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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby fireheart » Fri May 20, 2022 3:36 pm

I also find it really difficult to tolerate that feeling of being misunderstood. I think it reminds me of growing up and when that used to be really dangerous.

We also have the experience a lot that our T tries to rephrase what we just shared but then misses the mark. We choose our words carefully, there is a reason that we chose those exact ones... I remember that Nijenhuis wrote about recommending repeating what the client says back to them (in their exact words), because it helps with realization.

The process with your T sounds super frustrating and hard.

I'm also curious though, if the same parts are present when you process things with friends/your partner compared to when you're in therapy? (You don't have to answer, of course. It's just a thought that popped up. I notice that some specific parts in our system are less able to tolerate feeling misunderstood).
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Sun May 22, 2022 4:53 am

Thanks fireheart. It might be that different parts need different kinds of responses, and there are definitely parts who are much more sensitive to being misunderstood. It just feels like I started out giving this T the benefit of the doubt, and going along with his statements and ideas to see where they led, and realized that they weren't helpful. It feels like I've had to "restrict" him more and more over time, as we've been hurt again and again by his responses.

Just writing today to help me keep track of what's happening. We didn't feel well yesterday, and almost canceled seeing the T on zoom. We sent a long text canceling and explaining why, and then went to lie down, and started feeling like it was a mistake to not see him. We could hear from younger parts that they wanted to tell him about not liking being a part of that project, and not wanting to do it. And they felt like he was the only person they could tell that to.

So we texted again, and ended up seeing him. And...it turned out to be a disaster.

We were on guard for most of the appointment, and we were still feeling very tired and kind of ill. So mostly we talked about not feeling like he's someone we can talk to, and not feeling the connection with him at all, even though he still feels it. Toward the end, the littles wanted him to say the things he says that promote the connection--that he holds us in his heart and thoughts, etc. And we were trying to let them be close to the front, to try to feel some of that connection.

And that's when I think we remembered that they wanted to tell him about not liking the project we're involved in, so we kind of burst out with that, since the session was almost over. And he did that thing where he repeats what we said, but not quite--he changes it so the meaning is different (this time he said he knew that they didn't like projects like that).

It wasn't a helpful response. We were hoping that he would respond to the feeling, by showing us that he understood that it was painful to feel that way, and since he just responded in words that felt distant, we just ended up being upset about the words he said.

We left the session abruptly when he started to use a lot of words to try to examine the process of what was happening, which wasn't something we could do in that upset state of mind, and then had a long text exchange with him, in which we realized what we had been expecting and why any response that was trying to clarify or repeat back our words would have been disappointing. I think we were hoping for something like "that must be really hard," and him looking like he understood that it was hard.

But I don't think he gets it. His texts said things like "clarifications and corrections" are "the typical back and forth in dialogue that people engage in to come to an understanding" and he didn't understand why it's so difficult for us.

And he also wrote "why do you need me to be wrong?" which really seems to be missing the point. We're upset and disappointed when his response is "wrong" for us. We don't WANT it to be that way. The times he responds to something we say by looking sad, or acknowledging that something is painful--those are very helpful, and we've told him that.

I mean, when someone is triggered and upset, it can't be the best approach to try to examine the process right then of what went wrong to cause that. We just end up having to leave, because we can't listen to all the words coming at us. Rarely, he's been able to say, "what can I do to help you right now?" and that's always been very calming for us. But he almost never does that.

Ugh--writing this all out brings us back to the "he's not the right person for us" point of view.

I don't know. Thinking back over the past couple of months--we had been feeling very connected to him, and that had brought up a lot of sadness. We started feeling almost continuously depressed, but would switch out of it sometimes. Then we had a 10-day break from seeing him, and the sadness lifted after a few days, and it was such a relief. It felt like we had time to focus on ourselves and not be constantly thinking about the relationship with the T. And I think that since then, we've stayed more on guard, and haven't let ourselves get back to feeling so connected.

Then we had the rupture of trying to tell him something and realizing he hadn't kept up with the change in topic of what we were even talking about, and we definitely haven't fixed that, and now there's another rupture on top of that.

Today, we started thinking about the things of ours that we've left in his office, and whether we would take them if we left him. We've never thought about that before. It's like we've actually started thinking about "breaking up" with him.

I don't know. I wouldn't do that without having another therapist already picked out. And maybe there's a way to fix what's happening. But there are parts who are just so over this, and so angry and disappointed, and we're just becoming more and more easily triggered by his missteps.
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby ArbreMonde » Sun May 22, 2022 9:03 am

Sending a lot of moral support. It is a very difficult situation you are in.

I sincerely hope that you will find a therapist who is right for you, and will help you feel safe and secure throughout the transition from one therapist to the other - if it is what you end up deciding to do, of course. If you decide on keeping the present therapist, I sincerely hope he'll have an "eureka" moment and shift his behavior towards what is actually helpful for you.
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This too shall pass. It shall pass like a kidney stone, but it shall pass.
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby birdsong87 » Sun May 22, 2022 12:57 pm

We have thought about this a lot concerning your situation... how does one know if a T is a good fit or not? when we started with our current T someone who knew us well commented that she would be a great fit but didn't tell us why. I think in many areas he was right. there is still a struggle to be open and communicate clearly on our side and her habit of treating us like we have programming that is meant for safety but sometimes makes things harder for us. but generally she is a better fit than the last one. our last T was extroverted, annoying and didn't get along with Asti at all because she was really into under-control patients and didn't know how to handle over-control. Our clinic T is an exceptionally good fit. our brains work so similarly.
I do wonder if maybe your T just has a way of thinking and experiencing that makes it extra hard. you said that other people in your life don't create these kinds of problems in understanding you, right? Some people can connect to your way of thinking and feeling.
It probably would help to look back on past T relationships to figure out if there is a pattern like this. but yeah, I think it is possible that he is a bad fit or just doesn't have a knack for someone like you. like our T who knew how to treat DID but couldn't handle over-control and overwhelmed us with her extraversion. How would one know if the problem really is fit? I have no smart answers for that but at this point I think it would be good to get clarity about that.
Dx: DID cPTSD
L (host 1); Asti (host 2); Annett (teen protector); Maya (child); Age (observer); Thamara (child); Danielle (aut. teen); Mike (caregiver) and others
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Sat May 28, 2022 4:45 am

Thanks, ArbreMonde and birdsong. We really appreciate your support.

We saw the T today, and he was very present, and working hard to understand what went wrong, and how to respond in ways that help us feel understood. Those ways don't seem to come naturally to him, but he seems committed to try to be the way we need him to be.

So I don't know. The fact that he views things completely differently from us means that there isn't that sense of being intuitively understood, but it does push us to carefully clarify things for ourselves, since we need to explain them to him. And sometimes that leads us to new insights.

It's hard for him to sit quietly with us when we're upset, even though that's what we need him to do. He seems to feel a need to be reassuring, and to let us know he's there, etc. And for us, that's intrusive when we're trying to just be with our feelings. He does stop talking when we ask him to, but it's not how he naturally is.

The other thing that we talked about is that for some reason, he feels like it's making an assumption to say something like, "that sounds hard" when we're talking about a painful feeling. But for us, that could never be the wrong thing for him to say. On the other hand, he makes assumptions about what our words mean all the time and that does often hurt us.

But anyway, he is very committed, and caring, and he has been upset that we've been so upset about all of this. His goal is to understand us and for us to feel understood, and to help us with our feelings. Hopefully he got the message about how important it is for him to stop whatever he's saying when we start to feel upset and to just ask how he can help us right then with how we're feeling. Because at that point it doesn't matter that he was trying to help--it wasn't a way that worked for us, so he needs to drop it and help us in a way that does work.

We probably need to let this all sink in for a few days, and see how the protectors are feeling about it, and about him. We're planning to just go once a week for now, to see him in person at his office. I think that the parts who couldn't maintain the connection for that long are better able to than they used to be, and we can always email or text him if we need to. Although we don't trust him to respond in words, so it means we only get emojis back, and if we need to hear exactly what he means by them, we'll just need to wait and ask him in person. But the emojis give us a feeling response, and that's what's most important.

One thing we realized this past week is that despite all of the difficult and devastating upsets that happen with this T, there are a lot of things that have gotten better for us over the past five years of working with him. We're much better at getting our needs met--both in terms of self-care and from other people. And even though we feel more unstable, I don't think we really ARE more unstable. I think it's just a consequence of being more aware of our feelings and having more of a tolerance for feeling them.

Anyway, that's where we're at right now.
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby ArbreMonde » Sun May 29, 2022 7:47 am

I am happy for you that you have gained a better insight of the whole situation. It will help you take the decision that is the best for you all.

Sending tons of support!
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Journey thread | DID ressources thread

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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Fri Jun 03, 2022 3:35 pm

Thanks, ArbreMonde.

We're going to see the T again today. It's been a week, and that feels like such a long time to the littles. We texted him Wednesday because they didn't feel like he could possibly still be the same person with the same feelings as he was on Friday.

His response was reassuring to them, but really annoyed the ones who are annoyed at him anyway. I think that if we can manage the annoyance and irritation without getting overwhelmed by it, we might learn a lot. But when it's too much, we can't even stay in a session, so hopefully the T will be present and focused, and not add too much from his end to amplify that feeling. (Hearing from inside: "He's just such an IDIOT sometimes!!")
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Mon Jun 20, 2022 3:11 am

We have a plan that might help us get out of our current stuck and difficult pattern with our T, but first we want to write about the sessions that happened since our last post.

There have been three sessions since then, and only the middle one went ok. In the one on June 3, the T asked a question that derailed our thoughts, and then when we got upset, he wanted to look at why, which ended up using up more time, and making us feel more upset. He was able to repair the situation somewhat by text in the late afternoon, and we were able to remember some of the good parts about being with him in the session.

Then last week, we had a session that went fairly well--there was a lot of silence, but it felt good. We were able to feel relaxed and present because it felt like he was giving us space to be there by being quiet.

But in the session two days ago, things fell apart again, in a big way. And it's the same pattern over and over. The T said something to be helpful, but it didn't have that effect on us, and he wanted to talk about that. And how "interesting" and "unique" our reaction was, and that most people would find his statement reassuring and helpful. So we just felt more and more upset.

We were able to stay in the session, and even to let the littles hold his hand at the end, but when we left, we felt really miserable and like we couldn't go on seeing him, But of course, when we think that, we feel despairing and hopeless.

Yesterday, we spent a lot of time that we didn't really have to see if we could find another therapist. First we looked on psychologytoday, but that's very non-specific, and many therapists aren't even seeing people in person right now. Then we looked on the ISSTD website. We found someone with a lot of DID experience who is fairly close (thanks to living in a big city...), and the littles really liked that she's an art therapist. There was a photo of her office and it looked like she had shelves and shelves of sand play figures, which made the littles cry with how much they wanted to see someone who understood about using play to work on things.

So we called her, and actually spoke to her on the phone for awhile yesterday, and explained the situation to her. It turned out that she knows our T, and likes him, and would like to help me figure out what's happening, in the interest of trying to maintain our relationship with him. She offers what she calls "intensives" which consist of 4 hours a day for two days in a row, at her office, and incorporate a lot of art. She talked about figuring out more about my patterns in relationships, based on my family of origin, and seeing what might be coming into play with my responses to the T.

We thought about it a lot since yesterday, and there doesn't seem to be a downside. I never get the chance anymore to really think about what's going on with me/us internally--we're just always focused on the constant rupture/repair stuff with the T, and the way we've tried to restrict his responses more and more doesn't seem workable in an ongoing way, because he really can't be as quiet and calm as we have needed him to be. But maybe there's a different path we can take, and at least this will be a chance to see how we feel with someone else, a female, and show the littles that there are other nice and knowledgeable T's, with different approaches.

She wanted us to consent to let her talk with our T, and we thought about that and decided that it would be ok for her to speak with him, once, AFTER we work with her. So we're probably going to do that intensive thing, and very soon, since things are such a mess with the T that there's no point in waiting. We do have one more session with him before that would happen, and we're really worried about how it will go, but at least we'll know that there's someone else we can talk to about it. So we're feeling a little more hopeful about things overall.
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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby ArbreMonde » Mon Jun 20, 2022 10:27 am

I am happy for you all that you are finding a way to maybe unstuck the situation! Fingers crossed for the upcoming work!
Autistic | ADHD | DID | transmasc (they/them & he/him)

System host/umbrella identity: Morwan

Journey thread | DID ressources thread

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Re: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

Postby birdsong87 » Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:44 pm

that sounds amazing. Getting outside help to figure things out seems like a really really good idea. You and your T have a pattern by now and it is obvious you both do the best you can but something about it isn't working. A new perspective can help a lot. It can also show you if maybe communication actually is easier with someone else. And opening the room for more non-verbal techniques is an amazing bonus. I am so glad you get the chance. I hope and wish that this will bring some kind of new understanding that is helpful. cheering for you
Dx: DID cPTSD
L (host 1); Asti (host 2); Annett (teen protector); Maya (child); Age (observer); Thamara (child); Danielle (aut. teen); Mike (caregiver) and others
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