Young adult

Last session was good, but I’m back to therapy hangovers. Maybe it’s because I have the space now to allow more difficult topics to come up. I find I talk about something in a session, but then still process the feelings and memories after.

I also decided to try twice a week sessions. This time in between jobs is the only time I can do that. I asked right at the end of session. Usually I’ve waited for Ron to suggest more contact, but as has been the case a few times these last months, this time i asked. If I wait for him to suggest this, I’ll be back at work again and won’t be able to do it. It feels vulnerable to ask. But also kind of good. I’m showing I value the therapy and Ron, moving towards. I’m more used to moving away – getting angry, arguing. Moving towards is nice.

I also worry that it won’t help me. I’m already finding the one session challenging – I don’t want to spend all my days now recovering from therapy. I will see. If it doesn’t seem helpful, I’ll go back to once a week.

I have been having times of intense emotional pain, is how I can best describe it. I’ll wake up at night, unable to go back to sleep, go sit at the kitchen table, and realize I have tears running down my face. I’m not crying, in that I’m not sobbing, but I have all the tears anyway. Plus I don’t know what the tears are about – I feel a heavy grief, but am not thinking anything specific.

Also in the mornings when I wake up, I’m like this. Sometimes also for a day or so.

Ron asks me if it lifts all at once, and I tell him it does. So we decide it seems parts based. He says something about learning how to switch, having that more under my control, since nothing seems to help with the feeling itself. It really is not like one person falling into a depression, then slowly bit by bit feeling better. I simply seem to switch in and then out of these feelings.

Ron asks about any dreams that seem significant. No dream seem significant to me, but i have written some down. I have a lot of trouble remembering dreams – they disappear so fast, and I tend to feel too sluggish and just bad to get it together to try and write them down. However, this one i did write.

I go to see a substitute therapist with J (my ex) and J’s sister. There is some talk about food. The sister asks if there is enough food. There are a few more details which don’t make much sense.

I read this out to Ron, saying it means nothing to me.

But to my surprise, a bunch of feelings come right up with this discussion. I remember J’s sister moved in with us when my son was still a baby. She also had a new baby as a single mother. She had a history of mental difficulties, and was very poor, so J decided she would live with us to give her some stability.

Unfortunately, we did not get along. It was truly awful. I tell Ron more about this old situation. How powerless I felt. If this were to happen to me now, I would totally expect to have input into who lives in my house. But at that time, I felt it was not my business – I was not consulted in this decision, and I thought because J had paid for the house and i wasn’t working, I had no say.

J and I were already fighting a lot. We were both disappointed with each other. Then J’s sister moving in really made things bad.

One issue we had was food. Food was very very important for J’s Italian/Canadian family. Their mother cooked these large lovely meals, feeding six children on a pittance. I was in charge of shopping and cooking. My own WASP mother cooks these tiny low-fat type meals. They are tasty, and she takes a lot of care, but they are small amounts and low in calories. So that’s what I knew to cook. J’s sister felt that she was not getting enough to eat, and said so. I can see now why. At the time, it was one more thing that went wrong.

So I can see the food angle in the dream. Ron asks if the sister represents a part of me, and I say I don’t know. Seems to be about nurture, maybe not nurturing a part of myself.

I get very agitated discussing all this. I breathe quickly and feel a lot of anxiety. It is such a different energy from the depression and grief though, I realize. I feel angry, bitter, sad, swirling feelings. I start tapping my foot and slap the pillow i’m holding a few times. I think in this mood, I could get things done – I’m not all weighed down with hopelessness. All that resentment still alive when I think about the past.

Now a day later, I remember various things about my life with J and his sister, when my son was a baby. It was very tough.  They both had all the same assumptions as to what a family should be, what food should be, how people should act. Which is natural, coming from the same family. My own background was so different. To me they were a scary foreign culture that I did not understand and did not want to be part of.

I remember feeling so very powerless. All decisions were made by J. I was kind of pathetic. At the same time, I withdrew in retaliation. Coldness and avoidance were my weapons. I would do this all differently today.

Amazing to me that this small dream, which I made nothing of myself, led to this whole area that I hadn’t actually been thinking about during the day. I suppose it’s still preoccupying a part of me, otherwise I wouldn’t have dreamed about it.

  1. I’ve had that experience as well, that the discussion of a dream opened up an entire area of my life that perhaps I hadn’t thought about.

    In fact, lately I have been thinking that some of what has helped me the most in my healing is to let go of the rational and linear and to play with stories, dreams and images. Body work, mindfulness, and pretending get me further than thinking things through logically. (“Logically there is no reason to blame myself for being assaulted… so why can’t I get past the shame and self-loathing?” That had me going in circles for ages.)

    I’m glad you are moving towards therapy and hope a second session is helpful. Therapy hangovers are rough sometimes but (I feel) are an indication that you are doing meaningful work.

    • Ellen said:

      I agree that logical thinking doesn’t help much. I like that about Ron, that he is so willing to go with fantasy, dreams or imagination. I was really surprised that this dream was meaningful to tell the truth – I didn’t see it on my own at all. If logic could get us out of our traps, we’d all be free by now I’m sure.

      Thanks Q.

      • A good side benefit of learning this in therapy is that I have become more open to the power of fantasy and imagery in other parts of my life as well. It’s a good counterbalance to a focus on logic and linear thinking at work.

  2. Dreams really contain so much. I really relate to what you share about feelings emerging and then disappearing, you probably have more space to feel now you have more time. Its seems a powerful dream for all kinds of reasons though in a way its beyond reason ☺

    • Ellen said:

      Dreams do contain a lot. I didn’t write out all the details of mine, but probably there were also other ways of looking at the dream. It’s odd to me that this dream didn’t seem powerful to me when I woke up, but just talking about it in session brought up a lot of story and feelings.

      Thanks EFTD

  3. I have trouble remembering dreams too. I only remember them immediately after I wake. the next day they’re gone. that dream led to a lot of intense emotions for you and its good that you got to process with ron. I hope you had a nice weekend. xxx

  4. e.Nice said:

    You’ve really come a long way Ellen. I’m glad you wouldn’t let yourself get stepped on the same way now. It does sound like progress with Ron.

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