This session is last Thursday’s and not the session that turned to shit, I haven’t written that one up yet.
In last Thursday’s session (1st June) Sienna decided to start noting down all the parts who’d written in my art journal. She’s done this before but seems to have lost the paper. She went into her filing cabinet and brought out my old journal to look through and also my file which had some art work I’d done in her office. As she looked for the piece of paper with the name of the parts, she looked at different art pieces. And we went through and wrote down the parts who’d written in my journal.
It took a while and I got gradually quieter and quieter as Sienna perused my art works. There was something about this that I didn’t like. I felt exposed, like my secret inside world had suddenly been outed.
Sienna was so busy looking through the book, commenting on different pieces that she didn’t notice what was going on for me.
At one point I took a deep breath or a sigh. Sienna asked if I was okay? I shrugged and nodded at the same time. But I felt myself shrinking, and the shame of being so seen and so exposed felt unbearable.
Once she was done looking through the journals, she closed the book and said of the parts,
“ They all just don’t know how amazing they are. All of them. And I say that because, yes, they’ve fragmented for protection but each one is such an important bit of the puzzle. They’re really important….. very special.”
It felt nice to hear that.
Sienna continued “ It’s interesting and amazing because they all feel so alone but actually there’s such a group.”
Sienna paused and then checked in with me as I wasn’t saying much. I managed to say to her “ I didn’t like doing that.”
Sienna said “ What? Looking through the journals? Sorry, I should have asked you if it was okay.”
She continued to speak “ It’s reminded me how each one has their own characteristics that are so particular to them. And quite outstanding.”
I was listening but I was fading fast into a dissociation. My body felt tired and numb and I felt danger in my brain.
Sienna said softly “ Where’ve you gone?”
I couldn’t speak. It was too late, I was already in my own little dissociated world. I was aware of Sienna and the room, yet I was so inside myself that I was also experiencing the chaos of inside feeling like they had to leave the room, to runaway.
Sienna said “ do you think each one has their own teddy or favourite toy.”
I mumbled something in an effort to look like I was still there, while staring off into space.
Sienna repeated “ Where have you gone? Were you reminded of something (from looking through the journal.)?
I couldn’t speak.
Sienna moved over in her seat closer to me. She asked me to take her hand.
She said kindly but firmly “ You are going to be okay. Because nobody is leaving. I might not be here physically at times but completely with you in spirit.”
I just sat limp, staring into space but listening to her voice, tears blinding me and overcome with emotions and chaotic disruption coursing through me.
Sienna asked “ Who’s here?”
I didn’t know. I couldn’t answer.
Sienna said again “ You’re safe. You’re safe here.”
I shook my head slightly I think.
Sienna replied “ Yes. Yes you are. Can you look at me? Because I’m here with you.”
I wanted to look at her but eye contact felt too much, too painful.
In a really weird, younger voice I said “ I want to go away… I want to go away!” And began to sob with fear.
Sienna asked “ Where do you want to go away to?”
I couldn’t tell her at the time but this young part wanted to go away back inside but couldn’t get back into my head, back into the inside world she usually lives. She felt scare and vulnerable and ousted into this real world that she’d never really been in.
Sienna spoke “ Does this feel safe? Nobody is going to hurt you. It’s all gone (all the bad stuff). This is the real bit, this in here.”
Sienna encouraged me to take a deep breath.
I whispered “ I want to go.”
Sienna whispered back “ I know you want to go. Where do you want to go away from? There’s nobody here that’s going to hurt you.”
My whole body was in a full fear dissociation. A full on fight or flight response. I felt threatened and I was crying hard. Yet there were no words to go with what was happening.
Sienna said “ You don’t need to shake. Hey… you can take a deep breath and come back, because you’re safe in here.”
I couldn’t stop though. Sienna came over and sat beside me on the sofa. She took my hand to stop me clawing at my arms and hands in agitation.
“you’re shaking, can you feel that?” I nodded.
“What’s going on inside?”
I didn’t have words for her. I didn’t know why I was reacting this way. But I also couldn’t stop.
Sienna kept reassuring me that I was safe.
I was dipping in and out the dissociation. This was the first time I think I’ve felt that heavily sedated dissociation lift and fall every few seconds.
I covered my face with my hands, trying to block everything out, trying to find regulation without resorting to pain and self-harm which is obviously not going to be allowed in session but is the way I’d deal with this at home.
Sienna got up and sat back in her own chair but still close to me. Sitting right across from me,She was trying to get me to ground and said firmly
“ I want you to put your hands down from your face and tell me about your pets.”
At that point I was so gone that I didn’t want to ground. It felt like being shaken out of a dream.
I refused. “ nooooo. Leave me. I don’t want to.”
Sienna said “ Yep, C’mon. You don’t need to be in this place because your safe now. Look out of the window and tell me something you see.”
My hands were still over my face. I didn’t want to look out of the window. When I’m feeling like that I sound like a whiny 3 year old.
I didn’t look out the window but said “ Trees.”
Sienna said “ No, you didn’t look. I want you to look out of the window.”
Sienna continued “ C’mon, sit up. I want to to know that you’re okay and you’re safe.”
I was like “ noooooo! I don’t want to sit up. Leave me alone.”
Sienna said “ Why are you hiding your face.”
“Because I want to go away.”
Sienna said “ Are you running away? What are you wanting to run away from?
She continued “ Do you want to get away from me? Or the feeling?”
I didn’t answer, I wasn’t even sure of the answer.
Sienna said “ I don’t think you want to go away from me, I think you want to go away from the feeling or something.”
She coached me with grounding skills for a few minutes and as I tried to bring myself back I automatically began as a reflex, grabbing at my hands and arms. Sienna took my hand so I couldn’t do it.
She said softly “ Don’t hurt yourself. There’s no need to hurt yourself.”
I do like that she doesn’t want me to hurt myself but in those moment when she takes my hands I still can’t stop the reflex of digging my nails, so I end up digging them into her instead, although not with as much strength. And it makes me feel bad because I don’t want to hurt her but I can’t stop doing it. It takes me all my strength to not dig my nails into her skin as hard as I want to and would do if it was my own skin.
But there is enough want to stop and not hurt her, that eventually it subsides. Or maybe it’s just the human contact that helps me settle down, I don’t know.
Sienna gets me moving my fingers and toes, coaches me on my breathing. And moving is the hardest thing in the world in those moments. My co-ordination is always crap and it’s so hard to get grounded. Moving out of that curled up place feels so painful.
It’s nearly the end of the session and Sienna tried to get me to stand up. She directs me
“ Ok, stand up, let’s shake this out.”
I shake my head no.
Sienna used her determined voice “ Yes, c’mon, stand up.”
I burst out crying because it feels painful to move.
I say in a small voice “ Please don’t make me stand up. Please don’t make me. It hurts.”
Sienna says concerned “ It hurts? Where does it hurt? Where does it hurt?
I don’t speak but I want to say my tummy, my solar plexus. To stand up means revealing it and right now in this bent over protective position, it feels safest. Unfurling feels excruciating.
Sienna sat down next to me and hugged me, I think. She’s says over and over “ Nobody’s going to hurt you.”
I became so overheated and agitated and I began grabbing at my neck and t-shirt. “ I’m too warm, I’m too warm!”
I take my big cardigan off. Something I’ve never done in two years in therapy. Or ever in any other therapy I don’t think. My chunky cardi’s are my safety blankets.
Sienna helps me get my shoes on and takes me to the bathroom to splash water on my face.
The water helped cool me but I felt completely out of it. Like I’d just been in a war or something.
My session was over, I got my stuff and made my way to the car and I stayed pretty dissociated for most of the evening.
The next day, I felt truly awful.
I text Sienna and told her I feel awful. She asked what I was feeling and I told her this;
“ Like I’m 6 years old and I’m lost in a wasteland and there’s no one on earth left.”
She sent me a star emoji and said “ Here is a star to light up the ground and know you’re not alone.”
I loved that.
I asked her if we could make some stars in session some time and she thought it was a great idea. So at the weekend I went out and bought lots of glitter card and fine glitter and black poster paper for our little project.