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Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

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Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby rebellious » Sat Nov 02, 2019 10:19 am

Hi everyone!


I thought we could all share about what kind of struggles is neccesary in order to heal.
I was inspired by another thread where someone talks about staying in therapy for too long because they throught "therapy is supposed to be hard".
But you rarely get to hear in what way it's supposed to be hard.

Would you mind sharing your helpful and unhelpful experiences?

I'll go first and talk about my expectations: I din't really think I had expectations but I think we all have some sort of picture of what therapy is supposed to be like through movies and other peoples stories. (And also what it's supposed to do with you, how much you will change as a person etc)

One of the things I realized was that sharing every detail isn't always nessecary.
It can be helpful if you are burdened with a dark secret that you never talk about but in my case it just becomes intellectualizing and emotionally distant.
I think that intimacy (with a trusted and emotionally safe person) is the key but we all have different ways of getting there.

Also I realized that I often fantasize about a "before and after therapy", where I will go through a tough period of therapy and then emerge on the other side a different person.
In reality it has been more of a day to day chore to keep myself accountable and interrupt any unhelpful behaviour or thoughts and forcing myself to be more constructive and focus on what I can do to help the situation.

It has been difficult to know when to quit doing something that isn't helpful, my bad self esteem blamed me instead of the method.
But if a method isn't working for who you are at this moment it might not be the right method for you (provided you actually try whatever it is).

Sorry for any spelling mistakes, English isn't my first language.
I'm looking forward to your replies as I'm about to enter therapy for the hundred time myself.
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Re: Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:03 am

rebellious wrote:Would you mind sharing your helpful and unhelpful experiences?

I'll go first and talk about my expectations: I din't really think I had expectations but I think we all have some sort of picture of what therapy is supposed to be like through movies and other peoples stories. (And also what it's supposed to do with you, how much you will change as a person etc)

One of the things I realized was that sharing every detail isn't always nessecary.
It can be helpful if you are burdened with a dark secret that you never talk about but in my case it just becomes intellectualizing and emotionally distant.
I think that intimacy (with a trusted and emotionally safe person) is the key but we all have different ways of getting there.


I agree that intimacy is the key--developing trust and attachment is a big part of the therapy for DID. Someone without early childhood trauma, who had the opportunity to develop secure attachment in childhood is not going to have the same difficulty becoming close to a therapist as someone who had disorganized attachment (i.e. a scary, inconsistent, neglectful, or abusive caregiver).

You're right that talking about a lot of details can be a way of avoiding intimacy and connection, or just a function of not knowing how to truly be seen by another person, since much of our life has been about hiding parts of ourselves (from ourselves as well as from others).

I have posted a LOT about my therapy experiences so far with my current therapist (I've been seeing him almost 2 1/2 years now), as well as about a damaging therapy experience in the past. You can search on my posts to read about my struggles in therapy. Most of it is about ruptures in the connection, and then repairing them.

If you're referring to my post about why I stayed in therapy for so long, it wasn't only because I thought it was supposed to be so painful, it was also because my littles were very attached to him and it felt like he was promising to be the parent that we never had--promising to "fix" everything, to fix us.

Anyway, you probably wanted to hear from other people and not from me again, but I just thought I would expand on what I meant, and why that past experience was so damaging. :D
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Re: Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby rebellious » Sun Nov 03, 2019 12:21 pm

I agree that intimacy is the key--developing trust and attachment is a big part of the therapy for DID. Someone without early childhood trauma, who had the opportunity to develop secure attachment in childhood is not going to have the same difficulty becoming close to a therapist as someone who had disorganized attachment (i.e. a scary, inconsistent, neglectful, or abusive caregiver).

You're right that talking about a lot of details can be a way of avoiding intimacy and connection, or just a function of not knowing how to truly be seen by another person, since much of our life has been about hiding parts of ourselves (from ourselves as well as from others).

I have posted a LOT about my therapy experiences so far with my current therapist (I've been seeing him almost 2 1/2 years now), as well as about a damaging therapy experience in the past. You can search on my posts to read about my struggles in therapy. Most of it is about ruptures in the connection, and then repairing them.

If you're referring to my post about why I stayed in therapy for so long, it wasn't only because I thought it was supposed to be so painful, it was also because my littles were very attached to him and it felt like he was promising to be the parent that we never had--promising to "fix" everything, to fix us.

Anyway, you probably wanted to hear from other people and not from me again, but I just thought I would expand on what I meant, and why that past experience was so damaging. :D


Nah, I think all of our experiences count! :) You are more than welcome to share what you experienced and I'll make sure to check out your other posts.

I recognize being conflicted about a therapist as I myself was re-traumatized by a therapist that I had been seeing for about 2 years.
It's probably difficult to let go of any dysfunctional relatioship where you have grown fond of the person, though I recognize that my low self esteem made it so that her opinion about my recovery mattered more than my own.
Towards the end she told me that she had a new mentor and that's when she started to dig into my trauma in a very invasive way that wasn't helpful.
I told her this but she insisted that I have to release my anger and didn't take into account that I had well developed coping mechanisms that were triggered and harming me as she kept pressuring me.

The thing I took away from that therapist is that there is no use going to someone who isn't specialized in trauma therapy because they may do more damage (while also taking your money for it).
She ended up dumping me when she saw that I didn't trust her anymore and that was the last I heard of her.


Later I realized that she actually showed a few warning signs that should have made me pay attention.
For instance she gave me her personal phone number so that I could call her anytime, I told her that I wouldn't because I have a hard time reaching out but she insisted.
But then I decided to give it a try and when she answered she dismissed me and told me that I can't call her as soon as I feel bad (or something to that effect).
I realized then that she only gave me her number because she trusted that I wouldn't call her.

And one time she yelled at me and called me worthless which caused me to break down and cry, but she did it to prove a point so I came away from it thinking it was a learning experience about my triggers.
But in hindsight wtf?

I see now that her boundaries were messed up but maybe that's what made me relate to her in the first place, and she was truly loving and caring towards me so it was a difficult thing to let go.

Got a new trauma therapist now and I am worried because once she answered my email on a Sathurday. I want a therapist with healthy boundaries and doing work on a Sathurday is a sign of poor work/private life boundaries to me.
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Re: Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Sun Nov 03, 2019 4:31 pm

rebellious wrote:she started to dig into my trauma in a very invasive way that wasn't helpful.
I told her this but she insisted that I have to release my anger and didn't take into account that I had well developed coping mechanisms that were triggered and harming me as she kept pressuring me...

...She ended up dumping me when she saw that I didn't trust her anymore and that was the last I heard of her...

..when she answered she dismissed me and told me that I can't call her as soon as I feel bad (or something to that effect).
I realized then that she only gave me her number because she trusted that I wouldn't call her.

And one time she yelled at me and called me worthless which caused me to break down and cry...

...she was truly loving and caring towards me so it was a difficult thing to let go.


Um, no--she wasn't "truly loving and caring" towards you. I quoted all the examples above of things that a person DOESN'T do to someone if they truly love and care about them. Is it possible that you haven't been truly loved and cared about by someone in order to be able to know what that feels like?

rebellious wrote:Got a new trauma therapist now and I am worried because once she answered my email on a Sathurday. I want a therapist with healthy boundaries and doing work on a Sathurday is a sign of poor work/private life boundaries to me.


This is something that you need to bring up with her. My past T who was so bad for me had very poor emotional boundaries and no ability to protect his time and his limits in a healthy way. He made us dependent on him and undid all the coping skills I had developed to that point. It took me over 25 years to try again with a male therapist (which is best for me for a lot of reasons), and even the two female therapists I saw briefly during that time I never saw more than once every two weeks and NEVER contacted outside of a session.

So I was never going to contact my current therapist outside of sessions. Ever. But that meant potentially staying upset about something for a whole week, which is also not healthy. Finally after about 7-8 months, an angry protector texted him on a Sunday morning. He texted back in a very skilled way that satisfied the protector but also asked if we could continue the discussion the next time we met.

We have been very gradually able to feel out where his boundaries are, and have found that while he keeps them very close to himself (he responds to emails and texts, when he is able to, any day of the week, even if he is away, he has objects in his office that we have given him, and he carries one on his keychain), he also protects his time and takes care of his own needs. He teaches other therapists and trains them in treating DID, and he has given a lot of thought to boundaries. If they are too rigid and distant, then that isn't helpful, and if they are too loose and changeable, then that isn't safe.

We have a part who always feels like we're "bothering" him when we text or email, and he has reassured us over and over that it isn't a bother. The most recent thing we talked about was the difference between urgency and importance. He has been busier recently, so it takes him longer to respond to texts (until the next afternoon rather than by the end of the day), which is hard on our littles. He said that we're always important to him, but sometimes other things are more urgent. When we let him know that something feels urgent to us, then it "moves it up in the stack" of things he needs to do, and he responds sooner. But not responding right away doesn't mean that we're not important to him.

He is someone who is truly loving and caring, in a very healthy way, and willing to show us that he cares about us and values us, with his eyes and expression, as well as in words, as many times as we need to see and hear it (which is a lot).

So, I wouldn't assume that responding to an email on a Saturday is a sign of anything in particular. That may be a time she sets aside for responding to emails. You can tell her your interpretation and she can tell you how it actually is for her.
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Re: Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby rebellious » Mon Nov 04, 2019 12:42 pm

I suppose you are right, she was never loving towards me. Though I have fond memories of our sessions besides the f-up things she did, I felt like she was the only one in my life who listened to me at that time and reflected back the things I said with compassion in her voice.

She probably had poor emotional boundaries, I remember her kind eyes, she was a very soft spoken end gentle person and almost cried with me once. So I took it as a sign that she was very engaged even if she messed up sometimes, I guess that made me think that she's just human like the rest of us.

It's hard because I've been fooled many times about what love is, and it makes me wonder if I've ever shown love? Lot's of existential questions lately...

It seems a bit too much for me that your therapist accepted a keychain from you and keep gifts in his office, but I suppose you are right about boundaries not having to be too rigid.
I've worked in a care home and we were never allowed to accept gifts, I remember thinking that it was kinda sad that they couldn't be allowed to give something away but I understood why that rule was there. (No bribing etc)

I'll try and remember to ask my therapist more about herself, I'd also want to ask her if she has a therapist of her own because I've heard that all the good therapist regurlaly see their own mentor in order to "stay sharp".

I just noticed that she took away her full name in her email signature so I guess that's a good sign (or maybe she got divorced idk). I've come to understand that a lot of proffessionals in the mental health field go pretty much anonymous online.
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Re: Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby TheGangsAllHere » Mon Nov 04, 2019 5:14 pm

rebellious wrote:It seems a bit too much for me that your therapist accepted a keychain from you and keep gifts in his office, but I suppose you are right about boundaries not having to be too rigid.


We talked about it. He tries to respond to each client according to what they need. He wouldn't carry something around for everyone--there are some people it wouldn't be good for. But we talked about the meaning of it--it helps one of my younger parts feel real.

Gifts are a different story--he accepts gifts; he gives gifts at Christmastime--small things. Having things in his office that we've given him helps us remember the connection. Littles often need objects for security. We have a small stuffy from his office that we keep at home. Those kinds of things can be very important and healing. Last Christmas he brought a treat that his wife had made for us to share. He cut it into small pieces and we ate it together. That meant a lot to one of us.
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Re: Neccesary struggles vs unhelpful struggles?

Postby rebellious » Mon Nov 04, 2019 10:15 pm

TheGangsAllHere wrote:
rebellious wrote:It seems a bit too much for me that your therapist accepted a keychain from you and keep gifts in his office, but I suppose you are right about boundaries not having to be too rigid.


We talked about it. He tries to respond to each client according to what they need. He wouldn't carry something around for everyone--there are some people it wouldn't be good for. But we talked about the meaning of it--it helps one of my younger parts feel real.

Gifts are a different story--he accepts gifts; he gives gifts at Christmastime--small things. Having things in his office that we've given him helps us remember the connection. Littles often need objects for security. We have a small stuffy from his office that we keep at home. Those kinds of things can be very important and healing. Last Christmas he brought a treat that his wife had made for us to share. He cut it into small pieces and we ate it together. That meant a lot to one of us.




Ah, I see! That perspective makes it clearer, thanks for elaborating on it :)
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