Breaking the rules

I’m hanging on by that proverbial thread, but I’m here.

I didn’t think I was going to get to see T this week, because I had too much work to do.  And T goes on vacation for 10 days starting Sunday, so I was thinking that, even in this state, I was going to have to go about 3 weeks between sessions.  Thankfully, since I worked some overtime earlier in the week, my boss told me that I could leave early one day to make up for that time.  It took me about 16 hours to get up the courage to call T and ask for a session, but I called on Thursday morning and T offered a session either that day or the next and maybe even seemed glad I called.

It’s odd how this ended up being a session where I dissociated quite severely, and yet I remember it actually very well.  I normally don’t remember my sessions very well. T was so wonderful today. So supportive and non-judgmental. And caring. So caring.  Maybe that’s why.

We started out discussing my guilt over coming to see her right before her vacation. I said that I felt so guilty for being such a downer right before she left.  She paused and leaned forward and asked, “Ok, can we talk about that for a minute? What would happen if you stopped trying to take care of me and just took care of yourself?”

I smirked. “I would feel guilty that I was being inconsiderate.”

T made a small laugh and commented about how I’ve set it up so that, either way, I am to blame.  She then said that she was going to interpret something that may or may not be correct.

She said, “It seems like you’ve learned to work very hard to take care of other people to make sure that they are okay and don’t hurt you.”  I’d already pretty much known that was why I did that, so I nodded but fell silent.

T quietly commented, “So then it would be a huge risk to stop trying to take care of me and see if everything would still be okay.”  We were both quiet for a minute.

There was an elephant in the room that T was waiting for me to bring up. I finally said that I was just still having a hard time with suicidal thoughts. T asked me a few questions about it, and I tried my best to answer. I told her that I was tired, because it hurts to be here.

T asked, “It hurts to be in this psychological place or it hurts to be on earth?” I told her that it hurt to be here on earth, and she grimly said, “That’s what I was afraid you meant.”

I said that I was just frustrated being in this place. I said that I know it was originally triggered by the anger, but now that the anger is gone, I don’t know why I’m still feeling suicidal, except maybe some part of me feels like we need to be punished for the anger.  We just kept coming back to the question of why I’m in the place I am. T seemed frustrated, too, because I could tell she wanted to help but didn’t know how.  She would ask me questions and I would just say, “I don’t know.  I don’t know why.”  I told her that I felt so guilty and that I know, logically, that suicide isn’t the right thing, but it feels like the right thing.

T replied,  “It would be very hard to come to terms with the fact you were betrayed by both parents. So it makes sense why you’d try to find any way to blame and punish yourself so that you don’t have to face that.”

“But that’s not a reason.”

“No, it’s not a reason to kill yourself – nothing is – but it makes it understandable why you’d feel like killing yourself is the only way to deal with that.”

T and I sat for a minute with that. She asked me another question that I can’t remember, but as I was trying to think of an answer, it felt like my mind was just being filled with cement. I asked if she could repeat the question. T said of course but then asked what sets it (the dissociation) off. I said that I think that talking about the suicidal thoughts gets me closer to why they’re there in the first place, which I still haven’t fully acknowledged. T nodded.

“If nothing else,” she said, “the desire of wanting to kill yourself is the flashing red light indicating that something was horribly wrong as a child.”  That comment should have been validating, and it was for some parts, but other parts think that maybe I’m just fabricating this desire.  That I’m somehow doing something to make myself suicidal.

I sat for a minute and realized that I had a voice in me saying how much she didn’t want to be in my body.  She was begging for a way to leave.  T asked if she didn’t want to be in my body because my body has been unsafe before. And I explained, no, it felt unsafe because she was scared that something was going to happen to her. I mentioned to T that hearing her now reminds me of how I felt when I was dissociating so badly the week before, because at that time, I remember feeling afraid that something was going to happen to me.   T asked me, “Having that explanation, does it help makes some sense of why that part is suicidal?”  And it did, but I was just confused as to what triggered her so badly that she was stuck in that place.

T then started asking questions about what we could do to try to help her get out of the past, but, for some reason, those questions and thoughts were forbidden.  I was being pulled down and backwards, and any words I said I had to almost choke out.  I got to the point where I just couldn’t talk anymore. T tried asking other questions, but after about 5 minutes of struggling, I just said that I couldn’t talk. She asked again if there were any words I could say to describe what was going on for me, and I said that I had no idea how to describe what was going on.

She commented that, from the outside, it looked like a gigantic struggle.  I had been slightly shaking for most of the session, but now I was shaking all over, I would feel strong pangs of different emotions, and the urge to do all of these different things came and went so rapidly. I would quickly transition between crying and not crying and changing body positions and sitting totally still.  It almost felt like my body was being ripped apart from the inside out.

After a minute, T asked, “Is there a struggle between different parts wanting to come forward?” And that’s exactly what it was. It felt so comforting to have T know what was going on, even without me being able to explain it completely. It was such a nice connection to her, and it validated what I was feeling, because I could tell she could sense it, at least a little bit.  It helped me not feel so useless for not being able to explain anything.

She sat with me for a little while longer but then said that we would need to start slowly wrapping up and coming back to the present.  She talked about some frivolous things and tried to make small jokes to get me to laugh.  Once I was a little more present, T said that she wishes she could wave a wand so that I didn’t have to go through this pain.  She said she was very glad that I called and asked for a session and told me that it’s understandable why this is such a hard time, because two major things happened recently: I followed a rule and I broke a rule, both of which had bad consequences.  I followed a rule by allowing my father to come up for graduation, and I broke a rule by becoming angry.  So it makes sense why I’m having such a big reaction.

“But,” she said, “in my opinion, those were both crummy rules to begin with.”

Even though it was a terribly painful session, it means so much to be able to connect with her before she left – especially because it has helped stabilize things a bit.  The 12 day countdown begins today.

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