The Therapy.

The blog is the therapy.  I knew it, but I didn’t truly realize it until now.

What I mean is, when I can’t talk to someone else – not completely – and when I can’t talk to my therapist, I come here.

Right now I’m not talking to my therapist because I’m fine.  I don’t need therapy.

Funny thought.

So here I am again, 2 days in a row after months unwritten.  The topic today? Me writhing in my own shit once again.  I made my bed; now I have to lay in it.

Only…This bed yells at me, tells me something is wrong in me, that I have hate in my voice when I speak (perhaps I should speak with Hillary Clinton).  Tells me I have no right to speak to my doctor on my own. I speak back in a confident voice that is not my own. And once the call ends, I break down. I break down for hours without end….because the tears seem to come from that endless well that I’ve spoken of for so many years.  Yet I’ve never reached the bottom.  When will I find it?

That bed.  I’ve made that bed.  And now I’m laying in it.  And it wreaks.  It crawls.  The bugs are biting me in unseen places.

I come home and realize: I never should have done this.  I knew it could never work.  He was never a changed person.   Did it happen?  I don’t know.  But I can’t handle him.  I was healthier without him.  Undeniably.  Yes? No?  So many doubts.

The only thing undeniable right now is the love my Golden Retriever has for me right now. That….Now, that, is something I can always count on.  For now, that will be enough to satisfy this troubled soul.

Perception and perhaps some progress

J has told me many times that if I have a tendency to forget our sessions, I should try journaling. Well, I’m going to journal about this last session.

I so appreciate her patience with me. She’s incredibly thoughtful and is more careful than I think I’m even able to pick up on. I told her  about how I’ve had some horrible dreams lately.  She asked if I’d ever talked about what has happened in the past, and I said that I briefly touched on it with my last therapist.  What I didn’t included in that is how it was almost re-traumatizing to share when I can now clearly see that I wasn’t ready. But J encouraged me to share a bit, even very vaguely…Just nudging me to share a bit. I ended up sharing just a general theme of the dreams, which is more than I’ve ever shared with her before.

She checked in with me after I told her the theme of my dreams and asked if I would share what I was feeling. I told her that a part of me was very scared that simply talking about the events, even vaguely, would make them happen again. She asked if I could comfort that part of me and assure her that nothing like that will happen. I just said that I had no clue where to even start with that.

So she stood up and went and got a stuffed animal that she had on a shelf and asked if she could show me how she would comfort a part of herself like that. I hesitantly said yes and pretty much immediately regretted it. Hearing her talk to “that part” (which was really just her cradling a stuffed cow..) made me tear up. I fought tears the entire time she was talking, and when she looked up, I guess she could tell I was fighting tears because she just said that any reaction I might have is okay. I was relieved to hear this because I had gotten this impression that maybe tears weren’t okay.

We talked a bit about how hard it is for me to cry and when I told her that tears weren’t safe when I was younger, she said, “Well maybe that is where we need to start.”

We talked a bit more about the origins behind my fear of crying – or being open – with others. I eventually told her that I have a fear of people being nice or having any compassion for me because it always comes with a price. She asked if maybe I could take in that I am in a safe place with someone who will be compassionate without any negative consequences.

Toward the end we talked about my progress. She said that I am working very hard. I said that I feel like I’ve progressed very little. So she asked me to point out any improvements that I can find since we started working together. I said that I’m a little more aware of my feelings and I now realize that, through my work with horses, I already channel an ability to calm and center myself.

She asked if I’d like to hear what she thought, to which I said yes. I was curious to get her interpretation, and I also just don’t trust my own perception. She agreed with everything I said and also pointed out that I am staying MUCH more present than I did when we first started. She said that she “nudged” me a bit today in asking me to share my dream a bit and that she was very impressed that I stayed present. I was happy to hear that she thinks I’ve made progress. She also said that it has taken a long time for me to get this way, it will take a long time to work my way out.

I can’t remember now exactly what triggered this, but at one point she said that I have a lot of players. I said it makes me feel crazy and it drives me crazy. She said something understanding to that, like how it would of course make me feel crazy. I just looked at her and then said, you really believe me? You believe me when I say I have 10 different reactions to one thing? She simply nodded and said yes.

 

Her acceptance hurts and strikes fear in me.  

Committing to the long road

I feel humbled this evening with my realization – even if it’s temporary – that I am glad I am alive. It has been years since I’ve felt that sort of fulfillment and purpose in my life, and I’m noticing that I feel it now.

So why are tears streaming down my face as I write this?

Perhaps because I’ve just committed myself to taking the long road; the one with potholes and blind curves and opposing traffic. I’ve given up on the easy way out.

So many holes in my life left to be filled, but something about this day, maybe a song, a conversation with my mother, working with my horses, my job, my coworkers, my session with my therapist..Something has changed, even if for just a minute or two.

I’ve been sitting here for several minutes feeling so filled with countless feelings. Gratitude, happiness, excitement mixed with grief, fear, and hopelessness. In what world can such opposing forces coexist? In me, I suppose. And what a confusing union it is.

For the very few that may follow this blog, I apologize for my absence. I’m working on getting my life together. I have not figured out yet where this blog fits in with that, if it does at all. If I decide to continue blogging, I will come back and give a synopsis of where things are for me at the moment. This is merely an off the cuff, spur of the moment snapshot.

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…

Recovering from surgery

I’m not used to being stuck in bed nearly 24 hours a day. But I’m having to get a bit accustomed to it now. I had surgery on my knee on Tuesday where they removed scar tissue and damaged cartilage from underneath my kneecap, and I’m in a fair amount of pain and on a lot of pain medication. The amount of pain I’d experience was not really relayed to me, maybe because they didn’t know what they’d actually find in surgery.

I’m getting a week off of work, at least. At this point, I am not cleared to go back to work at least until my follow up appointment next Tuesday. The amount of work I know is piling up worries me, but my coworkers have been so supportive, and I know they are trying to help me out while I’m gone.

I can’t lift my leg without a ton of pain, so I don’t know how they expect me to do leg lifts. I have to go back to physical therapy tomorrow morning after stopping about 2 months ago, and I am nervous as to what they’re going to have me do, because anything except for staying perfectly still is pretty much unbearable.

The nice thing is that this is the first time since January where I have not had to take care of all the horses, the donkey, the pig, the cats, and the dog twice a day. It’s normally hours of pretty hard labor, so it’s a nice break.

I’m probably going to cancel my next appointment with new T, which is supposed to be on Monday. I don’t want to go until I’m able to drive myself, which I can’t really do right now, even though it’s my left knee. Being in a car hurts too much right now to go on drives that aren’t absolutely necessary.

Besides, therapy is so far down on my list right now. My mind is so foggy from pain mess, I don’t even know how I’d concentrate for 50 minutes. So I’ll just sleep for a little while longer..

Pre-session thoughts

Although I will probably post again after another session with new T this afternoon, I wanted to get down some pre-session thoughts.

I’m feeling especially wary of her right now, and some part of me feels acutely afraid of her, although I am not sure why.  I will try to bring this up to her today.  Maybe that can quell some of this fear (terror, even?).

Each week, while I’m waiting to go back to the room, I am supposed to fill out this form that has a scale between 1-10 regarding how I feel compared to last week, any emotions I’m feeling, anything significant that happened, etc.  I’ve only done it once and I already hate that form.  But yesterday when I was driving, I suddenly saw the potential value in it for me.  Because part of the reason I hate the form is due to the fact that answering those questions is nearly impossible to me due to the lack of awareness I have.  It’s hard for me to pinpoint where I am compared to last week, because I don’t really know where I am.

But when it comes down to it, I just don’t like that the first thing I have to do when I go in there is fill out a form every week.  I’m terrified I’ll do it “wrong.”  And some of the questions ask things that I don’t feel comfortable sharing yet.  So I don’t.  But I still don’t like that it asks questions I’m not comfortable answering.

I’m afraid to be completely honest with her.  What kind of attitude does she have regarding suicidal thoughts?  I lied to her in the first session when she asked if I had a plan.  I always have a plan, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to carry it out.  I know nothing about her and how she’d react to that kind of information.  And she doesn’t know me either, so she has no way of knowing that me having a plan doesn’t mean I’m a heartbeat away from doing something.

I did most of my “homework” for this week, although I forgot about one bit until today, which I’ll complete before the session.  Although I hate the term homework, what she had me do this week has very obvious benefits, and I’m not averse to it.

Right now, I feel that everything I am – my whole being, thoughts, feelings, sensations – are all wrong.  I feel like a thing that has to be fixed.  I can readily admit to myself that I am broken.  I’m just scared knowing that someone else sees that, too.

Something has felt unbearable about this past week, though.  I can’t tolerate work, I can’t tolerate my thoughts.  I just can’t take it.  I don’t know what this feeling is or where it’s coming from, but I just want some relief.

Figuring it out

Yesterday’s session was the one that new T had “warned” me would involve her teaching me a lot of things.  It was very informative and helpful, and it also gave me more insight into how she works and the knowledge she has.

When we started, she first asked if  I had an agenda for the session, and I said I didn’t.  She started to say that these first few sessions she is talking a lot but that, ultimately, I should come in with something to talk about.  I told her that I actually did have something that I wanted to talk about, but I wasn’t ready to talk about it with her yet.   I have been wanting to discuss recent things with my father, but it would make me feel so vulnerable, and I’m just not ready for that with her.  She said that it’s okay that I don’t want to talk about it yet, but that we could, in the future, just discuss what it is that keeps me from sharing.  She also said that she knows I need to be able to figure out whether I trust her or not, which is the main reason I don’t want to share quite yet.

She mentioned a couple of things about trauma and explained the difference between big T and little t trauma, which is something I already knew but liked hearing her explain. It was good to know what she thought fits into those categories, and even based on a couple minor things I told her, she thought I had other big T traumas that I’ve never even considered a trauma, so that was surprising to me.

Then we moved on to the “lesson.”  She talked a bit about the biology of the brain and how our brains react when we’re under stress, especially traumatic stress.  I also knew most of this already from my undergraduate courses, but it was a nice refresher, and good to know how aware she is of these things.  She talked about the amygdala and the hippocampus and the circuit that runs between that and the pre-frontal cortex.  She explained how, when triggered, our reactions are ruled by the amygdala and hippocampus until the pre-frontal cortex comes online.  She also said that when we undergo trauma at young and important developmental ages (0-5) that it can also change the biology of the brain.  My abuse started when I was 5… I wonder if that applies to me as well.

She then went through the entire list of symptoms that can occur in people who have experienced trauma.  For each, she wanted me to indicate whether I see myself as having that symptom or not.  I said yes to every single thing she listed.  She could tell, partway through, that I was getting uncomfortable with the fact that I was saying yes to so many things and tried to reassure me.  She did that to help me make sense of all of those symptoms and to validate that yes, I have been through something traumatic.  My immediate reaction, though, when I kept saying yes to ALL of those symptoms, was how messed up I am.  I told her this, and she said it wasn’t her intention.  She said a couple other things and then said that she would stop trying to fix my sadness/depression and just let me stay there.

This is the thing that I’m worried about with her, because I get the feeling that it makes me wrong or bad to have any negative thoughts or feelings around her.  It scares me.  She’s said a few things about how it is what it is and this is just where I am right now, but I get this feeling that it’s only okay for me to be here for a short period of time before she expects me to move on.  I can’t handle that pressure. I’m hoping I’m wrong about that.

She went on to tell me about the window of tolerance and gave me a sheet to do as homework.  It has three levels: hyper-arousal, window of tolerance, and hypo-arousal.  On the sheet, she wants me to fill in, for each level, what thoughts, feelings, behaviors/impulses, and somatic awareness I have.  I did the form last night when I got home, and it is interesting to me to establish a “window” like that.  She said that, in session, if I ever find myself going outside of my window, I need to tell her immediately, even if she’s in the middle of a sentence.  She said that we will not be able to accomplish anything if I’m not in my window.

She also wanted me to write down 5 resources to use to come down from hyper-arousal or up from hypo-arousal.  I haven’t been able to finish that one yet.

At the end, she said that, at some point, she also wants to discuss what happened with old T.  She said that she wants to understand what happened because she does “not want to be a part of that.”  I felt intimated when she said that, though, because she had a quite intense look of seriousness.  I felt like a child being scolded.  I’m probably just being too sensitive, though.. But I am still trying to figure out if this will be a good fit.  I am still not sure yet.

So, that’s where we are right now… in a place with a big question mark in it.