Therapy Friday – house

Aack. I feel so judgemental. There’s an upsetting situation at work, and I want to fix it, because I believe it can be addressed at least and improved, but my client is standing in the way. Talking or arguing with him is like pushing against fluffy popcorn – you don’t get anywhere, because he’ll agree with whoever is speaking to him, won’t voice his opinions, and then go ahead and do whatever he likes regardless. He seems so friendly, and he is, and he is not scary. But he’s going a really wrong way, and I want to shift that, since this is my area of expertise after all. We had a team meeting yesterday, and yes, he agreed with everything I said and recommended, and now he’s gone ahead and done something else which is more pleasant for him. Sigh.

Plus I can’t figure out if he’s my ‘boss’ or not. His boss signs my time sheets. His boss is more direct and will confront, but also seems to want to solve problems. He doesn’t seem to have this terrible need to appear nice at all times. I kind of think his boss is also my actual boss, and E is just trying to manage this project I was hired for. Which he is doing incredibly badly, as far as communications are concerned.

I need to put this stuff aside at night. It keeps spinning through my brain. I want some time off, to be myself, not to obsess about work.

The second part of my session Friday was interesting, if I can remember.

I started saying that I wasn’t that excited about Ron’s idea of a ‘strong inner censor’. When you have parts, isn’t it more like you have these internal walls – feelings are held in parts. It’s not really the same as if I personally am censoring myself. It seems more like I don’t always have access to parts.

Ron listened and didn’t say much. I see here again I’m critical – that’s me. I always want to dispute ideas I don’t think are right. Sometimes they may be OK but I dispute them anyway, convinced my way is the best.

I said I wasn’t sure what else to talk about. Ron said try to find out what it is you’d like to say to me, while we’re together.

I sit there for a while. I realize, while i was talking about parts, I was kind of seeing the rooms of a house. I mention that. It’s like I’m hovering over a house with no roof, and I see the rooms laid out below.

Ron goes with that. So what’s it like walking in the house. I’m confused, and not at all sure I want to go there. Um….I don’t know? Maybe dark….

What rooms are there? Well….there’s a hall, and a living room, and a kitchen…..

This is stupid.

Why is it stupid?

Because it’s not real! It’s stupid. (I’ve switched to a kid part.)

Well, it’s OK to feel it’s stupid. Plus we can keep talking about it.

Oh….all right.

So are you alone in the house, is there someone else there?

I’m alone?

Could i be there too, in the house with  you, so it’s not as scary?

I don’t know….maybe.

Imagining Ron there with her does give this part a bit of hope.

So then we imagine walking through the house, from room to room. I feel scared and emotional, though about what, I don’t understand exactly. The house was not my childhood home, or any house I’d lived in really. It was an emotional experience, and it felt really connected and very real.

I think we spend a good twenty minutes with the house – until the session ends. I like this part of Ron – his interest in imagery and dreams. I say something about how amazing it is that this passing image I had could bring up so much stuff for me. Ron agrees it is amazing – he says our psyche produces dreams and fantasies for us all the time….and something about the richness of that.

I do feel very much in a young part by the end of the session. We take a few minutes to try and bring me back. Ron asks some questions about my everyday life – where I’m going next and such. It helps a bit to bring me back.

I don’t have a good explanation of what this meant. I know when I came home, I had absolutely no impulse to quit therapy. When parts are heavily involved, whatever happened feels meaningful to me.

Was the house some kind of symbol of my psyche? Or was it a representation of what it’s like to live with parts, with walls between ways of being and memory? I do know i often seem to dream of wandering through the rooms of a house, sometimes looking for something. The house is never a house I recognize.

Very mysterious. I do know a part was trying to communicate something, to tell something, and that was the best she could do at the moment.

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12 comments
  1. The house is not stupid because it is not real. It’s a metaphor to express your reality, and since you build the metaphor, you actually can control (some of) your reality. At least that’s what I found with my own house metaphor this past summer. I had pooh-poohed a lot of imagery work earlier but I’ve learned it can be very powerful for me. It will be interesting to see if it’s useful to you over time.

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, I find imagery useful too. I totally understood when you wrote on your blog about your ‘house’ and its inhabitants. The ‘stupid’ comment was from a really young part – I personally found the house experience powerful. Even the part was into it, just it was a scary experience for her. Thanks Q.

  2. Ashana M said:

    I think as someone in parts, it feels so profoundly important to be able to articulate what it is like to be that way. It’s so difficult to do, and no one seems to ever really get it. They imagine a single person with some add-ons–like a strong inner center. The reality is that maybe you are a single person. Maybe there is a strong inner censor responsible for the parts. But that is not what the subjective experience feels like. A house with rooms seems like a good metaphor for the feeling. I used to make collages a lot when I made a practice of taking time for art. So much of it was about trying to articulate that experience of having a fragmented existence, this incomplete and disjointed self and these memories that came in pieces

    • Ellen said:

      It does seem impossible to convey. I think Ron sometimes tries to compare it to how he experiences things, which isn’t really on the money. Sometimes though he gets it more. I think it’s maybe also hard to convey how it is for someone who is more integrated – we just assume that everyone is that way, and it doesn’t need explanation.

      Collages seem like a great idea to express this parts situation. Thanks Ash

  3. It does sound like parts were trying to say something. Or maybe they live in this house? And were trying to let you know that is where they live? It sounded intense though and you made progress. Good job. XX

    • Ellen said:

      It’s mysterious. Thanks Many

  4. I’m fascinated. I imagined myself as a house too, only my house had no doors between the rooms. Just walls. Something you may want to consider. One of my favorite lines in the Harry Potter series is when Dumbledor says, “Just because it is all in your head, doesn’t make it less real.” Parts are real. My parts helped me survive. My parts are me too. Hugs. You are doing amazing work with your therapist. I hope work goes better for you.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting you too imagined yourself as a house. Maybe my rooms have doors because I don’t have amnesia for experience, just for memories? I love Dumbledor, and that quote is so true. Thanks Ruth

  5. Rachel said:

    Fascinating, this was an interesting read. Glad you’re trying out new approaches. And also, I understand why you would feel like you are being judgmental, but it sounds to me like your assessment of the client/boss-client is legitimate and fair. Just saying.

    • Ellen said:

      Glad you enjoyed it. As to work – my feelings have again shifted. My client again appears in a better light, and is trying to solve the problem. I get frustrated and start seeing things very one-sidedly sometimes. Thanks for the validation though.

  6. I, too, used the house metaphor for awhile.

    I have found that trying to describe/explain the experience of being dissociative often helps me to figure out things for myself, as well.

    I have also found that even good therapists sometimes make assumptions about what you are saying and so don’t really understand. Words don’t really do a good job of communicating internal experiences, after all and people tend to make assumptions based on their own experiences.

    • Ellen said:

      Interesting how many of us who are dissociative strongly relate to the ‘house’.

      As to making assumptions – in a way, it’s positive when therapists try to relate our experience to their own, because they’re seeing us as equals, not completely ‘other’. In another way, it gets frustrating because the experiences seem quite different.

      Thanks Cat.

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