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, blogging, dissociative identity disorder, Girl blogger, health, journal, mental health, mental health awareness, therapist, therapy, trauma, Uncategorized, Wellbeing

Finally, a home for love.

Banner Girl in therapy (3)

I had my session on Tuesday this week. And… I did NOT tape my session! ARGH I hate when I do that.

As a result I have very limited memory of the session – good old dissociation/switching.

I have looked back at messages I sent my friend from after my session so I have a vague memory of what happened.

The night before, Sofia (age 18) had been out and about and had been in a really good but silly mood. So, I was telling Sienna about it and what had made Sofia laugh so much, and I switched into Sofia there. I/she was animated, and dramatic and sarcastic, sassy and cynical but in a funny way.

Sienna asked to see what I’d brought with me, and I got my dream book out. I’d had a horrendous dream at the weekend and so as Sienna read, I snuggled down on the sofa under my covers. I got quiet…. And Sofia disappeared and god knows who came in.

Sienna spoke to me about the dream and the meaning of it, about the child parts who weren’t seen back then.

I listened, nodded, but had switched into a child part. I was exhausted having not slept well that day/night. I lay my head on the arm of the sofa.

I think Sienna commented about me looking like I just needed a story read to me as I lay there. I nodded in agreement.

I don’t know why, I don’t remember. But Sienna came over to cuddle me. I scooted over to her and under her arm and lay there. I think I was crying but I’m not sure why? Sienna tucked a tissue under my face, sort of between my face and her body.

I said “ Sorry, did I get tears on you?” and raised my head slightly.

Sienna said “ No, no, don’t worry, I don’t mind tears on me, I just don’t want your snot on me!!!” She laughed.

I feigned surprise and mild indignation “ Why? What’s wrong with my snot?”

I didn’t have any snot anyway, what she talking about? I settled back into her arms.

We just lay there. Contented silence. It felt warm and restful. I closed my eyes.

Not asleep, but sleepy. Safe.

I heard Sienna’s heartbeat slow and felt her head become heavy as it leaned on mine. She was sort of dozing too I think. I love those moments. Quiet, peaceful, calm, mutually trusting…. Loving.

I love that she feels comfortable enough to cuddle and doze with me. I hope she gets something lovely from it too. I hope it fill her up the way it does me. I wish I knew if it did.

We basically lay like that until the end of session and I left easily. I was still in quite a childlike place though and didn’t really switch out of it that night. I went to bed shortly after I got home.

I was in my favourite jammies, snuggled under two duvets which gave enough weight to make me feel super safe, and my Cleo cat cuddly toy. I was still in child mode clearly! I drifted off to sleep in a happy cloud of oxytocin, feeling loved and safe and with the words of my therapist in my ear “ You are safe now. It’s 2018 and you are loved and you are safe.”

I got THE best sleep I’ve had for some time.

For the past couple of weeks, I think, I have felt such a sense of connectedness to Sienna. And this week, is no different. I have floated on a dreamy cloud of attachment-y loveliness all week. There’s this feeling of deep and soft affection for Sienna. I love her. She loves me. I can feel it all.

This is new- to be able to hold all that positive stuff inside of me. I don’t recall ever being able to hold onto the connection for this long. Ever.

In 7 years of therapy (not concurrently, and with different therapists. ) I have never been able to hold onto the good feelings, the “warm fuzzy” stuff. I would drain from me in minutes at first and I would soon find myself starving for more and doubting and pulling apart the warm connecting moments as “fake” or “a lie probably”.

I had no place within me that could hold love and care. It just drained out of me, like sand through a sieve.

Eventually, I could hold onto it a bit longer, but love and care often triggered a whole bunch of other hypervigilant symptoms including anger and fear and that would soon overtake the warmth and care I’d been given.

It felt so unfair. I desperately wanted to hold onto the gifts of love that my therapists would bestow me with and I just couldn’t, it slipped out my hands so quickly…. Within minutes of leaving them usually.

It’s so sad that I couldn’t hold onto love. That I had no place to put it and so it melted away, like a snowflake in the palm of my hand.

So, anyway, these past 2 weeks have felt amazing in many ways. To finally be able to hold onto the love. To reap the benefits of love and care and belonging. I keep getting an “ oxytocin dump” in my brain every few hours. Like I am hooked up to an intravenous drip of the stuff.

And every-time I get a wave of it, I just feel all the love and connectedness all over again. It makes me feel safe and happy and real. I feel real. Not a ghost anymore.

Best.Drug.EVER.

To explain about Oxytocin, it’s most often referred to in childbirth and breastfeeding. It’s the social bonding hormone.

More recently, oxytocin has been suggested to be an important player in social behaviour.

In the brain, oxytocin acts as a chemical messenger and has been shown to be important in human behaviours including sexual arousal, recognition, trust, anxiety and mother–infant bonding. As a result, oxytocin has been called the ‘love hormone’ or ‘cuddle chemical’.

Many research projects are undertaken, looking at the role of oxytocin in addiction, brain injury, anorexia and stress, among other topics.”

http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/oxytocin/

It has taken 7 years of therapy (3.5 with Sienna), 7 years of the constant drip drip drip of connection, unconditional positive regard and care to finally be able to hold Sienna in mind. To know that I am held in mind and I can finally hold onto the love, there’s a home for it now.

I have no idea if it will stay. Will I always be able to hold onto it? Does it depend on which alter is out? I don’t know yet, time will tell.

An affect of this being able to hold the love and trust and care within is that it was triggered Keira (aged 5) to be out more.

Last week she actually showed up in therapy in the last 30 mins. She snuggled in with Sienna and she babbled about childish stuff; the snow, glitter, story books, cuddly toys, imagining if flowers had coloured lights that came on at night….you know… the usual. LOL

Usually I talk for Keira. I rarely let the child parts out quite so fully. I feel a lot of shame about having child parts cos let’s be real – it’s just weird, to watch a grown-ass adult descend into a 5 year old.

And so, I let them talk but generally try to keep my voice and words somewhat adult. It’s been a huge stumbling block in my therapy, because Sienna wants the children to come out and play properly and I won’t/can’t allow it.

It’s not that I don’t want to allow it. But the shame of it and the sheer habit of keeping those parts secret makes it almost impossible.

So, it was quite a big thing that I let Sienna see Keira. It’s a good thing, it’s progress. Yet afterwards the teen parts just cringed and felt angry.

I had a teen part (don’t know who) who kept popping up last week feeling suicidal, wanting to die, feel SO bloody ashamed of being part of a system of alters. She didn’t want to be part of anything. She wanted to be one person, not some weirdo who acts like a baby.

She was hard to resist. Her need to self-harm was strong. If she wasn’t allowed to die, then at least she wanted to hurt herself a lot. But I wouldn’t allow it. I hate self-harm marks. But it was hard to contain this teens need to destroy herself.

The teens overwhelm and shame has subsided now. Thank goodness.

But Keira, well, She’s been about a lot this week.

She’s an attach part. She hold trauma but doesn’t really speak much about it, but her drawings speak volumes of what she’s been through.

She ADORES Sienna, she wants to be with Sienna all the time. She just wants hugs all the time and needs a lot of reassurance from Sienna. Though, even Keira has progressed slightly and is a lot more secure with Sienna. Though it is still easy for Keira to become anxious, scared and in need.

The effect of being able to hold love and trust within us, has meant Keira has wanted more of it. She’s become quite…. I use the word “ floppy”, because she sort of becomes like an overtired infant who just wants to cuddle into mummy. She seems sort of sleepy and fractious and a bit moany. She feels the love too and just wants more of it.

This week Keira has felt all the love we are able to hold within us now. And she loves it. But she’s also been a very sad little girl because she thinks Sienna doesn’t like her and it hurts her heart and makes her cry, because she loves Sienna and she can’t stay away from her. And the other alters have to go to therapy and therefore so does she and she doesn’t know what to do about that.

For a long time I’ve been aware that Keira triggers Sienna.

Sienna has always encouraged Keira to come to sessions and play. She has always spoken affectionately of Keira and spoken to Keira directly if there’s a sense she might be around (but not fully out)

Keira hears Sienna’s encouragement and warmth and finally figures it might be okay to come out and speak and then sends Sienna needy texts. Sometimes that’s okay but if we catch Sienna on a day where she’s super busy and focused on other things and/or stressed, then Keira gets a blunt, frustrated tone that Keira interprets as anger and hate and then she feels confused because Sienna said she was allowed to talk.

Then the teens take over and blast Sienna for being a moody bitch and a shit therapist to boot. And there we have a meltdown, a rupture that takes a long time to sort through. It’s awful.

After our last big rupture, which I can’t even remember what it was about, Sienna and I finally had a frank conversation about what was going on.

Sienna finally saw what I’ve known and she’s denied for a long time – she is triggered by Keira’s level of need.

It is Keira’s level of need that overwhelms Sienna and irritates/triggers her at times if it isn’t contained in the therapy room.

I am not fully clear on what the triggered feelings and thoughts are that Sienna gets, and I’m not sure it would be helpful to hear her negative transference.

But I know that Sienna has been working on it a lot in her supervison, though I don’t know the details. But basically the trigger response is to do with Sienna’s relationship with her mother as little girl and something Keira does or is, feeds into that for Sienna.

As a child, Sienna was/had to be very independent and so I think neediness irritates her or something. I’m not sure the full details. But I get it. Adult me really gets it, because I get trigger responses to other people’s needs if they feel manipulative or poor me or victim based. I can’t stand it!

I can understand that the emotional manipulation or victim stance some people use isn’t intentional, or conscious usually. It doesn’t come from a bad place and I don’t hate them as people, but I hate the behaviour and I get very triggered by it because that’s what my mum is like.

So, I get it. This is Sienna’s history, her “stuff”, and it’s not personal. And also I understand that the triggered response only happens outside of session when Sienna is immersed in her own life and not got her “therapist hat” on.

She’s explained that she doesn’t feel the negative transference in sessions because she’s fully “there” focused on me in my time.

Adult me gets it totally and is okay with it. But Keira… she’s 5 and does NOT get it.

She sees it very black and white. She thinks Sienna doesn’t like her and pretends in the sessions to like her cos that’s her job. She doesn’t understand how Sienna can get so angry at her when all she wants is Sienna’s reassurance or love.

She sees it as “ I know you don’t like me but I like you.”

It’s so sad.

Keira is so full of love for Sienna. It explodes out of her little full-up heart. And she feels so forlorn when she thinks about Sienna not liking her back.

When Keira is fronting, I literally can’t get my head around the whole “ she doesn’t feel triggered in sessions cos it’s contained.” And also the “ Sienna loves me even if she feels triggered, or frustrated with me”.

It’s so strange, to simultaneously have 2 parts fronting an adult who gets the shades of grey and the nuances of relationships and the child who sees it as either love or hate.

You’d think I’d be used to it by now.

Last week, in session, Keira was around but adult me was at the front. I guess Keira was co-piloting!

Adult me did the talking but it was Keira asking…. “ Do you like Keira?”

Sienna nodded. “ Yes. I like her very much.”

Keira said “ But she makes you angry.”

Sienna said “ Well, I don’t often know it’s her who’s texting me and if I’m elsewhere- busy, then I get frustrated sometimes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love her. And I’ve explained before about the trigger aspect and it’s something I’ve been working a lot on in supervision.”

We had a whole conversation about it and then Keira came out fully and went and sat with Sienna, quite happily.

But Sienna’s comment about working on it a lot in supervision stuck with me. And I’ve been brooding on it a lot lately.

Like, is it so huge? Her negative transference toward me that she’s had to do a lot of work in supervision about it?

I feel that familiar paranoia sense when you know people have been talking about you and it probably isn’t flattering. Part of me really want to know exactly how Sienna feels when she’s triggered around me, yet I imagine if it was very bad, that it would destroy my trust in her and probably break my heart a bit. So, it’s probably better not to know the details.

What Sienna feels when triggered, isn’t representative of how she feels 99% of the time towards me. So what good is there in hearing her triggered thoughts? But yeah, it does hurt to imagine her feeling deep anger or dislike for me.

So Keira has been hanging onto that part of the conversation and worrying about it and not understanding it all.

She finally wrote a letter to Sienna on Friday before our check-in and Sienna and I had a really important conversation because Keira switched in and asked the big questions that we’ve always wanted to ask but always been terrified of the answers.

Keira is one brave little girl!!

I will write more about that soon.

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