Posted in blog, blogging, dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, Girl blogger, health, mental health, mental health awareness, therapist, therapy, trauma, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

The biggest questions ever asked – and answered.

Mental Health Blogger (1)

After my session last Tuesday, my child part, Keira, stayed very present. I decided in my check in call that I’d tell Sienna about Keira’s worry that she wasn’t liked by Sienna.

I told Sienna that Keira had been feeling all floppy and attachment-y this week and was worried about why she triggered negative responses in Sienna.

I explained how adult me totally gets the triggered response stuff but no matter how much I know and understand it… if I am more Keira the 5 year old than Sirena the adult, then I don’t understand why Sienna doesn’t like me sometimes?

I said “ She thinks she’s not likeable and she doesn’t know what to do about it.”

It felt like such a hard conversation to be having for some reason.

Sienna explained once more about the containment we all need – of keeping the work in the session or in pre-arranged places in the weeks, so that we are all working safely.

Sienna said “ We really do want to hear her and I know she’s got a lot to say, she needs a way of getting what she needs and that might be our work to find a way to do that that’s good for all of us.”

Sienna asked if Keira was upset that she couldn’t just text what she wants to say anytime? I told her no, it’s not that. It’s that she doesn’t understand why she has that negative response in someone and it’s quite black and white for her that it’s either like or dislike, there’s no in-between.

Sienna said that it was really good that adult me can articulate that and explain what’s going on for Keira and Keira’s black and white thinking is so typical for a child of that age.

I said “ I think it’s hard for her because she’s so attached to you and she likes you but she thinks you don’t like her so…. But she doesn’t know what to do about that because she has to come to therapy with the rest of the alters and she doesn’t know how to have needs that won’t annoy you.”

Sienna said “ okay. Well, maybe I need to be more specific with her? Maybe she needs me to talk to her directly. Maybe she needs more reassurance that just because people can’t be there immediately for her, it doesn’t mean to say that she’s not liked or…”

I interjected “ It’s not about that though. It’s not about her not getting her needs met immediately. Keira does have that child thing of wanting her needs met quickly, but she’s learned to understand that that can’t always happen. And she’s okay with that because the level of contact I have with you right now it perfect as it is. It’s at the right level.

It’s that she doesn’t understand the nuances of relationships. I  totally understand your triggered responses at times you’re busy, and I’m fine with it. But Keira feels like how can you feel that negatively about her, that strongly…. And then pretend to like me in sessions….how can you not like me that much outside of sessions but then like me inside sessions? I don’t know?”

Sienna responded “ It’s difficult for a youngster to understand about transference isn’t it? It’s not about not liking her and it’s not about having a really…. It’s a transferential negative reaction and not an authentic reaction one. So it’s like saying to a child ; I love you but I don’t like your behaviour. So I like and love all your parts but some of the behaviours are difficult for me when I’m not in a contained place and in the right frame of mind because I’m not – I mean, I might be a representative mother figure, but I’m not the Mother who… and actually even a real mother wouldn’t just put up with anything. Mothers put boundaries in and mother’s say, ENOUGH– you have to wait.” So, it’s not Keira per se, but the behaviour I need to put boundaries on.”

I said “ But what’s the behaviour?”

I felt confused because Keira’s an attach part. Mostly what Keira needs is reassurance and lots of love and unconditional positive regard. Why’s that so hard if Sienna loves her? Wouldn’t that come naturally if she truly liked and loved Keira?

Sienna said “ The neediness or just whatever the transference brings up for me. That reaction might be read as me really not liking her but actually it’s not about that, it’s just the overwhelm that I feel when I’m uncontained and Keira’s need keeps coming and my head’s not in the right place because I’m in another bit of my life, working or busy. Does that make sense?”

It did. To the adult. But Keira was listening and she kind of got it but as a child maybe hasn’t experienced those dual emotions and so it’s hard for her to imagine.

Sienna asked if Keira could maybe do some drawing to help her understand more what she thinks and feels. So that she can start to explain things in a younger language that she will understand.

I agreed. I felt teary and I felt Keira’s pain at “not being liked” by the person she just adores. ( I can hear her now saying it makes me feel lonely.)

I said to Sienna “ It makes her cry.”

Sienna said “ You know, Keira is so important to everybody but she needs to learn that everything doesn’t stop for her that she’s got to work with me and learn to understand that it’s not about me not liking her, it’s about life and circumstances on any given day, it’s about having to learn that this is a different time from the past… when her mummy didn’t have the capacity to see her and look after her in the way she needed or to acknowledge with you that “ Look, this feels awful just now but things will be okay and we are in this together.”

And Keira’s got to know that about you and I – that we are in all this together, nobody is leaving, nobody hates her, nobody doesn’t like her… and we need to find away of getting her to understand that because I don’t think she’s going to be able to settle back into a relationship with me if she can’t mature into that place of understanding that this is a different time and that she can have something different. Because you know, she is really important and she is a beautiful little girl and she’s so artistic and articulate and she’s so brave in coming forwards to talk about this. It’s taken a long time for her to get words to explain it all. She’s so brave to do that because I understand how scared she is.”

I said again how I as an adult totally get it. But Keira doesn’t understand how Sienna how she is in session but “ the angry one” out of session. I told Sienna that Keira is one of the core parts of me, that is, the most separate fully embodied Self.. close to a fully separate personality rather than other parts who are tasked with one job. And Keira feels like she’s encouraged to come to session and to talk but when she does show up and speak (outside of session) the person that means a lot to her has seen her and doesn’t like her or is irritated with her and it’s just sooooo personal.

It hurts my heart everytime I think about it.” I welled up, feeling sorry for Keira but also feeling Keira’s emotions about it – the sad lonely “no one wants me” feelings.

Sienna said “ Yeah I hear you. And it’s about Keira learning that it’s not HER, it’s her behaviour (the neediness) I’m reacting to, and the transference.”

I felt confused because using the word behaviour makes it sound like Keira is playing up or having a tantrum or something. I said to Sienna “ But the behaviour is just wanting to be with you, that’s all.”

Sienna said “ I know, I know, but it’s also the transference, of what the need brings up for me. I think you were spot on when you said before that we were triggering each other. So this is about there being a bit of work for you, a bit of work for me and a bit of work for Keira to find a way to get some core understanding that we can all work from. And for Keira to understand about the need for the work to stay contained to keep us all safe. And I know how painful that is for a little girl who just needs what she needs “RIGHT NOW”.  But the work is about getting Keira to mature and have some growth and probably accepting that loss of what she hoped to get, can’t be.

My voice waivered with emotion- Keira’s emotion.

“ But she’s 5. And I see other children get what she wants and needs, I see how they behave to get their needs met and no one thinks it’s bad or “behaviour”….”

Sienna said “ And they might get it because their mum is there, but I’m not a mum and that’s Keira’s loss, she has to go through that bereavement process, the grief and the hurt that comes from not being able to get that and never being able to get that back authentically, because I’m not her mum…..”

OUCH OUCH OUCH!!!! Tears streamed down my face.

Sienna continued “ BUUUT… being able to work through the grief and come out the other side and know that that fact is not going to destroy her. That she can learn that it’s a scar that will heal to a great extent but she can think to herself “ But, I can have a different kind of relationship that is still very worthwhile.”  I think the big thing for Keira will be to understand – and I hope she understands if she’s listening – that it’s never about liking or loving somebody, it’s about behaviour.

-She’s really loved. I really like Keira, I really like her.”

I said “ But how can you? I don’t understand how you can if she makes you feel so negative?”

Sienna said “ But only in those moments, when she’s so needy that it triggers me. It doesn’t mean that if you don’t like one behaviour- and it’s not even about not liking it, it’s about the impact it has on other people. The impact I experienced was overwhelming for me. But that doesn’t mean to say… you can’t take that as a whole, that’s not the whole Keira. That’s only one part of Keira’s behaviour, individually having an impact on me. So you could say that 0.01% of Keira and the other 99.9% of her is a little girl who I completely accept and like and love.”

I understood. I asked for reassurance “But you don’t feel like that in sessions? (negatively I meant)

Sienna said “ No, because I’m contained. I’m where I need to be and I’m prepared for whatever comes in sessions. And just like any parent outside, if a parent is having a good day, they can cope with most things. But if a parent’s having a bad day, they’re more likely to be a bit short, a bit grumpy or tell the child “ENOUGH, you will need to wait.

I laughed slightly at Sienna’s parent voice because it was so authentic.

Then I… Keira…. Asked the BIG question I’ve always wanted to know and I can’t believe i/Keira had the guts to ask.

But why do you not WANT to be Keira’s mum?

Because for me, for all the child parts, we all understand that Sienna can’t be a real parent as in be adopted by her. But we always wonder if she makes that distinction and rejects the child parts notion of her as “mummy”  because the idea of it is repulsive for Sienna… that we could never be truly good enough to be her child.

Sienna paused briefly. And then said softly “ Because that wouldn’t be real.”

I said “ What does that mean?”

Sienna said gently in a voice that talked to the child “ Because I can’t be Keira’s mum.

I can’t be your mum Keira. I can be a very close friend but even friends have to put in limits. I can’t be your mum because that wouldn’t be real. And I can’t be a step mum or anything like that because I’m your therapist. And actually Sirena is the parent that you need.

And that’s maybe really hard to hear, but it’s a reality that you might feel upset about or not like to hear but actually it’s me being really real with you and authentic and telling you that I can give you and not make promises or leave things….”

Keira was crying. She interjected and said “ Is it because I’m not good enough?”

Sienna said “ It’s not about you not being good enough, it’s about being a little girl whose had a really difficult mothering experience with her own mum and who’s left desperately needing a replacement.

What we can do is help you hold and support you through the grief that that brings you. And it does get better Keira. And what’s really important now is that you allow yourself to build a more grown up relationship – as you grow past 5 and into 6 and 7, you allow yourself to build relationships with other people that are different but okay and still really rewarding and it’s not because you’re not likeable or loveable or that people don’t like you. It’s because they can’t be your mother.

They can do motherly things, they can be a mother figure in different ways. But this all said from me with a lot of support and love and a hug. I can see how overwhelming that hurts is and I feel that empty space in you for what you didn’t get.

But I want you to imagine my arms around you as a therapist and as a friend and as a person in your life who isn’t going to leave you. And I understand that me saying all of this is going to feel like a push away or an abandonment, but it isn’t. I’m going to be in your life.”

I said quietly. “ I don’t feel abandoned, I just feel like I’m not good enough to be someone’s daughter or for someone to want to be my mother. Why can’t I have that? Why does no one want to be my mum?”

Sienna said that she thought my mum did want to be my mum but she was incapable of being what I needed because of her own stuff. And it’s easy for children to feel like their parent’s incapacity is actually down to their own inadequacy but it isn’t.

Sienna spoke a bit more to Keira about Sirena becoming the mummy she needs and Keira was absolutely not for it.

I HATE when Sienna suggests it. It feels so wrong, so very very wrong. I don’t want to be Keira’s mum. And Keira definitely doesn’t want it either. I don’t know what the word is to describe that feeling when it’s suggest, it’s almost like if someone suggested your Dad is your new boyfriend…. It’s gross and vile and incestuous and just wrong.

I suppose I should tell Sienna that.

The call ended and despite some hard truths, I was okay. Keira was okay too because there was a lot of reassuring love in that call.

I suppose we both get that Sienna can’t truly be our mother because she’s our therapist, that’s her role. And we are learning that it can be something just as rich and rewarding and special as mother/daughter without it being mother/daughter and it can be motherly and supportive and enduring and deeply loving on its own. We don’t need (and can’t have) the tag of Mother/Daughter for our relationship to be something special and permanent.

I guess there’s part of me who still doesn’t understand how it can be loving and motherly and often very like mother and daughter in every way except in name, yet that separation exists. We will never be related.

And worse, I don’t think Sienna wants me like a daughter anyway. I see she managed to skip explicitly saying “ I don’t want you as my daughter.”

It hurts. It hurts a lot. Yet it won’t kill me. I have something else with her. Something deep and meaningful for her as well as me.

I don’t know if it’s enough. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

It’s not that she can’t be my mother in name that hurts, it’s the possibility that the idea repulses her. That she doesn’t want me like that. That she doesn’t feel that way about me, when I hold her in such deep regard and in a very special position in my life.

She isn’t my mother. She can’t be. I know that. But I do see her as a mother of kind.  Mother in spirit. A mother I choose. And I wish she could see me as a daughter in spirit if not in name or by birth.

It is what it is I guess.

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Posted in attachment, dissociation, dissociative identity disorder, Girl blogger, journal, mental health, mental health awareness, therapist, therapy, trauma, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

” We need to talk.”

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*********** Trigger Warning. This blog post talks about therapy ruptures and termination. If this is triggering for you, think about whether you should keep reading.********************************************************

My session last night was intensely awful.

When I walked in and said hello and I hear her tone as she greeted me, I knew immediately something was up. And that was followed with an immediate “ I think we need to have a big talk.”

Fuck.

My hypervigilance went into overdrive. Waiting for the death knell of a termination speech.

And what she said next had all the hallmarks and excuses therapists generally spout when they’re dumping you.

I am not in a position right now to write exactly what was said. I am still processing it all for myself and I’m feeling awful.

But the bottom line is that she is contacting my local mental health team to speak with a psychiatrist about the work we are doing and try to get me a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) that I can contact in times of distress.

I laughed and told her good luck. I’ve been there several times and I KNOW she’s going to be laughed off the phone by mental health when she calls and asks. But hey, it’s her time to waste, let her get on with it.

She said a lot about how she’s been feeling this week or lately, I can’t remember. But her feelings were flagging up that’s there’s a big problem needing addressed. Her reactions to my texts coming in this week were pretty severe and she didn’t even read the rest of them after she’d replied to the initial one. (Yeah, that didn’t hurt much…)

She said she felt like we weren’t progressing. She acknowledged there has been some progress but in other ways very little and it’s been 3 years.

I denied that and said that wasn’t a fair assessment. I’ve actually progressed tons! And I reminded her that she herself and her supervisor said last year that we’d done way more work and progress in 2 and a half years than most clients don’t get to until year 5-7. And that we needed to slow things right down, for both our sakes. I told Sienna, you always said this was very long-term work.

She seemed to retract a bit and agreed those things had been said.

I talked about the impact the rupture had on me last year, she disappeared on me for 6 weeks on a burnout. I mean she didn’t fully disappear, she gave me the odd update to let me know where she was at, what was happening re supervision etc. But essentially, to my child and teen parts… she fucked off with no notice.

She looked at me like I was mad. Said that is NOT how it happened. We agreed that I would take a break, which therapists need sometimes….. blah blah”

I corrected her.

“Sienna, you put the phone down on my mid session and then took 6 week off. I did not agree to anything. You took the time off.”

She seems to think I’ve twisted it all in my mind to fit my abandonment lens. But that is utter bullshit because I have ALL the texts, all the calls recorded, all the emails, and all the sessions recorded and also blogged. It is not my memory that is skewed on this. Although I can see why that might suit her to think that.

She fucked up hugely last year. She is embarrassed that she did what she did to me and she has re-written it in her mind.

The first half hour was horrific. I cried. I teetered on falling into that annihilation blackout place and tried so hard not to because it was important to talk and to find out what was happening, what was the bottom line here. Am I being terminated?

Sienna said no. We are still working together but we need to work differently, and I need help that isn’t her outside of sessions.

I said it was really unfair to say that I am not coping outside of sessions or that she can’t cope with my texts. That past two weeks have been a blip in over 7 months of me holding onto a lot by myself. That I have worked really hard and that there hasn’t been any texts. She nodded in agreeance.

But said that her capacity has vastly diminished outside of sessions. I asked her why? She said she didn’t know, perhaps just eventual wear and tear?

She said that we were not terminating, it wasn’t that. It’s just that things needed to be changed a bit. And she needed to have an honest conversation with me about what was going on.

The fact that it wasn’t a termination speech was enough to keep me out of the annihilation blackout.

The last half hour actually was positive in a lot of ways. I mean, hot, worried tears blinded me the whole way. But I spoke about what’s been going on for me, and I showed her my charts I’d drawn.

She LOVED them. I think Sienna really responds to flow charts and bullet points. I moved and went to sit beside her to read them out to her and to explain things. She said I’d worked SO hard on them and was so pleased I’d done them and that it really helped her understand a lot. She hugged me a lot and rubbed my shoulders in an affectionate proud way.

She asked if she could keep them because they were so helpful. I said “yes of course, I don’t need them I already know this stuff, it’s you that needs them.”

Having read the charts we both wondered whether her negative transference around our work and me let’s face it, I am the work, was in part her picking up my anger and hurt and continued detachment, because I’ve certainly felt like not going to sessions and not engaging and her feelings were mirroring mine. That’s a real possibility as we are quite attuned with one another usually.

Her reading those charts, it felt like a weight lifted off us both. Like, she suddenly understood that a lot had been going on for me, that the some of the reasons for the way she’s been feeling this week have been mirroring my unexpressed feelings and not necessarily her own true reactions. She suddenly felt a lot more empathic and open to me.

She gave me lots of hugs before I left. And reassured me as per my charts that we are not terminating and that she’ll be there on Monday, always.

When I got home I felt exhausted. Much calmer than I would have expected give the horrible things that were said at the beginning of the session. Just knowing it wasn’t leading to termination was enough to keep me regulated.

It was a weird feeling though, I felt shell-shocked and deeply hurt by some of the things said. Yet, there was safety, because I wasn’t getting terminated and that’s all that matters to me.

The session was truly horrific for me. All the things I’d written in my trigger chart were pretty much said in session. And she acknowledged when she saw it that I must be really near the annihilation blackout place then after what she’d said!

The fact that when I got home I was fairly calm and wasn’t chewing down on diazepam like they were smarties is a testament to my own growing resilience and growth. So fuck anyone including Sienna who says I haven’t progressed much in 3 years.

I know for a fact I have done amazingly well. My growth and progress is not going to be dictated to by anyone else’s timeline or opinion.

Today I’ve woken up and even though I feel psychologically okay, my body feels like something catastrophic has happened to it. There’s a sick, heavy ball of angst sitting right in my solar plexus.

It’s the body’s knowledge that something horrendous just happened, yet my mind is clear and fairly calm. It’s like I’ve been in a car crash but there’s no visual evidence of it. It’s a really horrible feeling. My body just feels wrung out. Battered and devastated.

Sienna is not terminating me.

But that doesn’t mean I am not terminating her.

I hate to write that. But I have huge concerns about her ability to a) do long term trauma work

  1. B) Hold me adequately and more importantly
  2. C) Hold herself through this work.

It seems there’s something about me that she reacts pretty strongly to me at times. And that doesn’t feel very nice for me.

It also seems to me that there’s been a major rupture every single year we’ve worked together, and it always comes from her. Her reactions to the work. Her lack of capacity, her burnout etc etc.

I mean there’s been lots of little ruptures along the way caused by me, but I’m the fucking client, I am supposed to be the chaotic one. I have to ask if this is normal, for my therapist to be the one causing the fucking big ruptures????

I am scared to ask her these questions, because once again I am terrified I push the issue and it results in termination.

I also have to take into account the impact this is having on my husband both financially and more especially, emotionally.

He hates seeing me in such a state. He gets protective anger about how upset I get at the things Sienna does. And he questions how any of this is good for me and if perhaps it’s time to start living without therapy?

I am asking myself the same thing. Can I manage without therapy? Have I come as far as I can? Should I be spending the money on things that make me happy and healthy? Massage, reiki, yoga, my own education and fledgling business?

Yet I am so hopelessly attached to Sienna that the idea of terminating is heart-breaking.

I know that isn’t healthy- hence the need for therapy. But that’s where I am at. Maybe that’s just me, maybe I’ll always form fierce attachments to those I love.

I am an artist, we love passionately and deeply, we are emotional.

But I’ve been wondering today what like would be like without therapy. What about taking a break for a year? See how things go? I like the idea of not feeling this horrific and terrified all the time about someone leaving.

I like the idea of just living and breathing in deep and not having these troubles.

I am aware my issues would still be with me. They would be on hold until such times I decided to return to therapy. But maybe they’re at a cope-able level where I could hold it for myself better?

The only thing in life that triggers me this severely is Sienna, therapy…. So, take that out the equation and maybe I’d do okay?

I don’t know.

But I’d miss Sienna so much. I don’t want to leave her. And I’m scared to leave her because what if I want to go back and she’s not there?

What if in the interim she decided she likes her life without me in it? What if she decides not to do trauma work?

I’m terrified of that. Yet I also can see that if that’s how she feels then it’s better not to work with a therapist like that anyway. I get it.

I’m scared to have this conversation with her.

You know, we work so amazingly together at times. She’s the best therapist I’ve ever had.

But there’s no doubt we rupture big. There’s some really shit elements to our relationship and I’m not sure how normal or healthy these dynamics are.

I find myself really wanting stability. I want to feel that she is robust enough to take what I throw at her and that just hasn’t been the case lately. And that isn’t good enough.

I can’t see how we can continue long-term with her rupturing and the question of her capacity to hold me through this regularly rears its head.

It makes me scared for our future.

I know she loves me and is deeply committed to me. But that isn’t enough. Is she continuing on because she really wants to, because her deep commitment to me makes her struggle through when really, it might be best I leave and that she doesn’t do trauma work?

Or is her negative reactions/countertransference to me, about herself and things she needs to work on in her own therapy and/or a re-enactment of something else rather than her not being the right therapist?

Those are very hard painful questions for both of us I’d imagine. And it’s a conversation I am avoiding because I’m scared of the answer.

I feel really sad and scared about what’s to come.

In part, I really want to take maybe a years break. But I wonder my need for that is about self-care or feeling like I need to protectively withdraw myself and my needs away in order to look after Sienna’s needs and to ensure she stays with me and doesn’t terminate?

Doesn’t this echo my past and my patterns of attachment?

A big part is my feeling that Sienna could do with a year long break from me. And I know that isn’t my job, to look after her needs. Yet I feel the impulse to do so. To create space and distance. To stop the pain for myself, to try and prevent eventual abandonment by detaching from my own needs.

It’s so sad. I am sad that child me had to do that and I am sad that even now, child me has that impulse.

So that’s where I’m at right now.

Continue reading “” We need to talk.””