Therapy notes

leafI am still looking for work and it is standard for December for not much job activity. I’ve had a few calls today, but that was a first for the month. I’ve been reading up on job hunting, networking etc and it seems I should be networking my butt off, which I can’t really do, being shy. I would go to an event though, but just finding an event that relates somehow to a job is a challenge. But at least I’m thinking about it.

I did get overwhelmed at one point and had to stop looking for a while. I just fell into a depression, which if I don’t get out of it will make it impossible to get through any interviews that may come up. So I stopped looking much, and my mood has swung back to a more low normal kind of place. Surely something will work out for me one of these days.

My therapy is going pretty well I think. I have had to contemplate my previous therapy the last few weeks. I kind of think it may have stopped helping me a few years before I stopped, unfortunately, as I couldn’t work out how it was supposed to help. But also, I was very attached to Ron, and losing him is something I have to grieve. It sounds contradictory doesn’t it. He was a support and someone who cared for me for a long time after all. He was sincere and committed. I’d never had anyone care about me and act in my best interest for so long, and it did mean a lot. And younger parts of me who were very attached don’t really understand why he’s no longer around (i.e., we don’t see him anymore). It’s to be expected.

However, the fact is he didn’t know much about trauma and how to actually resolve it or help the symptoms. He seemed to think kindness and space would be all that was needed. Those things are good for anyone, but IMO trauma needs more than this to get better.

With my new therapy, I like the focus on emotional regulation. Ron didn’t believe in it, seeing it as denial or suppression, but that is Martine’s focus. I’ve realized I am easily disregulated and then I shut down. Simple things like trying to have a conversation, or listen to a service, or on bad days, just walking down the street, can make me feel emotional, for whatever reason. So once I can notice that, I can do breathing, or body awareness, or grounding, to get myself out of that emotional overwhelm feeling.

It’s actually really important to be able to talk to people without panicking. Who knew. lol. But speaking in a calm voice, without a whole bunch of stress, is kind of foundational to functioning in the world. I’m practicing grounding in many situations and it’s really helpful.

And just the idea that emotional regulation is a good thing is helpful. It may seem odd, but no one ever modelled that for me or told me about it. Just the idea that yes, I can go to the librarian and ask for help with the check out that’s malfunctioning, without stress and panic, makes my life so much easier. Having your voice flow as you need it to, without blocks and such, so you can just deal with ordinary life, is really really helpful!

My mother is very quiet, but also has major issues with regulation when trying to speak. I’ve seen her many times trying to be social with people she knows well, and having to stop speaking because she might cry (talking about unemotional things). I came by the difficulty honestly.

We’re also working on Internal Family Systems (IFS). It’s real interesting. I haven’t decided if maybe my parts are these IFS parts, or some other kind, but IFS parts makes sense in any case and feels right.

Last session, I talked about an out of control critical part that I feel abused by. It’s a shouting, angry part that calls me names basically. Martine asked me to pick some parts cards from a deck she has of IFS parts. It was hard to find some that seemed cruel enough. I found some, and then kind of froze. Martine had me get up and use the back of a chair as a grounding device.

Once I was standing there, trying to ground, I no longer felt frozen, but instead felt quite afraid. The fear was like my mother’s voice, because for her, it was not OK to show any feelings. We spoke about how I now do think feelings are just a part of being human, but how I still hear my mother trying to ‘batten things down’. So when I feel fear, I also feel like I should not be feeling that, which makes me feel more afraid.

Then Martine also stood behind a chair, using the back to help ground. Luckily she has a fairly large therapy room so there’s room for a bunch of chairs and such. It’s really a nice room – in a big century old house which now holds therapy offices. I like that it’s pretty and I feel comfortable there.

There was no particular conclusion to this – we just stood there, grounding, persisting despite negative voices from the past.

I’ve been finding it interesting to think about – how these parts are interacting. This stuff seems to be going on in me on a daily basis – it’s how I’m functioning.

So I’m feeling I’m gaining a lot from the therapy. It’s odd, because I’m not attached to Martine as I was to Ron. I’m fine with that actually. I didn’t get anywhere with all the attachment – I want to learn how to manage my life beyond PTSD. Maybe I’m done with attachment now. I got to see that I can attach and it’s not going to be used to hurt me I suppose. Except financially, as I spent a lot of money on therapy that didn’t help much.

My current therapy started helping me with relationships right away. I’m better with my family for sure. Trying to reach out to friends from a place of safety too is a lot better than just following my feelings.

  1. Ashana M said:

    I’m really glad to hear about these little pieces of progress. It’s heartening.

    I’ve been watching a colleague play with babies lately (VP Maam). I don’t know if it has any bearing on your situation. It’s disturbing to watch. But she does unpleasant things until they

    • Ashana M said:

      Cry…(sorry, clumsy thumbsy) and then gets angry. It’s not that consistent a pattern, but I simply need to watch to see if it is. It seems to be her way of creating her own frightened and uncertain state onto others, which creates a distance and safety from her own feelings. I wonder if this is not uncommon and if someone like your mother grew up intentionally overwhelmed, so that normal children’s intense emotional states felt like assaults to her, threatening to do something by default which had earlier been done intentionally by some adult.

      • Ellen said:

        Not sure if that’s what happened for my mother, but she definitely found children’s normal emotions threatening, and did everything she could to shut them down. And I’m sure this situation was handed down to her as well – none of us makes these things up. My trying to heal/change it means changing a long line of pain and dysfunction going back generations I’m sure.

        take care

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