When the comments box becomes a therapy session in itself!

In response to my last post, someone replied to me with this below. When I first read it I felt a bit of kick-back about what was said. But I didn’t know why I was feeling defensive. But that reaction told me that she had hit on something important and so I wanted to think about and address her points and her questions. And it was such a worthy exercise because I’ve learned so much from it. Unfortunately it turned into a bit of an essay and too long for the comments box. So to do it justice I’ve made a new blog post because it feels important and I really did learn some things about myself. So thank you to the person who challenged me and asked important questions 🙂

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“One thought that occurred to me and maybe I’m wrong… it’s just a suggestion because I do this too… perhaps unconsciously the rift was created as a giant ‘fuck you’. Not in a manipulative ‘don’t go’ but in a ‘you’re leaving me so I’m leaving you’ way? I can see how Sienna hurt you with her poor choice of words and lack of attunement, I can see that.

However, it seems like you’re holding onto this and expecting something from her that maybe she can’t give and not because she’s a bad therapist or you’re a bad client but because she’s not you. I often want people to understand me and have that connection to them but it goes deeper. I want them to climb inside my head and understand without me telling them. But they can’t because they aren’t me.

Maybe this is a slight lesson in learning that sometimes you will be all connected and attuned and vulnerable and open and sienna will give you everything you need whenever you need it… but sometimes she won’t and that doesn’t devalue her or you or your relationship. You can still be connected without feeling that she’s literally opened your heart and mind and gone inside. You can still have a relationship with her even when everything seems screwy. Relationships are not black and white it’s not about you’re either feeling connected or not, ruptured or repaired. Sometimes they will be awesome, sometimes crap but most of the time in the middle.

I’m saying this because what I got from your post is a deep seated frustration and disappointment that Sienna can’t mind read. ‘She didn’t get it’ no she didn’t but maybe she doesn’t have to get it 100% of the time in order to hold you, care about you, be with you in spirit.
I want to ask you one thing and don’t feel you have to answer because it’s something to chew on and think on privately…
What is it that you deep down want and expect from Sienna? When you know that you might know if it’s realistic. If it’s unrealistic you might have to work it through with her and grieve for the loss of that need that can’t ever be met. But I’m hearing that you’re struggling to articulate what you want from her perhaps because you don’t fully understand that for yourself? Deep down I mean… below the surface. The theme of Sienna being a replacement mum came up a while ago… perhaps there’s an unconsciois desire to snuggle into her? Have her know you inside and out and know her inside and out.
It’s just something I’ve struggled with – wanting and expecting people to know how I think and feel without the need to tell them. Of course it’s entirely unrealistic I know that it still frustrates me.
Also if you’re struggling to verbally tell her… why not write it down? Then you get more time to edit and ensure what you’re saying is accurate, realistic, without intense emotion clouding the way. Its a way of communicating. Give it to her in session to read and discuss while you’re there. I do that with my T, it works.”
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My Response :

I think there might have been an element of “fuck you, you’re leaving. So I’ll leave too.” Because I remember feeling a bit angry about the break. I also remember ending the session 5 minutes early because I thought to myself “ no way are you controlling this. You are not going to get to dismiss me today.” For her to chuck me out at the end of the session when it had been so bad and with no resolution would have felt unbearable. So I took control of leaving first.

However, regardless of the break, if Sienna had said those things to me any other time, I would have had the same reaction. I’m very sensitive to criticism (real or perceived) and her flippancy that day triggered me because it taps into they way my family treated my feelings. (only realising that right now!)

I don’t think I’m holding onto it so much as wanting a resolution and am working through that. Working through what’s her mistake and what’s my stuff. It takes a while to pick through it.

My expectations of Sienna are huge and sometimes unrealistic, that’s for sure. Maybe my mistake in this was assuming that she knew me so well that she’d understand why I’d been triggered in the session. I honestly can’t imagine how she couldn’t know because we spoke of so little and I immediately shut down after she uttered those words. There couldn’t have been anything else to be triggered about.

I don’t feel like in my posts that I’ve devalued her or the relationship? But you’re right that a learning point for me is to tolerate when relationships aren’t all sunshine and ice-cream. I do find if very scary when things with Sienna in particular (as my main attachment and support figure) become distanced and difficult. I do want to run away from that. And I also find a huge impulse to fix it immediately. I find it very hard to sit with the unknown or with things unfinished, so I become angsty and frustrated and need immediate relief from this unknown space relationships sometimes find themselves in.

And you’re right, she doesn’t have to “get it” all the time and she can still hold me and care about me and be with me in spirit even during a rupture. That is something I have to learn to remember and feel to be true. Again I think this comes from my history with a mother who splits people into good and bad when a relational rupture happens. (Something else I’ve just realised, so thank you!)

There is/was deep-seated frustration and disappointment that she can’t mind-read. Though it’s not so much that I think she should be psychic and just know. It’s more that these are issues we’ve hit against before, this is an occurring pattern and also she does know me so well and is so attuned to me so often that when she suddenly doesn’t get it, I feel shocked and disorientated. It’s quite jarring to hear just how different our experience of something was. And this time it’s occurred to me that maybe she doesn’t understand or “get” the things I say or do as much as I think she does. Yet whenever I feel that, it’s usually when a break is coming up, so either it’s that she’s tired and not so on the ball or she’s already mentally clocked off. Which is how it’s felt lately.

I also think her anxiety and possible guilt about leaving the younger parts who are so sad and scared of the break, causes her to sub-consciously move back from them, to sort of defend herself from the guilt she feels or maybe even anger that I am making her feel bad for needing a break, who knows?

You ask what it is I want and expect from Sienna deep down? And is it a realistic expectation?

Well this is multi-layered. The baby parts that didn’t get the mirroring from its mother has now imprinted on Sienna as “mother” or “care-giver” and that part seeks mirroring and absolute enmeshment. It seeks for the mother and itself to be one entity. And it’s hugely painful and traumatic at times to relive that separateness and sometimes that miss-attunement and I think that’s when the rage is triggered. Have you even seen a raging baby? How their little fists curl up and their whole body goes rigid as they cry those penetrating wails that you just couldn’t ignore even if you tried? And you wonder why they get so upset just because of a wet nappy or because they’re hungry, it’s not like you’ve ever let them go hungry or let them lie in a wet nappy. But to that child, those conditions are life and death, they haven’t learned yet that their needs will be met almost immediately. To learn it takes months of mirroring and attunement.

Well, I think that’s where my baby part is at. And no, it is definitely is not realistic. Luckily I have older parts and adult parts who realise that Sienna isn’t my mother and she can’t and shouldn’t attempt to meet all my needs, and that I need to do some of that for myself. But that doesn’t stop the baby wanting what it wants. And that is okay. Sienna understands that and I understand it and it’s just a process of development and of evolution. It will take time for all the parts to grow and eventually integrate into the adult that is me.

It’s okay for that to exist. It’s okay to want something even if it’s unrealistic. That’s the work, that’s my work, to accept the needs and wants that I have and also learn to tolerate not getting it and also eventually to grieve for the baby that didn’t get what she needed.

You said about writing everything down so that I can edit it and ensure what I’m saying is accurate, realistic and without intense emotion clouding the way. That’s a good idea and I see what you mean but also I feel strongly that my aim is not to present my feelings in an ordered, accurate or realistic way and neither is my aim to shy away from the intense emotion.

That is the end game for sure, that eventually I will feel things in the moment and respond appropriately. But that isn’t the aim for now. Right now the work for Sienna and I is to see what’s there, and for me to act out what I’m really feelings, to be honest and messy and obnoxious and wrong and tantrum-ing and generally all over the place. Because so much of that wasn’t allowed as a child growing up. And it all got stuck inside of me and festered into a mental illness.

I didn’t get to learn that I’ll be loved and accepted no matter what I do. That the relationship will still be there even if I’ve had a bad day. So it’s hugely healing and important in my evolution not to be the nice and reasonable and accurate and fair and quiet child that doesn’t offend anyone or challenge anyone.

And those times I am messy and rageful and obnoxious and my behaviour isn’t good, gives Sienna the opportunity to reparent me, to teach me there’s better ways to deliver my feelings that there’s better ways to be heard and get me needs met. It also gives her the opportunity to show me that having strong feelings doesn’t make me any less worth love or caring about and that ruptures don’t have to be terrifying or end in abandonment.

So as you can see, I’m not inclined to dress things up in a neat box and present them to my therapist that way. Because to do that would mean missing out on an important developmental phase.

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Thank you again for your thoughts, they have challenged me and made me think and writing this reply to you has really clarified some things for me and also given me some new realisations about where my thoughts and feelings are stemming from. 🙂

 

 

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8 thoughts on “When the comments box becomes a therapy session in itself!

  1. all the little parts says:

    I hope what I said didn’t upset you too much. I certainly didn’t mean to make you defensive. Really sorry about that. I was smiling at the end of your post because it is exactly what I need to learn – having tantrums is ok. I love that I learn so much from simply reading what you write and observing how it resonates in me. I’ve never met you, not been reading your blog for that long and yet I can understand a lot of what you say. I’m not quite there yet, haven’t been in therapy long enough to feel comfortable having tantrums as you put it. I’m still learning to let go of logic. So maybe it’s nice in some ways your words encourage me to feel my way through therapy and mine seem to make you think. Nice balance. Thank you for just being you and unintentionally helping me grow too xx

    • Sirena says:

      No you didn’t upset me. Your comments were constructive and feeling defensive comes from me, not you making me feel that way. But if something someone says pinches me a bit then I know there’s either a kernel of truth in it that I’m not ready to see or admit or there’s some valuable learning to be had.
      We’ve helped each other today and that’s so awesome!

  2. dangerousvoyager says:

    Echoing something I said in response to your last post: when people talk about reparenting there’s often a lot of focus on how a therapist can never meet those needs because they simply don’t have that amount of time and attention to give you. The other side of the coin that doesn’t seem to really be brought up much is that when you are talking about reparenting at the level of baby needs, an actual baby’s needs and the emotions driven by those needs are very simple. For an adult the emotions may still be simple – intense and raw and overwhelming, but still fairly simple – but the needs are no longer just those for food and warmth and comfort, but have become mixed in with all of the complex and more adult needs that have accumulated over a lifetime, which I think is why it is so very difficult for a therapist to be attuned to those needs even after a long period of therapy. One of the things I’ve struggled with myself is learning how to express those more complex needs and explain the finer points even when I’m upset and under pressure, in order to get the response I want from my therapist (the issue of silence in the therapy space is one which I could spend literally years working on). Hope Monday’s session went well.

    • Sirena says:

      The whole thing is so complex both for client and therapist. The good thing with reparenting an adult client is that little things can go a long. Little acts of kindness can do some healing and trust building. Reparenting doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be literal babying. I think people get very nervous and antsy about how reparenting can or cannot work.

      • findingmyway00 says:

        yeah. my therapist definitely does not do any kind of reparenting (she also is not a parent herself, though i don’t think that even matters). she is trying to get ME to give those parts what is needed and have me learn to act in that capacity for them, but it’s confusing. i can do that kind of thing for external children, but it seems limited for the internal ones.

        it helps a lot to have someone who is objective and external, but since i don’t have that happening (the reparenting aspect), i guess it is up to me to do what i can and heal. but while there are younger parts who need/want adults to be certain things for them, there are also other parts who are too shut off/down and scared in general if a person was even there to provide certain things. so i think it would be hard for any one person to be everything each part needs or wants.

      • Sirena says:

        I feel like getting a client to a place of parenting themselves is an end goal rather than a starting place. Personally I feel like I need an external source to show me how it’s done by giving it to me when possible. Kind of like experiential learning or learning by example or something. I think it’s very hard to learn the parenting oyurself thing if you’ve never had that experience. But therapists have all different view on how to get a client there and every client is different as are their needs. So I don’t think there’s any one way to do something.

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