Wednesday therapy

Why don’t I get today’s session down while it’s fresh, as a counterpoint to my complete failure to note down last week’s. Last week’s was powerful actually, but I can no longer remember much of it. There was a parts component which strongly affected me, but I’m not sure what it was.

Anyhoo. Today is Remembrance Day, and I get it off, not that I get paid though. Luckily Ron was able to schedule me in. I’m trying to avoid evenings after work, so this makes three in a row, next week will make four. Yay.

Ron looks cheerful today, which is unusual. I met E. on the way up the stairs to his office. We greet each other but don’t chat. When I get into Ron’s office, and see he is unusually cheerful, I immediately feel that he had a good session with E, and they’re both looking happy, and I am now going to depress him. I’m feeling tired and discouraged, and don’t have much to say. For no good reason. I have a day off, and work is going well. It’s interesting, my opinion is being listened to, I have some things to do but not too much. My arm is finally improving. My life is going pretty well.

So I guess I feel somewhat defeated before I begin. Knowing I will be depressing.

We stumble through half an hour of my session. I talk about how I’m obsessing about work, and don’t want to be doing that. Ron says that energy is good energy, and if I could switch it to something that I can do something about in my life outside of work, that it might help me. An issue I have is that I don’t do enough – I don’t feel I have the energy I guess.

It’s an interesting idea, but I actually don’t really agree. I’m not sure it’s good energy. It feels anxious and kind of ‘thin’. In general, I feel stuck in my head a fair amount – so that I think about things, but don’t carry them out. Kind of stuck in a mental space. We talk about how I need to physically do things at home….We talk about how as well as doing well at work, it would be good to have friends I interact with more. What kind of people would you like? asks Ron. I don’t know….maybe if they’re involved in personal growth?

We stumble along. Nothing really catches hold. I find Ron in this cheerful mood is less empathic, and more interested in trying to change the surface of things. He says something to that effect, that it’s as if when we talk about changing my life, I think he is forgetting that there are deeper layers to what I’m going through, but he doesn’t. I agree it’s not bad to try and improve your life at the surface level. He says it can bring up stuff that we can work on.

We discuss different parts – how I don’t think the kid’s chat is resistance – I think it’s the top layer that you need to get through, however how I think another part’s constant refrain is actually a cover for other things, and such. Ron says he thinks a problem is that all these different parts of me are fighting each other. For instance the obsessing part, the kid part, the part that wants to do things….And I get hostile to these parts, and that this is a problem. We discuss how there must be some way of having these different parts work together, instead of fighting them all. I say I agree this would be a good thing, but I don’t know how to accomplish that. Ron says the first step is noticing the hostility. So I decide to try and notice this.

None of this feels quite real to me. I get out my drawing paper and the kid starts doodling. I stop trying to talk. I tell Ron it feels a bit hopeless – I don’t feel much hope of changing.

Ron asks about drawing the house we were discussing the other week. We tried to get back there last session, but it was too frightening, so I didn’t manage. This time, the kid goes along with the house idea. I have this Gothic type house in mind, dark, with lots of wood paneling. We both mention the rooms we talked about last time. We add a bathroom and think about a dining room. Are there stairs? At first, I think not, but then decide that there is a big old staircase with a wooden banister.

None of this really takes hold. The kid plays along, but it’s like a game that has no real interest. She tells Ron about a friend at work who has three cats, two dogs and a horse – this made a huge impression on her. She would like a cat, and she and Ron discuss the kinds of cats there are.

In a lull, I notice a part of me feels quite angry. Ron suggests speaking from that angry place. And suddenly, I feel engaged. In quite a different tone of voice, I start to talk about how difficult meetings are. How sometimes people’s ideas are stupid, and I have to not say anything. (BTW I don’t really think that – this is a part.) How I feel like arguing, but arguing is not a good thing. How hard it is to be ‘good’, reasonable.

Then I tell Ron about how I’ve been contradicting E, my client, in meetings, for no good reason. How I know it bothers him, how the corners of his mouth tighten in response.

And suddenly I feel full of shame and sorrow. I remember how awful ‘discussions’ in my family were, and how my father would contradict someone on a point of fact, regardless of whether it was important to what was being discussed. It felt humiliating to talk in my family, I tell Ron. And that was then, but now, it’s not humiliating to talk, Ron says.

I sit some more with all this feeling. I’m not sure Ron notices how upset I’ve become. It’s like I hit some buried stuff. I have been beating myself up for being unskillful in meetings, though I’ve become a lot better and more mature than in the past. How come? Ron says. I think it’s this therapy – I’ve become more in tune with where other people are coming from.

That’s about it. I have some trouble organizing myself to leave, because I’m feeling humiliated. I’m Ron’s last client of the day, and he’s eager to leave. He gets up to lead the way to the door, and I slowly follow.

It was a good session overall. I wish I could get into the more emotional stuff earlier, but I can’t seem to. I’m glad to have a bit more insight into what’s going wrong for me at work sometimes.

And I’m functional after, which is a nice change from the last two weeks.

  1. I’m glad that you had a good session that felt useful to you.

    Working out communication and cooperation between parts can be difficult. I know that it hasn’t come easily for me. I have made progress, but have a long way to go. MB came back from her workshops wanting to try to do meetings with all of the parts again. They haven’t worked for me in the past- I felt far too self conscious and inhibited with her there- but over the last year or so my parts have developed much better working relationships with her and my self.

    Have you read about those sorts of meetings where all parts have a say?

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Cat – Thanks for commenting – I’m in a freak out phase about my session, and it was nice to get your kind comment and not feel quite so alone.

      I have read about those internal meetings where all parts get a say. It’s never appealed to me. I don’t know whether my kind of parts aren’t separate enough for that to be an option?

      We did talk about a really critical, abusive voice that I think comes out if the kid part is wanting to come out. I think it’s mission is to save me from the ‘humiliation’ of having a child part exposed. So somehow managing that so it’s a less painful process would be good.

      I also have a better relationship with parts than I used to, because I used to automatically squash them at all times, and now I try to leave space for them to exist. It’s really as far as I got with this. Glad this aspect is improving for you.

      • The protector parts can be pretty harsh at how they go about their jobs so they seem at first to just be punitive, harmful parts. Having figured out what this part is trying to accomplish is an essential step!

        • Sigh, I keep on accidentally posting my reply before I am done these days…

          I don’t know if it would work for you or not, but I’ll share what tends to help me when I identify those parts. Having that part share and talk about her fears in therapy was really important and also tended to be very, very hard to get started. Some of these parts had a real self harm aspect and there was a huge amount of shame to be overcome in order to talk about that. Fortunately, MB always reacted calmly and reassured me that I wasn’t the only abuse survivor who had parts who did that to exert control over the system. Then I needed to work with the part to find alternatives. Sometimes that has meant finding other ways to accomplish the same goal. Often it means redefining the purpose of the part to one that is more appropriate to today’s context. When the protector part was confident that MB and I had the situation that she was worried about covered, she was relieved to give up her job. Because my parts tend to be more fluid and are only identifiable by how they experience things, I’m not really sure what happened to the part. I have a sense though that she has become a part of the greater me.

          • Ellen said:

            Wow, so interesting, thanks. I hadn’t thought of this voice as a protector part, and not really as a part at all, whom you could talk with or allow to talk. Maybe it is. I’m glad you worked this out with your more dangerous parts. I don’t have the physical self-harm aspects, it’s all focused on emotional tearing down it seems.

            I’m trying to figure out what the role of that part is, so I’m going to be paying attention to what happens internally.

            Thanks Cat.

  2. Rachel said:

    It can be hard to delve into those more emotional parts earlier in session; I often need some time in the beginning to get there, too. Glad you felt more functional after, really glad for that. Are you going twice a week now, or just changed the day this week?

    • Ellen said:

      Yeah, it’s so hard for me. The less emotional part of the session, which is most of it, never feels quite real to me, so it’s a problem. I’m going once a week. Thanks Rachel

  3. sorry the session brought you into an emotional place. I’m glad you were able to function though after it. Good job. X

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