Abusive Internal Messages

I’ve been doing a lot of care-taking lately. I fix people’s problems at work, I’m supporting my partner as he is dealing with his own personal issues, trying to support family through their stuff, and modding the /r/DID subreddit.

Phew.

Oh, yeah, and then there’s my own mental health.

One of my responses to the abuse, particularly as an adolescent, was to busy myself with as much extracurricular activities I could get my hands on, so as to be out of the house/neighborhood. My happiness became dependent on achieving tasks and receiving praise for all the hard work.

Today, I recognize I’m still stuck in the same pattern. Yet, I know I can do things that actually take care of my mind and body, like mindfulness and meditation. Why don’t I? I feel strange doing it. I’m not used to feeling calm and serene. It actually makes me more anxious!

Then, part of me comes forward, being judgmental. Telling me I should be able to do this by now. I should be able to manage my anxiety and my chores and my friends and my family and my work. “What is wrong with you?!”

And I realize that quote is not really this parts’ words. I’ve heard this before from my abuser, always trying to make me feel like I, a small child, was the problem. Which, of course, all small children tend to think when there is a problem.

My abuser reinforced that, and I learned to not trust my own instincts.

One of the things I forget is that I don’t need to argue with my selves anymore. I may not agree with this judgmental part, but I’m sure whatever she took on for me, it would likely help me realize, “oh, that’s why she is that way.”

I can discuss with them today. I can hold internal meetings where I can hear her thoughts and feelings. I can give her empathy.

I can do guided meditation or mindfulness, to even just give me a minute of serenity.

I don’t need to push away or avoid my parts.

And I recognize I am human. If I do slip back into avoidance, I can be brave enough to genuinely say, “I’m sorry.”

By doing this, I finally allow my mind its freedom.

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Doing Memory Work with No Memory

After my last post, I lost about 36 hours of time.  The good thing is, whoever was fronting didn’t jet off or go anywhere.  During this blank period of time, I apparently self-harmed, forgot how a cell phone works, and even talked to my therapist on said forgotten-how-this-works cell phone.

I had a 2nd session with our therapist, K. after coming out of this dissociative episode on Thursday evening.  I don’t remember much of this session   It’s really vague.  I just remember going back and forth with her on intense feelings of suicide and depression.  She kept trying to remind me that these thoughts are from a time in the past when I was being hurt, and I am safe today.

Yesterday (Friday), I stayed home from work.  I was exhausted, probably from all the switching.  Around 2pm my cell phone rang, and it woke me up.  K’s name is on the caller ID, so I answer.

“Good Afternoon, Nel, it’s K.” She cheerily says.  “Where are you?”

“Ah…hi, K.  At home.”  I groggily answer.

“And you were sleeping.” She states.

“Yah.” It doesn’t surprise me by now that she can read me through the phone.

“Then, I’m glad I called.  I was thinking you could have your regular Monday session early tomorrow (Saturday).” She says.

“What? Why?” Now I’m confused. Why is she calling me?  Why does she want me to come in early?

“Well, because now you’re missing work.  I think we should meet before Monday, so we can work a little on what’s going on, to increase the probability you won’t call out sick on Monday, too.” She responds.

“Oh.” I say, flatly.  “I guess, ok.”

“We could meet on Sunday, if you prefer.” She waits but I don’t respond, “Or if you’d rather keep your Monday session, that’s fine, too.  I just thought I’d offer.”

“No, it’s ok.  I’ll come in tomorrow.”  I say.  “I trust your opinion, so if you think coming in before Monday is important, I’ll do it.”

“Great! Since I know you’ve been sleeping so much, how about we meet in the morning tomorrow?”

I sigh, “Ok.”

“And you’ll bring your homework.” She adds.

“My homework? What homework?” I’m totally confused.  Not even a vague, ohhh yeah, she assigned homework.

“Mm-hm.” K. says. “You were going to invite Clara to do some collaging.”

“I don’t remember.”

“I know.” K. says seriously.

“This is what I hate about dissociation.  It makes me scared when I can’t remember what I’ve done.  Like, it’s not there at all.  Not even a vague recollection.”  My stomach is now curled up in knots due to the anxiety.

“Nel, I’m sorry you’re so scared.  I can only imagine how frightening it must be to not remember things you’ve done.”  She says empathetically.

As always, I’m uncomfortable receiving kind words, so I move to end the phone call.  Surprisingly, she allows me to direct the conversation this way.  But not without repeating she will see me tomorrow with homework in hand.

After the phone call, I dig up an envelope full of magazine cut-outs that I brought home from Sheppard Pratt.  I internally ask Clara if she would like to help choose some things for the collage.  I don’t get any verbal response.  I don’t even feel like she’s there.  But it’s not hard to start picking out things.

I go through 2 more magazines and pull out some more things.

Then, someone pulls out our acrylic paints.  Pink, blue, and purple gets dropped on a blank canvas page, and we go to town.  Someone makes an imaginary landscape of brightly colored trees alongside some water.  The cutouts are purposely placed above or below the water.

When we’re done, Mina and I come back forward.  I’m floored.  I have no idea who has done it, but the artwork is both beautiful and frightening.  It draws you in with its beauty and then floods you with fear.  It’s like a deception.

As if to purposely trigger.

I know I should put it away, but I want to keep looking at it.  Eventually, after a couple hours, I do place it aside.

We went to therapy this morning at 10am as promised.  We brought in the painting/collage, hugging it to our chest.  Switching is all over the place.  I switch to Clara, which I believe is in System 3, but a different layer of the system.  I switch to an O—- part in System 5, or maybe a T—- part in System 4, I’m not sure.  There’s so much deception and flooding going on, and it’s all vague to me at best.

I’m not sure what work got done, if any, and now I’m co-conscious with Mina and Meg (Meg is one of our teen protector parts).  We were so tired when we came home from the session, we managed to each a bit of rice and passed out.

I wonder if she gave me any homework.

“Allonsy!” -The Doctor

Let’s go! 

Discovering Serenity is revamped and fully live.  It’s much simpler (for the time being), and I’m quite proud of its evolution.

My first set of posts, I am going to go over some of those fancy skills I’ve been talking about (which I learned at Sheppard Pratt).  But first…an update!

I’m finally back into the swing-of-things with therapy.  The adjustment back to working with K. (our therapist), has been long and difficult.  Trust has waxed and waned.  I’ve been highly self-critical when I find myself unable to open up/trust her.

“Nel,” K. said at our last session, “Go a little easier on yourself.  Returning to therapy has been hard, and rightfully so.”

I cringe a bit, not even wanting her to allude to the fact that her abrupt leaving was detrimental.  K. has always been so supportive and unconditionally believing in me, I hate to think anything negative about her.  Then she says…

“After all, it’s been a whole year.  We’re starting over.”

Starting over.  I hadn’t thought of it that way.  But–thinking this as starting over gave the whole scenario another voice.  It silenced the inner-critic and allowed me to internalize the turn of the page to a new chapter.

Thus, how fitting it is that life has pulled me to this decision to revamp my blog.

Starting over, starting anew, one door closes and you open a window, however you want to look at it…let’s go!