I had another session with new T yesterday, and I left feeling hopeful about the possibility that we may be able to work together.
Every session, while I’m waiting for her to bring me back to her office, she has the receptionist give me a little sheet where I indicate on a scale how I’m feeling compared to last week and any change in symptoms, etc. I’m still having to get used to this. I don’t ever put much on it, but she’s never said anything about that.
I’ve been anxious this week because my mother will be moved in with me by the end of the week, I have surgery scheduled next week for my knee, I’m behind on work since I missed a couple of days recently and will be behind again, since I’ll be out several days next week for the surgery. I’m ready for surgery. It’s been six months since I hurt my knee, which has been six months of constant pain. It’s worn me down physically, mentally, and emotionally to the point where I just don’t have anything left in me. I almost can’t believe that I will ever be without pain in this knee, and I don’t have much faith that I will, but I’m hoping I’ll be proven wrong.
I talked to new T about this a bit and also brought up Father’s Day, which was difficult for many reasons, but especially because my father sent a scathing email to my mother, copying me on it, talking about all of the ways he’s been wronged. The title of the email was ‘Happy Father’s Day to me.’ And, as I explained to new T, I thought I was done with guilt over cutting off contact with him last October. I thought I’d come to terms with the decision I’d made and fully realized that it was the right one to make. But this other part of me still doesn’t want to hurt him just because it’s not in my nature to be hurtful. A different part believes that family is family for better or worse, and I should have just put up with him. And yet another, as always, believes that I have no reason for making the decision I did.
So all of this got pushed up to the surface again after getting that email from him. New T started to say that I never have to share more than I want to, and she’s not pressuring me into sharing anything before I’m ready and she does not believe that we have to delve into every detail of the past, but that it would help her understand if she had a better idea as to how my father was growing up. We established my ‘window of tolerance’ a couple weeks ago so that I can keep track of where I am emotionally. She does not believe that any good therapy can be done outside the ‘window’ so I told her that I didn’t think I could explain what he was like without going outside my window. She asked if he was verbally abusive and abusive in other ways, and I said yes. I was trying to think of a way to describe him without becoming horribly triggered, but I already was triggered.
I started to dissociate a bit, so I got quiet and stared at the ground. She asked what was going on for me right then, and I told her that I was trying not to dissociate. She asked me what kind of sensations I was noticing in my body and had me describe everything I was experiencing. Then she had me do a grounding exercise where I name 5 things I see, 4 things I hear, 3 things I feel, 2 things I smell, and 1 thing I’m grateful for. By the time she walked me through the whole exercise, I was completely grounded again.
She told me about what kind of signals my brain was giving off when I was in that state and that some part of me felt like I was in danger, which is why I dissociated. She said that when I’m triggered like that, I get triggered into the past. I told her that I tend to think that I’m not in the past since I can, most of the time, consciously tell that I’m in the present. She told me that this was called dual awareness.
We did a couple other things before the end of the session, and she also suggested a couple of books to me that would be good reading while I’m out of commission after surgery. At the end, she asked if she’d freaked me out during the session.. probably because she showed me this very bizarre breathing technique (that she herself described as bizarre about 5 times before she actually showed it to me) and also because I got triggered as well. I told her no, and she responded that if she hadn’t freaked me out today then we should be able to work well together.
I actually left the session smiling and completely grounded. I’m not used to being totally grounded after dissociating in a session, so that was a refreshing experience. So, I do feel hopeful about this for the first time. Her approach is certainly different from old T’s, but she obviously has extensive knowledge of trauma, which helps me trust that she knows what she’s doing.