In therapy, I have found it helpful to personify the various parts of me (Hope, Depression, Creativity…) and play with metaphors about them. A couple of weeks ago, E. and I began to imagine a house in which these different parts can live together. Tonight I’m thinking back to that house, how it should be set up to let the parts best play their roles.
The main floor of the house has a large living room, a gathering space with comfortable couches, chairs and cushions. It has large windows that look out on one side over a meadow, and on the other, to the sea. The walls are white and clean, the floors are gleaming oak with thick throw rugs; the decor is minimalist but not cold. There’s a bookshelf with lots of books–old favorites, books I have yet to read, and books that don’t even exist but that I need. There’s also a kitchen with plenty of space for collaborative cooking, and a dining room with a long table that can expand to fit everyone. The Wise Woman sits at the head of the table, because the others recognize her wisdom and (mostly) accept her leadership role.
Though most of the first floor is open and bright, there is one smaller room that can be used for private conversations, if needed. It’s in the middle of the first floor, and unlike the rest of the first floor, it is decorated in warm colors.There are no overhead lights, but only lamps and candles. Symbols of love and protection hang on the walls.
There is a wide staircase, also of polished oak, that leads up to the second floor. On that floor, there are multiple bedrooms. Different parts of me reside on that floor, the parts I am working with the most at the time. Right now the Wounded Girl has a big, beautiful bedroom on that floor, and it’s been decorated to suit her needs at the moment. One of the most important things for her, right now, it the ability to lock the door. This makes her feel safer, because she isn’t (yet) confident that she can trust all the other parts of me to respect her and believe her.
The Wise Woman has a room next to her on one side, and Hope has the room on the other side. Straight across the hall, we have Intuition and Authenticity, two other neglected parts. I need these parts to work together with the girl. But I can’t rush her into new relationships. Right now she has agreed to take a daily walk with Hope, Intuition and Authenticity; she can choose where to go and how long the walk should be. She needs to have a lot of control and choice.
Intuition needs help too; she’s taken a beating for years from Doubt/Denial. Her daily connection with the girl is good for her, though, because there’s a natural connection between the child self and innate knowing. Authenticity has meetings with Fear several times a week in the private room on the first floor. Fear is welcome in the house too, but she’s not permitted to make decisions for the collective. She’s living on the third floor for now and has agreed to keep her distance from the girl.
Joy is busy in the eastern wing of the first floor, coming up with activities to engage the girl. The girl isn’t ready for her yet though. She’s serious and a bit suspicious of Joy. She sometimes mistakes her for Frivolity and Irresponsibility, characteristics she associates with a couple of her abusers. The Wise Woman has decided they can wait until the girl feels ready to connect to other parts, including not just Joy but also Sorrow and Anger. Just now the girl vacillates between panic and numbness, and that’s about the extent of her emotional range. But the Wise Woman knows: all in good time.