I want to keep documenting these sessions but it feels like it’s getting harder to do. I am turning more and more into parts of people who used to only exist as voices in my head that I would ignore. To find them speaking to someone outside my body, about things I don’t know about with body language unlike mine; truly bizarre.
Between this session and the last, a part of me started to talk out loud about something that had happened to her, a new memory, a new kind of awful thing done to me by my father. With the critic still not really happy with Psychologist J, and now this new memory, I suppose all parts of me were becoming overwhelmed.
When I pull over I can feel or rather could not feel the critic (Faith) at all nor do I even feel much like myself. I can feel myself clamming up inside so I pull out my notebook and write a note to give to Psychologist J about how I can sense all parts of me shutting down should I become totally mute in session.
I sit in the chair. I’m young and scared. I look down.
“Who’s here today?” He asks. I don’t answer because I don’t know. I feel so young and so lost.
“Are you angry?” Psychologist J asks. I shake my head no.
“Am I talking to Faith?” I shake my head no. He continues, “I want you to know I’m not angry at you and I’m here to keep things safe and I want to help you.”
I feel so little, so helpless. I’m starting to feel like little Jane.
“Do you know who I am?” he asks. I nod yes.
“Do you know where you are?” he asks. I nod yes but still I’m too scared to speak.
“You seem very sad and miserable. Even though you’re not talking, you’re showing me with your body. Can you try looking around the room?” I shake my head no in a frantic manner.
“Ok well I’m going to wait for you to talk.” He leans back in his chair and turns his body away from me a little. “I’m keeping my body turned away consciously because I know it can bother you sometimes.” It doesn’t feel comforting or helpful. I feel abandoned in a room I don’t want to be in. I start to cry and close my eyes and find myself wishing I was with Dr K. He sees me looking distressed and tries to talk to me but the more he talks the more he seems like my father and I scrunch my eyes up tighter lost in the memory of being very very young and alone. I just have to find her. I just have to find a memory of Dr K. I start digging one hand into the other to block out the painful memories.
“I won’t let you hurt yourself!” he says. My hands instantly release their grip but my eyes remain closed as I cry.
“Ok stop!” he says. “Open your eyes. You’re going somewhere dark that will not end well. You’ll be angry at yourself at the end of the session if you keep doing this.”
Somehow I recognise him again but I still feel very young, 3 maybe 4 and very confused about where I am. I find myself moving into a different kind of flashback. My head feels spaced out. The room seems covered in grey dots. I find myself moving my head from side to side very slowly unsure of how it is I’m moving the neck of a person that isn’t me. I’m out of my body. This goes on for some time, I don’t know how long but eventually I hear him say quite firmly, “You’re a long way away. Your mouth is open, you’re non-responsive.” He starts calling out my name. “Jane. Jane!” I hear him clapping his hands trying to get my attention.
As he keeps talking, I find I’m able to focus on him again though I remain young.
“Do you know who I am?”
“Yes,” I say in a quiet high-pitched tone. “I haven’t been here in a while.”
“Why are you here today?”
“They made me come. I’m locked out. They aren’t talking to me,” I say tearfully referring to the other parts of me including regular adult me.
“You’re so alone,” he says sympathetically.
“I have something in my pocket,” I say quietly.
“I have something in my pocket.”
“Do you know how to get something from your pocket because I’m not going to get it.”
I pause wondering if I’m old enough to move my own arms. I also wonder where my pocket is. “I’m not sure.” After another pause I realise I feel afraid. “I’m scared if I move you will move. Can you turn away?”
I hand him the note and he opens it but then suddenly says “Wait, did I hurt you?”
I feel confused, suddenly in another memory. I don’t want to answer him and I start to cry. “I don’t know! I feel confused. I know what the answer is, I know what you want me to say. You want me to say you didn’t hurt me!” He seems to understand that I’m recalling the past and quickly says in a soothing tone, “No, no. I want you to be believed. I was asking you if I hurt you because you were worried I would move when you moved.”
“I don’t know. I can’t answer the question.”
Eventually figures out who I am – Little Jane – and we talk about why I’m here.
“Because I know the least. Because the critic can control me the best (to stop me from talking) and Jane can kind of fight back but I can’t.”
“Yes, that makes sense,” he says quietly. He says some validating things and ends with, “You’re brave to be here. You’ve done good today. Being the messenger, it’s hard for someone so small. I have a message for the critic. Do you think they will be receptive?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have access to them but sometimes I can kind of hear what Jane is saying.” As we talk about who I can and can’t hear, a sense of trust in J is restored and I find myself melding into different states. I pass through regular me and then I feel I am the critic – Faith – as she has called herself in emails.
“I’m not really the child part anymore,” I say as Faith. I tell him that me and regular Jane are struggling with the new memory of a new kind of abuse as well as just everyday things. I mention something I’ve asked him for in a previous email, to set boundaries because I fear there is a part in me that doesn’t know how to act appropriately especially if I’m in a flashback.
“I’ll always let you know when you’re coming up to a boundary and give you a choice. It’s my job to keep this space safe.”
“What about words?”
“Words are just words,” he says shrugging.
“What if I say I want to kill you or rape you or something outrageous like that. Sometimes I feel so much anger towards my dad and I struggle to hold it in,” I say crying.
“It’s ok. I’m not scared because I’ve done this before. Also I takes my job as a parent and a therapist equally seriously.” I find myself wondering why he’s talking about being a parent. Perhaps he understands that the younger parts of me see him as kind of parental.
“I can feel there’s so much rage in there,” he continues. “I can bring a towel here and we could do an experiment. I can hold one end and you can twist it and pull it hard.”
“I don’t know.” Hell no.
“We have a bit of time left. Let’s take time to ground.”
“Can you move to the left?” I ask. He gets up from his armchair and moves to the wooden seat to my left.
“Look around and name something you can see.”
I look around and find I can’t keep my eyes on anything. Instead they seem to be looking at the air in between objects. I try to concentrate hard at an object on his desk. I know it has a name. I keep staring. Eventually the word comes to me.
“Good. Can you describe it?”
I stare at it and I find I can’t work out what belongs to what.
“Cold,” I say because it feels as though my body is the coffee cup and the coldness I feel is coming from the cup.
“Ok. How about the colour of it.”
“Ok good. Can you name something you can hear?”
I try to listen but it takes some concentrating to get my ears to register anything in the background.
“Traffic,” I say partly because I think I can hear it and partly because other times he’s tried to help me ground myself he’s asked me to listen to the traffic. So I assume there must be some.
“I feel like the traffic is angry with me. I know it can’t be but it just sounds that way. I can feel it’s anger.”
“Ok now what’s another thing you can see.”
I look around the room and my eyes fall on the red pillow he sits on. I mention the pillow and he asks me to describe it.
“I feel like it’s floating. I know it isn’t but it just looks that way.” Again I am projecting symptoms of dissociation onto the objects I’m seeing. We keep going this way until I start to register that I’m in a contained space called a body. My body.
“How do you know you’re coming back to your body?” he asks.
“Because I’m starting to feel the shame of being the adult Jane and the overwhelm of that new memory.”
“I know you had a new one recently but I don’t know what it is,” he says.
“It’s in the email. I’ll send it again after this session. Is that ok?” He says yes.
I mention briefly how I feel broken, like the dissociation and the parts making me feel like a broken human being. He apologises for having called regular me the chairperson and thereby invalidating the critic (Faith).
“You’re doing really well,” he says along with a bunch of praising things towards both me and Faith. “You’re working towards a democracy. You’re not broken. Dissociation and having parts should be considered normal and expected as a way to cope with extraordinary things done to your body.”
Well I’m over it,” I say feeling like regular Jane at last. “I don’t want to know about any parts.”