Do nothing and wait.

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I woke up yesterday morning from the most vivid of nightmares.

It was SO real. I woke up dissociated. Frozen. I spent hours in bed, unable to get myself up.

The dream…. well it was a CSA one again. I don’t think the actual events in the dream are memories. Yet, the dream feels true. The feelings and the experiences in it see, real. Yet….. here I am, still with no concrete memories of anything like that having ever occured.

CSA dreams are awful and I get them at least once or twice a week. I barely even register them anymore. And there’s no one to tell since I can’t reach out for support. So I don’t do anything with those dreams. I don’t speak about them much.

But every now and again, once comes along that floors me. And that one yesterday had me on my ass.

The details of the dream, seem like clues, part of memories perhaps?

The child’s narrative, the way she spoke and what she showed me in those dreams was just horrific. And she described things in her own childish language, not knowing the real words for the things she experienced.

I couldn’t shake that dream off. I just cuddled deeper into my duvet. Lay there feeling sad and alone and horrified and really missing Sienna.

Eventually, I drew a picture on the sketch app on my phone and amazingly that was enough to move me through the frozen state and allowed me to go shower which grounded me even more.

The rest of my day went fine but I did feel longing to have my therapist home. I still do.

4 days. 4 days until I see her again. Part of me feels joy at the thought of seeing her again. A young part of me just wants to reunite with her. Cuddle into her and be reassured that she’s back.

Yet when I imagine being there and seeing her I feel nerves and like I have nothing to say and then I feel anger towards her. I can feel my defenses bristle when I imagine being there. I can imagine not wanting to engage much with her, not wanting to show her I missed her or that it was hard, her being away for 3 weeks.

And I feel scared.

Scared to start therapy again, scared about what might come up, what ruptures we may face. Scared of the work ahead.

I’ve been having this recurring thought lately about finding a new therapist. Of feeling overwhelmed where I am with Sienna.

I don’t feel ready for where I find myself at in therapy with Sienna. I feel like I’ve been pushed into a space I’m just not ready for because of Sienna’s needs.

It doesn’t feel good. I feel like crying even typing this. I find myself flooding right now with feelings of fear, sadness and mistrust.

Fear that if I tell her how i’m feeling or struggling with this space we are in that she’ll make me leave her. That she’ll tell me to find something or someone else.

Fear that saying it, makes it real.

Fear that saying it out loud make it something I have to do something about.

Fear that saying it to her or out loud makes all my worries real and means that my therapy with her will have to come to an end.

Fear that things are really as terrible and as broken as they feel.

Fear that we have to deal with last year’s rupture.

Fear that I’ll be triggered back into a not coping place.

Sadness, sadness that my needs aren’t being met in the way that I want and need.

Sadness that once again I seem to be having to put my needs on hold so that another attachment figures can come first.

Sadness for all that I’ve lost in terms of trust and attachment and security.

Sadness for the deep suspicion and mistrust I have of Sienna now. Sadness for how much we lost through last year’s rupture and the hugely painful months that came before it.

Sometimes I feel like everything is broken beyond repair. And it feels awful. Sometimes it feels like we are coasting along because none of us want to admit it’s all broken.

I wonder if we are both staying on safer grounds because to discuss the rupture and the true costs of it would mean admitting it’s all fucked beyond repair.

And when all those feelings flood me all at once, I push them away, I push the down and away as far as possible so that I can maintain a working relationship with my beloved therapist. Pushing those thoughts and feelings down mean I don’t have to face another ruined relationship. I can’t bare the thought of it. So pushing it all away allows me to keep her.

But of course, being so fragmented, there’s also another side – several sides most likely, that are equally true.

Part of me says nothing is broken, certainly not beyond repair. That Sienna is committed to me and will help us find a way through.

There’s parts of me who trust her deeply. And have confidence in her ability. Parts who find safety with her. Parts who adore her. Other parts can see her as the flawed human who makes mistakes and that that’s okay. That part of my work is learning to tolerate other people’s mistakes and flaws. To not run away or distance myself when the fear of people’s humanity and short-comings threatens to overwhelm me.

And it’s really hard to hold within me opposing realities. Because both feel right and true to me and that makes it hard to know what’s right and what action I should take. It makes it hard for me to know if I need to protect myself or if I am letting my fears get in the way.

So for now, I do nothing. I wait. I will let thing unfold as they must.

 

 

 

 

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Just about coping.

Yesterday was …… shit. Yes, shit is an accurate summation.

Last night I had this weird experience of hearing a baby crying. Like a really young baby. But its cry wasn’t normal, it was a distressed, traumatised cry.

And I was experiencing the baby’s distress as if it were me or I was it… I don’t know… it’s very hard to describe.

I have been playing a game on my phone a lot to distract and calm myself but this baby’s cry just interjected constantly for about 30 minutes or so.

Not sure if it’s a body memory thing or a dissociative part of me or something else.

But it hurt.

I flipped about all day, feeling okay and not okay. And mostly okay but not really okay.

Low level crapness.

Is this really all because my therapist isn’t here? ☹

Amelia, again.

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This week has been a strange one. Difficult in many ways yet also productive and busy with adult life things.

I had an unsettling dream on Thursday while I napped in the afternoon. I dreamed that Sienna was giving me notice of her giving up her private practice. Strangely, even though it was mildly awful, there was a sense of me being okay, of knowing I’d survive. It wasn’t the triggering feelings of loss and abandonment that I normally experience in those types of dreams.

Nevertheless, I still felt insecure and worried when I woke up. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe my dream was because I’d unconsciously picked up this information from Sienna… that maybe the dream was a foretelling.

Adult me reasoned that this was nonsense, that it was just a dream and I can check in with Sienna on Monday when I see her. But I couldn’t settle. The young parts were scared.

And I did something unusual. I took a risk and text Sienna and asked for a check in. I knew that she’d mentioned briefly about starting the Friday check ins back up, but I’d been doing so well without them and in total honesty…. I was scared to speak to her on the phone after that horrendous call last year where she basically ended the call super abruptly. There’s a part of me who feels so scared to be exposed to “that” Sienna. The un-contained one who lost her shit over the phone with me.

Not having the phone-calls takes away the possibility of having too much access to one another, too much exposure to our (her) fluctuating moods. The sessions have been much more focused and contained lately and I seem to get the best of her now and I need that. I can’t cope with anymore “Real” Sienna, I need structured, contained, safe Sienna.

I had no idea what she’d say about a check in. I hoped it was okay and I worried that if she couldn’t/wouldn’t make space for me that it would hurt and cause me to feel anger and rejection.

Luckily she text back within the hour. She gave me my usual Friday check-in time and I felt SO relieved.

Over the course of the week I’d struggled. On Tuesday night I have lots of parts literally screaming inside of my head. There was mass panic and just trauma stuff. Because I was on the edge of sleep I can’t remember their words. But they seemed to want to self-harm really badly, some wanted to go for a bleach bath.

I think I got up during the night and drew in my journal. Well, someone did – Amelia.

A child part I haven’t heard from in a long time- like, months.

I think her name was mentioned a few weeks ago because I saw her name on a list of all the parts Sienna and I know about. I did not recognise her name. I said “ Who’s Amelia?”

I had no memory of her at all.

Last week, a child part drew on a page in my journal and wrote “ I’m still here.” But I didn’t know who had wrote it at the time but I’m now thinking it’s been Amelia. And here’s why…

Firstly, it has her signature red and black scribbles. She draws bad things. Horrible images. She isn’t angry, but she’s very traumatised.

This week she actually drew several pages, just writing her own name over and over and over in desperate to be seen scrawls.

I always think of Amelia as being around 11 years old but in fact her writings and drawing are that of a much younger child. So, I have no idea how old she is.

I’ve been pretty dissociated at times this week. Big parts of the week feel like big black holes and in fact, until I listened to my session recording from Monday, I literally had no memory of the session, other than I had been there and time had gone really fast.

Another part spoke to Sienna on Friday. Again a younger part who wanted to know what would happen to her if Sienna did close her practice.

It was a lovely phone call. I have since listened back to the content of the call because I am struggling with my memory so much (dissociation continues clearly.) .

Sienna spoke with the child and reassured her that she has no intention of closing her practice. And reminded us of the “ minimum 10 year” promise that she’s staying in the city at least that long to be beside her grandchild. And she said that I’d be the very last client she’d end with and that she’d make sure we had me transferred over to someone I could work with.

She said she had great confidence in my ability to cope with change now and that it would be okay if in the very unlikely event of illness or something that she couldn’t carry on working.

She reminded me of how special I am to her and such an important part of her life. She laughed that I wasn’t getting rid of her and we are stuck with each other for a long time to come!

I told her about Amelia’s drawings. And she asked if it felt okay, could I bring them in on Monday because Amelia sounds very distressed.

The call was reassuring and loving. And it helped a lot.

And now the next very interesting thing about Amelia…

I was looking back at my posts for March 2017 because I couldn’t remember the exact date of our 3 year anniversary of working together.

And low and behold! What do I see but a mention of Amelia and some drawings of hers!!! Weirdly, even back then she was asking Sienna about taking a “bleach bath”. So I think the thoughts this week about doing that must have been Amelia’s.

I saw from the posts that Amelia was fairly new but there was a flurry of activity from her. And as I scrolled back I was stunned to see that the first time Amelia appeared was 18th February 2017 – a year ago exactly.

She must have disappeared not long afterwards because I had no knowledge of her. But I find it fascinating that she’s turned up again exactly a year ago to the day virtually. Is there a reason for that? Does February have meaning to her?

I feel like all the dissociation lately, the loss of time, the being unable to orientate myself in what part of the year I am in, the increasing confusion and the start up of all the trauma art again, may, in fact, belong to Amelia. Maybe she’s been coming through for a few weeks?

The thing about Amelia is, I never get a true sense of her. I don’t know what she looks like, whereas some other parts I see very clearly in my mind. I rarely hear Amelia’s chatter and I rarely know it’s her that’s around. But when she had been, it’s coincided with feeling very stuck and frozen and unable to communicate what I am feeling or needing ( like what happened in Monday’s session.) I never seem to know she’s been out until I get more clues later. When she is out, I can feel that I feel regressed and can’t talk and very anxious, my feelings are all bottle-necked inside. The only time she seems pretty clear is when I let her draw. And then she will draw fervently for pages and pages and pages. Reds and blacks and blurry things and trauma things. And usually The Editor will come along and decide her drawings are too raw, too awful to be seen and paints over them or rips them up.

I don’t think Amelia can speak. I wonder if it is she who pulls at her fingers and pinches her hands and arms hard? I don’t know… I’m just thinking out loud really.

I don’t know. There’s so much about having parts/alters that is unknown. It can feel so chaotic, there’s no rhyme or reason to it a lot of the time. Not ones I can make sense of anyway. There’s so much that the system conceals and obfuscates and I’m not sure why it does that. Other than it’s very uncomfortable for many of them to be known or seen. For some it can feel traumatising to be ousted into the therapy room and hear themselves speak or hear their names be used.

Anyway, that’s my week. A mixed up, topsy-turvy, time-bending mess!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A strange sort of session.

Monday was a bit of a strange session. I could feel there was a need for something before I got there, yet I couldn’t tap into what that “something” was.

Sienna asked me to get my (dissociation) cards out and asked if I’d brought anything else? I gave her my art journal which I’d drawn in.

After we spent a couple of minutes on the most recent drawings, Sienna asked if she could look back at the older pages. I nodded. I said to her “ You’ve already seen all those!”

She said she knows that but sometimes it’s good to look back at them. I don’t know why but it felt quite uncomfortable even though she’s seen them before.

I started flicking through the dissociation cards as a way of distracting from the embarrassment I felt.

I couldn’t really get a sense of which parts were about. I picked a lot of cards that I felt applied to how I was feeling and they ranged from happy and content, to scared and hypervigilant.

I knew that adult me felt happy and content and relaxed and secure, but there were other parts feeling other things. Yet I couldn’t easily pick out what they were communicating, only what they were feeling.

I hate those days when you know there’s parts of you in need of something and feeling awful, like they have all this pent up emotion, yet you can’t express it, because you can’t really tease apart the big bundle of emotions and there’s not really any thoughts popping up to help explain what’s going on. It leaves me feeling frustrated and trapped with bad feelings but no way of discharging them.

At first, I didn’t know how to sort out the cards I’d chosen. I didn’t really know who to attribute all those different emotions to. So I started with what I knew…. The adult was feeling positive, I knew I was channelling her. She was there on top. She was the most present.

If I had to demonstrate how strong or present each part was it would go something like this;

70% Adult.

15% Pre-teen.

15% Child.

Sienna closed the art journal and paid attention to me putting out the cards. She asked questions about the cards I chose and it really helped me explain further what was going on for me.

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Sienna asked if being able to separate it all out like that helped me to ground. It hadn’t, not this time. When we used them before it really did help but this time, I still felt agitated and hypervigilant. I felt really disappointed that it hadn’t helped as much as it did last time we used them.

Sienna said when she looked at all the cards, she felt like she wanted to put the adult in the middle and strings connecting them all so that the dissociated parts could get a sense of the adult who is strengthening all the time.

I got a weird feeling, a kind of sinking feeling, I suppose. It felt like she wasn’t getting me. Yet I don’t know what I wanted her to get…. There was nothing wrong, my adult self was the most present, yet there was a dragging sense of need. A dull, muted tumble of emotions rumbling away but far enough away that I couldn’t externalise what I wanted or needed.

And she’s been talking a lot lately about how strong my adult is, and how well I’m doing and it really feels like she’s missing a big part of what’s going on for me.

Yes, my adult part that showed up during the rupture is awesome. Yes, I have made great strides and my adult self is strengthening. I cope really well during the rupture and since. And I am not taking away from my successes or hard work, but the fact remains that I didn’t suddenly- after much of last year being really triggered and pretty devastated- become well and grow a healthy adult.

This sudden “wellness” is a dissociative process, a defence against huge stress and terror. This adult turned up to save me. This adult turned up to allow me to cope with terrifying circumstances. This is just one more split in a defence against trauma. And it might seem on the outside like a positive thing…. But how much trauma did I have to go through for my system to split even more and send an adult saviour to help me?

I feel like this traumatic splitting hasn’t been seen. Or doesn’t want to be seen. I feel like Sienna would rather not know or admit to the full damage done by what happened last year.

So, when she talks about the adult like it’s such a positive thing, a healthy transformation… it really hurts. It’s like we both are glossing over what happened. Like the appearance of this adult means everything is okay. Whereas inside, I think a lot of my parts are holding the weight of this new “healthy adult part”. And it’s really tiring and the responsibility is immense and heavy. It’s almost like they’re juggling balls and can’t let them drop yet.

I know I need to tell her this. Because it’s me who imposed a “ no talk” rule about the rupture. Maybe Sienna’s view in all of this is different from what I perceive.

I sat looking at all the cards in front of me. I felt annoyed with them. I hated them, I wanted to throw them across the room. I’m not sure why.

Sienna asked “ What goes on for you when you look at the cards all laid out like that?”

I took a breath. Shrugged.

Then said “ Just confusion. There’s a lot there.”

Agitation kept rising. Sienna spoke about how I should have learned resilience within the family, like most children do. And that’s perhaps what’s missing for me. I wasn’t taught it.

Sienna asked “ What did a safe adult look like to you?”

I said immediately “ One that stays far back from me.” Anger rising.

Sienna said “ Yeah! You said that quick, so you knew that right away. So actually you didn’t trust any adults. No one felt particularly safe. I’m not surprised you felt that.”

We got a bit off topic for a while. But returned to look at the cards.

As we related the cards to my own childhood, I felt the anger and annoyance yet still didn’t know why.

I heard a younger part say “ Mess them up!!!” and felt an impulse to destroy the cards laid out. I burst out laughing and told Sienna what I’d just heard.

She laughed.

I said to Sienna “ I feel angry with them.”

Sienna said, somewhat surprised “ Do you? Do you know why?”

I thought about it. I still didn’t know why.

Sienna asked “ Angry with them (the parts) or just the whole thing?”

I didn’t know, all I could feel was this deep anger forming and it was making me feel agitated.

I said “ I don’t know just angry with them (the cards), bored of it all, angry that the cards are there. I don’t know, just angry!”

Sienna spoke about how it was a healthy response to the loss of childhood and loss of a lot of things.

Tears sprung up. Angry tears. Angry angry angry…. I suddenly felt overwhelmed with it and I sprung up and got on the floor and began tidying up the cards, I couldn’t look at them a second longer. I hated them.

I can tell now that I switched. But I didn’t feel it at the time.

But I remember feeling disorientated and just bloody angry!! I sat up and said “ Is it time to leave yet?”

I never ask that! Never.

Sienna shook her head. “ You can sit back up there (on the sofa) and do some breathing with me before you go. And see if you can ground yourself before you leave.”

I raised my voice half-joking “ I’m ANGRY!!!!”

Sienna said in a tone of talking to a toddler, “ I know!”

I flung myself huffily on the sofa, sighing deeply. I literally didn’t know what to do with this anger that was flooding me.

Sienna said “ What do you do with that? What do you usually do with anger at home, do you just sit with it and let it pass through?”

I took a breath, and just shrugged.

I felt myself dissociate deeper. I felt a dump in my brain that feels like a deep breath, a deep state of relaxation or a hit of morphine or something. It’s not entirely unpleasant but it’s a bit of a dreamlike state and makes me feel weak and slightly off-kilter, like being on a boat or something.

Sienna said “ If you were to tell somebody why you’re angry, what would you say?”

I replied “ Fuck sake” that’s what I would say.”

Sienna replied “ yeah. Absolutely.”

Sienna said quietly “ I often feel angry when working with you.” She added quickly “ – NOT at you. At the situation and the impact it’s all had on your life. It’s not fair. Buy my God you’ve got a survivor streak in you!”

It always confuses me when she says that. I didn’t have any other option it wasn’t a choice to survive, it’s just what humans do.

I made an exasperated sound as I tried to discharge the agitation from my body. Struggling to contain it.

Sienna said “ I know. Where do you feel that in your body?”

I said quietly “ I don’t know.”

I was so gone by that point. I was doing what I always did with anger. I dissociated and sat still and lost time.

Sienna reminded me to breathe.

Sienna commented that I’d become flushed. I nodded, I could feel my cheeks were hot.

She tried grounding me. Getting me to notice the room etc. But nothing was working, even though I was doing what she was asking of me.

She asked how I was and I said in a tiny whisper “ Okay.”

A minute went past and I said in a child’s voice “ Is it time to stop?”

Sienna said “ mmhm. Where are you? Are you back? I don’t think you are. You’re pulling your fingers… who’s that?”

I looked down, surprised. I hadn’t noticed.

I said “ I don’t know.”

Sienna moved over and reached out for my hands to stop me from hurting them. “ You need to tell her she’s okay, cos she is. She’s safe. The adult is here.”

The child said tearfully “ I’m really angry.”

Sienna reassured her that angry is okay. It’s an okay emotion to have.

As I came back to the room a bit more I said “ I HATE those cards.”

Sienna laughed. They’re going to have different reactions at different times.

I couldn’t believe the session was finished. It felt like 15 minutes had passed. I don’t think I’ve ever felt a session pass so instantly. So, it makes me wonder if other parts took over? Time just didn’t seem in sequence or something.

It took me quite a while to come around afterwards. And I felt exhausted and emotional.

And I worried how I’d feel the rest of the week given that I barely remembered my session and certainly didn’t feel like I’d been there.

I’ve done okay-ish. But there’s definitely been moments of struggle which I’ll write about later.