Archive for January, 2016


I have been feeling so fragmented lately. I haven’t been able to write and barely been able to comment on other people’s posts. It’s common for me when I can’t seem to settle into one state to write from. 

I have been doing art, but not much with characters since Christmas. And even with the art I felt terribly fragmented. Like one part of me was picking out colors, another painting, and yet another looking at the painting. 

I know that part of the problem is that I have felt triggered in response to some contact from my parents, starting a week or so before Christmas. They want to come visit and then take my daughter on a trip for couple of weeks. It’s so not going to happen the way that they want, but it brings up all sorts of conflict for me. 

I have had a huge resurgence of the part of me that still is completely convinced that my dad couldn’t have done the sorts of things that I seem to remember.  But then there are the young parts who really seem to remember some terrible things and I experience such relief when I am able to work with them in a way that allows those parts of me to feel heard and accepted.  And then there is “me” in the middle, feeling torn and confused. It makes no sense that what the young parts are “telling” me isn’t based in an important way on something true. It makes no sense that I would have these terribly intense physical and emotional memories of being abused, if I hadn’t been. But the part of me that is convinced that those things could not have happened to me is so compelling. It’s like it swamps everything else out. 

I go back and forth between believing that it’s a demonstration of how strong the dissociation had to be when I was growing up in order for me to make it through my every day life and being convinced that it means that at least the most severe abuse with my dad could not have happened. It’s driving me nuts. 

Normally, I would have the time to go through all of this with Mama Bear and begin to untangle myself. But between the Christmas and New Years holidays and then her going out of town for 6 days over this weekend, I have had a completely messed up schedule with her. There are four weeks in a row when she is out on one of my two regularly scheduled appointments. I protested that schedule when it came up and she was able to schedule me for Tue and Wed of Christmas week and Wed and Fri for next week. Frankly, two days back to back ended up not being enough time for me to process and move forward. As a result, by Christmas, I was a basket case. I wasn’t sleeping at night, but couldn’t stay awake and present during the day. I felt scattered between adolescent and child parts, with no clue as to where my adult was. In short, I was not functioning at all well. 

I had worked my way into, “I have to deal with this all alone. I can’t bother Mama Bear. She deserves a break. Besides, how can she help me, I’m just a messed up piece of trash.”  So I was all alone. I faked my way through a useless session on 1 1/2 hours of sleep. Mama Bear could tell that something was off, but I didn’t go into just how off I was. Finally, after several more days, I wrote to her in desperation, telling her just how badly I was doing. She wrote back and threw me a life line, but couldn’t actually talk to me because she was too sick. 

I realized that my next session needed to be about doing whatever it was that would help me get through the next 8 days before twice weekly sessions started again and I could start to develop a rhythm that would help me to feel secure. First we talked about what had kept me from reaching out for help when I was so distressed. At some point, Mama Bear asked, “Is there anything that I have done that has made things more difficult for you?”  I answered, “Yes and no.  I understand and fully support your needing breaks and needing to take time off to do things like see your son. I know that the timing of this conference was not your choice [her husband is attending a conference in the city their son lives in, so she is going along in order to spend time with their son], but it’s really terrible timing for it to follow right after the breaks. And it’s hard that the holidays make it so that you aren’t so available when I’m triggered by family contact related to the holidays.

She accepted what I said, but also pointed out that I had a reason to not contact her over the break that sounded reasonable and adult on the surface, but really was self punitive. I have contacted her on Christmas before, I could have done so this time. I knew that she was right, one of the advantages of having a Jewish therapist is that it isn’t such a big deal to contact her on major Christian holiday. She asked, “C., what really kept you from contacting me?

I was shocked by my internal answer and began to sob. It took a great deal of effort and a bit of help from her, but eventually I was able to share,”I’m afraid that I will get from you what I need the way that I didn’t get it as a child and can’t get it now from my mother. I’m afraid that it will make my heart break.”

“Can you tell me more about why it would make your heart break?

If you didn’t mind my being a nuisance and needing you at a bad time, it would hurt so much because I needed for my mom to be ok with my needing her in ways that were a problem for her.  She couldn’t do that. I don’t see any evidence that she can do that now.”  I felt like I was crying out the deepest grief and hurt while Mama Bear sat there with me. 

When my crying began to ease up, Mama Bear said, “There is a lot more for us to talk about with this. We have about 15 minutes left, I just want to check and make sure that there isn’t anything else that you need to talk about in this session.

I took a deep breath and braced myself because I had come to the session knowing that I needed help beginning to explore a difficult question.  “Actually, yes, there is something. It’s big, though, and I know that it’s something that I will have to keep on coming back to, but I need to start to ask the question. What if my dad really did do the things that I think I remember him doing?”

You know, you don’t have such trouble believing that your grandfather abused you… Even if your father didn’t touch you sexually, you have been clear for a long time that you don’t trust him and that something was wrong between the two of you.”

I interrupted her, “That’s not what I’m trying to talk about. I mean, what does it mean to me if he really did those things?  How do I learn how to live with it?  I understand that it’s all his fault, but somehow it still seems like something that is impossible to live with. Those things were so horrible!  What does it mean about me that they happened to me?  It’s like inside I’m convinced that it would be impossible for me to live with it all!”

She gently said, “But if the things that you seem to remember really did happen, you survived them and you have been living with them.

No! That wasn’t me!  That was the other me!!!”

She radiated compassion as she firmly said, “C, it’s all you.”

I sobbed as I clung to her hand and protested, “I know that!  And I don’t know that!  It’s so hard and complicated!

She let me continue to cry for a bit more and then told me, “You are right. We are going to need to talk about this a lot more. But right now, you need to start to transition so you will be able to safely leave my office.

I have been doing somewhat better since Tuesday. At least I have been able to reach out for email contact when I needed to. But I still felt very off and fragmented. 

Finally, this evening, things shifted. I painted my first character since Christmas and it felt like something healed in my heart while I painted her. I feel lighter and freer than I have in weeks. I wasn’t thinking anything in particular while I painted her, but, for whatever reason, it is clear to me that her title is “Integrity”.  I’m not sure if that somehow refers to integration or if it means that it is a core characteristic for her. But I know that she represents some important aspect of me and that aspect represents the strength and courage that will get me through this next phase of work. 

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