It Didn’t Go So Well

By the time I had a session with E on Wednesday afternoon, I felt confident that I was going to be able to talk about the part of me that’s been shut out. But it didn’t work out the way I thought.

E started by asking questions. What is this part like? Can I describe her? In response, I think I started too negatively. She’s passive. She doesn’t understand boundaries. She allows things to happen… Before I knew it, I had slowed down and then stopped talking entirely.

E recognized before I did what was going on: shame storm. I was coming at it from the wrong way, and it was too painful and shameful, so I retreated. Or the part retreated. At any rate, I was tongue tied.

We paused for a bit of grounding, breathing. “Rubbing the back of your neck, that activates the vagus nerve and releases oxytocin,” E reminded me. She learned this at a recent workshop and is very keen on the idea. I rub my own neck but don’t feel flooded by good emotions or a sense of calm. Still, the break is good.

We start again. E asks me to tell her something good about this part. What are her strengths? What has she given me?

I can’t think of anything. That’s the problem. Even though I think I want to this part to come out, that I want to get to know her better, I obviously don’t think very highly of her. So why should she reveal herself?

I don’t mean to be so judgmental. I don’t want to be. And yet at the same time, this part exists because of the connection I’ve made between sexual arousal and shame. At least, I’m thinking that’s why she exists. She exists to shelter me from the shame of arousal, something like that. Particularly the shame that comes from being aroused in situations where I wasn’t in control and didn’t want to feel pleasure.

As I think about this later, I can see this means that she has done something for me. She has protected me from shame (or at least greatly reduced my shame) while still allowing me to have sexual relationships. And because she’s not entirely blocked from my consciousness, I’m partly/mostly aware of these relationships, even if later I can’t recall all the details.

But I couldn’t get to this realization during Wednesday’s session. I could only stumble around clumsily, feeling ever more alienated from this part. That alienation also felt like it was my fault for focusing on the things I didn’t like about this tender part of myself.

I texted something like this to E in the evening and very unusually, she didn’t respond. That didn’t feel good, but I reminded myself that I trust her. There’s probably a reason she didn’t respond. Maybe she went out for the evening. I’m proud of myself for not spinning her silence into a story about how she was disappointed in me and the way the session went.

This morning she did respond:

Remember that quote, “Anything worth doing is worth doing awkwardly at first.” I like your awareness of the part being delicate and tender. So true. Don’t blame yourself for not making her safe enough. Wounded things are very sensitive to touch, even to the most gentle and benevolent touch…

I’ve returned to these words a number of times today and decided that E’s right. It’s okay that it didn’t go well the first time. I can get better at respecting and treasuring this part so she doesn’t need to hide so deeply in her cave.

Nervousness says: Maybe. Shame says: No way. Hope says: Keep trying.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “It Didn’t Go So Well

  1. I know you think it didn’t go well Q but you did an amazing job. You are so brave. He is so nice and caring and kind. Have faith, it will get better. You can try again and it will go better the next time XXX

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  2. I’ve never heard that quote but it’s probably true (believing it is harder when Perfection is around). So proud of you Q. You brought it up, and then reached for E. when you were struggling afterwards. I love all the different parts of you. Even Shame (although she kind of likes to upstage everyone else),

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  3. Wow Es text really resonated with me, about touching wounded parts. Beginning to talk about old wounds for the first time, or a new topic at all really, that we know will be painful, is always awkward, and there will be missteps. What matters is that you have kept going. You thought about it after and are willing to continue the conversation. And that, my dear Q, shows such strength.

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  4. I like that she helps me accept that I will probably mess up as I’m learning to take a different stance toward my internal parts. I can say, “Sorry, dear parts, I am trying to be good to you. But I have a lifetime of denying or punishing myself, so I’m not very skilled yet. Please forgive me my clumsiness and let me know how I can do it better.”

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    • My therapist has been gone this week (how could she?!?). She has been at a week-long Self Care workshop. It will be interesting to hear what new ideas she comes back with. I plan to share what seems like it would be useful for others.

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