Hello again. I would apologise for the abrupt ending to my last post however, it may not have been a bad thing for you, given the length of it (and the length of this one: I hope you have a cup of tea in hand... or a strong coffee might be prudent).
Today I got to the till in Tescos and loaded all my bags of shopping into the trolley only to find my card was not in my wallet and I had nothing to pay with. I had to drive all the way home to find it and go back again. I wouldn't be so annoyed if it was the first time it has happened. I wouldn't even feel so bad if it was the second time, but this has happened several times! I'd like to blame DID for this one but I don't know. I think I may just have a nasty case of carelessness. Anyway, that's just an FYI for you.
Let's go back to where we left off yesterday. I was telling you about therapy. T asked if I was happy to look at the project of trying to sub group my alters and find people who could act as spokespersons to prevent chaos. I agreed and so she handed me the pieces of paper with the descriptions I had jotted down.
I explained that I didn't feel I would ever be able to group them or know if one could speak for others so she suggested I just talk through what I had been able to come up with so far. I did well at first; sometimes being in function mode is not altogether a bad thing. T pointed out recently that I can talk about my issues at times when in function mode without feeling the intense emotions that often come with them. It's like the information is at a more intellectual level. She found this to actually be a useful thing. I don't know why it is like that sometimes but then at other times I'm so far from myself I can't engage in any reflection on alters whatsoever.
I talked through a few of the alters. I had come up with a system of labelling to identify three things about each alter:
- do they want to come out in the sessions?
- do they need to speak to T?
- are they likely to come out in the sessions?
The possible answers were: : Yes, No, Unsure, No idea.
T asked me to first tell her the ones that were a yes for all three so I talked about Ebony, Pan, Little C and Andy. I also talked about a few other parts.
T made notes and asked questions. I found it tolerable enough to talk about Pan and Little C and I didn't say much about Ebony as she already knows a bit about her.
When T read my notes about Little C she commented on the bit where I had written that Little C is scared of T but likes her. She said: 'Little C feels a bit intimidated by me?' I explained that little C is very shy and nervous of people in general. T then said: 'I think I can be a bit intimidating'.
Hold the phone...
Did T actually offer some personal information on herself on her thoughts about herself? This is huge! This is T, the one who nearly bit my head off when I asked her why she was going to be leaving for a year. The one who, when I enquired as to how her holiday went a few weeks back, was very quick to tell me that it was in the past and that she's back at work now and didn't want to dwell on it (i.e. I don't want to talk to you about my holidays so don't ask).
OK so in fairness, anyone who can claim the title 'clinical psychologist' could also rightly claim the label 'intimidating' alongside it. They could just call themselves 'intimidating psychologists'. Doesn't everyone feel somewhat intimidated by a psychologist? Isn't it that slightly irrational but inevitable fear that they somehow have the ability to look into your eyes and see every thought you've ever had (hence why I avoid eye contact with T for any longer than two seconds at a time)?
But the way she said it, it was like she was revealing an observation about herself and I kind of got the feeling that she meant she thinks she has more than just the usual amount of psychologist intimidation inducing ability.
I didn't quite know what to say. I do find T very intimidating at times. She has an air about her: she's so sure of herself and I sense that she would be quick to tell you if you overstepped a boundary. I am never sure of when I may do that, so my anxiety about doing something wrong is large. She is the clinical psychology services manager and I guess you don't get to that position without being a person with natural authority and confidence.
I didn't want to agree and say: 'Yes, you are very intimidating and it's not just Little C who thinks that.' I don't think that would have made her feel good. I didn't want to deny what she had said though because she is right, she is a bit scary. So I kind of just reiterated that Little C is very shy and that even with Adam, she can be over-sensitive. I think that was an OK thing to say, don't you?
When T was asking me about Andy I really started to struggle with myself. I could sense that Andy wanted to come out to speak to T directly but I was scared to let this happen. It always happens that when I feel an alter try to come out with T, I instinctively try to prevent it. The only way I can do this is by 'shutting down'. At worst this means dissociating. At best, it means not speaking so that nothing can be allowed to be said. If I keep my mouth shut, I will be safe. This is pretty much what happened yesterday. I was able to tell T that I was finding it difficult though and she asked me if parts were chattering inside. She wondered if Andy was upset because we were talking about him/her. I explained that it was not that Andy was upset but that he/she wanted to speak to T and I didn't want them to (I say 'he/she' because I don't know if Andy is a boy or girl. I think 'girl' but not a girly girl. Andy seems sexless to me. Neither male nor female, but doesn't mind being called either (unlike Pan who wants to be a boy)) and that this resulted in a struggle. I was also able to explain that it was very difficult for me to be faced with an awareness of parts again after almost coming to the conclusion that they didn't exist at all.
T is so understanding. I am amazed at her ability to grasp what's going on in my head. I don't think DID is her specialist subject. I think her main area of work is with autistic people; she must have just ended up with me because of my original therapist leaving, but she really gets it. It's hard to describe how great it feels to be understood at that level. Most people I know have no idea that I have DID. When I have tried to talk to people about it, I've always felt my experiences are too different from normality and it's been impossible for people to really grasp what it's like.
When I expressed that I was finding it difficult, T agreed that she had noticed I was slowing down considerably since she asked about Andy. She helped me then with some grounding exercises. I want to be a pessimist and tell you that these are a ridiculous waste of time, but I actually find them to be really helpful (apologies to any fellow pessimists; I have let the side down). I didn't find they helped me much when I started therapy with the first psychologist. I remember him telling me to be aware of my body in the chair, my back, my legs etc... I felt so exposed and part of me couldn't cope with a man saying things about my body. I remember one time him asking me to pull my shoulders back and sit tall in the chair and then he was like: 'that's gooood'. I think he was just trying to be encouraging but I felt so freaked out that he was perving at me (I have big boobs!). He asked me how I felt then and I told him I felt exposed. He seemed surprised and I think his theory was that if I sat tall, I would feel more confident. It just didn't work for me.
T uses some of the same techniques, i.e. saying to be aware of my body in the seat, but it's OK with her. I don't find this all that useful though. One thing T has started doing since the letter I wrote her a while back, is using Grace. In my letter I told her that in an emergency situation (i.e. Candy is so dissociated she can't get her to come 'back to the room') T could ask for Grace. T has now been using Grace as a way of grounding me at the end of the sessions. She asked me to visualise my safe place and I had expressed that I couldn't imagine it being safe and that no matter how hard I tried, there always seemed to be an invasion into it. T seemed a bit incredulous that my imagination could be so faulted, but if you've never felt safe, it can be hard to imagine what 'safe' feels like. Anyway, T then asked me to visualise Grace helping parts that are troubled and protecting the safe place. This worked very well, given that I know Grace is strong and not affected by the things the rest of us are affected by. She now regularly asks me to think about Grace at the end of the sessions.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, it works amazingly. Grace is so different from me that even connecting with her internally without letting her take over can be enough to bring my anxiety levels down considerably. On the other hand though, I see Grace as a last resort. I see her as a separate person (where I know the others are all 'parts' of me) and I feel like the more I rely on Grace, the more I am giving in and letting someone else take over. I also worry that I will switch in front of T and that Grace would come out and again it comes back to my fear of how T will react (will I ever get over this?) to my alters. It beats the possible alternatives though and it's incredible to feel such a sudden improvement at those times. Sometimes I wonder why I don't invite Grace here more.
So that was my session in a big nutshell. I think it was hard to become aware of alters again and that may be why I felt so rough the rest of the day. Maybe I will type up some of my notes on alters here on the blog. I'm aware that in the main it is me who posts here, although I do see the odd post by others (the very short 'hello' was Pan. He was VERY chuffed to get some responses but didn't really know how to respond, hence the smilies) but I think it would be nice for the others to feel more included here and maybe it's time I did start talking about others more as individuals and less as my 'parts'. I know they don't see themselves as others. To them, I am an 'other'.
For now, I think you should give yourself a pat on the back if you made it this far. Thank you for reading!