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flashbacks

I’m not looking forward to therapy tomorrow. I don’t feel trust for Ron. I’m wondering if he knows what he’s doing, especially for dissociative disorders. I’m remembering how awful group was for me, and how he couldn’t help me with it. If anything, he made things somewhat worse. But – I hate feeling like this. Without trust. Suspicious.

Today was rough and I’m in a dark place again. I went to the dentist. That unfailingly triggers me. Even though the appointment was easy – one small filling, the last of a series. The dentist is young, female, and fairly kind. It’s having things in my mouth. I don’t even feel particular discomfort at the time. But after, I am plunged into feelings of helplessness, smallness, and being overwhelmed. No body memories though this time. I’m hoping I can get through it today, just spending time in bed, not fighting it so much.

Then, I went for a job interview Monday. I thought it went quite well. Not like last time, where it was clear the manager was not going to hire me. This time I answered questions with confidence. The manager went and brought in a second manager to speak to me, which I took as a good sign. I had a good feeling overall. Well, they were supposed to let me know by Wednesday, today, and I did not get a call. So I’m thinking I didn’t get the job once again. It’s not a tragedy – the rate was not very good, and the pay from my current contract hasn’t even stopped yet, so I’m not feeling a pinch. And yet. I keep failing. Ouch. Trying not to take it personally. Yet of course I do.

Well. I hope to be back to a more normal mood by tomorrow night for my session. I don’t trust Ron to be able to help me when I don’t have my own judgement about how to proceed. When I’m in a black hole, I lose my judgement and have to rely on him. Which doesn’t work, because he doesn’t understand what the problem is.

Which is kind of sad, considering Ron is basically my connection to the human race. I have a friendship with my ex, and a phone friendship with a friend who lives across the country, and some acquaintances. Ron knows my story best. Though I don’t really know his. It’s not an even relationship.

I think one of my hindrances is I don’t have a story to go with the feelings. So it seems I don’t work through anything. It’s just mysterious batches of feelings arising together in a predictable way over and over again.

I’m still fatigued from the flu. Today I left the house for the first time in days. Sat in the cafe to prove I could. I actually forgot about no dairy – I ordered a latte, and didn’t specify soy. The barrista made me a new one, very kindly. I couldn’t believe I’d forgotten. When I’m sick, my life goes out of my head I guess.

I even took a walk. Shorter than normal, but still.

I’ve read four complete books in the last week. Two mysteries, two a bit more challenging. I’m getting more pleasure from reading again.

I did end up in a kind of flashback yesterday. I have this problem where I fall asleep for naps, and wake up in a bad state. Foggy, really sad, down at the bottom of a well. Plus very dissociative – the kid comes uppermost, and other parts. I can’t decide whether this is an emotional flashback, or whether I wake up in a young, traumatized part. It always seems as if some awful thing has just happened to me which I can’t explain or describe. It’s like the immediate aftermath.

This nap situation happens to me a lot. This time I decided to write it down for Ron, as it was happening. The kid wrote something, and I wrote something. Over several hours, I saved one email and wrote a few times to describe things.

Writing it down made it seem more concrete, more real. Then sending the email made it even more real. Usually I struggle for a few hours to get out of the feelings, and then forget them. I never tell anyone. It doesn’t make sense, and is too difficult to try and explain.

Well, then I got mad at Ron. He didn’t respond very quickly. For some reason, I felt he was my enemy – he completely changed in my mind. I tried to tell myself I wasn’t thinking straight, and it kind of helped. Then he did respond, and said something about how it’s hard to be alone, he’s glad I’m reaching out.

Hmmm….That made me really mad. But why? It’s not a terrible thing to say, and he was quite accepting.

I wrote back that I wasn’t the least bit lonely, and that people are too much trouble anyway. I did thank him for responding though.

I felt he didn’t understand that I was describing a flashback. I want him to understand. He just seemed to think I was lonely.

I don’t really long for people when I’m struggling to get out of these dark states. It always seems to me, if anyone was around, I’d have the even worse struggle of trying to hide what I was going through, or explain it at least, and I just don’t feel up to it. I’m better off struggling with it alone.

Describing it all by email definitely made it more solid and real. I still felt it around the next day, and spent some hours in bed in the morning because I couldn’t deal. I was hoping the email would help me work through it more, so I don’t have to keep having this experience over and over. Not sure if it did that. I did feel all this anger though, which is not a usual part of the experience. I wonder if that’s also a memory – of not having anyone to help me, of being misunderstood.

Well, at least I’m on the mend physically if not psychologically. Huge struggle to cook dinner tonight, but when I finally pulled something together, two hours later than usual, I was proud I’d powered through and cooked. If I can just get started, it picks up momentum and is not as bad as I think it is going to be.

I’ve had a headache since last Tuesday. That’s a long time. When I went in to work, it was really bad – at one point, in a meeting, I felt as if I’d throw up. Now it’s down to a dull roar. Maybe if I’d stayed quietly at home today, it would have gone away, but I wanted to go out.

Therapy on Friday was basically about the headache. I think it’s psychological – if I can express something, it’ll resolve itself. However, it’s hard to know what that something is. I suspect it’s to do with the memory / flashback that happened last week. I was very sad for several days afterwards, not up to doing much of anything. Then Tuesday I needed to go into work, and suddenly, I felt better, but bam, was hit with a monster headache.

In therapy, I tried fishing around for what feelings were behind the headache. I touched on little bits of trauma memories, but nothing overwhelming. More the kind of stuff that if I go looking for it, I’ll find. Feelings of someone pressing in on me, of being helpless. But I didn’t switch into it, I just felt it and then went on to other things.

I was hoping that would help. It didn’t much. And I felt furious with Ron. I felt he wasn’t caring. And some other things. I sent him an email about it.

Now I no longer feel angry with him, but the headache is worse again. Maybe it’s anger. But I don’t know anger with what. I can see Ron isn’t doing anything terribly wrong. I just feel very pissed off.

tableI am very pissed off. Maybe rage is a better term. I wish certain people would die a slow and painful death while I watch them scream. Really, I understand murder now.

I don’t like this feeling. I am just surviving it. I’ve tried giving it space, meditating on it, dropping the story line. I’m still full of rage. I don’t want to be this hating angry person.

I did go to group. Kind of wish I hadn’t.

After my last post, I kind of fell off a cliff. I ended up feeling afraid all the time. I called Ron in the middle of the night, and the kid left him a panicked voice mail. (He turns his phone off at night, so it is OK to call.)

He never called back, but he replied to an email I’d sent the previous day. I saw him for an extra session Monday. That helped.

I figured out that in the second last group, when I walked out, I’d switched into a protector/defender part. That part exists to defend me when I’m under threat. She attacks. I tell Ron that there’s no point in trying to do therapy on a protector part, tell her to take people’s feelings into account etc….He doesn’t really buy it. I think what I need is for him to recognize that part is out, and to help me switch out of it. He keeps trying to do therapy with that part and it’s useless.

The Friday session after I walked out on group, I was still in the protector part. It was awful. Whenever that part is out, disaster ensues. So Ron was pretty angry….or withdrawn perhaps. He asked if I was trying to hurt him. I asked him if he felt hurt by me, and he said no. He asked if I thought M was not even human….Honestly, he asked me that.

The whole session, I had the strong urge to run. I was proud of myself I stayed. I knew we weren’t connecting on any level and just needed to get the hell out of there. But I used all my energy to stay. Running doesn’t do me any good.

By Monday, when I saw him for the emergency session, the protector part had gone away again. Different parts spoke with Ron – the kid part crying mightily. The kid part was so upset, she couldn’t talk much. The dark voice, I think. This was a week ago and things have faded. Still, I left feeling sad but not in a crisis anymore. I’ll take sadness over constant fear any day.

The next day, I felt rage, mostly at E and A. Rage burned like fire from the soles of my feet to my head. I wanted to tell E what a bitch she is, A what an asshole he is. If I’d had group that day, that’s what I would have done. I did not want to go and call people names.

By Thursday I’d calmed down somewhat. I still hated them, but was pretty sure I wasn’t going to go in namecalling.

Right at the start of group, M launched into how angry she was with me. I had made a thoughtless comment last session, which she took huge offence to. She’s talked little in group, but when she did, she talked a lot about her BPD diagnosis. So I’d said to her, ‘I thought borderlines were expressive and volatile.’

She talked about how I didn’t see her as a person, just as a label. Then she said I’d ostracized myself from the group, by being negative, nit picky, and some other thing which I forget.

I didn’t say much to this. It’s awful to have hurt someone by mistake. The thing is, this had been something I’d wondered about. Why she was so silent, rarely spoke, rarely reacted to anything.

So I just sat.

M had joined in with A and E every time I’d had a negative interaction with them. She’d always just say some little thing, that she agreed with the other person, and that I was negative for instance. I’d never told her that hurt me.

I wish I’d said it then. She stuck the knife in over and over. I wish I’d at least said it.

Ron said something about how I had to learn to take responsibility.

A says if it wasn’t for Ellen, wouldn’t you find the group did see you?

I say to Ron, it makes me angry when A singles me out as apart from the rest of the group like that.

Ron doesn’t say anything, but A drops that line and says something else to M. A bunch of people tell her how much they value her.

I tried to talk about how rejected and alone the last group had made me feel. No one responded to this. E said I needed to stop the bullshit, this was the last session, and she had things to say.

Maybe because I was so scared and so hurt, my feelings weren’t coming across.

I just remember Ron insisting that M needed to talk about all her feelings, but for me, he said nothing.

So E launched into this prepared bullshit speech, going around the circle saying what she liked about each person. It was a condescending speech she’d worked out ahead of time.

I say nothing for the rest of the group. Two of the members there don’t say anything against me, and say very little overall. The people that still accept me are the most quiet and least groupie like people.

I leave without a word. Going down the stairs, Ron passes me. Our eyes meet and the kid pops out and starts crying. ‘You know I tried Ron, right? You know I came and I stayed…’ I am crying hard.

Ron takes me to his office. It’s hard to get there because I can’t switch out of the kid, and the kid is too upset to walk almost. Ron asks if I am OK crossing the street. It takes a long time to climb the stairs to his office.

In his office, Ron and the kid talk for a while. I manage to switch out. I say a few words, but nothing about anger. I am completely confused. But I’ve switched back, so I can drive home OK.

It seems kid parts need so much attention, what I really think, or what the adult me really thinks, gets completely lost. We never do talk about the dynamics that go on in the group, or how I wasn’t allowed to express feelings, but M was fussed over like a drowning kitten.

Ron doesn’t see it like that.

I cannot remember much of my Friday session, because of the way it ended. Ron said he wanted to know what all parts of me were feeling. Which felt good, that he wants to know.

I didn’t say what I’ve said here. I explained how I hadn’t meant to insult M with my comment, that she’d talked about her diagnosis a lot, she seemed to have no problem with the label, but I could see it could be hurtful and I’d be more careful in future.

Ron said it was not about being careful, but about an attitude. Or something.

The thing is, I was in a protector part. That part has a bad attitude by definition. I don’t say this however. The discussion is kind of vague….I’m afraid of this whole topic. I feel I need Ron very much and I don’t want to alienate him any more.

Ron says I need to call on a mothering part of me to help me when I feel under threat. Because my own mother was too scared to protect me as a child, I don’t know how to do that.

Fair enough. How do I do that.

Towards the end of the session, I start to switch around so much I get completely confused. I tell Ron I don’t feel well. My face and feet start to tingle, and bang, I’m in a traumatic memory. Someone is assaulting me, I’m a tiny child, I choke and cry and I am terrified.

Ron moves forward to sit closer to me and tells me I’m OK, it’s a memory but I’m sitting in his office and I’m safe.

The memory recedes. I find Ron’s closeness threatening, so I ask him to move back, and he jumps back. I’ve never felt afraid of Ron before.

I catch my breath, trying to slow my breathing back down. I tap my feet and my legs to feel them. As soon as I can, I get up and leave.

I suppose the stress of my feelings brought on the flashback.

So everything is very confused. There’s never time to actually go into what happened in group, because parts and memories keep getting triggered. It’s frustrating.

It’s been difficult getting it together again.

Yesterday I did go and see a movie, Before Midnight. Julie Delpy is my hero. She plays a very very smart and creative woman, negotiating her relationship with her husband. They talk of masculinity, and she teases him by imitating a star struck dumb chick, telling him how wonderful and intelligent he is, and he preens playfully in response. It is too too funny.

I wish I was Julie. Of course she is a movie star and beautiful. But I wish I could articulate as she does. And of course people love her and listen when she speaks. Ah well. In the movies, battles are entertaining, and we wish we were in those battles. Not our own, sordid, crappy ones where we are inarticulate, can’t remember how we feel or what we think, where people mostly don’t care to listen, or just don’t care.

groupTherapy and group were difficult this week in a way that makes me want to quit everything. I know this is a feeling that passes for me, so I haven’t sent any email or made a call about it. I did write the email but that was enough, I didn’t send it. It’s just so very tough sometimes.

I think I always want to quit when Ron seems to be involved in causing my pain. I know he doesn’t do it on purpose, but it still seems like if only he had helped me, I wouldn’t be in this pit of bad feelings.

Right after group, I sent him a very angry email. He didn’t reply, but we had a session the next day anyway, so we discussed it then to some extent. I cried a lot but figured probably I’d feel better afterward.

I sent him a kid email yesterday, and he hasn’t replied to that one either. In general, he replies by the next morning, or during the day. So as he hasn’t, I wonder if he is fed up with me. Probably. Would I be fed up in his place? Probably.

As to what happened in group – it’s difficult to explain my distress. First of all, I was feeling bad the last few days, suicidal thoughts louder, body memories.

Two of the groupies (members sounds so prissy, I’m switching to groupies) were trying to work out problems in their relationship – someone had said something that hurt the other person. Both were explaining in detail what they’d actually meant. I said a few things, I couldn’t seem to stay out of it, which was what I should have done. At one point, E said to Z that she wished Z would get mad at me. That hurt me, and I said so eventually. It’s bad enough when someone gets mad at me on their own, I don’t need someone being coached to get mad at me.

Anyway, I think it’s likely my responses were ‘off’ because of the turmoil I was in myself. My social skills deteriorate when that happens.

About half way through I used a pause and started talking about the turmoil I was in. About the thoughts of suicide, because they were front and center, and it seemed so sad to be feeling like that, in a therapy group, and not able to talk about it to anyone.

And then it started to feel so awful, that E and A had been kind of harsh to me, when I was feeling so bad (not that they knew). And then I switched to the kid by mistake. So all of a sudden I’m crying and can’t think conceptually, I’m five years old. Great. I really cry hard.

R talks to the kid. He is the only one in the group who ever does. It’s interesting that he gets on the kid’s wavelength and talks simply to her so she can understand.

People are asking me questions, so I make the effort and kind of switch back. In public, I automatically try to recover and switch to the adult who can cope. So I switch back and answer some questions.

Then Ron decides to point some things out to me about my interaction with E. And instantly, the kid is back, and can’t understand his comments, and tells him she doesn’t want to talk about it, and he says but we’re here to talk about it, and she says, No, and he just sits there and says nothing more.

Then A decides to speak up about his long-standing anger with me about a fight we had months ago. First he asks Ron if he should speak up because I seem ‘fragile’. Ron tells him to go ahead. So A tells me about how hostile I’m being to E and Z, how angry he is with me…..

I say some adult type things to him. There are only five minutes left, so once again A has brought up his issue with me when there is no time to discuss it. Very aggravating. Plus once again he’s brought it up when I’m completely devastated by my own issues. Last time he brought it up was the day I got my cancer diagnosis.

Everyone leaves. I start walking down the street, but I’m back in the kid. I’m talking aloud, and I can’t stop crying, so I turn around and go back to the building to sit down until I’m safe to drive. Five year-olds don’t make good drivers.

I feel completely abandoned and alone. Eventually I stop crying and I drive home.

The devastating part of it for me was two things. First, I am extremely ashamed when I switch into a part in public. I know it’s therapy and it is OK, but if feels really bad when that happens.

Second, Ron didn’t talk to the kid at all. Yes, I switched back to the adult, but it was a very shaky emergency type switch. If he could have talked to the kid in an accepting way, it would have been so much easier. It felt like he needed me to be adult right away, and then when I couldn’t manage it, he was mad I didn’t accept his insights (which I couldn’t, I was too young).

Ron has been so kind to the kid in the past. It felt like a complete abandonment when he didn’t seem to care this time.

The other thing was, the way he told A to go ahead with his concerns about me. Ron knows very well that A is angry with me – did he have to vent at just that moment, when I was falling apart? Why? Why couldn’t he wait until I was calm to do this?

Our session the next day is on the phone. It’s confusing, because I become so emotional it gets difficult to figure things out. Ron thinks I felt abandoned because I was alone in the building, crying, after everyone left. He says in the group, he knew I’d switched, but I’d seemed adult again when he was talking to me.

To me it seems he ignored me when I was crying, and couldn’t wait for me to stop so he could provide insight for the adult. Which I now have no idea what it was, I was too upset to take it in.

Now he hasn’t replied to my email, so I figure he’s mad. I check every five minutes to see if he’s replied. Nope.

I feel bad complaining like this. What can I say.

Art: Digital Expressionism

Amazingly bright late fall days continuing here. Yesterday I was too down to enjoy, but today I went for a walk with a friend, then a tea, and it was pleasant. We don’t talk about therapy or any dark subjects, and it’s fine, it’s good to talk about everyday concerns. We both feel we need to meet more people, while shying away from events where that might happen, so we discuss that a bit.

Therapy was very upsetting Friday and it’s taken me until just now to recover any perspective at all. Friday and Saturday I kept having to lie down and couldn’t really function.

Group Thursday was OK. It didn’t focus on me though I said a few things. A is now upset about our conflict, but shared that he now doesn’t trust the group enough to talk about it. Fine by me actually. Discussion veered around from person to person, which is what I prefer.

I’d overpaid Ron by accident by 10 dollars for two of the sessions, when the price of group was added to the regular cheque. So I thought I’d deduct ten dollars, but leave the other ten as a tip, just kind of fun. Maybe my unconscious was sending a message that I should tip him.

When I got to my session Friday, Ron launched right into the ‘tip’ situation.

R. What do you think it means, that you want to give me a tip?

E. I don’t know – it doesn’t mean anything. I just thought it’d be fun. Though we’re not getting along, so maybe I shouldn’t give one…

R. So we’re not getting along…so you give a tip?

E. I don’t know. It doesn’t mean anything. I just thought it was a fun thing to do. So we have to discuss this now?

R. Everything means something. Why does this make you angry?

E. This doesn’t mean anything. I had other things I wanted to discuss today.

So Ron lets it go and we talk about the group and my stay at my parents’. I felt concerned about Y’ – he’d talked at the end and seemed upset but it wasn’t clear exactly why. Ron says what he thought happened, and I just say I didn’t think Y connected the dots really as to why this situation would upset him.

At some point Ron points out that I’m reacting to him like I would to my father. I’m actually attempting to take his advice on board at one point, something about responding to him instead of cutting him off and disconnecting. But then the way I do that isn’t right, so Ron objects, and I again become angry.

E. You know, I’m trying to do what you’re telling me to do! It’s not so easy. And then it’s still not right.

R. Well, are you trying to do it because it feels true to you, or because I say it? There’s a way of doing things, like you might have had to do with a parent, where they tell you to clean your room, and you don’t want to, but you do it so you won’t get in trouble….or there’s another way of doing it, if you agree you’d like a clean room, so you clean it for that reason.

E. No kidding.

R. Then why did you say you’re doing this because I said to?

E. Because it’s a simpler way of talking. I do agree and I do want to try….

Ron has this theory that when I disagree or get angry, instead of ‘staying connected’, I disconnect and become dismissive or sarcastic. No way do I do that. he he

I tell Ron about staying at my parents’, how it made me really tense.

E. It’s a nice house. They have a lot of art on the walls, tons of books, things from their travels – and everything is taken care of, well kept. There are a lot of good things with my family. As well the bad.

Ron nods.

E. My sister came by – she had to plant something for a neighbour. Man, she didn’t stop for one second to talk to me. We haven’t talked, except at these big family events, for maybe two years. So OK, I thought when she was finished with planting, we’d at least have tea. Nope. She came back, I asked if she wanted tea, she’s like nope, she has to give so and so a lift home, and she left without even a pause. And she’s so cheerful and upbeat, but she just completely ignores me.

R. And how come you didn’t say anything?

E. Because….it’s not that clear. I mean, maybe she wanted to beat the traffic – it was about 2:30. Or she had to give this guy a ride, though he could have come in for a tea also.

R. I think, one time, it’s difficult to be sure, but when it’s a pattern over many years….

E. Yeah, the last ten years basically.

What it feels like to me is my sister freezes me out. She smiles and says hello, but she has no time for me and no interest in talking to me. She doesn’t share anything from her life with me ever.

I’ve seen her treat a former friend like this too – just an icy, ‘oh I’m behaving perfectly’ demeanor while completely freezing the friend out. It’s confusing behaviour, because you don’t know for sure it’s happening. Well, she learned from a master.

E. I think I’m going to skip Christmas this year. What am I going for – so that my siblings can treat me as if we just met? What for?

Ron doesn’t say anything to this. The fact is, I will likely be alone over Christmas in that case. Though I will see a friend whose family is in another country, and my son and his dad for a few hours. So I won’t be completely alone. If I don’t go to Christmas, it will be a big insult though to my parents.

Then we sit.

R. What are you thinking about?

E. I was remembering what it felt like when I said last night I felt like leaving….

I had as so often felt I needed to leave in the group, just an upsurge of panic. Y was sitting with his upset, so Ron listened to what I had to say then returned to Y.

E. It did hurt my feelings when you didn’t ask me about why I was scared last night. But I also totally understood why you did that. I mean, Y was upset about something and you were wanting to go into that. But I just remembered how that felt.

R. How did it feel?

E. It was parts. The part who wants to die popped up, that’s why I spoke up. I want to get a handle on why that happens.

R. What are parts saying?

I listen to parts, who are active in the session.

E. Well, one part is angry, One part is sad. One wants to leave. Another part likes it here in your office.

R. What is the angry part saying?

E. I….don’t know.

E. (switched into part) I….don’t like the house. Because it’s all different. I don’t like the cushions. I don’t like the couch. I don’t like the carpet. I don’t like the fridge, it’s different, it’s not how it’s supposed to be. The dishwasher’s different.

I start crying at the awfulness of these changed surroundings.

E. And….where did they all go? My family’s supposed to be there and they’re all gone, there’s nobody there, and I’m just by myself – So where did they all go?

I am so so upset. Crying turns into a helpless howl of loss and pain.

R. Ellen, what’s happening? Can you see what is happening?

E. I don’t know….I don’t know where they went….

And I cry. It’s a young child’s crying, where the world has ended completely and all has been lost.

The session is almost over. I cry and try to come back and calm down.

R. Whatever happened,  you were left all alone to deal with it. And you’ve decided you don’t want to be alone with it anymore.

E. I can’t talk.

I can hear what Ron says but conversation is completely beyond me.

R. OK. Ellen, are you OK to leave? Do you  need time?

I shake my head and get up to go out the door.

R. If you like, we can set up a time to touch base later on. You don’t have to. Just send an email if you want to set something up.

I have only a vague grasp of what Ron is saying, but I nod.

R. Don’t forget your coat. Are you sure you’re OK to leave?

I grab my coat and nod and head out the door.

It’s been difficult to function since. I don’t know why this happened, why this part is upset. Just the fact of switching into her and having her emotions swamps me with the emotions too. But I don’t know specifically what the problem is.

I don’t take Ron up on his offer of phoning. My struggles with him the last few weeks have really shaken my trust that he cares about me. Plus, I just feel like I can’t talk, like what is there to say anyway?

I am blackly depressed. If blackly can be used as an adjective. I don’t think it can.

I suppose it’s still the result of the memory fragment that hit me in therapy. Something to do with being a tiny child, on holiday by the sea. I remember a bucket and yellow sieve…for some reason kids were given sieves to sift sand with.

I think probably my family went on holiday with my aunt and her husband, who abused me. That’s something I could check out, whether we ever went on holiday with them when we lived in Europe. I think we did. So it could be he abused me at that time, and I blocked it out by creating a part.

It’s hard to describe the feeling of devastation that comes back. A kind of overwhelming hopelessness.

It helps to realize this is probably a memory – that I felt like this at the time, or a part of me did.

It doesn’t help that I can’t actually remember what happened. Just these impressions of sun, wind, sand, and complete devastation. And the whispery voice, almost too shy to say anything at all.

How could this guy know I wouldn’t tell? That I’d forget as soon as it happened?