This week I had open to me a 3rd week of daily check ins. But I didn’t use them, well, with the exception of the usual Friday check in that’s always in place because I want to keep that structure available for the parts.
My dreams have settled down quite a bit and are now back to my bog-standard level of anxiety and nightmare trauma dreams…. ones I can cope with.
My pain levels are still much higher than usual and that’s been tough to deal with. But there’s not much I can do about it other than self-care my way out it.
I have went through a gamut of emotions this week on the back of some fairly hefty nightmares and revelations. But what has stopped me reaching out to Sienna is this muted sense of having nothing new to say on the matter. There’s nothing she can say or tell me that she hasn’t already. There’s nothing I can say or express that I haven’t already, so it just feels pointless.
It amazes me, that when I think back to the early days of this therapy journey, the permission and opportunity to speak to my therapist every day would have been too amazing to miss. Back then though, I was haemorrhaging feelings and thoughts and emotions. The trauma was just gushing from me, dying to be heard and attended to. And the level of need for my therapist’s attention and care was overwhelming. Now the needs ebb and flow, but I can hold a lot more for myself these days and it feels good.
And I suppose it’s not that I am holding it all in. When I talk of holding it for myself, it means that all the haemorrhaging has slowed to a trickle and sometimes it stops all together. I am starting to clot, so to speak. And it isn’t always excruciating pain now and that’s why I can hold things better. It’s like the trauma stuff has been turned down to a level I can hold.
I think the daily check-ins for the past two weeks have been amazing and much needed support. And they have had the desired effect of giving me continuity and structure of care, and giving me a support valve to release whatever was coming up for me. It gave me confidence to cope with everything because I knew I had contact points every 24 hours.
But more than that, it helped settle the young parts who have deep attachment wounds. They were able to stay emotionally connected to Sienna in the face of some pretty dark material being revealed. If I hadn’t had the back up of the check ins I almost certainly would have had young parts feeling abandoned and alone and that would then stir the teens who would feel huge mistrust and rage towards Sienna for leaving us all alone with the bad things.
In absence of the attachment stuff, this dark, upsetting abuse stuff is something I can cope with, which I think says something about the level of distress attachment trauma causes.
The thing with child abuse…. No matter how I feel or the child parts feel, we know on some level that we are the victim. We are innocent even if sometimes we feel complicit. And even if some parts don’t know they’re not to blame, they are still treated by Sienna as the innocent party, the victim, the person needing love and care and gentleness. Which does confuse them, and I’ll come back to that in another post.
But when I am in the middle of a developmental/attachment trauma flashback, I feel annihilated. I have used the phrase “annihilation black-out” a few times because it describes perfectly the blind panic, the dark reality I fall into and can’t easily come out of without the help of a relational other.
And that is much worse than any flashbacks of child abuse. Much worse.
It might surprise people to read that. That the child or infant’s fear of abandonment or rejection is worse than being sexually abused. But for me it is.
Yet the “annihilation black-outs” fetch far less caring and loving from anyone, Sienna included. And I find that incredibly sad. How tragic is it that attachment wounds garner far less empathy yet cause so much more pain?
I mean, Sienna is generally very caring, even about the attachment stuff. But I can tell she doesn’t get it, not fully. Like, when you have empathy for someone who’s broken a bone, you can look after them, and appreciate how deeply painful it must be, but if you’ve never broken a bone, you can’t fully understand the agony. That’s just the human condition. Empathy can only go so far.
The attachment trauma flashbacks and blackouts are so heavy and deeply dissociative that I think, well, I know, that it triggers Sienna’s own “stuff”, her own attachment style and the counter-transference is deep and sometimes confusing and muddy. And sometimes (more than I’d like), Sienna pulls away instead of moves towards me.
It’s something I’ve spoken to her about before. But it was a long time ago and I’d like to draw her attention to it again. Because I’d like the love and caring and availability she’s shown me these past couple of weeks to be there during the abandonment stuff too. Because for me, the attachment stuff feels worse.
I always feel responsible for the attachment wounds, to blame. That I am weak and needy and pathetic and full of shame, I am burdensome and not nice to be around and my reality is so deeply skewed, yet I can’t help it, it feel real to me in the moment. Very very real and terrifying.
The abuse stuff I know it in the past. I know I can’t be hurt in that way anymore. So, for me there’s a sense of distance and perspective that allows me to cope with it better. That of course may change if I get more dissociative material being flung up from the depths of my unconscious. There have been times I’ve woken from a nightmare that may be and certainly felt like, a memory/flashback and a body memory and being super dissociated and as a result highly distressed. So I do know that things could get a lot more difficult for me with this stuff but right now it doesn’t cause me as much pain as the attachment stuff does when it’s fully activated.
This morning, while I was in a half-asleep, half awake state I was aware of feeling so much pain in my body. All down my left-side, arm, wrist, shoulder, clavicle, hips burned with pain. And there was a young part in deep distress about something that I now can’t remember. Don’t even get me started on alters and dreams and sleeping memories and alters’ dreams while I’m sleeping and Parts having conversation whilst I am actually dreaming….. having alters is fucking insane!
So yeah, my alarm went off and I had the young part’s distress in my ear and I knew I was desperate to speak to Sienna. I only had 10 minutes to wait. But within that 10 minutes, my pain left my body, and the young part disappeared and I was left with this mute numb state where I had no idea what I wanted to talk to Sienna about?
As I waited for my time to call, I lay in bed numbed, feeling frustrated because I know that minutes earlier I (or the child part) really needed to talk. And I noticed I was holding my teddy to my mouth, sucking my thumb like a very young child. She was still around…. But this Editor part had jumped in and taken over.
My actions were that of a child but my thoughts were very adult and I didn’t even have the body pain that’s been plaguing me.
I did tell Sienna about that and we had a really good conversation. She suggested that we work with the Editor, find out more about her and find a way to work with her so that she can allow the child parts through.
Sienna asked if I needed check ins over the weekend and I told her no. I think I’ll be okay to get to Monday.
Shortly after our call ended, I felt the body pains return and I settled down to sleep some more.
It still amazes me that my brain can split so much as to take away very real physical pain in order to protect itself.
I have so many questions unanswered about my splitting. And why things happen as they do. Sometimes I feel so together and other times I split and I don’t even know it.