Sensorimotor Psychotherapy & Sleep

Wednesday night was a rough night, and on Thursday night, when I felt myself begin to get anxious, and struggle to think, I emailed Bea. I told her I was just checking she was there, and she responded quickly, that yes, she was there. We ended up discussing the bad night, and she suggested that one option to try to get some relief from all of this uncomfortably somatic stuff would be to try SP. I responded with a maybe, and Monday morning when I arrived at Bea’s office, I felt okay with this idea of trying SP. 

After a brief discussion with Bea double checking that I felt okay with doing SP, she asked me to talk about what I do to get ready for bed. 

“I don’t know. I just…well you know. Didn’t we talk about this already?” I ask her. 

“Yes, we did, last week. I thought that might be a good starting place, though, so you can get into the headspace of what is is like for you at night.” She explained. 

“Okay,” I nodded, and then I took her through Kat’s bedtime routine and how I put off going to bed. 

And then it all fell apart. She asked me to stop telling the story of getting ready for bed and to check in with what was coming up now. Adult me was okay with that, maybe even a little bit curious about this whole process of SP. The little girl through, she was hurt. She had thought she was going to get to talk about the flashbacks and nightmares, the memories and feelings that keep coming up. She wasn’t even sure she could tell it, but she had thought that was the idea behind discussing bedtime. From that point forward, I struggled to be present, to talk to Bea, to even hear her. I vacillated between wanting to try to follow the rules of SP, and just trying not to cry because my feelings were hurt. Bea remarked that she could tell I was having trouble staying present, and she talked about what kinds of words might describe things we notice when we check in. She also shared that I might not notice or be able to label anything, and that was okay. At some point, she suggested that maybe the work today was trying to stay here and sit with whatever was coming up.

I’m pretty sure a decent chunk of time went by, with me not talking. Maybe a half hour, maybe more. This used to be the norm in my sessions, but now I talk, or try to talk, or give Bea my not book. I don’t usually flat out stop communicating. I remember Bea asking me if I could feel what I feel at night time, at bedtime, or of it was more that I know what I feel at bedtime, so I was thinking about it, but those feelings weren’t present at this moment. I shrugged. I was too far away to feel anything. She persisted, though, and I eventually snapped at her that I had to go far away so that I wouldn’t have to feel like that again. I didn’t want to feel those scary feelings, and as long as I could stop them, I would. 

Bea seemed pleased with this information, and shared that she felt that information was important. I might have discussed this with her, more, I’m not sure. I honestly don’t remember much of that session. Towards the end, she asked me what I had thought, how the session had felt for me. I shrugged, unable to speak. Bea said she felt like we had gotten some important information. She talked about now this is a typical SP session, how the beginning of it works. She explained we would typically discuss what was happening in the present moment, what was coming up, and then there would be an experiment to help process what had come up, or some kind of resourcing, or whatever and those things were typically some sort of movement. 

I remember telling her that I wasn’t sure, I didn’t know, that I needed to sort my thoughts. She said okay, and gave me space, and I rushed to pack my things and leave. I didn’t want to be there anymore. 

It took me until Tuesday late afternoon to fully sort my thoughts, and even then, they weren’t extremely coherent or well organized. 

Bea,

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of thought sorting. I wanted to email yesterday or earlier today, but I just didn’t have things sorted enough in my own mind to put ideas and thoughts into sentences and onto paper. I’m honestly still not sure I have anything sorted. I did a lot of writing in my notebook, and a took a few walks with no music and no audiobook– just my own thoughts. Which I don’t really do lately. I more or less try to avoid thoughts and feelings as much as possible these days. 

Anyway. There’s so many parts with so many different feelings around SP that it’s overwhelming and confusing and I end up unsure what I really think or feel, almost as if there are too many conflicting thoughts and feelings for any of them to be “real” or “right” or “true”. It’s really hard to sort that out, and to try to make sense of any of of it. 

I can see where talking about going to bed, and the feelings or thoughts that go with that, and then stopping talking about that and seeing what is happening right then, right in the moment during therapy and talking about that present moment makes sense. I can see where it might help, or at least where it won’t hurt, or make things worse. But that is all grown up, logical Alice. If I am logical about it, it makes sense, it’s a good idea, it could be very helpful. (And, having an ah-ha! moment…..maybe, because SP only makes sense to me in this very cognitive, logical way, maybe that is partly why I always believe you to be more in the thinking part of your brain and not feeling…..) The thing is though, feeling wise……intuitively wise…..I don’t know what word I’m looking for….I just, I know in my head that SP is a good thing, but the rest of me, everything in me is screaming “No way. Just no. This is not an okay thing, I do not like this. Just no. No.” 

Maybe it’s because I spend so much time working to not feel the things SP asks you to let in (small piece of those feelings, or not, it’s still feelings I work so hard to avoid and now I’m supposed to let them in. Do you get how absolutely terrifying that is?), or maybe it’s because my automatic defense is to go far away, and with SP I’m not supposed to go so far. I mean, that’s really just SP butting right up against the very thing that makes me feel safe. 

Maybe it’s because the little girl feels disconnected from you anytime SP is brought up. I wrote a lot from her perspective, because it really does seem to be the little girl who isn’t okay with SP. There’s a teen part in the mix too, but I’m not sure where she stands. Maybe she doesn’t know. I do think she is there to keep the little girl safe. I think she’s still angry about things changing? I don’t know. ugh. 

So. I’m not sure where that leaves us. Because grown up me is willing to try SP, and wants it to work because I am tired. I’m tired like I need to sleep, but I’m also tired like tired of being scared every night, tired of panic attacks before bed, tired of nightmares and pictures in my head that play on a loop and feelings I can’t get rid of. I’m tired of all of it. Of course, body stuff scares me, and it does make me want to go far away, because I don’t want feel those things, but I want to try. I don’t want to give up after the first *real* try. But clearly, the little girl is not on the same page. She wants nothing to do with SP or body stuff. Nothing at all. Everything in her is saying not okay, not happening. 

So where does that leave me? Because I’m conflicted and confused and while I’ve at least separated things out a bit, it’s really all twisted up inside me, and I feel like I can’t make sense of it, like I don’t have a clue as to what I want. Ugh. This is really frustrating for me. Normally, I’d probably try to push the little girl’s thoughts aside and just follow what the grown up me thinks, because that’s what seems “right, or appropriate” or something, but we agreed I was going to try to speak up before things fall apart like they did in December, so I’m trying that. But it is a very vulnerable and nerve wracking feeling to do so. 

Okay. I think that’s all. I really have this urge to apologize for being difficult and frustrating, so instead I’m going to say thank you for understanding my craziness and putting up with me being difficult; I know you are only offering SP to help me, and I do appreciate that. 

Alice 

Alice, 

I think we need to address the little girl’s perspective tomorrow. That seems like a good place to start. I also wonder what it feels like to have the narrative cut off when we try SP? Because it’s all process and “what’s happening right now,” and it ignores the story being told on purpose. The story is just the access point to the “right now.” Being cut off from the story seems like it could bring a sense of abandonment, so I’m curious if you have any sense of that.

It sure didn’t feel thinky to me Monday–I was really caught up in the process and trying to find a way to help you stay present and access stuff. And your explanation about going away when you started to feel the caffeinated feeling was just perfect! That’s exactly what we’re looking for.

We’ll talk tomorrow!

Bea

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6 thoughts on “Sensorimotor Psychotherapy & Sleep

  1. Alice, I really hope that you can make some head way on the sleep thing because being so exhausted all of the time is a terrible feeling. I really do understand the conflict between understanding with the head (adult) that Bea is trying to help, but not experiencing it as safe or like she is helping.

    In my case, I have this huge thing about someone telling me to do things, particularly things related to my body. It’s like the belief is completely entrenched that people tell me what to do for reasons that they pretend are good for me but aren’t. The mistrust is so deep.

    As I’m writing, I realize that it’s the belief that someone will pretend to love me in order to get me to do something that I Really don’t want to. So I respond and magnify the “I don’t want to” response because it seems like it’s trying to help keep me safe. But it makes me feel more unsafe than I need to, actually. So confusing and convoluted.

    I don’t know if any of this sounds familiar to you, but just in case, I thought that I would share it.

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    • Yes. This resonated so much with me and I meant to respond sooner but life got in the way. Something clicked when I read your words about how you gave a strong response to people telling you to do things. I think the little girl doesn’t feel safe having someone tell her to do things, and even though Bea says it is about us working together and the little girl can say no and she has a choice, in her world, she doesn’t. Ugh. It is all so confusing. How have you been?

      Like

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