Therapy Thursday – parts

Thursday’s therapy was better. That is, I don’t think it’s going to plunge me into depression on the weekend. It’s hard to say. Today I felt down at work, but I mostly had nothing to keep me busy, and I find that depressing. But my social skills were intact – sometimes my social skills, such as they are, go right down the toilet if I’m having a lot of therapy/trauma type stuff coming up.

First I talked about my attempt at meditation. Not a huge attempt, but my bout of severe anxiety on Wednesday led me to try anything I could do to calm down. I’ve done meditation where a lot of trauma type feelings came up, and where I tried to sit with those. Maybe that would help me over time, but as it didn’t help at all in the short term, I decided it wasn’t for me. But this time, I decided to actually seek peace. I know you’re mostly not supposed to do that, but instead, let whatever wants to come up come. However, I feel that in my situation, I really need to reach for good things, for peace, for calm. I have those feelings too, as well as the upset and chaos. And when I sat just watching my breath and looking for peace, I did feel more peaceful. That’s good enough for me.

Then I told Ron about how I’d been so very anxious, I hadn’t been able to go in to work on Wednesday. He was concerned about this, and asked how come I was feeling like that, and I didn’t really know.

I did say something about how I was not feeling very connected to him, and that therapy last week had not felt helpful, and that this week, I wanted to do things differently because I did not want to end up stuck in a useless depression once again. Of course Ron then thinks I’m avoiding. We get into an extended back and forth on what I mean, and what he means, etc etc. He brought up my email from the weekend. He was mainly concerned with my feeling that therapy was making things worse, rather than my own worries about whether he’s judging my parenting or not. I can see why he didn’t reply, if that was the main point for him, because that is something we would need to discuss in person.

So I said I did not want to do the same thing as last week. Ron said what was it that happened? I said I didn’t know for sure. It was a very adult-seeming session, where I spoke about two painful subjects. However, I didn’t cover any new ground – I’d known these things for years. So I didn’t see why this should plunge me into depression.

Ron said he thinks a problem for me is that I try to manage my feelings. Of course I try to manage them, I’m thinking – I’m in fucking parts. I need to present well to the adult world. Or at least plausibly.

Ron says the way I’m putting this, that I want to stay away from things, is what he thinks is a key to what makes me depressed. He sees depression as feelings wanting to emerge but not being allowed to do so. I say that I was willing for feelings to emerge, but nothing emerged. He said well, other parts of you are maybe not so willing. I said well, if it’s unconscious parts, what can I do?

I told him he didn’t understand me, that his explanation made sense for people like him, but not so much for me. We went back and forth for a while. I actually felt really put on the spot, trying to explain why I didn’t want to do the same things as last week. Why I felt he didn’t understand me. And I explained how sometimes, strong feelings after therapy seemed healing, but in this case, it just seemed like therapy was a trigger, and the depression was basically useless suffering.

It’s an odd feeling for me, to stick with a conversation for so long, when people are disagreeing, but no one is getting offended.

At one point I told Ron the part that felt he didn’t understand was angry, that I could feel that. So he asked me to speak from that angry part, and I tried, but I couldn’t. I did end up speaking from a child part, but a more vulnerable part. I could feel the anger and the fear maybe that he wasn’t understanding, but it was like it was in another room from the one he and I were in. I could hear it, and feel some of it, but couldn’t manifest it.

Ron says he knows it’s important to me for him to understand. What is it like to feel he doesn’t understand?

I’m stumped by this. I feel angry, I say. And again, cannot really manifest that angry part of me which seems walled off.

It was a surprising feeling, to be in this dialogue, where I was being invited to say what was wrong and how I felt, without being criticized and with no one getting angry with me. It also stumped me – I didn’t know how to continue. We never did really resolve this – Ron saying it was problematic that I was trying to stay away from things, my saying it was useless to do the same thing and get into this massive depression.

However. We totally weren’t doing the same things as last week. Last week I focused on my ‘issues’ in an adult-type way. This time, we were discussing our process and our relationship. Much more present-feeling.

Ron said something about allowing all parts of me into the conversation. And so I allowed various parts to pop up, in a way you really cannot in a regular relationship. B chimed in to tell Ron about the barbecue we went to on the weekend. Child parts told Ron he should have replied to our email. In general, I let some of the chaos out – conflicting emotions about Ron and therapy and my life in general. It was confusing, and as I accessed those parts, I felt some relief from the stress of keeping them separate, and also started feeling some of their feelings – mostly weepy sadness. I felt sad for a bit in the session, but never actually cried.

I can’t reconstruct this part of the session very well, because it was so fragmented and emotional. I think how I was there is a kind of a true picture of the state of my personality at the moment, which is a scary thought, but needs to be faced I suppose. A lot of my emotions are bound up in parts, which I suppress in the interests of being a functioning adult.

I left still feeling a bit disoriented and confused, but also feeling lighter. I felt like we really had connected, and some of my issues had really been addressed.

It’s Saturday now, and I am not wildly depressed. I feel normal. Which is a big relief.



  1. Glad you have a therapist who really tries to understand you!

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, me too. šŸ™‚

  2. Rachel said:

    Ellen, this is a big deal. You spoke up and allowed more parts to come forth and receive support and not be all alone.

    • Ellen said:

      Thank you Rachel. The session felt good to me and helpful. I feel more crazy with parts, but as that’s the reality, it’s likely best to deal with it.

  3. Laura E Burns said:

    Hi E, I’ve been reading your posts with great interest – but haven’t had time or place to respond.
    this seems like wonderful progress, to let the whole crowd have their two cents, without being the aircraft controller! This sounds like the difficulty I have at work with other people – when other people contribute, usually not what I would have done myself, it feels chaotic. If anyone makes a move on their own, it feels to me as if they are loose cannons. People don’t like to be controlled that way – and I drive them away.
    When you say that you spend a lot of energy keeping them separate – you mean out of the conversation or separate from each other?
    It could very very well be that you are afraid of your anger towards Ron. That would make total sense with your history. All of us (it seems) were traumatized at a very young age by an out-of-tune mother on whom were completely dependent. Anger is a luxury we can’t afford – except you can, with Ron.
    It occurred to me that Ron’s regular criticism of YOUR parents, the intent of which is supportive – and which you say FEELS supportive, perhaps you recognize some features of your mother’s parenting that were also part of your parenting, and so his supportive comments are at the same time, criticism. I would have said unintended criticism, but I’m sure he wants to you look at all of it – you carry so much shame. It might bring you more into relation with your mother, and with your son, and with yourself, and with others (who you are afraid might judge you), if you were able to work through this guilt, shame, sadness, anger and helplessness. He’s there to support you in doing that. He’s not there to support your son.
    You’re so perceptive about all of this – I love it.

    • Ellen said:

      Hi Laura – Nice to hear from you. I’ve been blogging so long, people do drop off, and I was wondering if you had….nice to know you’re still following along.

      Interesting. About the separate parts – keeping them separate from me is an energy drain. In general, I don’t have much energy, and I think a lot goes to keeping parts tucked away. However, it’s not so easy for me to just stop doing that. And it would be too chaotic for a ‘normal’ person to handle, outside of therapy, if I was totally open about different parts. By separate I mean separate from me, the adult person. It’s not really a choice – it’s more like a situation I’ve become aware of.

      Yeah, about your work – you do have insight, so that’s really a plus. It’s true, people don’t like to be controlled.

      You could be right, about the unintended criticism. I don’t really know. I know my parenting left lots to be desired, despite my efforts. And yeah, working through the shame would be good. It just hurts so much to touch that stuff, it’s been impossible to make much progress on that to date.

      Thanks for the insightful comments.

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