Friends, dream, dishes

The rest of the session was also OK. Now it’s been a while, so I forget a lot.

I talk about a phone call with friend E. This friend is not sympathetic to pain. I’d had some severe physical pain from my shoulder problem, which I described to her, not in too excruciating detail, and she changed the subject immediately. I felt hurt and disregarded. But then, she’s like that. Ron says – so he has almost no capacity for sympathy then. I sigh. I say I’ve chosen the wrong people, I think. People who think but don’t feel. (This friend has her good points, btw. Nothing is simple. I feel guilty writing this out, but I want a record of my session. Thanks for understanding – it’s always really about me.)

Then I worry aloud about not having real friends. I do have friends though – just, I’m unhappy with them most of the time. No one is close.

We talk about my friend H, whom I do have more of an emotional connection to. I know she cares about my feelings, and will listen to me talk. As I listen to hers. She has moved across the  country, so our relationship is now only on the phone. This is what I’m telling Ron. I like her and have known her for years. The big downside is she’s got herself this major diagnosis of schizophrenia, from back when she had a breakdown years ago and ended up in hospital. I personally think it’s a ridiculous diagnosis – I think it much more likely she is like me, split into parts. However, you cannot tell a medical person about voices of any kind, especially if you’re in a crisis, because you’ll be diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on anti-psychotics. All my anxieties about the medical profession come into play here. Ron agrees that the system is problematic.

H gets upset if I ever talk about her diagnosis, so we never go there. She is on permanent disability, shares an apartment with a brother who abused her as a child, though he no longer is abusive, and has various health issues because of the meds. But. She is a good and kind person and we do care about each other. Just I get so sad and furious sometimes thinking about her situation – it seems so hopeless somehow. But….she goes to therapy and tries to work through her abuse, and does a few things to try to help herself. It’s not really hopeless. It’s just friendship with her is fraught for me.

Ron asks if there are implications there for me – if my feelings about this friend are about me somehow.

I say I don’t think so. I’m in no danger of being put on major medications or diagnosed, after all, I’m seeing him for therapy, and he’s about the last person in the world to suggest meds to anyone. I puzzle out my feelings a bit more. I feel like…..I feel like people should be able to cope, I guess. Should? says Ron. Well…..I don’t actually think that. I understand some people cannot. But wouldn’t it be so much less difficult to face the working world than to live in such absolute poverty?

We don’t take this any further. I honestly don’t want to judge anyone for needing to be on disability. In my friend’s case, it’s pretty clear she will never get off of it, as she’s close to my age now. It makes me sad. I always wish she’d fight more, get mad, but she doesn’t. It is not my place to say.

I switch topics and ask Ron if he thinks I’m wasting my session. No, he says. You’re telling me things as you experienced them, you’re maybe not going into depth, but it’s worthwhile. I say I’m worried I’m just treating him like a friend, instead of a therapist. More of a chat. He says if I was doing that, he would still be there, and he would act in a therapeutic way. In fact, there is some theory that says that in therapy, the therapist’s unconscious communicates with the client’s unconscious in a way that is helpful, no matter what they actually discuss. He doesn’t entirely buy it, he says, but there’s something to that.

Huh. I don’t buy it at all. So all we have to do is sit in a room together silently, and he’s already being helpful to me? OMG.


My sleep has calmed down, and i now remember some dreams, so I pull out my dream journal, as Ron is really good with dreams. I tend to be amazed at what comes up discussing them, and what Ron suggests often hits home. On my own, I rarely make much sense of dreams.

I tell Ron the following dream. I am at sea in a boat, and I see all my mother’s dishes floating away. I do my best to rescue them. I just save some of the last ones, the oldest and most scratched up dishes.

What do you make of it, Ron asks.

I have no idea whatsoever.

What about the dishes?

Well… I consider. I guess Thanksgiving is coming up. My mother will be cooking a lot of dishes.

Ah, dishes in that sense. Do you think you feel you have to take care of a lot of your mother’s anxieties for her?

Um. Yeah. Everything she cooks, everyone always has to compliment her about how good the food is. (I’m surprised at how upset I feel all of a sudden.) She cooks so much, by the time we sit down to eat, my mother is just rigid with tension. She really doesn’t talk or relax at all. So it’s a performance? Ron asks. Definitely. That’s why I don’t want to go. I hate going. That’s one thing, my relationship to my family has not changed since I first came to see you.

I think you’d really have to push for that to happen.

Yeah? Well, they’re not going to change.

No, but you can change how your react to them. Your family, at least the way you describe them, reminds me of the novel The Remains of the Day. (In this novel, a butler concentrates very hard on all the ‘proper’ details of a large house, that the soup is perfect, that not a hair is out of place, that all is in order at all times. He is very devoted, but he completely misses the fact that this is a Nazi household and these people are committing murder. All is proper on the surface only.) I just say yeah, you’ve said that before.

But I just see them on these formal occasions, I say. It’s not the time to delve into difficulties. Well, nothing is stopping you, really, from driving up there and visiting on your own? No, I guess not.

And then, I have the overwhelming feeling that I’m discussing the wrong things, as I described in my previous post. Parts not being heard I suppose.

I leave calmly enough, wishing Ron a good holiday.

And my weekend is so much better than last. So much better. No trauma memories stirred up. I feel like being alive is OK. There’s a lot to be said for trying to discuss things as an adult.

  1. Rachel said:

    This seems like helpful information – sometimes discussing adult topics keeps things in a stable place. Sometimes discussing adult topics doesn’t meet needs of the younger parts that need urgent attention. Seems like you are becoming more clear on your needs in any given session, and I think that detective work is paying off for you.

    • Ellen said:

      It does seem helpful. And we haven’t spent that much time discussing adult type topics, which I think I need. Thanks Rachel

  2. Hugs Ellen, its your blog, its supposed to be about you. I come here to learn from you and cheer you on. I agree an adult session is easier afterwards but I still feel they have value in working things out.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, I agree. At first I was disappointed that child parts weren’t heard, but then after I appreciated getting a chance to talk about some important daily life type stuff. And I know that sometimes what I talk about isn’t flattering from an outside point of view, but I’m not perfect, and I’m not hiding my flaws. Thanks Ruth.

  3. I’m glad you had a good session. You sure did talk about a lot. It all sounded intense. I hope you have many more good sessions in the future. XX

    • Ellen said:

      We did cover a lot of ground, didn’t we. Thanks Many.

  4. Ashana M said:

    I guess I still feel in regards to your family that the truth is for people you want to be close to. Maybe I am excessively untrusting (not unlikely), but you have all these feelings about your family because you had to be close to them. You lived with them. They were your main support and source of relationship. But they aren’t really people you necessarily would choose to have in your life. They don’t care to be authentic about anything. They don’t seem to care much about you. As long as their need to present some kind of image of perfection is being met, they are content, but they don’t want to know about your life. They don’t care how you feel about things. You know what the consequences are for not meeting their need to have things appear perfect. You’re grown up now, but the silent treatment isn’t an age specific punishment. It’s not like a spanking. It won’t probably devastate you now, but why bother?

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah…there is something in what you say Ash. It’s just….not a straightforward situation from my point of view. They kind of care, as they are able. If I’m in the hospital, my whole family shows up, and my mother would visit every day. If I need something tangible, they will offer it. They made efforts to be good parents when I was a child, it’s just that their efforts were completely inadequate. It’s very very far from your own situation obviously. They’re getting old, and I feel I don’t want to abandon them.

      On the other hand. I feel massively depressed after I see them, dissociative, and I can’t sleep. Something still goes wrong. I’m trying to figure out how to either make the situation more real and less harmful to me, or else, yes, stop seeing them.

      Thanks for the insights.

      • Ashana M said:

        Those are the kinds of things my parents would do for me too, if I let them.. It makes them feel like they are being good people and good parents. My mother is not totally without empathy. She’s just so dysregulated, her own needs usually trump everything else. Anyway, maybe small doses and a bit more authenticity? Some balance? I don’t now, but best of luck sorting it. It isn’t easy.

  5. Cat said:

    Sometimes chit-chat’s about everyday things can be great therapy. I’m not sure about communication between the T and client’s unconscious, but I do believe we can gain a lot from just sitting in the therapy room, even if we say nothing.

    Wow your dream’s really intriguing. I wonder if the dishes represent your mum’s care and perfection and the fact they are floating away could be a representation of how you’re progressing. I feel the same whenever I’ve spent time at family occasions. It’s hard to interact with parents when we spend so much time in therapy analysing our relationship with their “ways.”

    Great to catch up Ellen and thanks again for dropping by my blog.

    • Ellen said:

      As to chit chat …. I don’t know. I think therapy needs to probe deeper to be effective. But maybe chat creates some bonding. Our families seem similar in lots of ways. Thank you Cat.

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