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dealing with trauma...(very long) RealMe

Posted by twinleaf on October 24, 2007, at 11:10:36

In reply to Re: Twinleaf you ok? twinleaf, posted by RealMe on October 23, 2007, at 21:57:42

One of the things that always startles me is how different the dynamics are between each patient-therapist dyad. Everyone here seems to be having a somewhat different, even unique, kind of emotional experience. And even when one of the people is the same- i.e. , us) our experience with successive therapists, if we have had more than one, is always so different as to emotional content, what feels safe or dangerous, what memories and fears float up to the surface. etc.

Having said all that, I remember from yesterday how we were exploring treatment parameters. I said I didn't want to be called "Dr. xxxxxx" because it would sound too formal, but I also didn't want to be called by my first name, as that would be too intimate.

T: as I recall, I've never addressed you by name..."

me: "no- that's good. Sometimes I imagine that you'll remember me by my first name after I leave you...."

T:" . There's nowhere you can stay. There seem to be such powerful things pulling you: on the one side, towards greater closeness and intimacy, and then, as soon as you've felt that for a moment, there is fear pulling you away to what must feel like a safer distance."

me:"it's so true- what you say."


me: I haven't figured out if we're supposed to say "hello" and "good-bye" or not.

T: I feel that I'm saying "hello" when I say "come on in"

me: "yeah, I guess you are. I guess I should be saying "hi"

T: "you can do whatever feels right- and it doesn't always have to be the same. One of my mentors taught me that patients should be welcomed into one's office as honored guests- however you greet them, that is the basic message you would like them to receive."

me: (crying) "you can't ask for more than that."

There is a moment of peaceful silence. I say that his newly painted green office looks pretty. Then he notices that my mood has suddenly changed.

T: "what is it?"

me" "I just feel like kicking you"

T: "the way that your mind works is beautiful. You don't dissociate: you allow yourself a moment of warmth and closeness, and then you balance it by a moment of distancing and know when you're doing each thing"

me (feeling very sad) "yes, I've been doing that ever since I came in here today"

T: "it will help to be more aware of that; then you are in a better position to decide whether you need to be doing that now. Or rather, I hope you'll grow into the feeling that you don't need to do that nearly as much now. You obviously really needed those defenses when you were a little girl."

During a silent moment:

T: "I feel that it's important to maintain the analytic frame as a sort of sacred space in which the patient feels increasingly safer to say anything he or she wishes. If we break that by having periods of social interaction, I think it's harder for patients in the long run to do the work they need to do. I think it's especially hard with patients who are colleagues - the temptation on the part of the analyst to fulfill short-term social needs of his own is greater."

Just then, the work began! I found myself talking about two different childhood traumas. one from age 3 and one from around 6. I seemed to remember everything about them- how things looked and smelled, the expression on the other person's face, as well as memories about their body language, and what I thought their feelings and intentions were. He only spoke a little- pointing out things like how I seemed to feel that the other person's wishes and desires were more important than mine, and encouraging me to look more deeply into what mine were.
Suddenly the end of the hour came. As we got up, he looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm glad you could talk so much about these things, and feel so much. We'll be doing that a lot more in the future." Then we both said "bye"!

This is all by way of trying to answer your question, RealMe. I think I spent a lot of time exploring who my analyst was, and whether he was truly committed to my emotional well-being before it was possible for me to explore the emotional aspects of the abuse, I am slowly developing enough trust to begin doing that. I listen like a hawk to everything he says, and keep having to decide, over and over again, that he is a good and safe person for me.




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