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Going Back to Go Forward (1)

by JustEliza on 12 November 2010

"I like to get right to the point."

Funny to hear that from her, after I spent weeks going over saying that myself. So I got right to the point and told my new therapist about my attachment disorder and my problems connecting my emotions to my thoughts and how I shut down in times of stress (particularly around my family) and finally how, though I don't believe diagnoses are necessary or appropriate, I was grateful to see so much of my own complexities explained by the schizoid personality descriptions. She nodded and took out a piece of paper.

"I'm going to draw two circles. One represents the inner world. One represents the outer world. Let's talk about John. At some point in childhood, something very big happens, which causes John to retreat into the inner world. It's so very big, that to cope, John slices off parts of his inner world, like his emotions, and locks them away. Other children may have coped in a different way, but John experienced dissociation."

I already told her I understood, so she didn't need to explain so simplistically.  But, it gave me time to relax and process meeting my new therapist, and I was grateful to have a picture to look at. So here is one for you:

inner-outer

"Everyone is different. Some people come to therapy and have many chunks cut out."

She went on to explain more about what therapy would entail -- re-integrating these various parts of me. The first step would be learning how to ground myself, and I started by sitting straight with my feet on the ground. She asked how I felt, but in truth I didn't know. Tense? She asked me to picture what I felt like inside, the tenseness. "What did it look like?"

"A bowl"

"What is the bowl made of?"

"It's tightly woven."

"Is it heavy?"

"Compared to what?" My cognition broke through: I chuckled, to which she quickly retorted to stop laughing, it wasn't funny, and I blinked. It's nice to be startled. Though I disagree that I laugh because it helps me avoid feeling, I was pleased to be challenged so directly. Respect + 1.

"What's in the bowl?"

That gave me pause. My eyes went cloudy as I looked inward. There was clearly something in the bowl, but I just stared right through it.  The doubt came through my answer: "Air?"

We talked more about emotions, and she noted how close they were to the surface. I fidgeted, but managed to keep my feet on the ground. My hands were twitching everywhere, and I often looked away, blinking away tears. As she confronted me, I struggled even more to keep control.

"What are you feeling right now? What is this emotion?"

My hands covered my face. I shook my head, breathlessly mouthing: "I don't know."

She paused for me. "Is it anger?"

Another pause. "Are you sad?"

I stared at the cloudiness inside the bowl. Part sad, I guess. "Yes." But it wasn't just that. Fear. Is that fear? I tried it on for size and choked on the words that didn't want to come out. "Scared."

Her quietness became animated, and she smiled. "Great!"  Obviously not great that I felt scared, but great that I managed to recognise and admit it. "You feel scared. What about?"

I wiped my wet, burning eyes and shrugged. "Not knowing what will happen? Not being able to predict?" More like, not being able to control it, control myself. But I couldn't say that.

She looked at me intently, and I don't think she missed what went unsaid. But then she asked: "And the bowl? When you were feeling those emotions, what did the bowl look like?"

The picture was already in my peripheral: I had been staring inwardly this whole time, after all. Withholding my chuckle, my lips curved as I explained, without hesitation:

"The bowl tipped."

I looked at her, and we both smiled in comprehension. This just might work.

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