Piecing things together

HealingMama

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Last night I got stuck in research mode. My therapist discourages this. I have said myself that I want to avoid peering behind the curtain too much, for fear that I short circuit my own treatment by having access to information about what we are doing and why that isn't designed for patients to have. But I have done this several times now and it isn't seeming to interfere ultimately. I still can't facilitate my own communication as much as I'd like.

I was researching the difference between "dissociated parts" and "ego states". DID-SOS seems to be a high quality, well-informed source on this type of subject. But their article on parts vs ego states still confused me.

I couldn't really put the topic down until I read the intro from Shapiro's Easy Ego State Interventions book. When she described the basic exercises she uses, I scoffed like yeah, that isn't at all a fit for what I'm dealing with. This isn't an imaginal exercise. Some of what I do in therapy is imaginal but thinking about my parts is not. I don't think my face and voice would change just with an ego state but maybe I'm wrong on that. All dissociated parts are ego states but not all ego states are dissociated parts.

At the end of my last therapy session after ***** had been instructed to come forward and talk to everyone directly, it was time to do the scheduling and it felt super weird, woozy, like vertigo trying to transfer into the part of myself that handles my schedule. That makes me think that I (main fronting self) was actually stepping back, and it was a bit of an adjustment to take back my regular position.

I was reading about types of alters and one source said protectors often follow needy attachment parts to keep them safe and that is exactly what it's been like for me. That's probably why I looked kinda borderline. I had a needy part come out pulling my husband to me, followed by a protector pushing him away, rinse and repeat.

Why does it matter if I have "regular ego states" or "dissociated parts"?

The part of me that researches like this wants to be knowledgeable so she has safety. The more we know, the more control we have, the more we can predict things. We refer to her as "keeping it together" in therapy. I tried to refer to her as the host but the therapist didn't pick that up. I'm supposed to think like we are all parts including the part that is usually in control of the body. Maybe that is why she did not reinforce the use of the word "host."

I am noticing now how much I am being the "good student" in my approach to this, and the "good patient" with my therapist. I've almost never confronted a therapist for something, if I do it's very gentle. I was programmed to be compliant. (Not in like a ritualistic way just, you know, my mother was a psychologist so she very intentionally used operant conditioning on me.)

Interestingly, twice now my male protector has come to the front in anticipation of me receiving communication from people that he considers unsafe. Namely, my husband and my abuser. But he shows up BEFORE I receive the actual text. I feel him pop up, I try to be aware of why so I understand my system better, and can't think of a reason for him to feel his presence is necessary, and then the phone dings and the text comes in. Which is very interesting and I suspect not normal?

Protector popped up last night per the above and I couldn't understand why. Then I get these long text messages from my mother explaining a conversation she had with an acquaintance about why their respective family members went into occupations involving the treatment of PTSD.

My mother's narrative focused on my father's death and how she couldn't get me to process it when it happened. According to her message, my friends would say sorry your dad died, and I would just walk away and not talk to them anymore. I gave up multiple friendships to avoid facing the loss.

And then I also spent at least a year sleeping in her bed, at 8 years old, so I could stay up watching her sleep, because I was worried she would die in her sleep like he did. I have a vague memory coming up of a time when I had a neighbor over and she commented on the pile of stuff on my own bed, and I lied and said I move it at night to go to sleep. I was embarrassed to be 9 years old and sleeping in my mother's bed.

Interestingly, I have awareness about these incidents. But the stuff with my mother, that I know happened because the body memories are so strong, I have no real narrative for. I believe I learned to forget it or dissociated it away so that I could live with my only caretaker without unsolvable levels of cognitive dissonance. I believe I have different parts that took on different segments of that stuff.
his has proven to cause major issues for me in setting boundaries with other people and actually sticking to them.

Eh... There's a part trying to come forward to talk about this Stockholm syndrome type of thing that we had to do, but the process is being short circuited bc there's other people in the room and this would break one of our rules. I'll have to try this again later.
 

HealingMama

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Window of tolerance. Window of tolerance.

No, I shouldn't just kill myself.

No, I shouldn't cut my arms. It's addictive. Don't do it.

Just spent 20 minutes screaming in the shower.

I'm ok. I'm a mostly good person even if others only see ugliness. I'm doing the best I can.

I can't even talk to anyone I know irl about these thoughts bc I don't want them to think I just want attention.

What the hell is a "safe person" anyway? Nobody is truly safe all the time. Everyone hurts you eventually.
 

HealingMama

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Sent that sh** away. Probably shouldn't 🤷 but who wants to be that emotional for such a long time.

I saw a movie or a tv show recently and someone on the show said "people don't let you grow. They see who they expect to see no matter what has changed." Dude was right.
 

HealingMama

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The day after an emotional crisis sucks. I have had such a hard time working. I called out part of the day. I just want to go back to bed. It's also really hard to do any self-care after episodes like that. There is too much shame. I had to take some alprazolam last night. But it doesn't make me feel like I can't take care of myself. It also feels like my work self is just not even here today. Maybe that is part of my problem. I am going to cancel my other work responsibilities. Or see if we can have a meeting and shuffle things around.

I have been fighting so much deep shame. My therapist has been trying to help with this issue. Like, why do I value someone else's opinion of me more than my own? (Duh I was programmed to.) It just hurts so **** much to have done so much self work and in an argument, he talks like none of it has happened.

We planned to hang out some after we hit a pause button on the issue so we could both calm down and feel safe around each other after we no longer did, but I went to shower and was flooded with horrible self-talk, SH, suicide, head banging shit. I come out there to tell him I don't think I can hang out after all because his view of me is going to yell in my head the whole time and he is all, well, I think you're an amazing person blah blah blah, within minutes of all the other awful shit. I tried to hear it, bc he tried to say it, but it doesn't get through much when the most he's said is the other stuff.

I do not even understand how this happened??? I wanted to discuss how him walking away feels disrespectful to me, and everything just fell apart. I was calm, contained, and did more or less what you should to manage a difference of opinion well. It turned into 30 minutes about everything wrong with me. I feel so hopeless. It is entirely reasonable to want someone that just leaves the room to find a way to use their words in a constructive manner before they do it. It's reasonable to want them to promise to come back after a set amount of time, to either address whatever the issue is or say they need more time. After YEARS asking for this he still won't do it, and I tried to get him to understand how disrespected that makes me feel... and it turned into this awful break everything mess.

It was really hard not to tell him I want him to just leave me. It's too painful being with someone who can't see the good. He speaks SO uncharitably about things. Not all the time. Just in these types of conversations. He has to make me wrong instead of own his own behavior. And in the moment, he has made me feel so guilty about my actions, that I just let him spend 30 minutes talking trash about me. I should not have let him do that. I should have taken a stronger stand for myself and said No! This is supposed to be a discussion about why you will not use a therapeutic approach to calling a time out despite multiple couples counselors and experts suggesting it, and how it feels that you won't do it after all this time. I do not deserve to feel like shit because he does not want to acknowledge my perspective better than this. He is so f*cking defensive.

Hmm, I am starting to feel a little better now that I am becoming aware of how that conversation went so far off track. I do not have to take on what he is projecting at me.
 

HealingMama

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Feeling sensitive and sad today. Took gabapentin last night to be sure I got a decent night's sleep. A bit groggy and hungover today. (I think maybe our regular doing life part noped the f*ck out of here a couple days ago and that is why it's hard to function like we normally do in terms of carrying on with life, chores, etc. The "action systems" we are comfortable with are not the same as usual. Our responses to certain triggers are also not the same as usual. But if that is a parts issue then how can I notice the contrast between them?)

I was starting to feel better then I saw a bottle of lube in the shower. That means that he masturbated yesterday. Right before that, I asked him a basic question with an intentionally neutral tone and he had attitude. I asked why he had attitude, and he said he didn't. Apparently what he meant was "I have an attitude because I am irritated with you but I'll get past it and don't want to talk about it." I took issue with him basically lying in the version he actually stated. Then he took the shower.

I am not really against porn in general. I think some of it is bad for women, and there are issues with addiction etc, but I am not a woman who is automatically against it or views it as cheating or whatever. But for him to jerk off instead of trying to talk through a problem and get to the other side so we BOTH feel better... I just feel very hurt by that. I am sad, and I find that really selfish. When the relationship is causing stress to both of us, how is it fair for you to get your stress relief but leave things shitty between us instead of dealing with us?

And I do understand the primary goal there is stress relief, because he's explained that before. But in this context, it's like... he doesn't have approval from me so he's fantasizing about having it from someone else. Like dude, the hit to your ego should be a clue to reflect on what the issue is for me and maybe modify how you are showing up. But instead he uses that icky feeling to get validated from some porn star in his imagination. If you want my approval so bad that you act out like this when you don't have it... then maybe try listening to me???

I have been reading about this. There is a book called When Good Men Behave Badly that goes into how men act out when the woman doesn't reflect back the image of himself he wants her to have. I also saw a TikTok yesterday talking about men who try to be "feminist allies" who still abuse their male power when the woman comes to him with a concern, because he will dismiss her reality, gaslight her, ignore her, walk away while she is speaking, and generally not acknowledge it as valid. And he does this so he can take a position of power over her... because her expressing disapproval or unmet needs triggers a feeling of inadequacy in him, and if he has not learned how to sit with those feelings, identify them for what they are and cope with them, then he will jump away from them to feel better - and this often looks like either jumping to the hierarchy model (I am above my partner and will show her that) or get into addictive behaviors to numb those feelings.

I do feel for my husband being married to me, since I demand a lot of psychological mindedness that many people do not seek. But f*ck, if your method of coping with blind spots like sensitivity to shame causes you to hurt others, you have a responsibility to deal with your shit. That's what I've been doing the last few years. Dealing with my shit.

I feel sad that he runs into the arms of a porn star when we are not getting along instead of facing it and dealing with it in a productive manner.

I also feel sad for myself that my thoughts go to what is going on with my husband in his world vs my own.
I have plenty to deal with in my own house.
Knowing he hurts me because he can't deal with his shame doesn't help me past a certain point. I cannot control what he does with that insight.

I should not try to control his masturbation habits. That would be abusive boundary violations. Not that I *am* trying to control it, but part of me wants to.

I have a lot of distorted thinking around this, like he doesn't value the relationship if he chooses to jerk off instead of say something very simple like "I can see how you saw that as lying but that wasn't my intention. I understand you need to be able to trust things I say and will try to say things more clearly in the future."

I need honesty so much. Trust is hard, and you have to go and lie to my face then get mad at me and run into the arms of a porn star to deal with it.

Believe me I do not want everything to be a big deal... but you do not make space for things when I bring them up... you push hard for your own agenda which is total avoidance. So things do not get resolved. So there is more that comes up. I do not think that is my fault. If you want less fighting you should learn how to listen better.

My therapist wants me to stop making his opinion of me so important. Let him have his own mess over there and I can deal with mine. Time for some self compassion.

Of course you're tired. You've been trying to get an otherwise kind, generous and open hearted person to make room for your needs and he isn't doing it very well.
Of course you're tired. You've been juggling work, parenting and relationship problem solving efforts, including once massive fight or flight was triggered.
Of course you want to take a break from cleaning and feeding yourself. It's a great gift to offer yourself though, so I hope you'll find a way to do it anyway.
Of course it makes sense you want to trust the person closest to you in your life. Of course you want to feel safe and secure around him. Of course you want comfort when you are scared. Of course you struggle to do anything when you are this drained emotionally. I am proud of you for not becoming aggressive. I am proud of you for not being as reactive generally. He asked for time out from this emotion processing and you agreed until he lied and I am proud of you for hitting a pause button even though it's hard.

My yoga training this month had a live session and the mantra we are supposed to use is for Green Tara. She is supposed to represent compassion. Compassion is a great antidote to shame and self-esteem issues. I will try to focus on more self-compassion and leave all this other shit off to the side because I can only do so much. Time to focus on my own crap better.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Green_tara_1947_wk.jpg
 

HealingMama

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Feeling better. Back in my window of tolerance.
I hate it when therapy falls during a fight with my husband. It is hard to table the fight to do other therapy stuff and it feels like I am wasting my time and money talking about relationship conflicts. It's something that is ongoing, we are going to do couples therapy, so when I have my individual person I want to focus on just me stuff.

Especially when she uses the time to tell me shit I already know. Yes I know these are attachment style conflicts. I know I need to regulate my emotions better. I say I need to deal with whatever is in me that makes me obsessively talk for 2 hours to "solve the problem" with him and we do not even address that.

I guess not all of me knows those things or I would be able to do them better but still, feels like a waste of her expertise to focus on that stuff.
 

HealingMama

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I am afraid to let *** have special fronting time again.
It caused a lot of issues. Not from her but from Sam.
I appreciate that he wants to keep her safe. I need to keep negotiating with him about how he makes that happen.
 
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