Therapy Friday – more drawing

I thought I’d wait out the heat before going out, but I checked, and it’s not going to get much cooler for a few days, even at night. I hate the feeling of being trapped in my apartment. Though I can enjoy my balcony still.

Ron sometimes looks really tired after vacations, but this time he looked cheerful and relaxed.

What did we talk about? I told him I hadn’t really missed him, as I’d enjoyed a break from dealing with ‘stuff’. Later in the session I feel bad about what I said, and say actually, I did miss him somewhat – I’d had two feelings side by side. A bit of a relief then? he said, nodding agreeably.

I said it seemed the therapy aftermath was getting worse. He was surprised to hear that. I am less upset in sessions than I used to be, as I used to actually pursue feelings and parts, and now I really don’t. However, whatever we do seems to bring up a lot of stuff for me now after the session is over. Sometimes that is so intense, it feels counter productive – I just shut down to cope with it.

I mentioned my problem of shutting down after things, like walks. I never feel like Ron takes this issue too seriously – so I go to sleep, so what, type of a deal. So I say you know, I don’t abuse substances, I don’t self- harm, I don’t do some other things people do to cope, but this shutting down problem is still wrecking my life. And Ron says something about how I’m witnessing the emotions, rather than using an addiction to numb them. And I say I would use an addiction, but they don’t seem to work for me. Ron says something about how I’m witnessing the emotions, but then I get overwhelmed.

I feel like he doesn’t understand. I have this problem with dissociation, but he doesn’t understand it. It’s hard to explain something to someone when they don’t have a theory in their mind which this can fit into. He always ends up explaining it as if someone who was not dissociative complained to him about my symptoms.

I talked about a barbecue I’d had for my son and my ex, to celebrate my son’s birthday. How I’d stood up for myself more than I used to – how I’m now able to say what I feel sometimes, in the moment. For instance, I was describing my feelings about work to my ex (he’d asked about it), then my son came over with some steak, and my ex instantly dropped our conversation and started talking to my son about the steak. I felt so dropped and disregarded in that moment, because what I’d been talking about was genuinely upsetting to me. My ex is not that comfortable with problems anyway, so it’s just like him to change the subject. Plus, for him food is always the most important thing. So, I just said ‘you don’t even care about what I’m talking about’, which was how I felt. Then he said ‘no, I do..’. Which wasn’t much, but it made me feel better. More like I’d stood up for myself and taken my feelings seriously. I’ve been discounted all my life, and I’ve never caught it in the moment, and I’ve never said anything about it. So this felt….connected somehow. And I liked that it wasn’t a huge deal – there was just that moment, then the dinner went on.

In general, I’ve been finding I do speak up when my feelings are hurt, when I never used to do that. It seems like a positive change to me.

I’ve brought my art supplies, so I pull them out and do some colouring. In my adult state, I tend to just play with colour, not drawing anything figurative. Then after a while, I start a new page and the kid gets time. She draws a large tree, and a fox, and a duck, and a canoe. It’s not as great as before, because the kid and Ron don’t really create a story this time. Ron says something about do I know the Little Prince? She does, but it’s a story for bigger kids. The tells him about how there’s a picture, it looks like a hat, but it’s really a snake who swallowed an elephant. Ron says there’s a fox in that story, which she doesn’t recall. That you have to be very quiet, and very gentle, and after a while the fox will trust you.

B starts feeling really sad, drawing. She draws a storm cloud and tells Ron she feels sad. So much sadness. Then anger. Bits of anger, just at the edges. Who are you angry with? She doesn’t say anything. After a while she says the names of her siblings.

In the last few minutes, Ron talks about how there’s my trauma, from my uncle, but then there’s also this other trauma, of being completely abandoned by my family. And I nod and say yes, that makes sense.

So I go home. Because the kid part got so much attention, she feels happier than usual, and so it’s easier to do some chores and things. As the day wears on, I feel more and more sad. The next day, I feel consumed by this ball of grief. I can barely function. I cry a bit. I’m also angry – this seems again to be Ron’s fault. I don’t understand what’s happening to me. But, I think maybe it is the accumulated grief of living with my family. It all seems to be coming up now, maybe because Ron is being kind and receptive.

I went out last night, and seem to have switched out of all that feeling, so I feel more normal today.

  1. Cat said:

    Speaking up after years of feeling supressed is terrifying. It’s all good and well knowing where it comes from, but we only overcome the fears through the action, which you did just nicely with your ex.

    Sometimes Ron can sound a pain when he doesn’t seem to get something, like the dissociation after exercise. I don’t quite understand what he means, “witnessing the emotions” as though it was quite a natural thing to do. He doesn’t seem to have any suggestions of how you might manage this. But, he’s so good in so many other places.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Cat. I think I’m more aggressive than you are perhaps – I didn’t feel afraid in this case. I knew he wouldn’t be angry. But I’m just not at all used to speaking up about feelings, so it was a good step.

      I often feel quite angry with Ron and I think that comes through in how I write things. Maybe I should have pushed him more to explain himself. I think by ‘witnessing the emotions’ he means letting them happen without trying to numb out with something like TV or alcohol, or all these ways we have devised for getting away from our feelings. But my way is dissociation, which I don’t want to keep doing, but can’t stop, because it seems automatic. He didn’t seem to get my point. But I also gave up on this, just skipped along to something else. Maybe I need a note to self to fight a bit more, don’t just let it go if it doesn’t make sense.

      He doesn’t seem to have any suggestion for how to handle this. It is a bit of an unusual problem.

      I suspect some, maybe all, of my anger at Ron is displaced and belongs elsewhere. The sessions also feel very nurturing to me at times.

      Take care. Keep warm. 🙂

      • Cat said:

        Whether you feel safe or not with Ron, I reckon speaking up is still a good step forward. I feel safe with Paul, but haven’t needed to say anything that could be perceived as negative, until now and it isn’t easy

        I understand now what he means about ‘witnessing emotions’ but I wish I knew how to. I seem to dissociate too and it’s more a sensation of numbness than a feeling.

        Hope you’re keeping cool!

        • Ellen said:

          Sorry, I meant I was not afraid of my ex, not now anyway. I definitely feel safe with Ron. I’ve told him all kinds of angry type things and he’s never been angry with me. Glad you feel safe with Paul.

          Witnessing emotions is not easy.

          This is hopefully the last day of our heatwave here! Cheers.

  2. I think it’s hard to get across that sometimes there really isn’t much emotion going on. You feel like glass and have this incredible urge to lie down. And that’s about it.

    • Ellen said:

      Yep, that’s it. I think it’s a type of dissociation, and I go to sleep to come out of it. It’s not an emotional state at that point. The only explanation that makes sense is that somewhere along the line, I dissociated to avoid emotions. Just I can’t catch that point. Thanks for commenting.

  3. It sounds like a productive session even though there was mixed feelings afterwords. I’ve often felt that raw grief too. I’m sorry Ron isnt much help with that. That is frustrating I think I’d find it to be frustrating if I was in your position. XX

    • Ellen said:

      It was productive, thanks Many.

  4. cardamone5 said:

    It is so hard to know whether a session is helpful or hurtful, when it arouses so much negative emotion. Is feeling that emotion good and a sign you are dealing with it, and or is bad because it is debilitating. Have you asked Ron this question? Just wondering. Thinking of you.

    • Ellen said:

      This has definitely been a topic of discussion. For Ron, feeling is 100% good. I didn’t find those feelings at therapy – they are living in me and caused by my past. So when they come up, I have the chance to work through them. I more or less agree with this, otherwise I’d be crazy to keep going. Sometimes the feelings overwhelm me entirely though, and at that point, I no longer think they’re helpful.

      It’s totally a different concept than trying to change feelings from ones you don’t like to ones you like better.

      Thanks Elizabeth

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