Therapy Thursday

Part of the reason I feel I can’t function in therapy at the moment is sheer tiredness. The pain in my arm has been waking me several times a night. I need a lot of sleep, so it really impacts me. I lately figured out that the meds from the doctor don’t help enough at night, when I seem to be stressing the shoulder by lying down, but I can take Tylenol on top of that, and that helps. At least for three hours, when the Tylenol wears off again, and I wake again. It’s still a bit better than waking every hour or so.

And wow, work is stressful. It’s more engaging than my last contracts have been, so that’s positive. But, I have no one to be a buddy. It’s a very technical environment, and it’s mostly men, and mostly men from other countries. Plus they’re mostly younger, as I’m fairly old. All this is a bit triggering. My father was working in a technical environment, and he brought a lot of his job home. Students of his would come by, and my mother would entertain his friends, who were work colleagues. I grew up in this math type of environment.

On the one hand, it’s interesting. I had no idea this particular world of work existed a couple of months ago. On the other hand – shades of my father. I fear I am not intelligent enough. I sometimes get loud and insistent on what I think, because I feel a bit threatened. Other times, I’m too scared to say a word to anyone. I easily get weirded out.

If I was in some kind of caring profession or social services environment say, it would be so foreign to my family, I doubt I’d be triggered. However, what would I have to offer there?

Sometimes, after work, my mind is just racing. This person said that, this big huge deal boss said the other thing, I said this, I should have said something else, what does it all mean….I need to chill. Just chill.

So I want to see if I can recall some of my last session.

First I go in and just chat. I get there just in time, and tell Ron there was so much traffic. After a minute or so I realize I’m really happy to see him, so I tell him that, and he smiles.

I talk about how I’ve been super depressed in the mornings for the last week or so. That I suspect it might be the pain meds from the doctor, because nothing else has changed. I haven’t been triggered by anything major. It’s funny, because we don’t delve into this much. I think Ron asks me why I’m feeling bad in the mornings, and the meds theory is all I can come up with. However, since the session, my mornings have been better. Not good, but not as blackly awful. Could just mentioning something help?

I say I feel I’m stuck, and Ron asks why. I say I guess you must be bored with me – I haven’t managed to do anything all week besides work. I’m boring. It would have been nice to have been refuted, but Ron doesn’t say anything to this. I truly feel how boring I am, and nothing occurs in my mind to discuss at all. I haven’t seen anyone or done anything.

I talk about the massage/acupuncture I’m going for. Last weekend it triggered out trauma, and I spent a lot of time not able to function. I actually wrote to Ron about it, and he responded, so I told him that was helpful. A younger part had prompted me to write to him, so he wrote back and said it might be helpful for that part to write to him directly. And I got that email in the middle of the night, because he’d written after I’d gone to bed, so then the kid of course immediately wrote back. Because it was the middle of the night, I didn’t send  that response, but closed down my computer. Next day, that kid email was in my sent items, so I’d thought I’d sent it. Turns out Ron never got that one.

This particular part used to write to Ron quite a bit, but has now stopped. It just no longer feels the same somehow. I tell Ron that kid parts don’t express themselves directly – they won’t say here’s the problem and here’s how I feel. It’s more roundabout. They’ll slip their feelings in among chat about things important to them.

I bring in a frightening dream I had the night after last week’s therapy. I dreamed I was at my parents’, and I learned that my son had died weeks before, but they hadn’t told me. I was extremely upset, and also furious with them that they hadn’t told me this news. Their attitude was ‘what’s the big deal’ and that I was making a fuss over nothing. My mother tries to take me shopping in the car, but I get out of the car and go back, because I’m too upset. I think maybe I should call Ron, because he said it’s good to call people when you are upset.

That’s the dream. I woke up extremely upset, and it took a few minutes to realize it wasn’t real. I felt this huge grief, as if someone had actually died. The dream seemed less symbolic than others – more direct. Ron did ask me what I made of it, but then offered his own interpretation which to me, missed the point. I said well, i have been worried about my son. He’s staying up north and I can’t reach him. His cell only works when he plugs it in, which he never does, and he doesn’t check his email. I haven’t heard from him for a few weeks.

Then I explain about how the other weekend, I went for a walk with my mother in the cemetery. We walked past two stones of friends of my parents. I exclaimed that I hadn’t know they’d died, and my mother says, oh, yes. To me, this is typical of my mother. She does not tell anything negative. Anything sad, she will try to ignore. It’s like living with an absence.

Ron asks what I said, when she said they’d died. Not much, I say. Just – oh, I didn’t know that. Well, he said. You’re talking about your mother not saying anything, but you’re not speaking up either. I guess I see that. I could have said something about how I’d expect her to tell me something like that. Though really, they weren’t people I knew at all well – it wasn’t a clear situation.

Then Ron said maybe the dream is a call to action – how can I determine if my son is OK. Well, there’s no good way really. However, this is totally typical behaviour for him, so he’s likely fine. Ron stuck with this call to action theory though.

To me, the dream was about how my family is. They deny everything, and act surprised if you get upset. It makes me crazy, and it makes me angry, and confused. It’s obviously exaggerated that they would not tell me my son had died – but the emotion of it is true I think. Maybe I’ll bring this up again, because to me, Ron missed the entire emotion of the dream. I tried then to talk about my mother, about what it’s like to live with someone who won’t talk. This didn’t go anywhere. Ron was on this different track altogether, and I felt constrained from talking somehow.

Then I talked about how difficult I was finding it to talk. About how it was like being in a fog, or behind glass. Ron said I have a strong inner censor. I think though, if you have parts, the censorship is kind of in the parts – they are holding emotions. It’s not so much that I can’t find them – they’re not mine, they are elsewhere.

Then we had this discussion again of how I didn’t think triggering off trauma was helpful. That I just collapse, and it never seems to get better. The next time it’s triggered off, it’s just like the last time, it hasn’t changed. How is that helpful? That’s just pointless suffering.

Here I suppose Ron thinks I’m avoiding my pain. He say something about how I’m walking this tightrope, trying not to fall off into trauma, and it’s hard to know what to do. He thinks I could change something about the recovery process – reach out to someone, instead of going through it alone. I tell him there really isn’t anyone to reach out to – the people I know don’t understand. He doesn’t say anything to that.

Right at the end I get into some confusion. I can’t remember what it is. I’m trying to feel, and finally I stop feeling I’m talking about the wrong things. I just feel sad, and confused, and lost.

Then it’s time to go. I say it would be good to start with that confusion next time, because it feels real at least. Ron says he can mention if if I like, but it likely won’t mean much to me, because I won’t be in that state at the beginning of next session.

So I go home. I think about quitting therapy. But I know that next week, I’ll want to go again.

  1. I’m glad that your mornings are less black.

    As for your not being in that confused feeling state next time, you might be able to influence that. I don’t know how you feel about inner dialogues, but if you simply “announced” inside that you would like to start out with the parts a having time more towards the beginning of the session, so you can make sure that there is more time for the work that they do. Then at the session if you start to feel the presence of a part early on, “welcome” the part.

    I know that it sounds weird and wacky, but basically you would be creating a sort of hypnotic suggestion for yourself. I did something similar, although it was in regards to telling the parts that if the had important things to say that I was getting in the way of being said, then they could push me further back in order to say them. Unfortunately, I forgot that I had done that and never said anything to my therapist and the parts pushed too far forward, too much of the time. It was only after a couple of weeks of craziness in session that she asked what had changed and then I was able to create a better balance. So keeping Ron in the loop would be a good thing.

    • Ellen said:

      I definitely believe in ‘announcing’ stuff – I’ve done it to decrease fear and suspicion of others, and for other purposes. I could try this. Interesting how it worked for you. I like the balance idea.

      I find that when parts get a larger part of the session, i feel overall that it was productive and worthwhile, though as you say, it can be destabilizing for sure.

      Thanks Cat.

  2. “About how it was like being in a fog, or behind glass.” “t’s not so much that I can’t find them – they’re not mine, they are elsewhere.” These statements are almost identical to how I felt in my early years of counseling. I did learn that just talking about something sometimes helps. I never did understand why. I hope you get some rest.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting how we are alike…It’s astounding how sometimes I talk about something, and it seems quite superficial, and then that issue improves.

      Thank you Ruth

  3. Hope your shoulder pain gets to be less soon. It does sound like you brought up a lot. I think ron seems just to be slow to respond when you do bring up stuff. Sending hugs of support. XX

  4. e.Nice said:

    Sounds like you guys are a bit out of sync right now. That is frustrating. Hope next time goes better. Are you wanting to be done with therapy all together, or maybe thinking of trying out another therapist?

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah. Well today was great, so I’m not thinking of leaving. So many ups and downs. Thanks Nice.

  5. Cat said:

    IME Ellen, just mentioning something in therapy does help, but I’ve not been able to understand what. As soon as i read your dream, I thought it held the exact same meaning as you did. It’s interesting what Ron says about ‘trying not to fall into trauma’. I undestand the fear of feeling trauma. It’s one thing identifying, but quite another feeling.

    • Ellen said:

      Thanks Cat. Feeling trauma that’s been buried is really really tough isn’t it? Interesting you’ve also found mentioning something helps – I’ve noticed that a few times, and it’s just mysterious to me.

      • Cat said:

        very mysterious, but true… it seems

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