I got some replies to my last post that really made me think. And my replies turned into a novel. The first is from Cat, and the second is from Sirena. All of you give me so much support, and often you give me a lot to think through, I am very grateful for my bloggy friends.💟xx
I don’t know if this will help the little girl at all or not, but this is what helped me to understand that being more present while doing therapy work was in the best interest of the young traumatized parts… If I don’t keep part of me in the here and now while doing the work, then all of me keeps on reliving the trauma. When I keep some of me here, then the young traumatized parts slowly start to learn that today is different, they aren’t being abused even when there are memories of abuse. It is so important for them to learn that what is going on on the inside is a memory, not a current event, because there is a positive change in brain function when that happens. Even the over the top, crazy powerful emotions are memories. Nothing in your current life is making you feel that terrified, that ashamed, that (fill in the blank).
This makes sense. It really does. It just doesn’t feel safe. And I don’t know how to convince myself that it is safe enough to try this. There is this big huge disconnect between what the grownup part of me thinks and the little girl feels. I don’t know. But I am glad you put this all into words, explained it….kind of humanized it. Maybe if I read it enough the little girl will start to internalize it. Bea says the little girl needs to observe the grown up’s process and the way it works so that she can trust the grown up to make good choices for the whole of me.
We started out in tiny doses. Feel the feelings for a minute. Then it on it’s own stretched longer and longer. Learning to tolerate the feelings is incredible hard. As you say, you dissociate them because you cannot bear to experience them. But there are rewards. Feeling really present and going for a walk outside and feeling like you are really seeing the world for the first time can create such feelings of overwhelming joy that you are alive. Being able to be more present with your daughter, both for the good times and the difficult times.
But….if I can name my feelings now, when before I had no idea if I was feeling anything, and I can cry and be aware I am crying, isn’t that something? You are saying the same things Bea is saying, but I don’t understand! I’m more present and aware than I was a year ago– than I was even 6 months ago. Why isn’t that enough?
There is a book that I would love to recommend, but I fear that you would find it too “shrinky”. I didn’t find it too technical and distancing, but it is about dissociation, how it works, and ways to deal with it so life is more livable.
You can recommend shrinky books. Oddly enough, I actually love shrinky, technical books. It’s only when my therapist behaves in a shrinky way that I get panicked. But, thank you (so much, you have no idea how touched I am that you were aware and respected my fears around shrinky) for being careful with shrinky.
Alice, I know that you are angry at Bea for changing things and that change is incredibly scary for you. She is asking you to mess with what may have been your primary coping mechanism for most of your life. “Don’t feel”. The thing is that she wouldn’t be responsible if she didn’t try to help you start to move forward in this area because you could be doing things in a way that is reinforcing rather than weakening the trauma response.
I know. I really do know. And I don’t want to be angry with her. I hate that I am angry with her. It scares me, as much as the idea of changing things does, maybe more so. She says this isn’t about change, but about the most effective help she can give me. But the bratty part of me just wants to retort back “how effective is it if I am afraid to say or do anything because I don’t trust you anymore because you changed everything?!?” I won’t say that, because I’m too afraid od what will happen. But….well. You know.
I have been through this a lot with my therapist, myself. The problem is that if you talk about the trauma or some part of it while you are only in a trauma state, it is reinforcing the wiring in the brain that everything about it is dangerous. I know that for me it was that the emotions were dangerous, the body sensations were dangerous, talking, breathing, connecting, just simply connecting when it was really bad.
Yes. It all feels scary. It makes me want to camp out in my closet forever. But I can’t do that because of Kat. If not for her, I would. But I’m sort of in that place of desperately searching for my bubble because I am afraid of all of this…..
But when I started to do the dual awareness thing in session, all of that started to shift. It can sound really cold to take out all of the human stuff and reduce it down to what is going on neurologically, but when brains are put in traumatic situations over and over, particularly starting when they are young, it the right sort of convincing to get them to stop responding as if the trauma is happening in the present.
Maybe I need the human stuff taken out to make it feel safer. I don’t know. I don’t know what I need. I keep thinking dual awareness, isn’t that why she sent me to yoga? Why isn’t that enough? I don’t understand why everything I have already worked so hard to be able to do isn’t enough.
It hadn’t occurred to me before, but I’m sure that it isn’t a coincidence that the frequency and intensity of the flashbacks drastically reduced, starting around the time I started to be able to get the dual awareness thing to work.
This is something to think about. You have a point, and I am really glad the intensity of your flashbacks reduced, because you don’t deserve to keep reliving those awful things.
I hope that I haven’t gone on too much.
You gave me a lot to think about. It’s why this reply turned into a post!
I’m sorry that some of what I said probably is pretty uncomfortable for you. I’m sorry that your little girl has good reason to be suspicious of change and to fear being silenced or abandoned in some way. (The best thing that I can suggest for that is to talk about it with Bea as much as you need to and maybe even to just acknowledge it whenever it comes up. There is a lot of power in having your fears heard and respected.)
I am always so afraid to bring the same things up again and again. I have this belief that if it has been discussed once, it can not be discussed again. I feel like Bea and I have been working with that this week, because I’m not done talking about the changes she wants to make. And I am so not done talking about the changes my mom has made. But I feel like I am breaking a rule by bringing it up again and again. Bea says she isn’t upset at me bringing it up again and again, that it feels like part of the process. But writing this out, I just realized how much of a belief I hold in not bringing things up more than once, and how hubby reinforces that, and how I probably need to tell Bea about this “rule” in my head.
Sometimes I seriously hate the little girl and all her fears. But I think you are right. I probably need to talk about them. She makes me feel silly– like grown ups should not be afraid of these things, or feel this way, the things the little girl does, but I feel them, and that seems shameful or embarrassing to me. And extremely hard to admit those feelings.
Many, many, many good thoughts of comfort, courage, and a sense of connection with caring others from someone who has been there all too often herself. (Cat)
Thank you. I know you have been here far too often. It is amazing to me how connected and supported and understood I feel from people in bloggy land. It’s not what I expected, but I am really grateful for everyone who gets it.
It’s not all or nothing though.
Intellectually, I know this. But I have this problem with everything being very split in my world– black or white, good or bad, all or nothing. I KNOW and understand it on a cognitive level, it just isn’t something I have managed to integrate to the feelings level, I guess.
You’re not a failure if you’re not ready for it and a success if you do try it.
I think it’s more that it feels like Bea wants this for me, so I “should” do it. I think it’s sort of like when I was growing up, if my parents wanted something for me, I did it so I could be the good daughter and remain loved and accepted. A part of me is afraid if I don’t do this, then I will be a “bad client” and Bea will fire me. I get that this logic sounds insane and isn’t logic at all, really. But that is how my mind works.
Your success in healing has nothing to do with that particular method, there’s more than one way to heal. You’ll heal because you want to not because of a technique .
Thank you for saying this. I want to heal. I really do. I am afraid sometimes, but I want it.
What I will say is that when I first started with somatic bodywork it was threatening to me too.
Would you be willing to tell me about what it was like at first? I feel a little less crazy hearing that it was threatening to you, too. I don’t want to trigger anyone (or myself right now) so I can’t fully explain, but there is a particular experience that being asked to pay attention to my body, or having someone point out things they are noticing, triggers for me. It is why we quit trying to focus on body sensations last year, and why Bea decided yoga would be good for me.
I hated it. But I very soon realised that I didn’t recognise what was going on in my body that I’d numbed it so much and I didn’t even have the vocabulary for what I was feeling.
This is me. I have no words, and don’t usually feel much anyways.
I quickly started noticing what my body was feeling and it was like having a whole new language and it gave me more control over my body.
I am afraid that noticing what my body is feeling will send me into this spiral of being out of control. I don’t understand how it makes for more control. Bea says the same thing, but it feels like that is at such odds with what I have experienced in the past.
I’ve been able to talk myself down more, it’s helped me stop full on panic attacks and sometimes stops the dissociation. It’s helped me stay grounded in the present and in my adult. And once you master that everything else feels more manageable. I’m glad I learned it. But I appreciate it’s not for everyone. (Sirena)
All of that sounds good. It’s just hard for me to match the two– feeling my body and stopping panic attacks– together. And I think the whole being more present thing really frightens me. Because I have this dissociated state I refer to as Ms. Perfect. And I like that state. I function very well in that state, things get done and I seem normal. I don’t know. I need that state. Blah.
Anyway, you both gave me a whole lot to think about– hence the post. I hope you don’t mind I turned your comments into a post, it just felt like the replies were too long. Xx