A bit of sensorimotor therapy

Need to keep the old blog alive.

I’m struggling quite a bit with insomnia lately. At one point, I stayed awake for about a week, where I’d go to bed and kind of doze all night instead of sleeping. Luckily then I started sleeping again, but now again I’m not sleeping much. I got some sleeping pills prescribed from the doctor, which I’m not sure yet if I’ll take. Actually, I will try them at some point.

Therapy is going well. I’ve decided however that I need to dial it down to a session every two weeks. I still am unemployed and the stress of having no money coming in is pretty much doing me in. Paying for therapy in that situation just doesn’t make much sense. It’s valuable though, so I compromised by deciding to go every two weeks. Ouch. It’s a loss for sure, but I just need to cut back now. It will still be a major expense in my budget, even at just two sessions a month.

So what happened last session…hmmm….I went in still recovering from having put my back out by having lifted a heavy tray of cups from the ground  on Sunday as a church coffee time volunteer. We spent time talking about how physical pain seems to trigger my emotional issues, as I feel desperately sad and childlike in reaction to this kind of pain.

Martine always has a lot to say. Sometimes it does feel that I have to wrest control of the session from her in order to tell any part of my story. On the other hand, I appreciate her perspectives, so it’s a balancing act. I’m not used to a therapist talking for so much of the session.

We didn’t come to any conclusions on why pain triggers me. Martine did say that as a child, I had no one who would help me figure out my emotional world, and that it is OK to feel sad, and that I shouldn’t be abandoned for feeling it. This discussion on pain took up over half the session, and I know Martine said a lot of things, and I cannot really remember much of it.

I talked about how I think being too isolated is hurting my interview performance, if I do finally get an interview. If the interviewer is the first person I’ve talked to in days, then it’s easy to feel unbalanced and unconfident. So as a person living alone, how can I increase my contact with people in daily life? I share about how I watched a video where a woman spoke about isolation and trauma, and how it’s important to get out into the world every day and interact with at least two people, so you don’t become strange and lost in your own world. So I was thinking I can try doing that, even if it’s just a chat about the weather with a coffee shop person.

Martine recommended ACA. I like that about her, that she is aware of these resources. I’ve gone to ACA in the past, and Ron never had any idea what it was or any opinion on whether it would be useful for me. Martine was thinking I could use the group to try and process my family or origin stuff, and that we could work on trauma processing and skills in our sessions. So I agreed to seek out a group again.

I told her I’d bought the DBT skills workbook (DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets by Marsha Linehan). I do find some of those skills so helpful, even though I don’t have BPD. I never knew about emotion regulation before. It’s a great concept and is what I’m mostly trying to learn how to do, and it’s what a lot of the worksheets help with.

The last part of the session triggered me and I did go home upset and unable to ‘regulate’. Anytime some of these child traumas come up, it takes me a long time to get back to functional adult. I kept thinking about a get together I’d been on the previous weekend. It was with two friends of mine, and I do appreciate them both, but the interactions were problematic. I’m going to describe it a bit, but not in order to talk shit about my friends, just to explain this part of the therapy and why it triggered me.

One of the friends talks a lot, without much regard for how she’s being received. She hit on quite a lot of traumatic subjects at our get together, without giving anyone else much chance to respond. The other friend withdraws quite a bit, and is reluctant to share much of a personal nature at all. So we spent a lot of time just sitting listening to the talkative friend go on. At one point, she started talking about her childbirth experiences, and that triggered my own memories, which were not pleasant. I said something then about how I was finding the topic triggering, but she didn’t hear me, and kept on with the subject.

Martine had quite a bit to say about this. She said the friend was not being respectful of the people there, that you need permission before broaching traumatic things, and even then, you need to check in with others to see how you’re being received. She said the friend might have been in a self state. I didn’t know what that was, so she explained it’s when you’re in a type of part that is not related…or something. I didn’t know you should check in with others before talking about upsetting things, but I can see the value.

Martine then said the friend needs therapy to process her trauma, and I said she’d already had a lot of it. My opinion is that some kinds of therapy encourage this kind of soul baring behaviour in the name of authenticity, and the therapy she has had probably encouraged this kind of behaviour.

Anyway, she is a good and kind person, and she will also listen, but you have to break into her monologue and start talking about your own stuff. Which I do when we’re out together on our own, but it was harder with others present.

Martine said this situation where my feelings weren’t considered or respected must remind me of my FOO. How I might be upset by something, then my family would ignore me and not respond in a human way. How do I feel when I think about this?

So I said I felt like punching them. Martine asked me to act it out, swing my arm in an imaginary punch. Or a real punch at imaginary family members. I did this, and I felt like this wall of emotion was coming towards me – a tsunami of pain, sadness, anger. Then I spent the remaining minutes of the session trying to regulate again. I tried rolling her small spiky ball between my palms, hand on heart and stomach for containment, noticing different sights in the room and describing them.

That all helped a bit, but I was no longer able to think much in an adult way. Martine tried to say something with concepts and I could no longer understand her. The session ended a bit late, and I rushed out of the room, leaving behind my blue wool jacket.

Oh yeah, now I remember. Martine commented that if I had to fight someone off of me in the past, then doing those punching type movements would be triggering for me. So perhaps that is the case for me, though I don’t remember having to fight someone off of me.

Overall, I’d say the session was about how I relate to others, boundaries, and also about anger I still feel about my own family’s withdrawn and withholding ways.  And also about how emotions/memories are still embedded in my body, so that some simple movements bring traumatic type emotions flooding back to me.

Well, back to my Benedict Cumberbatch video. He’s one of my favourite actors, and he did a series for Masterpiece Theatre called The Last Enemy, where he plays an introverted mathematician drawn into a world of political maneuvering and shady goings on at high levels. Not as insane as Sherlock, but he’s similarly strange and kinetic in this. What would I do without DVDs and such?

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