick.” They just evaporate. It’s like they are skin deep.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks so much for understanding about the parts (and the ducks). I feel pretty much insane putting it out there. And yet, this stuff about the drawing and the story about the ducks felt so real and meaningful to me, in a way the adult discussion didn’t. With young child parts, it’s emotional reality being acted out or something. I am so grateful that Ron is able to go with it as he does, without judging.

      You are so right on the button. It was lovely to get your comment. Thank you Ashana

  3. Andi said:

    So glad to read this post. You needed this session (both of you, I think). Especially before a vacation.

    • Ellen said:

      I did need this. Thanks for empathizing Andi.

  4. Interesting insights on your part. I am glad that it felt positive for you. Yes, I believe feeling sad is positive because you are allowing yourself to feel. I hope the rest of your weekend goes well. Take care.

    • Ellen said:

      I believe feeling sad is positive also. It was an interesting session for me. The weekend was OK too. Thanks Ruth

  5. leb105 said:

    Sounded like you learned a whole lot! I hope you’re proud of yourself.

  6. Rachel said:

    Sounds like a healing session, I am so glad to read this. I am glad that you feel supported by Ron, and that you honored your parts that needed him today. I know it hasn’t been easy to tap into who needs what, but I think you’re doing an amazing job with it.

    • Ellen said:

      It actually still feels like it was a healing session – I feel better off for it, even though it made me sad. Thanks Rachel

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