Self-contained.

I’ve been meaning to write here for a while. I’ve had a couple of sessions that I’ve not written about but I just haven’t felt able to. I don’t know why I can’t write anything, it just feels hard. Normally writing gives me the space to process things, it gives me time to think and re-listen to the session and pick up on anything I didn’t hear at the time.

But lately, I haven’t even felt like listening to my audio recordings, I haven’t wanted to re-live the emotions brought up in sessions.

I have been feeling very off kilter these past few weeks. It might just be that I’m recovering from a very tumultuous period of dissociation and I need the rest time.

I’m getting annoyed with myself because I’m even finding this hard to write. It isn’t coming naturally to me and I’m finding it hard to find a strand of thinking and follow it. I’m finding it difficult to work out if I’m making sense. This isn’t like me.

I’m spending my days basically disinterested in life. The things I normally want to read or watch aren’t holding my interest. I am sleeping an awful lot, although it feels like I need it. The sleep I’m getting for the most part feels refreshing, it’s decent quality sleep, though I still get lots of weird, mixed-up dreams (last night I dreamt I gave birth and when I looked down it was a little piglet LOL)

And I’ve noticed a lot of “chatter” during dream time from my parts. At least I think that’s what it is. I don’t know what they’re saying and I never remember on waking. It’s like they are watching the dreams and commenting on them or chatting amongst themselves. I wish I could remember what they say.

I’ve noticed lately too that I feel very self-contained, not disconnected exactly…. I don’t know, I just feel sort of sad and alone and inside of myself. And it’s not so overwhelming that I can’t hold it for myself, or that I look visibly distressed or that I need anything or anyone. But because I don’t need help with it and because there’s nothing anyone can do to make it better, I just feel alone with it.

There’s nothing wrong in the present and there’s nothing from the past weighing on my mind and even the parts are very quiet. This almost feels like depression.

Withdrawn! I feel withdrawn, that’s a good word for it. And sad. But I’m not sure why.

This week I’ve felt this soft vulnerability open up inside of me, something that needs wrapped in cotton wool. It felt very tender and it made me want to protect myself, to cradle this vulnerability that it sitting in my solar plexus. In fact, I felt it so keenly that I went to bed and listened to two meditation on self love. I just needed to curl into this soft and sad vulnerable part and allow it to be comforted. I fell asleep listening to the guided meditations and when I awoke I felt super floaty. So much so that I needed to ground myself properly.

That has passed now I think.

I’m okay. And not okay underneath. But mostly I’m okay. Blahhh.

 

Attachment Trauma and symbiosis.

This is extremely long. And it talks in depth about attachment stuff so might be triggering. A medal for anyone who actually manages to read to the end!!! (#sorry)

Part 2. Thursday, 11th May.

In the dying embers of my last session, something happened, some switch tripped and suddenly I found myself in floods of tears and touching on a core wound that has been the centre of my therapy for years; the need for a mother.

I was sharing a memory with Sienna from when I was about 10 and my mother never picked me up from school for some reason and how upset I’d been and scared she’d forgotten me, scared I’d done something wrong- forgotten the arrangements or something.

I was telling her this in relation to not knowing that someone will be there when they say they will.

I related that memory to how I can’t trust her when she says she’s staying with me or that she’s not terminating me and how that week had spiralled so much because it was all abandonment and attachment stuff.

We spoke about the different parts who do different things for different reasons in relationships. Sofia is really good at pushing people away but the younger ones are need their attachment figure.

Sienna said to me “ And there are two or three parts who would expect me to be like your mother, to be there 24/7 and not to have a life and just to “be there for me”…”

I nodded and laughed slightly “Yup.”

But I felt a slight twinge as Sienna pointed that out… embarrassed, exposed, hurt that she was pointing out the obvious elephant in the room (that she isn’t my mother and won’t be there 24/7). The inevitable pain of reality. I felt rejected too; Another hangover from the attachment wound, rejection. I felt like by not allowing me the fantasy that Sienna is the next best thing to having a mother, by not allowing me to just pretend that she’s a “sort of mother”, she was rejecting me. That she didn’t want that role.

I need that fantasy. I need it like I need air to breathe. The younger parts need it. The power of that original core wound is so annihilating that I literally can’t get close to the pain or the grief or the reality of it. To accept the truth, that I never got the adequate mirroring in infancy, or that constant stream of attunement from my own mother and I never got to build a safe place within her….and that I never had a devoted selfless mother who took care of my needs in infancy and childhood and in fact she not only emotionally abandoned me, she eventually physically and literally abandoned me when I was 10. It’s too big a truth.

When I have searched out mother figures, it is a defence against the truth, a defence against grieving. But it is so much more than that. For that young child and baby part that is frozen in time it is literal survival- to find someone who will look after me and love me and protect me. The hope that I will get another chance to build the inherently important bricks of the psyche a human needs to thrive, let’s the baby live.

Without that hope, there is only death. I truly believe that’s how it feels to a baby and toddler not getting their needs met and it’s that fear of total annihilation that compels children and eventually the adult to continue to seek a new mother, a second chance…. A new hope that they can get what they are missing inside of them and stave off the vast emptiness that exists inside the cavity of their chest.

Lots of therapists seem to work off the assumption that they shouldn’t offer false hope to a client, that they should reparent the regressed part of a client with attachment trauma, that the true goal is getting the client to face the reality of what they missed and to grief for it.

But that is wrong.

At least in part it is wrong. That is the end game, the desired end result is that the client will finally get to a place where they can grieve that pain that exists in them, that they can allow that frozen in time baby to realise they grew up, they survived and the sad truth is they missed out on an attuned Mother.

However, to push that onto a client before they are ready and before the other steps in that journey are completed, is at best cruel and at worst life-threatening to someone with attachment trauma.

If you are going to take away that baby’s hope of survival, then you better have something better to replace it with. Never take away hope. People die from lack of hope.

If you’ve never had attachment trauma, you can never truly understand the true physical agony and emptiness that exists within a half-finished soul. And I’m not talking about existential pain, I am talking about physical pain in your body, and emptiness so immense and bleak that nothing could ever full it. And it gnaws at your perpetually, some days more than others. And the pain is so bad that you have to dissociate it.

I always keep touch with the reality that Sienna is my therapist, not my mother. She will never be my mother. I need her as a therapist. But I also need her as a “good enough” mother. I need her to build the bricks I should have got as an infant. I need her to replace the crumbling bricks that were never formed correctly, I need to see myself internalised by her and reflected back to me. I need just enough “mothering” to help fill the void and take away the pain.

And she does that in bucket-loads. She really is mending the baby and child/children who are frozen in time and with enough mirroring and empathy and caring, they will melt from that frozen place and begin to grow. I can feel it happening. It’s not perfect, it can’t be perfect, she can’t adopt me (Though why not??? 😉 ) She can’t be there 24/7, there’s limitations. But somehow that’s okay because what she does give- which is a lot, is just enough. For the child parts, her attention is almost never enough, of course they want or need a lot of her time but mostly they accept what is possible and what is given.

 

But what I am realising is, for the baby parts, they crave symbiosis, they want and need this strong attachment to their caretaker/mother-figure, where we are one unit not two separate people. This fusion is powerful and demands this symbiotic stage and any space or differentiation between us is a threat to their safety, a threat to their life.

So, when Sienna inevitably creates space between us through breaks or more likely, just by pointing out that we are separate, or that she can’t be my mother, I think it triggers me into some sort of flashback of being a baby and having a disrupted attachment to my own mother. And the feelings of annihilation and impending death surface. It’s the most powerful of dissociations that I have and it’s the most dangerous too because that is when I am in so much pain over the loss that I want to die.

I’m sure there’s experts who can explain it better than me and I might even have it wrong, I can only describe my process and what it feels like to me.

When Sienna said to me  “ And there are two or three parts who would expect me to be like your mother, to be there 24/7 and not to have a life and just to “be there for me”… I immediately felt that distinction of “ I am not your mother and we are separate.” It felt like a rejection, that creation of space simply by stating the obvious that “ I am not your mother, I am not going to be responsible for you, nor do I want to be.” Was enough to throw me back into those baby terrors of mother not being there.

I can tell it happened instantaneously because on the audio tape, my voice changes, my speech slows slightly and I begin falling over my words. This was my brain beginning to feel the shock of the separation and the dissociation stepping in. I try to keep talking though, try to power through the hurt of Sienna’s (honest and accurate summation of the parts wanting her to be there all the time.) statement and separation.

Sienna talked about the terror and mistrust I feel at times and have felt this week and my inability to take in that she wasn’t terminating me and had no intention of doing so. She said  “ I think it’s authentic distress. I don’t think there’s any manipulation there, it doesn’t feel as if there is.”

I said quietly “ It’s not (manipulation)… it’s trying to find safety, I think. And it’s really hard that some of this recovery work is trying to be….like, learning that attachment is a good thing. And it’s hard because as a humans we are wired for that, so the attachment comes naturally, it comes inevitably. But to me that’s danger and death and….” I trailed off.

Sienna replied “ so, sometimes the aim is to try and get it (the attachment) good enough where you eventually can sit (in the relationship) – so it doesn’t have to be the perfect attachment or secure attachment but much better than it was, so that you can get to the point where it feels quite stable and that Sofia (teenage part) is okay with that, that she doesn’t try and disrupt it. Because obviously, she is desperate for attachment but it’s too much and she starts testing and pushing people away.”

I tried to explain it more to Sienna because I felt like she wasn’t understanding the crux of pain and terror I experience when our attachment is threatened, or rather when I perceive it to be threatened, and how it throws me back to a time when attachment was a survival issue.

I said to Sienna, struggling to explain it “ It’s just really hard to do this work – to have that missing part of you that’s… that you should have got….. to get this safe base that babies have and when you don’t get that… there’s nowhere else to get that and to do this work, I have to trust the attachment but I have seen it break down, I have experience and knowledge that this type of relationship breaks down (with my mother originally and then two terminations by two separate therapists who I’d attached to.) And it’s….”

Ugh, why could I not say what I mean? I had all these thoughts in my head but I couldn’t formulate them. My voice waivered and tears sprung up.

I said softly “ I just want to feel…. Safe. And really know that… I don’t know…” My voice trailed off and I fell silent.

Sienna talked about the neurology of attachment and my history and how it all relates. How I missed that stage of mirroring with my own mother.

“ you missed that really important stage of mirroring,  it wasn’t good enough. But you can rewire. And yes, it’s a loss because maybe that early stuff wasn’t done well enough, for whatever reason. But there’s always a hope that you can feel more stable for longer….”

She kind of wasn’t getting this deep stuff I was trying to get at. I could tell. She wasn’t understanding that the core issue of this attachment trauma is what has been behind the regressed state and the self-harming for the past week or so. I mean she gets it academically, I’m sure. But she wasn’t connecting with me in that moment, seeing what I was trying to tell her.

I grew quiet.

She sort of went off topic slightly by talking about how a lot of stuff is tumbling out, lots of new parts since we put in the extra sessions and how that’s sort of destabilising things and how important it is to hold that safely. It felt like she was once again talking about scary things like holding things safely and if it isn’t what we do, watching out for whether I am losing touch with reality due to exhaustion and deep dissociation and just being very careful. Her words threatened me and I felt distanced from her. I felt angry that she questioned whether I might lose touch with reality…. This isn’t psychosis it is fucking attachment trauma. This is exactly how deep and disturbing and enduringly pervasive attachment trauma is.

I said to her “ See, this is what scares me. I have this attachment to you and it’s not safe because the reason this relationship exists is that it’s your job and you have rules and ethics. And that means you can decide that you’re not feeling safe or …. Or that you need to terminate. That is not safe to me. I have an attachment to someone that can just say one day “ oh well, I can’t do this job anymore, so, bye.” That is terrifying.”

Sienna said “ And I get a real sense that those younger ones that are coming through are almost like… they have an unrealistic expectation that the mother attachment…. They’re looking for a mother attachment. I don’t even think they see me as a therapist. They are almost replaying whatever fears… I’m not sure yet but it’s very powerful. Really powerful.”

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Unrealistic expectation?

I got upset. “ But I don’t know how not to be attached.”

Sienna said “ I know.”

I continued in a flurry of emotion “ How do I do this work and not be attached???”

Sienna replied quickly “ you don’t. You don’t.”

“ I don’t know how!!!” tears threatened me.

Sienna said “ Right, you don’t. You don’t try to do anything, you just deal with what’s in the room. You do what you need to do. When you’re scared we work through it, when you’re attached, we work through that and see what happens. When I take time out and you’re terrified we work through that too.”

I couldn’t speak. Overcome with emotion and trying to hold it together was the best I could do. When she spoke of my attachment being something to “work through” it felt so distancing, so rejecting and so shameful. Like, something that’s just this big problem to be solved. And like this attachment I feel towards her isn’t reciprocated. It hurt. It felt like this familiar dread and deep sadness and disappointment when the inner child parts realise that someone doesn’t want to be their mother. And it’s just happened with Sienna. I felt the loss of hope moving in. The baby’s loss of hope for survival.

Sienna continued “ WE are going to be okay. Even when I take a break, I’m coming back.”

I said softly with resignation and deep sadness “ This stuff just makes me want to die.”

And I meant it. In that moment I felt in touch with the original core wound and the pain was so much that I wanted to kill myself. In that moment it felt like there was literally no other option.

Sienna said “ Listen, you are feeling so despairing that you want to die. But the flip side is that you have lots of parts who don’t want to die and are really capable and will look after you as time goes on.”

Everything she said felt hollow. I’d just lost my hope. My mother figure. My fantasy that Sienna could heal the pain of the original wound, that she could meet some of my needs in a way that would allow the original wounds to heal a bit.

Of course, the adult me understands about reality and why the fantasy can’t really happen. And the adult parts and even some of the child parts understand that she can’t be and isn’t my mother for real. But the repair work and the relationship has been good enough to start mending some of the damage, to give me some of the bits of attachment that I missed growing up and it’s given me enough hope and enough support and enough love to be able to stave off the annihilating core wound; the reality that I am an abandoned baby. Sienna has given me enough to let me keep my fantasy that she is a “kind of but not really, mother” and that has allowed me to stay just far enough away from the death that reality brings me to if I touch this core wound or get too close to it.

I tried to speak but I was overwhelmed by the power of this loss of hope and rejection and complete lack of safety I was now feeling. The hurt coursed through my entire body and I was propelled into this dissociative state. The loss…. Omg the loss was too much.

Tears blinded me. I attempted to speak, my words getting lost amongst tears. “ I feel….. there’s so much loss.”

I stared out the windows at the trees, contemplating how unsafe I feel. How untethered to anyone I am and how alone in the world I feel. The sadness and devastation and confusion about not having the mother I needed. And without that mother, without those mirroring experiences as an infant and the safety of having a mother who was/is a stable base, everything just felt futile. I was missing the mother I never had. The mother I wanted and the experiences with her that I need like oxygen to ensure my survival.

I was thinking “ Why does no one want me?”

Sienna interrupted the silence and said “ I can only do what I do and reassure you and ask you to trust, which I know you can’t at the moment. But I know that I’ll be here when I say I will be here.”

I let out a sob.

Sienna said softly “ I know…” But she didn’t know. I don’t think she could know unless she’d been through this type of attachment trauma and maternal abandonment.

I just caved in on myself, completely bereft. There was no fight left in me as I wept huge tears. I looked at Sienna and said “ I want my mum.” And that was it. With that vulnerable statement, I just dissolved into sobs.

Sienna said “ I know, I know….” And she jumped over to come sit with me.

“ And that’s the problem isn’t is? Because that person… never makes up for the person you need.” She put her arm around me and soothed me, stroking my shoulder and hair.

Honestly, listening to the audio recording of this session is so painful, it makes me cry. The level of pain in my cried is heart-rendering.

I remember sitting there clutching my chest, hands sort of over my heart, because the physical pain and level of emptiness brought on by the experience of needing a mother but not having a safe one, was threatening to burst out of my body. This never-ending expanse of grief and loss was going to destroy me, or so it felt.

I just kept saying over and over “ I want my mum, I want my mum.” Sienna would say over and over soothingly “ I know.”

I felt so alone. Bereft.

Sienna said “ that’s the pain isn’t it? No one can replace your mum.”

I cried out “ I want my mum. I just want her to come back.”

To be honest I didn’t even know what I was talking about. I wasn’t really even talking about my own real mother, I was grieving the loss of a mother I never had. And idealised mother all of my own. Not the one I have now. I can’t even think of my own mother as someone I want back, I am not missing that mother, because she was never safe. She was never my secure attachment. I don’t want that back. But what I was grieving in that moment was the loss of the dream of some beautiful warm mother who is very attuned and loving and committed and safe. I am grieving for a mother I never had and will never get. Part of me might have been grieving my own mother who occasionally did feel safe to be with and loving.

Sobbing I said “ I want my own mum.” But what I meant was “ I want a mum of my own. I don’t want to rely on a therapist, I don’t want to have to pretend she is my mother, just to fill this huge hole inside of me. I want my own mum, a mum who doesn’t leave. I don’t want to have to worry that my attachment figure is going to leave me. I’m tired, I’m tired of being so scared and I just want my own safe base.”

I continued speaking. “ Nobody can want me like a mum wants me.”

Sienna said “and the pain is that she just doesn’t know how to do it, for whatever reason. She can’t be there when you really need her.”

God the pain of this loss….I just kept clutching at my heart, because the pain coursed through my chest, I felt like I couldn’t contain it all.

“ I just want her. I don’t want to have to worry about someone leaving me, I just……”

“ I know. It’s a real sore one.”

“ It really hurts” I said bending forward, trying to soothe the heart pain.

Sienna replied “ It does really hurt. It’s the worst pain ever.”

“ Mum’s are not supposed to leave, and she left and I have nobody.”

“ Mum’s are definitely not supposed to leave.” Said Sienna.

I continued “ They’re not supposed to want to leave and the only person who wouldn’t leave me is my mum, because she’s my mum and mum’s don’t leave but mine did leave. And that means I’ve got nothing, I’ve got nobody, and I’m just empty.”

Sienna said softly “ It feels very empty.”

I continue sobbing.

Sienna said “ Even though you survived it, which you have, it leaves a really really painful, hurt feeling.”

I say desperately “ It really hurts.” I meant physically.

More heavy sobbing.

I say “ Why can’t I just have her?” I sound about 4 years old.

Sienna pulls me in closer to her, and says full of empathy and slight humour “ I know… and you just have a bossy therapist instead.”

Through tears I laugh and say “ You ARE really bossy.”

The pain courses through me, the empty blackness, the mother-shaped hole.

I repeat again “ It really hurts. It’s empty. I just want my mum. I want my mum…..”

Sienna instructs “ Just let that all out, because that is a lot of pain.”

“ It really hurts, it really hurts.” I couldn’t contain this level of grief.

“ It’s so empty, it’s so empty.. I just want to feel safe, I just want to know that someone won’t leave me!!!”

“ I just want my mum….”

Sienna let out a resigned sigh, one that said she wished things were different. “ I know. You just want your mum.”

I said “ I know that mums are supposed to be there so why is mine not?”

Sienna said maybe I’d get to ask her one day. She said “ There’s nothing like that love. But you survived it, and you’re going to keep surviving it.”

I said “ I know. But it’s hard to hold it.”

Sienna said softly “ Maybe you don’t have to hold it the way you are. Maybe you need to let this out.”

4 year old Sirena resurfaced “ but I just want her.”

Sienna said “ I know. It’s so unfair.”

I know I was repeating the same things over and over, like a child asking the same question and hoping for an answer they like better. Or a child stubbornly holding on to an idea and not being willing to budge on it.

I continued, trying to communicate this loss “ I just want to know that there’s this safe place, that no matter where I am in the world, I can go back to – always. And that no matter what I do… she would be there and it would be okay.”

Sienna said, speaking of my own mother “ And actually if the chips were down, she probably would be there.”

And that’s true. My real mother would be there the best she could. The problem is…. That isn’t my safe base, she isn’t my safe place to come back to when the real world gets too much. As much as my mother would try to help me, she isn’t capable of giving me a feeling of safety or a feeling of relaxation or of nurturance or of attunement  or genuine mothering. And that is what I am grieving.

When she left me as a child, either emotionally and eventually physically abandoning me, the bond was fractured. Broken. Not severed but definitely broken. There is no bank of “nurturing memories” there is no history between us that I can use as a template of trust, I can’t know that she won’t abandon me, because she did. She continued to choose men over her children. So how can I rely on her being a safe person to me now?

I told Sienna “ When you’ve lost that innate trust you’re supposed to have with your mum, when you have to look after her….” I trailed off not finishing my thought.

Sienna agreed “ Yes, you certainly did a lot of that early on. Too much.”

I said “ I feel like I’m not tethered anywhere because she’s not tethered.”

I continued “ I should be able to say to her “ mum I feel really terrible, can you come?” “

Sienna agreed and asked if I ever tried it. I told her over the years yes, but eventually I stopped trying. She can’t see my pain, she panics and pushes away my hurt and makes me feel like I can’t talk about it. And I can’t go to her about this particular pain because she’s the one who caused it.

I said to Sienna “ I feel so rejected by the whole world. Because no one stepped in (as a mother) or help, or see me or want me. And the person who gave birth to me and is supposed to not want to be away from me, did want to be away from me. It’s really hard.”

Sienna said “ It is really hard. That’s a deep hurt. And it will ebb and flow, sometimes it will be bearable. But it’s really raw right now.”

I said desperately, feeling a maddening need for safety and not having it anywhere -“ I just want to feel safe. I just want her to be safe. When everything else is scary, when this (therapy) is scary, I can go to my mum and be safe and know that no matter what, she’s there.”

I know that if I had my mum as a safe base, then I wouldn’t have to feel this fear of Sienna leaving me, all the time. She wouldn’t matter so much to me, because I would have my mum as my most important and enduring attachment figure. People leaving me wouldn’t be so traumatic to me, because the core people in my life would still be there.

Sienna reassured me that no matter what, all the parts had me, the adult to look after them and we survived and will always survive no matter what. I told her I know I’ll always survive. Of course I will. But it’s just hard when nothing feels safe.I told her “ This isn’t about survival, it’s about loss.”

She said that the attachments I do have in my life, have to be safe enough. She said they are safe enough. And that the relationship I have in the present with her and my husband have to be “good enough” and “ secure enough” and these rest I need to grieve for.

I said to her “ but that’s loss.”

Sienna said “ It is loss. It’s a big loss.”

She continued “ I know you hate supervisors, and I haven’t been able to speak to mine this week. But she holds me, so I can hold you.” I think she was reassuring me that she was able to stay steady in the relationship because she has good support and therefore the relationship and her, weren’t going anywhere.

I said to Sienna “ What happens if you go away forever?”

Sienna reply “ I’m not intending on going anywhere.”

I was calmer now, the crying had stopped and we were well over time.

I said to Sienna “ thank you for everything you do for me.”

Sienna smiled and said “ you’re welcome. You’re worth it. Because you are important. And I care. I really care.”

I said surprised “ do you?”

Sienna said “ Yes I do. I really care. And you’re not just… a client. You are a person, a human-being , you’re Sirena, we’ve got a realllly important relationship.”

I let it sink in. It felt nice to hear. It felt reassuring that she thinks our relationship is important too.

She added with a lot of humour “ Do you think I’d give up my tv shows to come in here tonight for just anyone???”

I laughed. We sort of chatted briefly about tv programmes as the session ended and I got ready to leave.

I know Sienna had mentioned before that Thursday’s were technically her day off but I also know she works some of them every second week or something. But it really touched me that she is so committed to me that she gives up some of her free time so that I can have me 2nd very needed session of the week and yes I guess it makes me feel special. And it reassures me once again of her ongoing commitment to me.

This was a seriously heavy session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra Session- Part 1

Thursday Session

The problem with dissociative disorders is that one minute things look grim, and the next all has calmed down and the people involved are left perplexed as to how things can do a complete 180 in a matter of hours or days?

On Monday, things looked pretty dire. My therapist was convinced I was in dangerous territory and to the outside, it probably looked like I was decompensating quite badly and hugely vulnerable. And if I’d stayed in that highly dissociated place for weeks at a time, then there would definitely have been an argument for possible hospitalisation. However, I knew from experience that the shock of being taken to hospital would have been enough to make me switch into an apparently adult coping part and I’d have to sit there feeling humiliated under the sceptical eye of some Psychiatric resident as they questioned me. And I would be sent home that same day/night with no further action to be taken, expect maybe to see my GP.

People like me don’t get psychiatric care easily.

So yeah, Monday looked bad. Tuesday wasn’t great either. By Wednesday I was almost back to normal, coming out of that heavily dissociated phase and ready to unpack some of what had happened between Sienna and I. I was still angry with her for forcing my hand with contacting my Dr. And I still felt very confused about why she pushed it so hard, against my will. My husband suggested that Sienna has brought up the issue of letting my Dr know roughly what’s going on with me, several times and I’ve always refused to do it and she’s let it go several times. He thinks this time she felt our relationship was strong enough for her to push more, whereas before I would just have left therapy. Maybe he’s right.

I asked Sienna if I could have a phone session with her at some point over the next few days. She offered for me to come in to the office if I wanted on the Thursday evening. I agreed to go. I was really glad to be going in to see her in person, I felt like such a lot had been going on over the past few weeks that led up to this week’s drama and I wanted to process it with her and also work out with her what the boundaries actually are around self-harm, dissociation etc and where the line is before she decides my Dr should be notified?

In the Thursday session I said to Sienna, “ I think I’m just a bit confused as to why I needed to contact my Dr or why… it doesn’t make sense to me because for me, the dissociation wasn’t out of the ordinary, it wasn’t anything you haven’t seen before and neither’s the self-harm. So… why this time?”

Sienna said “ So the bit I am potentially seeing is that you’re bringing the young parts out into the open and the level of distress was there – and that’s going to get bigger, that’s going to get more as more stuff comes through. And you’re also getting one or two confused parts that are new. The increase of new awareness and new parts means that I want a safety net in there. And it’s just a way of belting and bracing it and keeping both of us safe.”

I nodded, digesting what she was saying and not sure what I feel about it.  “ mmmm”

Sienna continued “ And you might never need to use them (the diazepam).”

I felt exasperated! If she’s leaving the choice to me about whether I take them or not, why push me so hard to get them?

I exclaimed “ So what was the point of all that then? Like, how does that make you feel safer because I could choose not to take them!!”

Sienna said “ Because, I’ve done my….

Me : “You’ve done your part…

Sienna interjected “ I’ve done my ethical part…

I spoke over her “ You’ve done your parts, which is what this has all been about!”

I resented that I was caught up in a game of ethics and arse-covering. And I felt like Sienna’s main priority was making sure she couldn’t be sued or seen to be negligent rather than any real worry for my wellbeing.

Sienna raised her tone slightly “ It’s not all its about, it’s also about… I don’t want you full of cut marks. I know you’re not cutting deeply but it shows a level of distress, for one part. And I know when you come out of a period of dissociation you can’t touch base with the level of despair that was going on. And all you need to do is nick an artery and you then have a serious situation….”

I said “ That’s never happened. I don’t have history of that. (cutting that deep or needing hospital)”

I continued “ I’ve never been to hospital for self-harm…”

Sienna said “ and I hope you never will.”

Sienna told me that she hoped I could use the strength of whatever adult parts are in there, and/or when my husband or Sienna say it’s time to take a pill, that I take that advice. In truth, the levels of terror and distress I got to on Monday night are quite rare but if I’d had diazepam in the house, I would gladly have taken it. And I am glad to have the pills, but I’d much rather have gotten than in my own time, off my own volition rather than out of fear of Sienna not working with me. Admittedly Sienna never threatened not to work with me, quite the opposite, yet for me it still felt like it could go that way… if she’s using words like ethically and professionally then she’s considering how to make things “safe” and above board and if she thinks my Dr needs to be involved, and I refuse, well how do we get around that impasse?

Sienna asked what the self-harm does for me? I told her it depended on which part is doing it. Sometimes it’s anger at myself, hate and contempt for myself, the need to destroy myself, sometimes it’s to calm myself and self-regulate.

She said it felt like that part who did it on Monday was despairing and needed to release something.

I revealed to Sienna “ I asked that part why she did it on Monday and she said that it was for comfort.”

Sienna said “ to feel?”

I replied “ It feels the same as a hug. That’s what she said.”

Sienna said quietly “ interesting, isn’t it?”

I nodded.

Sienna asked if I felt I’d stabilised over the past 48 hours. I told her more in the last 24 hours I’ve felt back to baseline, but it still feels like I’ve been through something big, but I just don’t have the memory of it, it feels foggy and far away and dream-like almost. In fact, on the Tues or Wednesday or maybe both I’m not sure, my whole body was in pain. I felt like a car had steam-rolled over me.

Sienna said “ This is one of the points I’m making; when you’re in that place and we are seeing how distressed you are then actually taking that down a notch (with the pills) would be good.”

I replied “ I feel that there was that level of distress because you took it out of my hands on Monday and then what you were saying on the phones one of the days was scaring me.”

Sienna replied “ Like?”

I thought but couldn’t recall what it was that had scared me so much. We both laughed slightly because I couldn’t remember.

I continued “ Like, you were just being insistent that you were going to speak to my Dr. That I was to get these pills and you were talking about being in a service or that I should be with a service… and all these words were being used that I’ve heard before with other therapists and then I got terminated.”

Sienna said “ yes, you connected with that quite a lot. And all I was saying was that If I don’t do the steps that I’m supposed to do then….”

I interrupted, annoyed and I raised my voice “ But that was never agreed as a boundary that if you see self-harm marks on me then I’m going to insist in speaking to your dr.”

Sienna said to me that “there’s a part of the original contract that says it’s within my right to contact your G.P if things get to a level where I think he/she needs to be involved.”

And I said “ Yeah, IF I’m unable to make good decisions for myself, if I’m not making good decisions for myself…”

Sienna said in a tone that meant (uh… yeah and that’s where we were at, duh!) Yeah! Exactly, Yes! Hello??

“ But that wasn’t where we were at, Sienna. That self-harm is a regulation thing, it’s not something new….”

Sienna said “ Do you know what I have noticed though, whether it was in panic or anything else, you then took it into your own hands and phoned the Dr yourself.”

I said to her incredulously “ Hell yeah I took it into my own hands, of course I did, because I needed the control back. And that’s the only reason I did it. But that’s….. that’s damaging our relationship. That’s damaging the trust.”

I looked at her. Did she understand the impact of what she did?

Sienna replied “ Well it’s a sort of parent… it did feel very parent-y having to stand my ground and say you can kick and scream as much as you like ( but this is happening)…. Because you’re not aware of how distressed you were, but your husband and I were and it had been going on a long time and you were exhausted. And that’s my point about this as well…. When it goes on for so long it ends up spiralling and you end up so exhausted. And also the fact that you self-harmed twice in one week…”

I said “ Was it twice in one week though?”

Sienna said “ Yes it was. It was 5 days between it. So that’s all, it came from a place of caring, if you can see it that way. It’s not about being persecutory or bully tactics.”

I said huffily “ Well it felt persecutory.”

Sienna conceded “ I know it did. I know it did…”

We sat in brief silence, letting those words hang in the air.

Sienna said “ I don’t know if you can remember, but I did say to you at the time that it’s really important that we can carry this work on and if that work leads to that level of distress, then I need to know there’s options there. That if you need a diazepam you can take one. And I do know with all this new stuff coming out and with breaks coming up, then I want a back-up in there.”

UGH, fucking breaks. Again. I couldn’t even say anything. My stomach plummeted at the mere contemplation of yet another break.

Sienna continued “ So I am sorry if it felt like bully tactics but it’s coming from a good place. I know some parts really hate it and some will understand.”

Sienna asked me remind her about how this week’s situation reminded me off previous terminations. I talked of painful endings with therapists who really fucked me over.

Therapists who’d wanted me to be medicated when things got scary in therapy. And I spoke of how angry that makes me when people suggest medication because there’s nothing wrong with my brain. People in my life made me this way, so why am I to medicate my brain? To make other people feel better??

I said to Sienna “ There’s nothing wrong with my brain chemistry. I have trauma, there’s a difference. People made me this way and now I am suffering from the effects of that.”

Sienna said “ that’s why I wanted diazepam and not an anti-depressant that numbs you or anything like that, I want you here but if it gets to the point where you’re exhausted because the distress has gone on so long, and you’re self-harming to that level..”

I interjected “ It wasn’t to that level though. It was frequent but it didn’t increase, it wasn’t getting worse.”

Sienna said “ Well, it was to me. I hear what you’re saying though, that to you, you feel and live with that intensity inside all the time so it doesn’t feel to you like anything was getting worse.”

“ I do. But now it feels like I can’t tell you about it because you can decide that…” I trailed off.

Sienna said decisively “ Well, I know some parts are really angry, the young adults or older who have a right to make their own decisions… but when the youngsters were about, they didn’t have supportive boundaried parenting, to know that they were safe and that someone was looking out for them. But By God-  I promise you this; I will be.”

I smiled at Sienna’s tenacity and resolute stubbornness and also her dedication to me, that she wasn’t going to be cowed by Sofia’s anger. Even though parts of me hate that she can’t be intimidated or coerced into doing what I want rather than what I need, there’s a warm feeling that comes from her promising me containment and doing what’s right by me.

Sienna continued “ And I know that raises a conflict with the older ones. But the older ones aren’t doing the looking after of the younger ones. So until the older ones actually see that they are actually abandoning the younger ones…”

I spoke over her.  “ But it felt like the shock of having to contact my dr, it feels like my power gets taken away from me. Everything that I am trying so hard to keep together is then being taken off me and someone else is making the decisions…”

Sienna interjected “ But that’s what has to happen with children, but in a supportive way and a good way, not in the way power was taken off you in your family so often. But in a way that, yeah, you don’t like it but actually it’s a boundary and another option.”

I told Sienna how I’d always managed to use my anger to get people to back off, even people who were trying to help me. As a teenager I successfully got my mum to back off from taking me to the Dr’s when I had an eating disorder. And that felt more comfortable to me, to know I could do that. Boundaries always induced terror in me for some reason.

I admitted that Sienna not being intimidated and holding her ground this week made me angry and scared but there was tiny part of me that felt secretly impressed that she didn’t back off and I also felt cared for and contained. But mostly I felt that afterwards, not during the power struggle.

“ Everyone was scared to hold their ground with me (as a teenager) and I know that you didn’t back down and it felt parental and it felt sort of….. part of me felt a bit safe that… that if I’m not seeing straight, that someone is going to stand up to me and give me….. what’s the word I’m looking for? I don’t know… like…”

Sienna helped me out “ Do the right thing, take care of you. Even if you’re kicking and screaming.”

I nodded.

Sienna said “ and of course that’s one of the big problems with mental health problems is that when you’re in it, you don’t see it as bad as what other people are telling you it is.”

I said to her that I am so used to living with that level of distress and intensity that it’s normal to me, I don’t see self-harming or the dissociation as that big a deal because it’s my normal. I’ve lived with it for so long that I just think it’s a bad day or few days and I’ll survive it. I don’t get why people get so worried.

Sienna replied “ And when you’re in that part that self-harms doesn’t care about anyone else so you lose touch with the impact you have on (Husband) and the people around you. And you can’t hear that we care and that we don’t want to see you doing that to yourself. And I understand that it gives you a release of some sort and it’s a coping mechanism. But at the end of the day, I would never not hold my ground on something like that, that I felt was important.”

I reflected that actually I have some parts who get very triggered by people caring about me. I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel safe. I don’t trust people to know how to look after me.

I told Sienna how everything that’s been happening lately has been attachment based for me. I emphasised how deep that attachment terror is, that it can send me to the depths of distress that she’s seen this week. I explained to her that there’s different parts of my system wanting and needing different things and I feel pulled in both directions. The young parts desperately needing constant attention and proximity to Sienna, their attachment figure and when that isn’t always possible (like when Sienna is busy or on holiday) then the teen parts jump in and get all angry and immediately want to detach from the relationship, they devalue it, they mistrust Sienna’s intentions and as they move away from Sienna by creating conflict with her, being deliberately inflammatory the younger ones panic and scramble to find the attachment once more. It creates a lot of chaos.

Sienna said she noticed that the older parts needed a break sometimes (from therapy) but the children are terrified of it. She spoke about aiming to get the older parts to look after the distressed children, eventually. But it’s just not happening right now.

I feel like Sienna doesn’t get just how separated these parts are. None of them are aware of any other part. It’s not sheer belligerence that stops the older parts not taking more responsibility. It’s not a refusal to do it. It’s just that right now there’s no communication between them. And I have no control over what parts are out.

I hate when it feels like she’s suggesting that communication between them is a choice I’m not making. That some-how I have control over this. And I feel sad and frustrated and I feel like saying “ give me a fucking break, I literally only discovered some of these parts in the last year, I literally only realised I had parts in the past 12-18 months. Before that I had no idea they were there. I’ve only just started learning about them. Give me time please to catch a breath.”

Sienna said sort of as a conclusion “ One thing I want to consistently reassure you about is that no matter what happens with us, if you fall out with me because I’m bossy or whatever you perceive it as, I’ll be here. 6 o’clock on a Monday night unless it’s a planned break.”

I asked “ How do I know though?”

Sienna replied “ Because I’m telling you.”

I love how people without attachment trauma think that’s so simple to believe. That just because they say it means it’s true and trustable.

I don’t know how to believe that just because Sienna says she’ll be there, means she will, not matter what. I believe and expect her to be there when there hasn’t been any argument. But if there has been an argument or a text that Sienna hasn’t replied to (which is what happened 2 Friday’s ago) then I don’t know what her non-response means. I don’t know unless she explicitly tells me that she’ll be there, whether I should go or not. And the uncertainty makes me spiral.

I am going to write a 2nd post for what transpired in the last few minutes of my session as it’s super important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A battle of Wills.

After that horrendous therapy session, I went to bed exhausted. But there was no reprieve as I woke up after just 3 hours sleep.

The heavy dissociation had worn off a bit by now and it was only then that I could feel the burning, biting pain of my self-harm scratches. They really hurt! I limped and walked gingerly as I could feel the pain of the skin knitting together as I moved.

I did think to myself how powerful dissociation must be, because I never felt an ounce of pain from them earlier on. I mean, I could feel they were there and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling, but I wouldn’t have described it as pain.

I stayed up all night. And I think for most of it I alternated between fear and terror of Sienna leaving me, terminating me for being too high-risk for private practice. But also, there was confusion and anger about how we got here. I really didn’t feel things in session were any worse than what she’s seen before and I knew myself that this would pass, it always does. This is just a part who came out for the first time, showing their distress. I resented Sienna for blowing my cover, for threatening everything I have constructed to keep my inner world safe and away from others. I’d trusted her and allowed her a glimpse of the chaos and distress and fear and sadness that I hold within me every single day of my life. I’d trusted her with it and she betrayed my trust.

But there was also confusion, because when the people around you start questioning your sanity, you start to wonder if they’re right? Are they all seeing something that I can’t right now? I was certainly very distressed and very vulnerable and very dissociated so maybe I’m not seeing things as they are? But to me at the time, the level of distress was bad but not the worst I’ve ever been.

For me, the trigger to all of this was attachment stuff. Fear of abandonment, not feeling safe, struggling to stay in relationship with Sienna. Parts of my system wanting to defend me against the relationship which in their mind will inevitably end one day and cause me heartbreak. Their way of defending me is to destroy the relationship, detach from the attachment figure, to not need them. But the young parts, the little children who desperately just want a mummy, who just want to be accepted into the safety of a mummy who doesn’t leave, ever…. They were desperately clinging on to Sienna, grasping to find some semblance of safety, some sign that Sienna would never abandon them. Because to them abandonment means death.

So I was left with this internal fight of detach versus stay attached. I felt like, if I could just reach Sienna in a way that my system could feel, that everything else would calm down. I’d spent many weeks feeling dissociated and untethered and like Sienna hadn’t been as attuned as normal that it was obvious to me that once I got that attunement back, I’d be okay.

Just before my check in on Tuesday morning, I felt this protective part move in. And I decided to tell Sienna that I was fine, back to normal. I hoped that if I did that then she’d leave me alone and not still insist in writing to my Doctor. I knew that if I used the right words and sounded coherent enough, she’d probably back down. I felt quite pleased with my plan.

Sure enough, when I spoke to Sienna and she asked how I was I said I was feeling better, almost back to normal.

Sienna asked about my cuts, how were they?

Sienna said “ I was very close last night to telling your husband to take you to A&E. Not so much because of the cuts because you said they were superficial but because of the level of heavy dissociation and that and the increased level of cutting, a mental health assessment might have been what was needed.”

I felt my heart skip a beat, a familiar feeling of dread and panic and fear rising. Adrenaline rushing up. And anger. What the fuck is she talking about?? This is out of hand! There is no need for this amount of drama.

Sienna continued to speak “ We’re very near the edge at that point where it’s dangerous and ethically and professionally I’ve got to be really careful. So that’s one of the reasons why I’ll be drafting up a letter for your Gp, to try and get you some medication to take the edge off that level of distress. But we just need to get more help with this. Because we are getting into some very important work and it’s important that you’re safe but also that we can continue that work. I want you to be in a place where you can be held while we do this work, but do it safely.”

I listened to her. Desperately trying to anticipate what was going to come out her mouth next… is this the termination speech? I felt sick. When a therapist starts using words like “ethically” and “ professionally”…. That in my experience is the lead up to termination. And the fact that she is even talking about having to keep herself practicing safely etc tells me that this is an exercise in arse-covering. This isn’t about me at all. This isn’t care, this is a therapist making sure that if her psycho client hurts herself badly or worse, that she can’t be legally held responsible or proved to be negligent. I felt the rage build.

Sienna mentioned something about if the cuts get infected etc and I interjected angrily and with contempt;

“ They aren’t going to get infected! That’s never happened. Do you really think I got to this age without being able to look after myself???”

Sienna replied “ I appreciate that, but you’ve got to understand that I’m very keen to take you further into the work but in order to do that, we’ve got to watch that the distress you experience doesn’t get worse. Because that’s two quite significant self-harming incidents in a week. And severe dissociation. So it’s not that I’m saying to stop the work, it’s quite the reverse in fact. In order to keep doing the work we’re doing then let’s get extra support in there. It’s not about medicating you every day, it’s about giving you something you can take when the level of distress get too much.”

I said to Sienna “ I don’t understand this. If you hadn’t seen the cuts or asked about them, then all you’d have seen is the level of dissociation and I’ve been to that level before and you haven’t felt the need to involve me dr, so why now? The self-harm isn’t bad, it’s superficial. I am telling you now that I am in control of my behaviour, what I’m doing, I am in control of that and I’m taking responsibility for my health, which I always do and my husband knows about the self-harm and how I’m feeling and I’m not suicidal….”

Sienna agreed, and she said she’d checked that out with me in session so she knew I wasn’t suicidal.

So I said to her “ So what’s the difference then? I’ve sat in your office before with those level of cuts and you haven’t known or if you have you haven’t been worried.”

Sienna tried to explain that the difference was the level of dissociation coupled with the 2 episodes of cutting and the fact that the work was at a deeper level informed her decision about needing medical intervention. And that she had to make sure the work was safe and that both her and I were safe. She said that if I was cutting to the same amount every day or every week, my body would be in shreds.

I laughed. So fucking what? I said to her “ I don’t know what it is about self-harm that makes people go off the deep end, they see it and they freak out. “

Sienna insisted “Sirena. I am not going off the deep end, I know that you self-harm on and off. I am not panicking about it.”

I interrupted “ YOU ARE. Because see when you start talking about “ethically” and “professionally”  that’s hiding behind language.” My tone was sarcastic.

Sienna argued “ No, it’s not hiding behind language…”

I said “ It IS!!”

Sienna said “ …No, it’s being open and honest and….”

Again I interrupted “ I’ve told you’ve self-harmed before and when you don’t see it, you don’t bother. But because you’ve seen it you suddenly feel like you need to do something.”

Sienna began speaking and I wouldn’t let her speak. “ Well, why didn’t you care any other time?”

I could tell Sienna was trying to stay non-defensive or non-argumentative in the face of me spitting accusations at her.

She explained super calmly and slowly that she felt like other times the work wasn’t at the same level and therefore didn’t feel worried about the odd self-harm incident. I could tell she was having to think on her feet as I fired accusations and questions at her. It felt like she wasn’t sure herself why this time was different, I didn’t feel like I got a satisfactory answer to why this time I was more in need of medication and safety nets and Dr’s interventions that any other times. It seemed arbitrary to me.

I knew I was firing anger at her. I knew I was trying to make her back down by using reason and logic and forceful argument and that my anger was my protective defence, my tried and tested method of getting people to back the fuck off. Generally, it works and usually with Sienna that’s how I’ve gotten her to lay off the Dr idea in the past.

Sienna just kept saying that she wanted to ask my Dr for medication to take the edge of the distress.

Again I said to her “ Sienna, If I take medication it’s for you, not for me. I don’t want it. I don’t need it. The level of dissociation and the level of upset you are seeing, I carry with me every single fucking day. Every day. It’s in there all the time, just because you don’t always see it doesn’t mean it’s not always there.” I felt like that was a good argument and proof that I do cope without medication, I don’t need extra intervention.

Sienna replied firmly.

“ Well, Sirena, there’s a line here, right. I AM going to draft up a letter for you to see and I am not going to let this go. Because sometimes you don’t see it when you’re in it, and I appreciate what you’re saying, but I also know that we’ve had this discussion before (about letter to dr) and I’ve let it go, and I’ve not been terribly happy about letting it go. And as I’ve explained to you before, in private practice it’s just you and me. And for the level you dissociate at, there’s an argument to say that you might be better served in a service…”

I interjected in pure fear and rage “ So fucking let me go then.” At this point I felt like in was inevitable that she’d terminate me. If she thinks I need to be in a mental health service. Which personally I think is total bullshit.

Sienna said “ Well, it’s your choice if you want to go. You can leave any time you like. But what I’m trying to say to you is that I know you don’t want to be in a service that can give you 24/7 support…”

I interrupted again “ There isn’t a service available, are you fucking kidding me? There isn’t anything available otherwise I’d already be in it.”

Sienna said “ I appreciate that. Now will you listen to me? What I’m trying to say is that the work we are doing is important and it’s important that we continue, I want a safety net in there for you. For both of us. And that safety net is not about blue flashing lights and hospitals and detainment, it’s simply a letter to your GP making her aware of what’s going on and to see if she can prescribe something to take the edge of the distress when it gets to this level.”

I said tearfully “ I don’t like the language you’re using. This is different, when you do this. And see to be honest, if you think I need to be in a service that doesn’t even exist for me, then let’s just fucking stop now. We may as well Stop right now.”

Sienna replied “ Well I’m not going to let you do that, because that’s a knee-jerk reaction in panic of something you don’t know or don’t want.”

“No, I’m scared of what you’re saying, that I’m not going to be in control of….. the words that you’re using is scaring me!”

Sienna said “ Well you know, I could say that I wanted to tell your Dr the whole story and she would probably say that you need 3rd mental health services…”

I interjected “ I fucking DON’T!!!!!!” I was so angry with Sienna.

Sienna said “ I know you don’t. I’m just saying your Dr might see it that way and I am not suggesting telling her everything about the dissociation, just that you sometimes need help with the anxiety.”

“Sienna, how can I ever trust that I can tell you what’s going on for me when you do this?”

Sienna sounded annoyed or impatient as she said “ What am I doing Sirena? What Am I doing? I am not going behind your back and calling your dr. I’m being open and honest with you and saying in my professional opinion that it’s a really good practice idea just to get you some medication to keep at home that you can take when you’re very anxious, distressed or heavily dissociated.”

We went round in circles, her talking about safety nets and bringing the younger ones forward more and needing to be safe in that work etc.

I felt defeated and I felt like Sienna was very wrong in all of this.

I said quietly “ I can’t do this. I just can’t do this anymore.” I wanted to just quit there and then.

Sienna paused and said “ Well I want you to go away and think about it. I know you’re scared and scared and upset and you’re not liking what you’re hearing. But I really care about our work, I really care about you and I want to keep you safe – and I want to keep me safe too.”

I exploded “ Why ARE YOU NOT safe? What am I doing to make you not safe!!!!”

Sienna said “ Well if I’m thinking you might not be safe or the work isn’t safe, and I don’t do something about that, and I don’t contact a health professional if I am worried for your safety, then I’m being unethical to you, I’m not keeping our practice together safe. And you can shout all you like and say all you like, but the bottom line is I need to keep this safe.”

I angrily spat out “ See, this triggers me. These words you’re using… do you not think I’ve heard them a million times before from other therapists who then dump me. This happens all the time… I can’t be honest about how I really feel because I get fucked over and dumped.”

Sienna said “ I’m not dumping you Sirena. If you leave, that will be your choice, but I’m not dumping you because I want this work to continue but it’s got to be done in a safe manner.”

“But I’ve basically to medicate myself, that’s the conditions of it. I actually have to take poison into my body…”

Sienna interrupted me “ No, Sirena… when you say that that makes it sound like I want you to take a drug every-day to numb everything down. That’s not what I’m wanting. I don’t want you numbed down that much, what I do want is that when we see the little ones become so distressed that you are self-harming twice a week… then I want to see if a bit of anxiety medication will help so that we can continue the work. And maybe then instead of self-harming we can find other ways for you to manage your distress.”

I said to her, feeling so much anger “ I genuinely couldn’t give two fucks about the self-harming. I genuinely could not fucking care!!!!”

“ Well, Sirena, I do. I do care….”

“WHYYYYYYYY????? Why do you care about this??????”

Sienna just kept repeating the same stuff over and over. We were getting no where.

I couldn’t believe that she wasn’t backing down on this.

Before the check in call, I thought the worst was over, that I was feeling better. But this call just threw me back into the state I was in the night before. I felt out of control, I felt terror, I felt positive that Sienna was going to terminate me. That people were telling me I’m more acutely ill than I actually am. None of this made sense to me.

It felt like things were running out of my control, that Dr’s were going to be getting involved, and Sienna’s supervisors were going to be consulted… it all felt impossible and huge and scary. It felt like the world was suddenly knocking down my well constructed walls.

There is a weird thing that happens when I feel like things are taken out of my control…. I actually am put more in danger by people taking my control away because I start feeling very suicidal. There’s this panic that sets it, that “people are coming to get me”. And I start wanting to do the worst damage to myself before I am stopped. I’m not sure I understand it.

I sat on my bed feeling intensely psychologically unwell and for the first time, in danger. I phoned my Dr and spoke with her. It was an underwhelming conversation to be honest as I suspected it would be, because they don’t care. She suggested anti-depressants which I told her I didn’t want. And reluctantly, she gave me a low dose of Valium. I gave her Sienna’s details and asked her to call Sienna.

I was done with fighting. I just want to go to sleep. Let them sort it out amongst themselves. They can prescribe me meds that I won’t take and everyone will be happy they did their bureaucratic red tape job so that they won’t get sued if I decide to jump off a building. Fuck them all.

Sienna told me she was really proud of me for contacting my Dr. We exchanged a few texts and a phone check in the next morning. (Wednesday).

Part of me was still angry and mistrustful. But there was a tiny part of me that was secretly impressed that Sienna had withstood my anger, that she hadn’t backed down. And another small part felt safe. I don’t know if I agree with Sienna’s decision…. I don’t think I do, even now. Yet I could see that she genuinely thought there was a need to keep me safe and she wasn’t going to allow my defences push her away and that feels containing.

It felt very parental. But a caring parent, one who fights for their child and does what it takes to keep them safe. I’ve never had that before. It doesn’t feel good exactly… I feel battle-weary. But it feel containing and safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Narrowly avoiding hospital.

I’ve had a really awful week. The level of dissociation I’ve experienced lately has felt so disorientating. I can’t pinpoint why exactly the dissociation had intensified but it feels like it’s been a reaction to Sienna’s break and also the shock of a younger part telling Sienna what the secret in the envelope was. It may also just be that we are at a deep level of the work and the younger parts are coming forward more and that is putting my entire system into disarray. I have fell into a deep mistrust of Sienna and also of the relationship we have. I haven’t felt able to connect with her in any meaningful way and that’s increased my anxiety and made the dissociation worse.

I had two incidents of self-harm in the past 10 days (just superficial cuts) . Sienna has had a lot of contact with me lately yet nothing is soothing me or bringing me out this dissociation. Our session last week and this week have consisted of me crying dissociatively, not being able to verbalise much and Sienna physically holding me.

On Monday morning, I woke up from a nightmare. In it Sienna had decided to move away and wasn’t going to work with me anymore. I woke up really dissociated and a young part who is new to me self-harmed. She’s 10. I saw her in my mind’s eye, dark shoulder length hair with a white long vest on. We sat on the floor of my bedroom and just cut and cut until it felt better. Until she felt soothed.

She had text Sienna “ I’m going to die.”

Sienna replied “ Why do you think you’re going to die?

I replied “ Bcos I have to.”

Sienna replied that she had a client right now but she wanted me/her to come in tonight.

To be honest I don’t remember anything else about the rest of that day. I’d self-harmed extensively over my body including my hand and arms which is something I avoid doing because it’s harder to hide.

When I got to session on Monday, it was the 10 year old at the front. Sienna began speaking to me immediately.

“Who is about? Who’s here?”

“Somebody young.”

Sienna said slowly  “ Okay, you’ve got to know, that no matter how you feel…. I am not going anywhere. Notwithstanding breaks and things, we’ve been consistent, Mondays and the Thursdays. And not matter how disruptive they feel, know that this is grounded. Even when there’s breaks coming up, they are just breaks and we go back to normal after.”

I listened.

Sienna continued “ Tell me what’s going on about the distress. Do you know?”

I said quietly “ I had a bad dream.”

Sienna asked what it was about. I felt ashamed when I told her.

“ You left me.”

“ I left you” Sienna nodded. “ Okay, well when I leave you to take breaks, know that I am coming back.”

At the time, I felt like Sienna’s voice was loud (it was hurting my ears) and very firm and I felt scared. It felt like she was annoyed with me or something. But as I listen back to the audio of this session, her voice was none of those things. In fact her voice was that of an adult talking to a child and speaking plainly and reassuringly.

I asked tearfully “ Are you giving me into trouble?”

Sienna replied “ nope, not giving you into trouble. Does it feel that way?” I nodded.

Sienna said softly. “No, I’m just trying to reassure you that no matter what you feel, no matter what you dream, this is consistent and we are okay.”

Sienna asked “ Tell me about this younger part. Is she just living in constant fear that another adult is going to leave her?” I nodded.

Sienna sad “ tell me what else is going on with her.”

I said quietly I didn’t know. I couldn’t maintain eye contact, I kept drifting off in my mind to God knows where. I was still aware of being in the room at the same time though.

Sienna said gently “ You know, it’s just going to take time, for you to realise and trust that our relationship can withstand a lot, and that even if I go away, I’m coming back. And you’ll know when I’m coming back because I’ll be telling you. And those little ones who are so scared, I hold hope for them. And belief, not just hope but belief that they are going to feel better over time.”

I felt like I should respond. I mumbled “ Okay.”

Sienna continued speaking. “ You are too important. We are important to each other. You are important to me and you’re important to (husband).”

Sienna speak with the child at this point and I can’t even hear what passes between us. I think I’m really dissociated and just spaced out and constantly crying.

Sienna asks what I need? I literally had no answer to that question.

She asked if I needed a cuddle and I shook my head. She said I think maybe you do at some point today.

Sienna asked if maybe now we are at the point where the anxiety was at the level that we needed in involve the Dr, to maybe get some anxiety meds. I shook my head.

She asked about the self-harm. She asked about why this little one was so distressed. I literally couldn’t speak. I couldn’t give answers. I felt submerged still in this feeling that the dream of Sienna abandoning me, brought up. I felt a complete lack of safety or grounding.

Sienna finally gave up on the questioning and just came over to my sofa. She told me to budge up and pulled me into her arms. She reassured me the dream wasn’t real. She reassured me about the breaks. She talked in soft tones and stroked my hair and my arm and I just listened. She fell silent and I fell silent, tears continually falling. I closed my eyes now and then, needing rest, exhausted from everything and just listened to her steady heartbeat and the birds outside. Safety. Sienna rested her head on the top of mine.

And we stayed like that for about 20 minutes. It didn’t bring me out of the dissociation totally, but it did soothe me.

On the audio, we start speaking but it’s quiet and I don’t know what was said. But I hear myself saying “ I don’t have a safe place. Nothing is safe.”

Sienna broaches the subject of getting help from my dr. I shake my head.

She says “ I know you don’t want to. But this isn’t good for your health. And with the lack of sleep and dissociation compounding everything…. It isn’t good.”

I was refusing. I didn’t want the Dr’s involved and I didn’t want medication. I have no trust in doctors. I felt panic as Sienna pushed me on this.

She asked to speak with my husband and said that this place I’m in in my head with the self-harming and level of dissociation isn’t a good place to leave me. That given the level of work we’re doing it’s not unreasonable to ask the Dr for some help with medication, just something I can take as and when needed.

“ This isn’t a good place (mentally) for you to be, and we need to be able to support you better.”

I was feeling trapped and panicked because Sienna wasn’t letting this go. I was sobbing so hard.

I whispered “ Why are you saying this to me?”

Sienna replied “ Because I need you to let me write a letter to your Dr. I’m not keeping you safe by letting this go on, we’ve talked about writing a letter before and she doesn’t need to know everything, just that we are at a deep part of the therapy work and that you get anxious and need something for that just to help you feel calmer and not so despairing. Have you felt suicidal?”

I shook my head no.

Sienna continued “ Why do you think you and I can handle this on our own? Do you think it will pass?” Sheer panic gripped me and I thought to myself “ oh, here we go… she’s freaking out, this is where I get passed back to the NHS for help that doesn’t exist and terminated by her.”

I said to her “ It always passes.”

She replied “ It does always pass, you’re right. But it’s pretty shit when you’re going through it.”

I said to her “ So just don’t work with me then.”

Sienna said “ No. It’s not about not working with you.”

I said angrily “ It IS. It is about that… that’s what you’re saying.”

Sienna said firmly “ No, it’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that actually I’m not enough when you’re like this, not when you’re.. not 95% of the time, or 98% of the time. But there’s the odd time when you’re really distressed that maybe we need some medical help too. It’s not that black and white. I’m not stopping working with you… it’s about doing the best thing to keep you safe.”

It all sounded like bullshit to me. It all sounded like lies. This was the end of the road, I’d finally become too much for Sienna. She was freaking out and wanting out of this.

I said to her “ This ALWAYS happens.”

Sienna said “ Maybe because it gets to this level. I don’t know what’s happened in the past. But someone’s really distressed in there, Sirena.”

I replied “ I don’t feel it.”

I didn’t feel like this “distress” was any worse than any other time that she hasn’t threatened me with Dr’s. The self-harm wasn’t any worse than any other time. I didn’t know what the sudden bg deal was.

Sienna said “ What don’t you feel? You feel lost, your distress is to the extent that you’re self-harming that’s the level it’s at.”

I said belligerently and rather childishly “ So? Everyone self-harms.” LOL that kind of makes me laugh now at the stupidity of that comment.

Sienna said semi-firmly and in a tone that was calling me on that bullshit statement, “ no, everybody doesn’t. A neither do you, you don’t self-harm either unless you’re in a really distressed place.”

I couldn’t even defend my comment. She’s right. Not everyone self-harms. But she’s wrong about the self-harm being an indicator of the level of distress. I have self-harmed when far less upset.

Sienna continued “ Wouldn’t it be awful if we are missing something here, something that could be stabilised easily or make you feel better? “

I thought she was talking about another mental health issue perhaps undiagnosed…. This felt like a nightmare, a speeding freight train that I was not in control of. I hated this conversation.

“ You’re scaring me!” I said in panic.

Sienna replied “ I know. I know I am. I don’t want you to be scared. What I’m scared of is that we are doing as much as we can do and right now it’s not enough help you get better. That doesn’t mean passing you on to someone else. I’m talking about getting some medication to help support our work. Nothing else.”

I heard her but I didn’t believe her.

She asked me to get rid of my razors. “ I don’t want you hurting yourself.”

I felt so defeated. The magnitude of what was going on overwhelmed me as I felt like this was familiar territory where she washes her hands of me. I felt like this huge burden and I knew she was scared of this state I was in. The echoes of past therapists talking about me needing to be in a service that offers 24/7 care, were loud in my head. Was Sienna feeling that? She is only one person in private therapy, there’s no reprieve for her, that is a lot to put on someone.

I said to her “ Maybe it’s not fair to ask you to work with me.”

Sienna said “ No, it’s not fair to ask yourself to do this level of work, to a point where you’re self-harming because it’s so distressing. And all I’m saying is that you might just need some medication to ease the distress.”

She continued “ Sometimes we need to do something we don’t want in order to get a better outcome.”

I felt nauseous, exhausted and terrified. I sighed “ I feel sick.” And began crying again.

Sienna said “ Yep, I know. It’s the anxiety. Scare and fear….”

I sobbed “ I just feel really out of control, I can’t….”

Sienna said “ I know. I would quite like for (husband) to take you to A&E tonight.”

I shouted a panicked “ Noooooo!!!! WHY are you saying these things to me?????”

“Because I don’t think you realise how bad things have got…”

I interrupted “ No, I’m not going. No.”

By this point I was literally sobbing my hear out and feeling like a trapped animal.

Sienna asked if she could give my husband her number. That seemed like a lesser evil. If she’d be satisfied with that then hell… take his number!

I said in this young voice “ You’re making me so scared.”

Sienna said gently “ I know you’re scared….. I know you’re scared. But I’m scared for you.”

I said quietly “ I’m not bad.”

Sienna said “ Sirena….. you have self-harmed twice in the one week. You haven’t done that for years. Not to this extent. You are very very dissociated and lost.”

I got angry, so angry with myself for ever letting the young ones out. For ever having shown Sienna the level of distress. It fucks me over everytime.

I said bitterly “ This is why I’m supposed to keep them all in, this is why!!!!”

Sienna disagreed “ No it’s not.”

“ It IS!!!” I said.

Sienna said “ It’s not. They don’t need to stay in, what we are trying to do is measure the amount of distress they’re in, allow them to come out into the world but they’re just completely all over the place because they don’t know how to handle it. And they’re not connecting yet. And they will in time.”

I cried “ I’m sorry…”

Sienna said “ No, what I don’t want to do is have you suffer to this extent while we go through this process…”

I interjected “ This isn’t new. I survive it.”

Sienna said “ This life isn’t about surviving, you’ve survived all these years we want to get you to a point where you’re living… not surviving. You know in some ways this is really good, that the young ones are coming out, but they are just really distressed.”

I sighed. “ I don’t want to scare you. I’m sorry.”

Sienna said “ you’re not scaring me in that way. But as a practitioner and as a therapist I can’t not say to you that….”

I interrupted her “ because this is where you say to stop (working with me).

Sienna said “ No, this is not where I say stop. This absolutely not where I stop. This is hwere I say to you, right we are getting into some nitty gritty stuff and we need to get you support for the anxiety. And we need to involve your Dr. We don’t need to tell her about the the dissociation but we do need to tell her about the self-harming.”

I felt really irritated. “ It’s scratches, it’s not a big deal.”

Sienna paused and then said “ It doesn’t really matter what level it’s at, it’s still happening.”

I said “ I don’t care, leave me alone.” And I meant it, I wanted her to leave me alone, to stop badgering me about Dr’s and medication and making a big deal out of fucking scratches.

Sienna not being put off said “ I care. I care a lot. “

Silence.

“You’re going to be okay Sirena. And I know this is really frightening.”

I said “ This is why I’m on my own.”

Sienna said “ Why you’re on your own? You’re not on your own though. You’ve got me and (husband). You’re not getting rid of us in a hurry either!”

Sienna said she was going to go downstairs to speak to my husband who was waiting in the Foyer. I panicked and asked her what she was going to say. I felt like my whole private inner world was going to be laid bare for the world to see and judge and comment on. I felt stripped of any dignity or control over anything.

Sienna said “ So, I’m going to speak to him about your levels of distress, I am going to swap numbers with him so that he can contact me if he needs to. That I am quite concerned. That I’m going to write a letter to your GP. But this isn’t good, this had gone on too long, we need to be able to work…..”

I interjected not wanting to hear anymore “ Stop.”

Sienna insisted “ No, we need to be able to work with the little ones, and their just a little bit too distressed.”

She went downstairs to talk to my husband and I just burst into tears. Everything felt so out of my control and I hate every bit of it. I felt ashamed, burning shame for how weak I was, how stupid this all was, how I should have kept better control of things. I felt threatened and I felt angry and cornered. I just needed to be left alone to come out of this myself. I couldn’t see why this was all such a big deal, why did Sienna think things were bad enough?

I did feel a bit unsure of reality because inside I felt like things weren’t bad enough for what Sienna was putting in place, I didn’t feel in danger, I didn’t feel like this time was any different from the other bad times I’ve had. Yet clearly Sienna was feeling like she needed to act.

Sienna came back in. “ you’re going to be okay. I’ve told your husband that I’m going to contact my supervisor (who happens to also be a mental health nurse practitioner) to get advice on what you could take, what we could propose to your DR. I’m going to write a letter to your Dr and get you some medication. Okay?”

I said to her quietly “ you’re taking my power away.”

Sienna said “ Temporarily. Temporarily. If I was your child doing this, what would you do? Sometimes when you’re in it, you can’t see how bad it’s getting and we are getting to a deep vulnerable part of the work. It’s going to be okay, you’ll be alright, you’ve got to know that.”

She walked me downstairs to my husband. Talk about a walk of shame. Sienna scheduled a time on Tuesday morning for me to call her.

When I got home I cried so hard and was convinced that no matter what Sienna said, she was going to terminate me. That she’d get through this rough patch and then terminate me. I couldn’t hear any reason, I couldn’t believe that there was any other outcome and I felt devastated. I felt sick to my core. And I stayed in this dissociated terror until I passed out form exhaustion.

So yeah, bad times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the family.

I am currently working on mapping out all my parts and what their job is in the system. I have found pictures online to show what they look like in my mind. I can’t get an exact likeness but the picture I’ve found are most similar to what each part looks like to me.

I’ve only done a few so far. It takes so long!

So, meet my parts….

businesswoman

The Editor

Very tough boss lady. She controls output from the parts. She is almost like a gatekeeper, and is mostly around when the system is out in public or with people who aren’t close to us or trustworthy. She is the one who most on alert. She doesn’t let the younger ones speak very often because she’s mostly working for Sirena the adult. She keeps everything looking normal and age appropriate and she often will stop the stroppy teens from being really rude or acting out in a way that would normally destroy relationships and she stops the little ones taking over and saying the things they want to say because they have no filter and they might say things that Sirena doesn’t want said or isn’t ready to reveal and also to stop them showing themselves to unsafe people. It isn’t appropriate for adult Sirena to play or speak or feel like the children do.

b2dab855-4844-4920-9916-35c78e1fc2f8

The Editor’s team. (Junior Editors.)

They are there in the absence of The Editor, they are slightly less strict than The Editor. But their responsibility is the same ; to control what the parts say or how they say it. For example, if a younger part is being very rude or disrespectful or revealing too much information that leaves the system vulnerable or might put us in danger from judgement or being disbelieved then the Editors will work to censor that material or water it down to sound more appropriate. They are responsible for us showing a cohesive front. So we look like and act like the one same person at all times.

They can control what emotions we show, what we say and how we act. They are extremely hard to get things past. Especially when around people we don’t trust. But once trust is established they loosen the reign a bit and let more than normal through.

The Editor and team aren’t really fully formed parts I don’t think. They are more like fragments with just one job. They are like an admin system/gate-keeper… not fully conscious, thinking personalities. Kind of like a computer. Though they do talk, advise not to allow things through, they remind me of a little conscience on my shoulder.

The only time parts can overtake them is if there’s significant amount of stress or anger or fear or dissociation etc. Sofia is a teen protector part and if she’s angry enough, or feel strongly enough about something, she can surpass them. If a child part is hugely distressed, then sometimes they can get through too.

And the parts can also come through if they are with a trusted person. The Editors seem to relax then and the parts get through easier.

sofia

Sofia.

Sofia is a teen part. She is 18 years old. Her job is to protect. She is the first line of defence.

She is fierce and rebellious. She hates rules and other people’s boundaries but she doesn’t like other people disrespecting her boundaries and will kick back vehemently if they try. She is a leader not a follower.

Sofia needs her freedom. Rules and boundaries make her feel hemmed in and very unsafe and she panics. She doesn’t like adults or people with power over her. She doesn’t like to be controlled. She is fiercely independent.

Sofia is funny and charismatic and intelligent and loves to shock. She has quite a dark sense of humour, very sarcastic and quick-witted, she can find something funny even in the darkest of subjects. She says what everyone else is probably thinking. She’s fiercely protective of herself. She doesn’t trust anyone.

Sofia in a good mood is a good person to have around. She can get quite hyper and doesn’t care what people think. She is good natured and kind and an extremely loyal and protective friend.

She has a self-destructive streak; she’ll take risks, drink hard, take drugs if offered them. She will purposely attempt to break her relationships in an attempt to test people. She is testing their limits, their loyalty and their love. This is her way of seeing if someone is trustworthy and reliable. Most leave and that’s awful and painful but if anyone stays…. Then they are people who she will begin to trust and let in. Sometimes it’s a way of finding out how a person really feels about her. Sofia doesn’t let herself get attached to or need anyone.

Sometimes Sofia wants to die and she might take overdoses. Sofia is really sad and alone. She holds within her a lot of pain and a lot of betrayal and a lot of trauma. She feels very unloved. No one likes her, no one understands her and no one wants to learn to understand her and no one loves her enough to commit to her.

Sofia feels completely alone in a huge world. She’s really capable of doing everything herself, and has been surviving on her own for so long. But she desperately wishes she had a secure home, a secure and safe base that she can return to. She wishes she had a family who liked her and loved her and offered her a nurturing environment.

Sofia is constantly surviving, hyper-vigilant and has great skills to help her survive. But she has really missed being able to relax, or being able to feel safe anywhere. She’s never had anyone to ask about how to do life things, she’s always had to sort of figure things out for herself.

When Sofia feels threatened or rejected or abandoned she brings rage. And often will sabotage relationships for reasons I’m not always sure of. It seems like she might even sabotage if she’s bored or not getting enough attention.

In some ways Sofia seems older than her years, but her brokenness and her vulnerability sometimes make her much younger than her 18 years.

Sofia wants to travel the world. She wants to see everything. She wants to meet new people, try out lots of different lives. She wants to work in humanitarian projects abroad. And one day maybe become a social worker or psychologist.

mia

Mia.

Mia is 13. She is a stroppy, huffy and sometimes dramatic teen. She’s pretty harmless. When she speaks she exaggerates everything for dramatic affect. For example “ You ALWAYS…….”  Or “ I’ve done this 600 times!!!”

I think she’s a younger version of Sofia. She likes to push boundaries. She likes to push people’s buttons. She will also drink and smoke if she can get her hands on it. She likes to shock!

Mia is very vulnerable. She knows adults hurt her and leave her. She has no trust in any of them. She just wishes her mum was around. Mia feels very alone and very scared of the future, she desperately wants to leave home but doesn’t know how. Mia just wants a family like the ones on tv. Or someone just to notice her. Mia gets attached to people but never shows it.

Mia struggles with concentration. She’s clever but can’t see through the fog sometimes. Mia feels like she doesn’t have anyone to lead her through growing up and she doesn’t know how to do it by herself. Everyone has a family and she doesn’t. No one is looking at her, no one is interested in her.

Mia likes purple and bright pink. She loves neon colours and nail varnish and make-up. She loves animals. She also loves patterned socks and jammies. Sometimes she likes being a grown up and sometimes she wants to be a young child again. She likes hot chocolate, cosy blankets, reading, rainy days.

db4c38c67245ed9e662f326265e3e64a

Keira.

Keira is 6 or sometimes 7, but mostly 6.

Keira is a traumatised child part. She has intense attachment difficulties and is an abandoned child. She attaches to adults quite easily but also has intense mistrust of them and expects them to leave her. She gets easily distressed when an attachment figure leaves. She wants to be with them constantly. She hates space or distance. She’s happiest when merged with an attachment figure. Anything less than that is extremely frightening and abandoning. She wishes someone would adopt her and be her good mummy.

Keira cries a lot. And holds a lot of terror of rejection or abandonment. She’s very sensitive to it and is hyper-vigilant. Keira knows about the abuse. She draws pictures of it a lot. Keira finds the world really scary. Sometimes she cries and rocks herself over and over.

Keira likes cuddly toys and story books. She also really like tiny worlds like little figurines or dioramas (the little scenes inside a box). She likes care bears, my little pony, gems, anything sparkly, dressing up, high heels, costume jewellery, she likes fairies and unicorns and rainbows and stars.  She like to make tents and safe places to hide. She likes red ribbons and bows and black patent shoes.

*************************************************************************************

So that’s as far as I’ve got so far. Those are the main ones that I know about. There are some others that I’ll try to document at some point.

 

I’m so far away right now.

My text to Sienna on Thursday evening 90 minutes after my session ended was this;

“ Sienna, I really badly need to leave therapy for a while. I need to go away for a while, I don’t know where but I have to go. I have to get away.”

I rarely ever get this urge to flee but it was overwhelming. If I could drive and had a car, I would have packed some stuff and just left that evening or the next day. So I suppose it’s lucky that I’ve never learned to drive as it curtails my impulsive moves.

I don’t know what triggered this need to run away, to just get out. I wanted to be by myself. My whole body needed to run. I remember the moment I sat down in my session I heard a younger part saying “ I want to go home, I want to go home!” And it took a lot to sit there and not say it out loud. I knew as big as that impulse was, as much as that younger part instantly wanted to leave the session. There were other parts who really needed to be there and leaving wouldn’t have been good for them.

10 minutes into the session I left the room, I excused myself to the bathroom. Weirdly, I decided to go to the restroom on the lower floor and as I was going down the steps, my pace quickened and I had the urge to run out the building. I didn’t though.

Embarrassingly, I had an upset stomach. I’ve noticed over the past few months that very often I have to go to the bathroom urgently. I do not like doing anything other than a pee in public places and strive not to do anything else. But this urgent need to go and often have a pretty upset tummy is happening with more regularity that I’d like. And it only happens on session days. Before sessions I seem okay or at worst a bit constipated and by the time I get in Sienna’s office I have to excuse myself to the bathroom! It is horrifying to me!! I don’t know what is happening but it has to be psychosomatic. I find it so embarrassing and shaming.

Anyway, I digress. Sienna didn’t reply to my text that night. But she did the next morning. She asked who was wanting this? (break)

I text back “ I don’t know.”

Because I really don’t know. Was it a part? Was it me? Who even is me if there’s no “core self”? I feel bewildered and like I don’t know anything anymore.

That was Friday and I haven’t heard anything from Sienna. I fucking hate when she drops off radar like that. I don’t know what her silence means. Is she annoyed? Is she needing space from me? Did she take my text as confirmation that I won’t be back for a while? Is she just busy and “forgot”? Is there things going on in her life that mean she can’t reply just now……? I just don’t know.

What I do know is that her non-reply, brings me significant worry and confusion. And the transference increases as I fill in her silence and space with my own stories, my own suspicions that she’s literally sick of the sight of me. Sick of supporting me (which she has been a lot), is she resentful of all the time she’s had to give me lately and she literally can’t muster up enough empathy or kind thoughts about me to be of any help and therefore is staying away until she can be nice to me? Has she had supervision and been told to back off…. And she’s trying to do that under radar (which never works bytheway, clients like me sense that a mile off.)

All those thoughts have been circling my mind all weekend, and I’ve felt desperate for her to take charge. Desperate for any sign that I am not being abandoned, because that’s how it feels. I’ve felt very young and vulnerable and so anxious and sad and time has slowed down to a snail’s pace. I’ve constantly checked my phone, and my heart skips a beat as I hear a notification and it soars with hope that it is Sienna, only to be dashed a minute later when I see it isn’t her.

Yet I won’t reach out to her. I won’t end my own suffering by asking her to clarify what’s going on. Most of it is about fear. Fear that I am piling on pressure, or taking advantage of her or burning her out and one more text might be the straw that breaks the camels back. Not contacting her is about self-preservation – about not breaking my therapist.

But somewhere in the background is white hot rage. She knows I hate when things are left in the air like this, when she just goes off grid and I don’t know what it means. We’ve been through this a million times. Which is why it makes me wonder whether it’s an unconscious communication of “ give me space”. The white hot rage raises up every now and again for a few seconds, but it’s muted… the impulse to act on it isn’t there, I think because the rage is lying a few layers down so it feels muted, I’m aware of it, but not fully feeling it.

And pride. My pride won’t let me reach out. Thoughts of “ Fuck you Sienna, if you don’t care then neither do I. I am not going to ask for anything from you. I won’t take anything you don’t want to give. I am doing this on my own, I don’t need you, I don’t want you. Leave me the fuck alone.”

I have felt so dissociated since God knows how long. It feels like weeks. I feel like I don’t know what’s up or down. I feel like I’ve lost memory somehow, everything over the past while is hazy. I can’t tell which parts are ever present anymore. I can’t remember parts names, it makes me wonder if I don’t even have parts. And when I feel like that, I resolve to start being just “me” “ Sirena” one body, one person… no more talk of parts/alters/D.I.D etc. And I feel a bit of relief at that idea. And then a bit sick, like maybe I made it all up. But it’s never long before something happens or I switch and I feel a part or several of them so keenly that once again I start talking about “we” or about what a certain part wants or is saying or one of the younger ones will draw.

Sometimes it all seems so far-fetched and other times it feels so real and it all makes so much sense.

I don’t know what this memory loss thing is about. Sienna has been asking lots of questions about the parts lately, what they like, what they do, “ what part is here tonight?” “ Who is saying that?”

And I never have answers. I always say I don’t know or I shrug. I can tell there’s parts hanging around the surface, but I don’t have any information on them. I hear their thoughts, I feel their impulses yet I can’t seem to verbalise them. It’s like being immersed in an experience but not being able to describe to someone what you’re seeing or feeling. Like being lost for words or rather, experiencing something that doesn’t even have language, and doesn’t have any way of describing or communicating its presence.

It’s all making me feel very hazy around the edges and not real.

I haven’t listened to my audio recording of my sessions for a few weeks. And I think that might be increasing my level of dissociation. I don’t know if that’s possible, but not listening to them means I am not remembering what happened fully and I’m left with only the feeling sense and we all know feelings aren’t accurate accounts. So, last night I decided to listen to Thursday’s session.

Before I listened to the session, what I knew about it was that I had felt disconnected to myself and to Sienna. I felt like the session had been awful and that Sienna didn’t make much effort to help me out of the state I was in. She failed to make a connection with me and that felt terrible.

After listening to the session, I heard that Sienna tried a lot to draw me into conversation. She tried to connect with me, and she told me that she still had the tiny silver owl charm that I’d given her as a transitional object before the holidays. She had told me that she kept it in her purse (wallet) because she always had her purse with her, so she took my owl everywhere with her.

She asked me what I needed from her. She tried to get me to draw, to stop me anxiously picking at my fingers. She asked me if I had something I wanted to say but just couldn’t get the words out?

She tried. At the time it felt like she was really missing the mark. I felt frustrated with her because she wasn’t helping me. She wasn’t asking the right questions, it felt like she wasn’t “there” with me, not properly, not in the way I needed. Yet I couldn’t and still can’t tell you what that thing I needed was. I felt like she wasn’t attuned to me. I still feel that. Yet I can also see a lot of that was maybe me and how cut off I was.

Now that I think about it, I think I was feeling that she wasn’t holding the space the way she normally does. Like, you know that space feeling, that feeling that is specifically created in that therapy room that is unique to just you and your therapist? The air is thick with attuned energy, maybe even oxytocin, you can virtually reach out and touch this thing, this womb-like “holding”. Well, that was missing. It felt like I was there, she was there, we were there together, but not mixing. We were two separately defined people in a room and there wasn’t that therapeutic energy. We were there together, separately. And there was a whole lot of space between us.

That’s something we co-created. And I don’t know why. I haven’t felt like Sienna has been fully “back” from her holiday. I don’t know if that’s true or just because I’ve been quite unreachable.

It’s killed me (metaphorically speaking, obviously) not hearing from her this weekend. It’s felt like a lifetime of waiting. Today I’ve felt a bit more with it and today I had a new thought.

Has Sienna not replied to me because I’ve said I badly need a break? Is she waiting for me to take the lead in this? Maybe she doesn’t want to intrude if I am such breaking point and I did tell her I badly need a break from therapy. To be honest, if that’s the case then she still needs to be clearer about that. And I’m not sure that’s even it… I think it’s more likely she’s busy or has forgotten (which brings its own issues over being forgotten about.)

I don’t need a break from therapy, I NEED therapy. But I need a break from our relationship or more specifically, I am not coping with the intensity of trying to stay in a close relationship with someone. I think I’ve been somewhat sabotaging it for a little while but I’m not sure as I don’t have memories to corroborate that, it’s just a feeling.

I simultaneously want to push her away, kick out at her, leave this hard complex relationship before it leaves me AND cling and grasp and keep her close to me and never let her go, never let her out my sight.

Recently, I haven’t been getting what I need from Sienna, last weekend, although she kept in touch, and replied to all my texts and all my worries, again, something felt missing. My needs weren’t being met, I sensed a distance in her. And the more I didn’t get what I needed the more I reached, grasped, clung, desperately to anything she could offer me. Every text she sent triggered me more, and even though I recognised it and partly wanted to stop the communication because it wasn’t helping and was in fact escalating my behaviour and need for self-harm…. I was scared to cut it off because I equally felt so awful and scared and needy that just knowing I had access to her, that there would be another chance to get my needs met, was comforting. A small comfort but one I didn’t want to let go of.

It was painful and confusing that the person I love and trust and am attached to and who normally can settle me, wasn’t doing so. She wasn’t attuning to me, she wasn’t “there” in a way I normally experience her to be. She wasn’t holding the space in a way that I could feel and I still don’t know why. She felt distant. We spent a whole weekend texting back and forth and me never being comforted or settled by her replies and therefore becoming more upset, more dysregulated and more desperate for something to help, so I’d text. I’d wait hours for her to get back to me in which time I’d start to settle myself and then her text would come through and it wouldn’t be/say what I needed and it would kick off all the dysregulation again, like one big nightmare circle.

It felt like she was determined not to speak to me on the phone (which is what she’d normally offer) and I couldn’t ask for it, because it felt like too much. And that distance she put in was upsetting to me. Because not only was she keeping her distance, but her replies weren’t attuned, they weren’t helpful and she kept just telling me to breathe or that I’d be okay etc.

Finally on the Sunday (maybe when she had time) she suggested we speak in the afternoon. And we did that and finally she sounded like her, and it helped a bit to connect to her.

I think last week was a terrible week, but I’m not sure because I can’t remember it properly. But I do remember…. Maybe the week before thinking “ I only have one session this week, I am not going to make it, it’s too hard.” I felt panic that there was too much space, too much need and only one session.” But it was a passing thought and I never latched on to its importance and so never told Sienna that’s how I was feeling and I think that week was pretty bad and I maybe needed a lot of input from Sienna…. It’s all mixed up, I don’t remember how or what transpired.

I just have this sense that Sienna has been helping me a lot lately, kept in touch a lot. But that nothing seems to be settling me.

This all feels very shadowy and mixed up and mired in murky complexities that even I am not following… and I know from experience that when that is happening that it is pure transference and dissociation that is happening. It is so strong and real and fuzzy. So my thoughts while I have this clarity is that I should speak to Sienna, tell her what I am experiencing.

I would love to know what her experience is right now. What she is sensing. She must be aware of something.