For some reason, my filters were “off” in session yesterday. I think it might have been a combo of anxiety, having a ton of stuff I wanted to cover, too much coffee in the morning, and excitement over free cone day at Ben & Jerry’s…
I was bordering manic-level with my chattering to her. I was honest about my thoughts around processing stuff, what I expected my reactions to be, and that I wanted to push through anyway. I told her why I worried I’d be a pain in the ass. I told her I was sure my neediness would kick into high gear, and I’d end up calling frequently if the overwhelm got too high. I think she kinda gave me permission to call in her reaction to my statement, even if in the next breath she had to acknowledge the reality of her limits (I said something along the lines of “if we did that, I’d probably be calling you every five minutes” to which she responded that she would then pick up the phone every five minutes for the next week, “well not every five minutes, that would be impossible…”). I don’t think I’d honestly call that much, though I would want to reach out a lot. I would likely just agonize over it and maybe call her once or twice, but it would feel as annoying to me as calling her every 5 minutes.
Anyway… yesterday was productive I guess. I didn’t cover what I really had hoped to be able to say, but I was honest about a lot of things. We agreed to push on this processing stuff. She was trying to figure out of it would be better for me to put off the homework till closer to the next session since I tend to think about stuff right away which gives me too long to stress over it and put up walls around it. We decided to just do it however it happened, and she again told me to call if stuff got too much. I’m not sure if I was taking her permission into account, or I was simply distracted, but I didn’t start my homework from her till late last night (I usually at least start to think about before I even leave her office; way too many years of being conditioned to do homework before anything else).
The actual homework she gave me was to write down some of the fragmented memories that are bothering me, put them in some sort of chronological order or categorization, add in what emotions went with the memory, write out an alternate ending to the memory, and finally, write out the positives in my life despite those memories.
My immediate thought when she first mentioned it was to find a roll of paper and do a time-line style thing (in crayon, coz I found a nice big box on sale. They need to be used at least once before the dog finds them and I’m left with nothing again). I’m not really sure how else to depict how unsure I really am about the chronology of it all. Some of it I can kinda place based on the setting of the memory or how old I look based on what my body looks like in it, but saying something came before or after something else is about the best I can do. To place even that much, I need to put in the other landmarks I am sure of (births, deaths, moves…) so a visual time line feels easiest for me.
Unfortunately, nothing is ever that neat and tidy. I started my time-line with the intention of keeping it to the basic landmarks while trying to place the fragments accordingly. It was going ok until I forgot how unstable everything in my closet actually is. Suddenly I was at the bottom of a giant pile of memories and emotions. All I could do was sit there with music pumping into my ears. I stared blankly at my time-line for a long while (long enough for the cat to sit on it, then realize he wasn’t actually obstructing anything by sitting there so he left – his plot for world domination foiled again…). I think after about an hour, I was able to move again. I left TM a message asking if it was ok to do that part in session with her, and that I would do the “positives” stuff she asked me to do even if I didn’t do the rest.
We had briefly talked about the concept of flooding with all this processing. I’m not sure what part of my brain prevents me from understanding the full impact of stuff like this when I’m sitting safely in her office, but I was so convinced it wouldn’t be as overwhelming as she was cautioning it to be. I understand the concept of flooding. Been through it before. Clearly got stupid around remembering what it is actually like in the moment… I think my bravado around it comes from the concept of not going there alone, when in reality, it wasn’t supposed to be something I was going to do with anyone else around. While the flooding technique to deal with anxiety is generally done with a trained, supportive person around, the flooding that comes with this processing would happen alone… why do I always forget that? I’m always expecting more support around it than is possible… 😦
When all gung-ho about getting through this stuff, I need to try to remember it will always be done alone unless I were to try residential treatment for it. :sigh: it’s not that I’m mad at any person for this, it’s just the nature of available trauma treatment out there. Funding sources pay for only so much, the rest needs to happen as it can, without additional support. This doubt around the thought of processing stuff on a regular outpatient schedule always comes up when I start to get to work. I remember the panic of feeling so alone in it all, and I wonder if I shouldn’t hold off until I can afford an inpatient/residential option… as helpful as that would be, I can’t afford it any time soon, so what do I do with all this ickiness in the interim?