17th September 2018
Before my session, my child parts had sent Sienna drawings instead of doing a phone check in with her at 7:30am.
They sent 3 pictures of their worries, and bad dreams and the final picture depicted Sienna and Keira in a tent where it was “safe and warm” and both had happy faces.
There was a real need for containment and safety and proximity. I felt it keenly.
She didn’t reply.
We hadn’t made any explicit arrangements about the young parts getting an answer from Sienna, only that they were allowed to send drawings instead of a phone check in – if the older ones didn’t have anything to say or any need to connect. But in hindsight, perhaps we should have thought about whether a reply was necessary. It is. Even just an acknowledgement that she got it.
I felt a bit unsure whether she’d got my email with the drawings or whether she was annoyed by their neediness or something – even though we’d agreed they could send their pictures.
Luckily I had a session at 6:30 pm that evening so it’s not like I had to wait to find out.
Sienna had received the drawings. She thanked me for them and said they were great. That it had reminded her of her work as a play therapist with a child who could only communicate inside the play tent and with puppets- so 2 steps away from face to face communication. It was the only way the child felt he could speak.
I totally understand that. The adult version of that I think is text and email – needing that step away from face to face. We’ve used puppets in my session and still it’s too close, I/or the child parts am not able to use play or puppets to communicate. But I think a large part of this is the inability for the parts to let go and just play, because that was never their function. And also, the adult parts of me and the editor part is so present, that I am unable to let loose and let the children properly come out. I always speak for them, they rarely talk for themselves. I have SO much shame for being an adult yet sometimes in a child place that I cannot allow it out. It’s one of the biggest sticking points in my therapy. I just can’t let go and let the young parts come out…. And I don’t even know if they know how to anyway?
So yeah it was interesting to hear that other “real” children need the use of a tent for safety and containment. And that they need things like blankets and pillows and enclosed tent spaces in order to speak of the awful things.
Similarly, I’ve noticed in the past that my child parts want to whisper a lot, there’s something about projecting my voice outwards that is too scary for them. And often, even then, only tell big secrets when cuddled into Sienna.
I gave Sienna my dream book – which I have come to call “ The book of doom.” It is just page after page of horrific night terrors.
She read my dreams for that week. A new part had written. Her name is Sara and she’s 14, she only wrote a single paragraph. I’ve never been aware of her before.
I had had a panic attack that week, the first in a very long time. There was no obvious trigger. Mentally I felt relaxed. I was at home. It was just the symptoms without the obvious fear or panic. It was like my body was just doing its own thing.
She closed the “book of doom” and sighed. “ SO… Sirena B, what are we going to do with you? How are we going to help you get a bit of respite from these dreams?”
Firstly, I loved that she gave me a pet name – secondly, I have no idea what the B stand for as it isn’t my surname! LOL
I shrugged my shoulders. I have no idea how to get rid of these nightmares.
“Euthanise me.” I said jokingly.
Sienna said “ Not an option I’m afraid.”
She asked “ What do these children need to feel safe?”
I said quietly, “ I don’t know.”
Sienna suggested a bed with canopies above like a tent to help keep my safe.
I laughed and nodded slightly. The child parts loved that idea. I could feel their excitement.
I was already lying on the sofa. I’d made myself a cosy bed with my duvet cover form childhood and my favourite pillow from her room and I’d snuggled down. I’ve never done that before, like, properly lie down as if in bed. But I was SO exhausted from all the night terrors and felt so in need of containment yet unable to ask for hugs, that I just needed safety. I just needed to lie and relax and feel safe.
Tears dropped. I was feeling very sorry for myself. Battered from continuous abuse dreams.
And worse, all week, several times a day I’d been experiencing this thing, that I am not sure the cause of. But it’s like an experience or a fully submerged flashback of something I don’t know what… but it freezes me, and this growing inky blackness grows from my solar plexus up into my heart and it’s the most painful emotional nothinginess ever. And weirdly, being around other humans in those moments is excruciating and makes me feel so cut off and lonely and people are just unbearable to be around. The only thing that makes it better is to not speak, not look at people, not be near them if I can, until it passes. It only lasts a matter of minutes and then it passes.
But it’s been happening several times a day which has been awful. It’s like a severe homesick feeling, yet being around people really hurts me. I get it when I’m around people I love and feel safe with so it’s not a lack of connection that’s causing it. I would love to understand what it is.
Sienna suggested that Sara (the new part) is at the age I was when things were in pretty bad shape as she put it. She asked where I was living when I was 14.
And I can’t remember. I don’t know where I was from the ages of 10-16. I was in between my mum and dad’s and grandparent’s. My mum moved about a lot too and I think I moved with her. But it’s all mixed up. I have no timeline for that period.
Sienna asked if I remembered any of my teachers. I remember all of them. From age 5 up to 17.
I told Sienna, I have virtually no memories of my mum before the age of 10. I have a felt sense of her being around, doing housework in the background. But no memories of doing things with her, going places.
But as I write this now, I do have some memories though it is shadowy. My dad feels much more concrete in my memories.
I am wondering, what part was in this session because whoever it was had no memories of mum.
Sienna asked if I wanted to do a timeline and see what we could put together. I wasn’t fussed but I said “yeah if u want.”
My memories of school were pretty sharp. Yet when asked where I was living or how I got to school??? I dunno?
I hate talking about that time and it’s always makes me dissociate quite badly.
Speaking about it this time though, even though I felt the floaty-ness of dissociation, I managed mostly to stay present. Progress.
Sienna commented that it was no wonder my immune system just packed up after the amount of cortisol and adrenaline coursing through my body in my teen years. That I’d literally just survived the years until I could get out on my own.
I cried. I cried for the loss of a time that’s supposed to be so much fun and so free and instead all I was doing was surviving. There was SO much neglect. I cried because my family seemed to make it deliberately hard for me just to live. Why did they do that?
Sienna expressed how angry she felt about what I’d been through. But she was so glad and proud of my strong survival instinct. She said I didn’t need to fear going back to that place ever again because I had survived it and I had people around me now who believed in me and kept me safe and could be trusted.
Sienna said “ I almost feel like…I have you on a piece of elastic, and you can go to those dark places as and when you need to visit it but you’re not staying there, you’re not getting lost there, because I’ve got hold of you on a string and I’m not letting you go. I’ll pull you back when you’re getting too deep or stuck back there.”
I smiled. It was a lovely thing to say and I hope it’s true.
When I’d went into my session, I’d really needed physical containment, I just wanted to cuddle in and feels safe but I couldn’t ask for it for some reason. I hate that.
Despite that though, I left feeling very loved and cared for. And I knew I was seeing her on Thursday anyway and that I had the daily check ins if I needed them. So I felt good leaving.
The young parts, even though they hadn’t came out, had been around and they just felt so happy and loved. They sent her another picture.