A glimpse at parts work

The bottom line is that new T knows I have childhood trauma. And she knows I have something in my background that warranted me participating in a sexual abuse/assault group at the local women’s shelter. So her background on me is quite limited. But even with that limited knowledge, she’s still able to see so many different adaptations I created as a child to deal with my environment. For instance, I came into the session a bit bummed, because I’d just come from physical therapy, and the PT’s furrowed brow when I said I still had a lot of pain made me think that she thinks I should be much better by now. And so I was getting quite down on myself, thinking maybe I’m just imagining the pain, all due to that furrowed brow. And new T pointed this out to me and said that it’s very adaptive as a child so I can immediately look at my dad’s face and see if he is in a bad mood and I should hide or if he’s in a good mood and maybe we could do something fun, which actually did happen occasionally. When she was making these speculations about my home life, she checked in with me several times to see if it all rang true with me. Even if she’s pretty sure she knows the crux of the situation, she’s still very careful to check in with me and make sure she’s getting it correct, and I appreciate that sensitivity from her.

After we chit chatted for a few minutes, new T said she was curious to see where I’d like to start after the last session. So I brought up the card I gave her that held a deep seated fear that she would hurt me. I told her that I struggled since the last session with her knowing that and I’d been wondering if it would have been easier to be there and see her reaction.

She said that she was hearing me wondering what her reaction was and asked if I would like to ask her what she thought. So I asked her, and she just said something about how she found it endearing and very brave. She then went on to talk about how she fully respects that fear that she will hurt me, but that she can’t guarantee that it won’t happen. However, she was very clear in saying that if she ever did something that hurt me, it would never be intentional, because she would never want to cause me harm intentionally. And she said that this is where my ability to speak up and let her know when she does or says something that I find offensive or hurtful is important so that we can talk about it.

Before we moved on from that, she asked if I had any other thoughts about the card that I’d like to bring up. I just said that when that thought had popped into my head, I was very aware that it was a dominating thought from this 5 year old me – very vulnerable and scared – but that I’m not sure how much her fear carries over into the rest of me.

This spurred a conversation about parts work. She asked if I’d done parts work before, and to be honest, I don’t really know. So she talked about how everyone has different parts, no matter their family history, but the thing that changes over time is that, generally, those parts needed in childhood fade away but for someone like me with a more chaotic background, those parts are still in play. Basically, she was saying what old T said just a month or so before our last session: “Everyone has some parts, but your parts are a bit more complicated than that.”

Except I feel so incredibly messed up when I hear that. And I actually talked to new T about it. She was saying something along the same lines about my parts being “normal considering my background.” And I just paused for a minute before I asked her what that even means. Does it mean there IS something wrong with me? Does it mean I am on the borderline of having DID, but not quite to that point?

I didn’t ask her all of these things. I just told her that I have a hard time figuring out what I think about myself, whether there is nothing wrong with me, there’s a ton wrong with me, or maybe just a little. She thanked me for sharing my fear with her, which confused me since I hadn’t really stated anything explicit, so I asked, “My fear that something is wrong with me?” And she said yes. I think the more accurate wording of it is that I fear what exactly is wrong with me, and to what extent.

She said that you look at symptoms to determine if something is wrong, and that she’s still trying to figure my symptoms out. I haven’t told her much. And she is quite aware of that. She said that she knows I’m still trying to figure out if I trust her to tell her more about my background, but she told me again that I don’t have to tell her anything I don’t want to, and it is not necessary for her to know everything in order for us to accomplish good work. I just apologized for taking so long to learn to trust. She said that an apology isn’t necessary – that I should praise myself for being careful and discerning regarding who I share myself with.

I got a general sense in this session that she likes me and that she values the conversations we are having. We got in an honest dialogue about different parts of me, and she seemed so enthused that I was willing to do that with her since it’s a major part of her work. She said that some day we can try to map all of my parts. That would be quite tough.. I believe I have dozens of parts. I’d like to do it sooner than later, though, because maybe if I could pinpoint specific parts when they come up, it could open a dialogue with them that I’ve never had before.

These sessions feel so different compared to those with old T. They feel different in a very good way. I feel a sense of hope that new T can help lead me to a better place. I have only had about 6 or so sessions with her but I already feel comfortable enough to bring up questions that I never had with old T. It feels like a safer place to take risks. I’m not quite sure why, but it is.

I’m getting to the place where I feel that I’d like to share, slowly, a few more details about my past with her. Because when I have certain thoughts, images, and feelings come up that are related to something I haven’t told her yet, it creates a bind that is hard to work around. Regardless of the bind, little by little, I do feel that I can share things with her and that she is a safe and very knowledgable person to do that with. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Perhaps starting with our next session on Monday…

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