How do you (re)integrate a split off part (not DID)?

barefoot

Sponsor
I had a bit of a frustrating therapy session today, and would be grateful for any thoughts or insights...

T and I tend to go through bursts of time when we get stuck into some things that feel important/significant and build some momentum around them....and then it sort of peters out and gets left hanging...and then we just move on to something else. This is how it feels to me, anyway – she may see it very differently. But this is how I experience it (I have shared this with her before) and this is sort of where I find myself now.

I am back to feeling that therapy is pointless. Or that, at least, perhaps I should manage my expectations – dealing with here and now stresses and challenges seems to be ok...diving into trauma and then trying to actually...DO something useful about it to really shift things is where we seem to end up doing some promising stuff but then ending up just spinning our wheels...

So, today, I tried to pin her down a bit to what would be useful next steps and she mentions a piece of writing I did a year ago, and the idea from that piece that, during/as a result of an event when I was young, I feel incomplete...that I left a part of myself behind in that other place...and so there is a sense now of feeling incomplete. Because, when the event finished, my body got up and walked out the room and went home, and carried on with life, but I left a bit of myself back in that room, and that's still where she is...she is not here, now, with the rest of me. I don't know if that makes sense...it was a piece of writing...a story....but based on what happened....and leaving her there was a bit of a metaphor, which T seemed to latch on to and get quite excited about.

She said at the time (a year ago) that these pieces of writing seemed to be a turning point for me... Because of her response, I felt like we were onto something major, that we'd hit on something significant...and we spent a few sessions talking about it the writing and what emerged in the writing and it felt very focused and purposeful....and then, I'm not sure why but, as so often happens with us, we just sort of lost momentum with it and then it just got left and forgotten about as we must have just started talking about something else. Well, I didn't forget about it....I felt like it was out there, left hanging, nothing really resolved or completed about it....just loose ends floating around...

So, today, she mentions that piece of writing and says that, in her view, our work together now is to integrate (she may have said reintegrate) that split off part....to help that part (ie the younger me who experienced the event and dissociated and is now left in that other place) and to soothe her.

This idea of (re) integration has come up several times. I'm not anti the idea. I just never know how I/we are meant to do that. My T never outlines how we might do that/what's involved (whether I explicitly ask her or not) And then, we just never seem to do anything about it (as far as I'm aware) and I don't, therefore, make any progress on that front and so then it gets parked and then we're off talking about something else again.

On the one hand, I obviously don't expect to ask her how to integrate that part and for her to say 'these are the exact 7 steps we have to follow in the integrating parts manual' - I get that it is probably not an easy/straightforward answer/process! But, if she can't ever give me any kind of guidance around it, and if she doesn't then seem to approach sessions to guide me with that focus/that intent, I don't know how I am supposed to make progress with it/make it happen?!

I feel like, if a T identifies the important work now is that we work together to integrate a split off part...I feel like they must be able to know something about how to go about that?! But I'm not sure if I'm just wanting/asking for the impossible trying to understand this and find a way forward with it? I don't know if it is realistic of me to hope that my T could give me more guidance on it, so that I feel that I know what we're doing and feel confident that I can make more progress.

Does anyone have ideas/experiences to share about how you integrated a split off part to feel more whole again? Which then reduced some unwanted symptoms/behaviours etc. Either something you did with your T in therapy. Or something you did on your own. A useful book you read etc.

Thanks for reading and TIA for any thoughts.
 

Survivor3

MyPTSD Pro
I can really relate to that post and if I have any solid suggestions then I'll come back to you. It's a great post @barefoot!!!

The first thoughts I have are I think you should ask your T exactly what you've said here. And what would that part (version of you) need to feel happy,content,safe and fulfilled?
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Ah, @barefoot , I’m sorry today’s session has left you feeling like this. It’s so hard when these things happen, and so frustrating.
On the one hand, I obviously don't expect to ask her how to integrate that part and for her to say 'these are the exact 7 steps we have to follow in the integrating parts manual
How many times have I wished this!
I feel like, if a T identifies the important work now is that we work together to integrate a split off part...I feel like they must be able to know something about how to go about that?! But I'm not sure if I'm just wanting/asking for the impossible trying to understand this and find a way forward with it? I don't know if it is realistic of me to hope that my T could give me more guidance on it, so that I feel that I know what we're doing and feel confident that I can make more progress.
do you feel able to ask her about broad ways in how to do this?
maybe the process is different for everyone? Idk.

Does anyone have ideas/experiences to share about how you integrated a split off part to feel more whole again? Which then reduced some unwanted symptoms/behaviours etc. Either something you did with your T in therapy. Or something you did on your own. A useful book you read etc.
a book I found super helpful was “healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors” by janina fisher . If I haven’t said about that book before, or I have, it really helped me to think all this through.

other than that, I think it was learning compassion for the split off part. Learning about how she must have experienced it all. And learning to do communicate with her. not sure I am all the way there, but the compassion thing was a big deal, and that then helped with that split off part recognising that adult me is here to help and it’s ok now. If that makes any sense?
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
for starters, i would definitely ask your therapist for a more detailed explanation of what she means by (re)integration. entirely too many vague possibilities come to mind for me to trust any of the thoughts i have on the subject.

"trust" is an example which pops into my head from my own psychotherapy sessions. assuming i wasn't born with the mistrust and hypervigilance inherent to my child prostitute conditioning, the long, arduous process of learning how to trust again was often called, "reintegrating trust" as i worked through the recovery process. it was and remains a tough integration. i'm working on the self-trust to be gentle with myself and patient with the process.

as for the exploring of a theme which is left dangling for undefined lengths of time, it seems that this is a recurring theme throughout life. i learned about fractions a very long time before i was ready to tackle the quadratic formula. the cliche, "rome wasn't built in a day" comes to mind. that was also true of rebuilding rome after the "barbarian hordes" burned it to the ground. progress takes time, whether building something new or remediating devastation.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I think you should ask your T exactly what you've said here.

I shared quite a bit of what I’ve said here…though probably didn’t organise my thoughts or articulate myself as clearly in the moment.

Some aspects are things I’ve shared with her before (losing momentum, feeling like things just get left hanging, not feeling that we have a plan/can sustain focus and purpose…)

The stuff about integration: I said today that I don’t really know what that means or what I would need to do…and she just didn’t say anything.


And what would that part (version of you) need to feel happy,content,safe and fulfilled?
This is something I could think about, thanks. Did you mean me try to think this through on my own? Or something to try to work through with my T? Or both? Or…?!

I feel a bit stumped about how to go about it, tbh. I guess it means connecting with that part, somehow…to then try to work out the answers to your questions…?

do you feel able to ask her about broad ways in how to do this?
I think I did that and didn’t get an answer.

a book I found super helpful was “healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors” by janina fisher

Ah, I saw you say this before on another thread a while back. And I bought the book. Read the first chapter or so. Showed it to my T - it was when we’d been discussing the writing I just mentioned, I think, and she talked about how our work needed to be on connecting to that part…So, I bought the book hoping it would help with that and support work with T about it. But she seemed unfamiliar with the book and didn’t really ask/say anything about it. And then we just didn’t really talk about the writing anymore. So, my plan to use the book as a way in to making progress and creating more momentum around connecting to that part and continuing to explore the ideas that emerged in my story…just kind of fell flat and went nowhere.

But I can certainly pick the book up again and read more, and see what I make of it.

I think it was learning compassion for the split off part. Learning about how she must have experienced it all.
Hmm…yes, not always easy… Do you know how you did this? How, practically speaking, you exercise/express compassion for it?

And learning to do communicate with her.

Again, are you able to say more about how you do this? I understand you may not be able to put those things into words though.
 

barefoot

Sponsor
i would definitely ask your therapist for a more detailed explanation of what she means by (re)integration.
Well, she was talking about (re) integrating the split off part who dissociated and got ‘left behind’ during an event years ago…so that I don’t feel incomplete but can instead feel whole…?

as for the exploring of a theme which is left dangling for undefined lengths of time, it seems that this is a recurring theme throughout life. i learned about fractions a very long time before i was ready to tackle the quadratic formula
Sure. But it just feels like we don’t stay with anything long enough to really get any traction or move forward with it…we just seem to move to another thing, and it feels like other things are just left hanging…

I’ve told her this several times and she always seems to take it in, we agree to be more focused…and that lasts a while until we just fall back again… It’s frustrating.

progress takes time, whether building something new or remediating devastation.
Yes. I’m feeling frustrated and may sound impatient for progress/resolution. But I’ve been in therapy for 8 years. So, I’m not trying to push for simple answers/quick progress really early on.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
IHmm…yes, not always easy… Do you know how you did this? How, practically speaking, you exercise/express compassion for it?
So I think the whole process is really hard And frustrating,
for me, I was angry at younger me for allowing everything to happen. So compassion was really hard. I blamed me. a break through moment for me, with the compassion, was me thinking about an event that happened to me and imagining if it was a fictional child and how I would have compassion for that child easily. That made me realise how little compassion I had for me.
I then worked through and imagined giving 5 year old me a hug, that adult me swooped in one time my mum was doing something to me at that age, and taking 5 year old me out of that situation, putting me on my lap and hugging me and soothing me. In my visualisation, I then had to give me back to my mum and back to reality. But that process helped in realisimg I had no one do that for me when I needed it, it showed compassion to me, it helped me believe what happened , it helped to build communication with parts. Child me knew adult me was here, didn’t blame her, and had skills to make it better. Communication started.
Again, are you able to say more about how you do this? I understand you may not be able to put those things into words though.
T highlighted to me I was communicating with parts incorrectly. T thought child parts didn’t know imexisted and they had to learn to trust me. As I was communicating cognitively, and these parts are young. May not even be the age the trauma happened. And we don’t necessarily communicate with children in adult ways. So she suggested more tactile ways. Play etc. For me that didn’t quite work, but holding myself did. Most recently, i imagined high fiving my parts to make things ok and boost us. Those sorts of things work.

at times I have felt integrated. I can feel ‘solid’, and I’m taking that to mean integration. There are still things I need to integrate. But I think I can now feel the difference between being split off and integrated. I think. It seems to make sense inside anyways.

the book, helped me in terms of understanding all this, as I was feeling totally unhinged by T saying I had parts and she could see clearly the different parts. The book helped normalise things for me. T did too. But that book really helped.

I don’t know if any of that makes sense. Re reading, I suppose a lot of it for me has been visualising things with younger versions of myself,
 
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barefoot

Sponsor
I really appreciate you sharing all this @Movingforward10 - thank you so much.

It’s a lot to take in (esp in this heat!) so I will come back to it.

I guess one immediate thought I have in response to your post is: I wonder if I actually need my T for this? I can read the book, I can think about the part and what she may have felt/needed, I can see about finding ways to connect/communicate/show compassion… I’m not suggesting at all that this stuff is easy. The fact that my head is whirling and that I know I need to revisit your post to properly think about it, tells me that this is hard stuff.

I just don’t know how my T really fits in.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
I suppose the work you and your T have done has started you on this process?

and maybe future work is talking through what you have done and practiced?
 

barefoot

Sponsor
I think I may be experiencing my pretty much annual: therapy is pointless, we’re not going anywhere, I don’t trust that she can ultimately really help me, I’m an idiot to just keep showing up week after week, year after year, paying her £1000s, this is a waste of time and money… It tends to happen autumn/winter…but todays session seems to have triggered these thoughts.

I don’t trust that she knows what to do with me.

I’ve booked in for another session next week. I think I might then take a break for a month or so over the summer. I could read the book instead.
 

Charbella

Confident
I’m not sure I know the answer to this but if it helps:

With EMDR my teen wasn’t really letting me process things and be with her. In the memory my T asks that I do things to comfort her to (reintegrate?) connect and try to help her. She would yell and push me so I told him I wasn’t willing to work with the teen memories for the time being because her anger (especially as it was directed at me) scared me and I wasn’t getting anywhere. T felt this was important and maybe sitting with the anger would be helpful but I refused. Last week there was some success with the teen. I still got overwhelmed by her sadness but she let me comfort her and that felt like integrating her back in. We talked and she told me some of things she was experiencing and I held her while she cried. (Significant as I do not cry and pretty much didn’t as a kid) We’re not done and we might move to a different memory for a bit because with all I have to wade through the process is going to take a bit. Not sure if it helps but I do feel more at peace when the memory comes up.
 
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