Reenactment in therapy

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
So I've had another rupture with my T.
Hate this feeling.
But I'm trying to work through it and take responsibility for my part of it.

I *think* what my T was trying to say is that this is a reenactment from the past that I have drawn her into. And that we need to step out of it and examine it, as that is where the healing is.
.no idea really what she meant, as part of me, that is very hurt, heard: don't talk, don't have needs, don't express, don't be in therapy; and I have impacted her negatively.
Which I know is coming from a young place.

Essentially she said that I am stuck and I am placing pressure on therapy, and her, to make things better. And that is making her feel helpless. And she wondered if I was manipulating the situation, to keep her attention by remaining stuck.

Again, this is coming from my interpretation of what she said. And it's hard to be objective because I'm really hurt by what she said.
Think I'm hurt because she might be right. But also hurt as I feel silenced.

So, have you played out a reenactment with your therapist? And how did you get past it?
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
.no idea really what she meant, as part of me, that is very hurt, heard: don't talk, don't have needs, don't express, don't be in therapy; and I have impacted her negatively.
Which I know is coming from a young place.

Your answer is there. The re-enactment seems to bring upfront: you were young, hurt, were told or made not to talk, made or felt not to have needs or express, or be in the situation you were (family) and were shown or felt that you - the youngster was impacting the adult in your life negatively!

You do not remember the real experience but it stayed with you.

The rupture happens because we stop to own the experience we thwarted long time ago because we were too young to cope or even understand. The only way to stop re-enactment is reality check. Sometimes unfortunately a depression (deep feeling of helplessness) may take over us and we come out of that with the ownership of this type of experience as part of our autobiographical - the purpose of the therapy work.

Essentially she said that I am stuck and I am placing pressure on therapy, and her, to make things better. And that is making her feel helpless. And she wondered if I was manipulating the situation, to keep her attention by remaining stuck.

Whenever a good therapist expresses a feeling, (sometimes unfortunately it is not delivered well) is that the feeling is what you are projecting - helpless. The manipulation word is completely defense on her part and just poor choice if not even unprocessed aggression. nevertheless, a reality check is needed. Big movingforward will show up.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
The only way to stop re-enactment is reality check.
I think this is what T is trying to do.

Sometimes unfortunately a depression (deep feeling of helplessness) may take over us and we come out of that with the ownership of this type of experience as part of our autobiographical - the purpose of the therapy work.
Yeah, I think I am there (the deep feeling of helplessness). Not yet come out of that. But I think I was there by a trauma that came up in therapy and it derailed me. And I have been stuck in a particular state. I thought it was linked to this trauma, but T sees it as reenacting something. Can it be both?


Whenever a good therapist expresses a feeling, (sometimes unfortunately it is not delivered well) is that the feeling is what you are projecting - helpless. The manipulation word is completely defense on her part and just poor choice if not even unprocessed aggression. nevertheless, a reality check is needed. Big movingforward will show up.
She said she was hesitant bringing up the manipulation bit, but brought it up as I had previously brought it up with her as I sometimes say I think I am being manipulative'. So it wasn't a new word. But she used it in a very different context, as before she would say I wasn't and now she is saying I am.
But I do think she needs to hold her own boundary, and that's on her.
Idk.
I'm angry at her. I think for a whole host of reasons.

How does a reality check work?! I'm assuming that is myself I need to check.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
and I am placing pressure on therapy, and her, to make things better.
Isn't that kind of the point of therapy? "Making things better" might be an over simplification, but aren't you there in the first place to improve somethings about your life? So, to me at least, this seems like it would be a "good" thing, not a problem.
And that is making her feel helpless. And she wondered if I was manipulating the situation, to keep her attention by remaining stuck.
Because that paragraph started with "Essentially she said...." I'm wondering if that's what she said, or what you heard. Because they aren't always the same thing. Sometimes what we "hear" is skewed by things that have happened in the past. (Which would be a "re-enactment" I guess.)
Again, this is coming from my interpretation of what she said.
I don't know about you. My own experience is I can get things totally wrong when I try to interpret what my T just said. Instead of interpreting for myself, I've learned that it works better to just say something like, "I'm not sure how you meant that, would you try to say it again?" It was a little hard to do that at first. I felt like a bit of an idiot for not understanding him the first time. In the long run, it turns out to be better than NOT understanding and going off on a wild tangent that wasn't based on anything other than what I thought he meant.

A thought on "being manipulative". My T says that the word itself isn't negative, it's neutral. We "manipulate" stuff all the time. My dogs "manipulate" me with that "I'm a cute starving dog, don't you want to give me a treat?" look. Doesn't make them evil, it makes them dogs. People "manipulate" people to get their needs met. Sometimes those "needs" are legitimate, sometimes they aren't.
And she wondered if I was manipulating the situation, to keep her attention by remaining stuck.
That's not evil, if it actually IS what you're doing at the moment. It could be a sign, as one possibility, that some part of you really feels it NEEDS her attention and that's the only way it can see to get and keep it. It could be that some part of you is actually scared to "get better" and being stuck in the familiar feels safer. Could be a lot of things. It might be worth considering whether or not there could be truth in what she says and then look at the reasons behind it. I don't think her saying she wonders if you're manipulating the situation is the same thing as her saying you're "bad" or "wrong". If you don't think that's what you're doing, say so. Ask her to give evidence. Ask for more explanations. There shouldn't be any problem with that. When you were a child, maybe that wasn't a way you could approach things but you should be able to do it now, with a therapist.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
But I do think she needs to hold her own boundary, and that's on her.
Idk.
I'm angry at her. I think for a whole host of reasons.

Just because you are in therapy does not mean you lost all intelligence. yes. you are right. she needs to be more aware of boundaries and countertransference. There is no manipulation in therapy. Even if the client is manipulating and the therapist is realizing, there are myriad ways to communicate without making the client into self -doubt.

Children learn manipulation earlier than truth telling (there is some name false belief or something like that) so it is not surprising when a client may regress into that developmental phase and act out.

Also 100% - re-enactment always have an element of truth with the person in the re-enactment with you. It is not 100% we are reacting in vacuum. She reacted a way that "reminded" you of this episode in your life. You are not on the bus feeling this way alone. You are in the room with another engaging you and you are falling into this so yes both of you have similar thing bouncing each other. normal subjective experiences of two humans but one is professional who needs this to happen in order to help you heal.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Isn't that kind of the point of therapy? "Making things better" might be an over simplification, but aren't you there in the first place to improve somethings about your life? So, to me at least, this seems like it would be a "good" thing, not a problem.
Yeah. I get what she is saying about this though, as there was a particular context. I have been really struggling and I had emailed her the day before saying I hoped the session helped as I didn't know what to do, and I started the session saying I am putting pressure on the session to make it better. So she said that put pressure on her to make sure I got what I needed, and we entered this game that actually didn't help. So I do get that I did that.

Because that paragraph started with "Essentially she said...." I'm wondering if that's what she said, or what you heard. Because they aren't always the same thing. Sometimes what we "hear" is skewed by things that have happened in the past. (Which would be a "re-enactment" I guess.)
Yeah, it's hard to remember her precise words as I'm just hearing my interpretation. And my feeling of it all. She did say she isn't judging me. And we can work through it. And this is the process.


don't think her saying she wonders if you're manipulating the situation is the same thing as her saying you're "bad" or "wrong". If you don't think that's what you're doing, say so
Yeah, I'm just hearing that I messed up and hurt her, and I'm shutting down. It's unfortunate that this has come out through me speaking about a particular trauma that I hadn't spoken about before. So I'm feeling very silenced on that trauma.

Also 100% - re-enactment always have an element of truth with the person in the re-enactment with you. It is not 100% we are reacting in vacuum. She reacted a way that "reminded" you of this episode in your life. You are not on the bus feeling this way alone. You are in the room with another engaging you and you are falling into this so yes both of you have similar thing bouncing each other. normal subjective experiences of two humans but one is professional who needs this to happen in order to help you heal.
Yeah. I get a sense, and I have had this before, that she backs off when things sort of venture into the more SI side of things. And I don't know if that is something for her. Idk. I'm trying to read her mind and be 12 steps ahead to avoid being hurt. Old games.
 

grit

MyPTSD Pro
that she backs off when things sort of venture into the more SI side of things
This may explain your feelings of helplessness and her feeling of probably helplessness in helping you and the part where a lot of therapists get scared of SI as it may impact on their own emotions and regulation profession - if they do not follow certain safety protocol. You are not alone. Your feelings and exploring is so normal. In all of this, at the end of the day, you are striving to be alive and healthy considering you experienced something that impact you this way greatly. You are not alone!
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Thanks.

It really helps to get your perspective as I'm just rolling around with feelings and frustrations. Hard to know which of them are valid and which aren't. Which are real and which are projections from the past. Made even harder to work out because I'm an expert in twisting the truth and telling myself things never happened and I don't have feelings about them even if they did happen. So it's a confusing mess in my head at times. I'm not sure she gets that, because I have said a number of times I struggle to know what is real and what isn't and she always moves on from that.
Idk.
I think I am trying to punish her somehow with these thoughts.
 

Rosebud

MyPTSD Pro
Idk if this is helpful, but re-enactments (as I understand it) repeat the past with hopes to change the ending. It's hard to do differently with the knowledge the same feelings may seem confirmed (voicelessness, abandonment, helplessness, etc). But I think the truth is, you can still feel all those things. Then you have to decide if reality really reflects those things? It doesn't, to the extent you are no longer a child. Idk if it does , however, in the sense you have to decipher how you are left feeling. But, now as a different person (not a child) it becomes, what do I need to solve this, how do I get there. And we have to do that. It feels hurtful if she misunderstands, but maybe she thinks you expect her to solve what you are trying to solve yourself, albeit with her help?

Like I was thinking about this, I feel I have no voice, or that so many years I have cried out internally or externally and am met with - nothing. Silence. But I think back to what started this mess, and it was my own silence- my own cowardice, that I did not cry out for another, and they ended up dead. So on one hand, I feel I deserve it, or maybe it's the ~curse that follows that, that I am doomed for life because of that. I know I don't mean that, as in magical thinking, but in another way, it's a theme I can't ignore. Idk if I didn't intercede because I already was taught to keep quiet, or shock, or just as I say cowardice. So now Idk if speaking is re-enacting, or the opposite. It becomes muddled. It is an attempt to do the opposite, but there is no doubt to me it ends up feeling the same, because I still seem to have no voice. Idk, I am left feeling perhaps just to accept this is my lot in life, and stop trying and stay silent. I guess what I mean is, because of what I did (or didn't do), I deserve or have earned to have the same done to me, so I both expect it and/or at least feel deserving of being invisible. having no voice or help. Which I guess is a re-enactment. But then they say you're supposed to speak up, which is fighting what (I) expect were I re-enacting. Because re-enacting involves no hope and therefore to not try. I don't get it, tbh. Perhaps it's individual. no doubt the struggle will always be. But you are trying to get help, it sounds like you feel somewhat confident to agree or disagree with her, and hopefully she listens to you also.

Hope that makes sense for all those words. 🙄 I am very sorry to add stuff about me, I hope it resonates in some way to be helpful! Good luck. 🤗
 
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whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
I don't have the emotional energy to delve into the rest of your post right now (probably because I'm also having issues with my T), but this struck me:

And that is making her feel helpless
If she actually said this, I call BS. How many times have so many of us been told -- over and over again -- that no one can "make" us feel any way? In addition to so many other things, saying this in this way serves only to place blame.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
This brings to mind many interactions my therapist and I have had. It’s very tricky when you really get down to things. I’ll tell you for sure I have an abuser internalised and that’s a very manipulative force in particular in wanting me not to get well. Wanting me to be silent. Yes that voice is at odds with the voice asking the therapist for help, to make things better.

Very good post, very hard stuff.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Idk if this is helpful, but re-enactments (as I understand it) repeat the past with hopes to change the ending. It's hard to do differently with the knowledge the same feelings may seem confirmed (voicelessness, abandonment, helplessness, etc). But I think the truth is, you can still feel all those things. Then you have to decide if reality really reflects those things? It doesn't, to the extent you are no longer a child. Idk if it does , however, in the sense you have to decipher how you are left feeling. But, now as a different person (not a child) it becomes, what do I need to solve this, how do I get there. And we have to do that. It feels hurtful if she misunderstands, but maybe she thinks you expect her to solve what you are trying to solve yourself, albeit with her help?
That is helpful. Thanks. And makes a lot of sense.


Like I was thinking about this, I feel I have no voice, or that so many years I have cried out internally or externally and am met with - nothing. Silence. But I think back to what started this mess, and it was my own silence- my own cowardice, that I did not cry out for another, and they ended up dead. So on one hand, I feel I deserve it, or maybe it's the ~curse that follows that, that I am doomed for life because of that. I know I don't mean that, as in magical thinking, but in another way, it's a theme I can't ignore.
I'm sorry you have this too. And what happened to you.
I think there are aspects of this I carry, related to my experiences, in that I do think I can get into a 'victimhood' way of thinking. But this is really dodgy ground for me as I can then lead straight into "it was all my fault. I manipulated them into raping me. Therefore I am a rapist". Which I worked so hard to overcome.

If she actually said this, I call BS. How many times have so many of us been told -- over and over again -- that no one can "make" us feel any way? In addition to so many other things, saying this in this way serves only to place blame.
Yeah. I think her saying that, and that j put pressure on her and had I thought about how that made her feel, are all really difficult things for me to hear. Are they legitimate things to help heal, as she never brings her feelings into it? Or are they her making the therapy about herself? Either way, if someone tells me their feelings, I switch mine down and focus on them. And I am worried this will silence me. I won't at all want to put her under pressure or make her feel crap. I know I have a choice about how to respond. But all this came out because I went into a big emotional crash after disclosing a particular trauma for the first time. So it's all linked. And all very difficult. And painful.
But maybe I'm just manipulating again by that? Idk.


I don't know how I feel about it. I don't know if being upset with her is easier than being upset with me.
I don't know if she's right or if she is bringing her own stuff into it. Or a confusing mixture of the two?
 
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