The teens I wrote about last week seem to have settled down a bit now.
They are still around, and rise up from time to time but it’s much more subtle, I think.
I feel like I’ve been dissociated lately. Last week feels like a huge blur that I can’t seem to remember much of.
I spoke with Sienna on Friday in our check in, yet I have no idea what about and stupidly, the call hasn’t recorded so I have no way to know. However, having just looked at my Whatsapp messages with my friend last week, it looks like I struggled hard all week and my level of body pain – throbbing bone pain was immense (directly correlated to the level of trauma in my body) and when I told Sienna that in my check-in, she asked if I hadn’t remembered that I could have check ins when I need them?
I told her I had remembered, sort of. Like intellectually I knew I could, as that is our routine and our agreement. But my struggles last week with the teens mistrust and anger, meant that they either didn’t want to speak with Sienna or it didn’t occur to them to ask. And adult me felt so swamped with their fluctuating moods, it was almost like I was so busy sort of watching these fragmented teen parts swing from mood to mood that I just didn’t get as far as thinking “ enough is enough, time for a check in.”
But more than that. Another part of me, another adult part felt like I didn’t want to ask for check ins because they’ve been pretty frequent over the past few months due to the depth of the work that we are doing. And I feel like, if I can cope myself, I should do that. I don’t want to overuse the check-in thing. Besides, I’d used me and Sienna’s private blog space to write to her about what’s going on with these teen alters, who is there and what they’re struggling with. What more was there to say?
And another reason I didn’t give in and ask is that the teens mood was so somatic based – ie all in my body, all felt in the form of urges to self-harm or just fluctuating moods, or feelings tense or like I wanted to flee or collapse into myself and withdraw. There wasn’t an awful lot of words attached to it. I didn’t have a narrative as to why I felt like I was struggling. There was no particular reason, nothing that I could identify that would help or make me feel better, nothing Sienna could do to make it better, so why ask for a check in when talking would feel like such a struggle?
In the check in, I did manage to tell her the teens were around. What had been happening, and that the teens don’t like therapy, they don’t want to come. That their trust in her isn’t there.
Sienna asked if she was speaking with one of the teens? I said “ No, but they’re here.”
Sienna said “ Well, I want to tell the teens that I AM a safe person. And I AM always going to be here when I say I will. And therapy is a safe place for them to come and talk if they want to. And I hear that they don’t want to come and are annoyed about having to turn up. But they need to know that therapy is non-negotiable. They are not allowed to not turn up, because there’s other parts, younger parts who really need me and get upset when they can’t see me. And Sirena, the adult, knows that and she knows how important therapy is for all of you and SHE wants therapy too.
So, the teens, you can kick and stomp and throw all your toys out the pram about it. You can hate therapy and hate me, but bring it to session, I want to hear it. It’s okay to not want to be there. But it’s not okay not to turn up.”
I listened. The teens were listening and grumbling.
Sienna asked “ What are they doing right now?”
I said “ Nothing, they’re listening. And not entirely impressed with what you just said.” I laughed.
Sienna and I talked some more about the teens. And Sienna said she thought the teens had turned up as a response to the work we’ve been doing lately. They’ve turned up as a defence and it’s something we’ve seen before. That when there’s perceived threat, the child parts are defended by teen parts.
It hadn’t occurred to me that that’s why this new batch turned up but it seemed very possible.
The child parts have disappeared. They’ve been extremely quiet lately. I’ve felt some of their need for proximity to Sienna from time to time but it’s fleeting.
In one of our sessions recently, Sienna suggested we start to work more somatically, that is with the body. That we need to pay more attention to what my body is doing, and to find ways to release the trauma I am storing.
The mere suggestion of it made my anxiety rise and I dissociated pretty quickly.
I felt like a helpless bystander as I watched my body’s process almost from the outside, immediately turn to fight or flight. My mouth dried up, my heart has palpitations, I wanted to run. I felt agitated and scared and tearful, yet I stayed rooted to my seat.
I was able to explain a bit what was happening. But I was gone. Dissociated. Floating somewhere else.
I was able to tell Sienna that it was strange to have that reaction because I’ve known for a long time that that’s where the work needs to go. And I do feel safe to do that work with Sienna. But the I don’t feel safe when I imagine connecting with my body, with paying attention to it. The idea of it seems okay, cos I get it, I get the importance of it. Yet my body simultaneously senses danger at the mere idea of bodywork.
We decided that we’d take it very slowly. I asked if we could maybe do the body work on the weeks I have two sessions because I feel safer in those weeks. And also, maybe give me some notice of the type of exercises we might be doing so that I have time to process. Sienna said that was a great idea.
I explained to her that last year when she tried to do some body work with me, which entailed me lying on the floor had really impacted me. At the time I was so upset and dissociated after a really bad flashback at my Dr’s surgery, that I was compliant with Sienna’s requests but I hadn’t felt able to tell her that it felt traumatising. That having her above me scared me and made me feel terrible but I couldn’t say.
I told her that because I trust her and know cognitively that she’s safe, I will probably always do what she asks, but it still feel traumatising and I can’t say no. And that scares me. Even now over a year later, I still get a sick feeling when I remember lying down on that floor on my back, with Sienna sitting above me. I was crying so hard at the time but I couldn’t say stop. And it feels yucky.
She said that’s exactly why we take it slow and start with very small movements, like with moving my jaw or something. This exercise is linked to the polyvagal nerve which is responsible for the nervous system amongst other things. So, relaxing the jaw, unclenching my teeth can send a message to the polyvagal nerve that there’s no danger and in turn calms my nervous system.
I want to do this work, it’s important and it’s where we need to go. But it’s gonna be tough.
In my check in call, Sienna also suggested that all this upset with the teens is maybe a reaction to the upcoming break. Again, it hadn’t occurred to me. I have known there is going to be a break over Xmas as Sienna attends an important family event this year.
But I hadn’t thought that maybe subconsciously I am starting to get anxious about the break.
It was like a lightbulb moment, and I suddenly realised that it’s almost December and I still don’t know for sure the exact dates.
Sienna said we could talk about it and firm up the dates on Monday. But I was immediately anxious and asked her to tell me now. She confirmed a two week break. My heart sank. UGH.
I will be fine. In fact, part of me feels like I need a break. Yet there’s a whole lot more of me that just doesn’t want the disruption and the separation.
So many feelings about this particular break that I will need to process soon.
So that’s where I am at.
This week’s session proved to be hugely impactful for me and resulted in a bit of a trauma release from my body and I’ve been utterly exhausted ever since. I am gearing up to write about it because it feels important.
Watch this space…