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!
It’s been on my mind that I haven’t been writing in depth about my therapy sessions lately. And I do wonder why?
Two very real reasons is that I have been sleeping through the night for the most part and that was usually my time to sit and listen to my session and write about it, and also I’ve been concentrating a lot more on creating art to sell. Time has seemed to slip away recently and I am far busier creating art, maintaining social media feeds, preparing an etsy store and investing in my self-care routines.
But also, as I’ve mentioned before, I am trying to keep myself balanced and away from trauma stuff during the week now that I don’t have Sienna’s support between sessions. I am still trying to find myself around this new way of working and feel pretty unsteady about whether I will cope. So, I think I am avoiding listening back to my sessions in case I become triggered.
The sessions themselves have slowed down quite a lot too. I think we are both conscious of trying to find where my tolerance levels lie and not triggering me too much.
There’s a lot more general chat, as we attempt to rebuild the trust lost from the rupture. There’s an element of us both resting from the hard stuff and just allowing ourselves to be in the room together. I think we both got a big fright by what happened at the end of the year and we have both been shaken.
There has been therapy work done though. And I find my young alters edging forward more often which is new. Their chosen form of communication is texting and emailing or drawing. Sienna had spoken to her supervisor about her worry that if she took away emailing and texting that the young alters would be silenced. That they would have no way to express their traumas and that Sienna wouldn’t be able to get to them. Her supervisor assured her that they would come in time. To be patient.
And now that the choice of emailing and texting isn’t there anymore, the alters are trying to move towards coming to sessions. I feel them a lot more often in sessions and less at home. I think that’s probably a good thing?
The Editor and the teen parts are still careful about what they let the child parts do or express, they don’t have free reign in sessions. But I feel them there.
As a result, there’s been this real urge to physically be in contact with Sienna. This hungering need to cuddle into her or lean against her. The child parts need a lot of reassurance and they also feel a lot of love and affection for Sienna and that results in them always wanting to be close to her, if they can.
The teenage parts haven’t really featured much. They do not want to engage with Therapy or with Sienna. They have no trust in her and they are so angry and hurt with her and what she did during the rupture. I think they have stayed away because they are afraid of their own rage. They feel rage and they don’t know what to do with that. How to express it, how to extinguish it. It’s so destructive and I am guessing they fear their own power.
Saying that, Sofia did turn up last Thursday. Sofia has less anger towards Sienna. I think that’s because she does trust Sienna now. And she trusts Sienna more than she is angry, so that allows her to drop the rage. I feel like Sofia is less an angry guardian and more a vulnerable teen – when with Sienna, not anyone else.
I am dreading the time we have a bad session and/or Sienna is misattuned. I am still not sure how I am going to cope with that. How am I going to wait a whole week holding all the emotions that come from a bad session?
I am spending a lot of time cultivating a positive, nurturing adult within myself. I use my Instagram account to allow the adult part of me to speak to the rest of me, to motivate me, inspire confidence, reminding myself and the parts that I CAN do things. It is really working for me. And it keeps me on task for whatever it is I need to do on any given day. It focuses my mind.
Originally it was set up by Sofia and Mia, a place for their teenage attitude to have its say. But they haven’t bothered with it much. So now this new adult is using it. (Feel free to follow me.)
I don’t always feel happy or inspired or settled or motivated. So sometimes it feels a bit forced to post something inspiring. But it seems to work, even if I am having a down day, just posting something positive reminds me of the adult within and I get moving with my day and my mood switches over to the adult mind. The Instagram account has really been an unexpected success for my tool bag of coping.
A big part of my coping lately and my drive to succeed with my art is the appearance of this adult part. It is allowing me to have space from the trauma stuff. It is allowing me to move away from all the stuff that drags me down and renders me frozen every day.
I am dissociating a lot more than I was and I think that’s a by-product of having to hold a lot more for myself now that the boundaries have changed. I find myself losing time, or feeling quite confused and forgetful. I feel the vulnerability and sadness of the parts quite often. And I feel tired holding so much by myself.
But the adult part is helping me balance out and cope and I am so grateful for that.
The shift in my sessions is interesting. Without the outside contact, they are more concentrated or focused or something. Sienna does seem more present. They feel more traditional or more…. I don’t know… the attention is all on me, not on us, the relationship, what’s gone on in the week via email, not the countertransference etc
It feels like we are back to basics. It’s like I’ve gone from high school back to Nursery class. And it actually feels like a relief. All the pressure is off. All the difficult stuff is kept at bay, it’s at a level that I can go out into the world and cope with. I can go into the session and be the centre of the world for an hour. There’s no battle. No drama. Just pure attention and caring.
I am under no illusions that it will always be like that. But for now, it’s what I need.