When your therapist hits a sore spot


I was thinking about my therapy session yesterday and I’m still a bit stunned by what would seem like a very small thing that happened during the session. My therapist kind of cool. She’s older but not really old, she’s got kind of a hippy/zen vibe but she’s also professional and appropriate. She does a good job of keeping things professional while being caring and supportive and friendly without the lines blurring. She’s also insanely empathetic lol! I say “insanely” because of the way she reacts to my life’s story. The things I tell her, touch her deeply, I can tell and it always puzzles me why she thinks my life has been so sad. My point of view is of course seeing it as I deserved what I got so what’s there to be sad about?

Usually during therapy, even when we’re talking about serious things, there’s always some point where I have to laugh or make a joke about something. I never leave upset, at least not outwardly. My therapist is very level-headed and very much a free-spirit, it’s part of why I find the dynamics of our relationship so interesting and beneficial. I am not a free-spirit and I use logic or at least what I think is logical (she of course questions my logic at times because some it’s based on my abuse). She’s very intelligent and quick but she also uses her heart and her intuition. We’re opposites and it works for us as we both bring something different to the session, different perspectives and points-of-view and as she has said, we learn from each other. She learns from the way my logic works and the way I process things and I learn from the way she’s in touch with emotions and intuition. It’s a good match.

With all of her, zen coolness and free-spirited, intuition/ empathy, I’ve never seen her get mad or anything close to it. And even when she’s serious about something, there’s no heavy atmosphere or anything like that coming from her. On Monday something different happened and it’s stuck with me, in fact I’m still feeling it. Don’t worry she didn’t get mad at me or anything like that at all. She got serious and I can’t believe how it affected me (not in a bad way). We were talking and we were discussing feeling empathy or sadness for the young me who was abused. I told her that I can’t feel that for that version of the young me, the 4 year-old, but I have felt sadness and compassion once,  for a different younger me, the one who’s around 6 years-old or so. I told her what I now call the “ice cream” story. I think I’ve said it here but I’ll repeat it. I told her that my husband and I were out and decided to get ice cream cones at McDonald’s. I told her that when I got mine, I felt myself start to dissociate. I was unnerved because my husband was in the car and as far as I knew he had never seen any of my alters. I felt a younger part come forward strongly and I was pushed aside only able to observe in horror because I was afraid how my husband would react. Anyway, this younger part could not believe that she had her own ice cream cone! It was utter happy delight and purely childish, I could feel what “she” felt. The little girl enjoyed every single part of that ice cream cone, giggling and happy, getting it all over her/my face. It was an amazing moment of pure happiness. Why? Because in the past when “we” were kids, anytime my mother bought me an ice cream cone, before I could taste it she would snatch it away from me and eat at least half of it, making sure that she got a lot of saliva all over it. Why? Because she knew that I had always, always had a problem eating after another person, in fact I wouldn’t do it. If it was food, I would find some way, no matter how little I was, to remove the part that had been touched by the other person’s mouth before I would attempt to eat it. if it was a drink I would give the drink to the person and get something else or go without it. If I couldn’t remove, I didn’t eat it, period. My mother knew this, she used to mock me for it. So, she would take the ice cream and basically get her spit all over it, smirk at me and give it back knowing that unless I could find a way to get every part she touched off, I would be unable to eat it. She enjoyed doing that. So the little girl part in the car with my husband, who had finally gotten her own ice cream cone, one that no one would take from her, it was all hers, was beyond joyful. It was actually a nice feeling to share with “her”. So, I’m telling my therapist the “ice cream” story and I’m laughing about it, about my mom etc. and some other stuff, she’s responding with how horrible that was and how it just added to how people treated me, I’m still laughing and she looks at me, dead serious, the first time I’ve ever seen her that serious, she was very still and she looked me straight in the eye while I was laughing and said, “That’s not funny.” mentally I kind stumbled, and I felt embarrassed, but it was like this weird moment of truth when someone points out something that you’re doing that’s wrong. I’ve always known that I use humor and sarcasm to brush stuff off or to lighten a mood or to make people think that haven’t hurt me even they have. It’s what I do. I’m not saying that humor as a coping technique doesn’t have it’s place because I think it does, but in this situation, her words, the seriousness of her expression and the way she said it, wow. I just looked at her kind of surprised and she repeated it, ‘That’s not funny. What happened to you is not funny.” She wasn’t berating me at all in fact I realize that she wanted me to see what I was doing to myself. We were talking about self-hatred and I was laughing about all of the things my mom did to make me feel bad, about what other people did to me. Let’s just say it was a moment for me for some reason. I’ve been thinking about it ever since. She has no idea that it affected me so deeply. I realize of course that being sexually and physically abused, called a whore by your mother, neglected and left alone in the dark etc. is not funny. But I have no other way to handle those deep conversations, it’s what I do. But, maybe I need to change that because in truth, it’s not appropriate to make fun of myself in this context. I would never, ever laugh at someone else who had been through what I went through, in fact I would punch anyone who dared to do that someone else. So, maybe for once the rule does apply to me. The question now, is what do I do, at least in therapy to take that defense down. In fact the more I think about it, the more I realize that using that humor, that sarcasm that “laugh it off” attitude has kept me from being fully present in therapy. I don’t mean in the dissociation way, but mentally and emotionally it keeps me separate from how I would really be feeling. Huh. I need to think about this some more…

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About CimmarianInk

Abuse Survivor Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder PTSD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) also known as Multiple Personalities
This entry was posted in abuse, Alters, bipolar disorder, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, depersonalization, depression, derealization, DID, dissociation, dissociative fugue, dissociative identity disorder, Family Relationships, Incest, Mental Health, Multiple Personalities, neglect, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Psychiatry, PTSD, Rape, self-harm, Sexual Abuse, Therapy, Trauma and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to When your therapist hits a sore spot

  1. Freasha1964 says:

    Cool! I WANT your therapist.
    Do you think that because you were so very much in a child’s mind space, she took this opportunity for a teaching moment (like a mother to child)? You know, where the child needs some proper guidance navigating through all the social mores?
    And I recommend you bring those questions you posed to the next session.

    • tai0316 says:

      Freasha, good question about where my mind was. I’m not sure if she decided it was a good time to point that out or if she just wanted to get my attention. And yes, I will bring this up in therapy. 🙂

  2. meredith says:

    My sister and I used humor to cope with our mom. I think when you’re in it there’s a point when everything is so absurd it’s impossible to know what to do with life… my sis and I did dark humor because it was pointless to cry. That’s how it felt, anyway. And then the day came when it wasn’t funny, anymore.

    It really takes awhile to digest how intense things get for a kid dealing with large people who are mean, mean, mean… and they have all the power.

    Eating a treat that was supposed to be for you was mean. It was really, really mean.

    ~meredith~

    • tai0316 says:

      meredith, I knew you’d get this post. 😉 And you’re right, it’s like crying won’t help anything so what do you do? Your words hit home: “And then the day came when it wasn’t funny, anymore.” Exactly.

      Thanks for thinking my mom was mean, and yes I’m laughing right now.

  3. callmeams says:

    Oh Tai. Your mom is a total bitch. And if I had the bitch in front of me, my bitchy side would come out and I’d beat the shit out of her.

    I understand about laughing and joking through the hard things. I have done it myself for years and years. I can only guess to your motivations, but I have pondered mine for many years. My theory is this. I would laugh things off and make jokes about myself or my situation before others could do so. And I always felt they would, that my feelings weren’t important or relevant. By hurting myself before anyone else could hurt me I avoided rejections. One of the biggest side affects of being abused for me is severe self-esteem issues and rejection is still my number one trigger. Even when it’s not true rejection and I just perceive it that way.

    Is there a possibility that you are using this with your therapist because you are revealing so much of yourself and somewhere inside you are worried that she is going to tell that it was your fault? And by laughing about it you are trying to make it seem like it’s not a big deal and soften the blow before it’s thrown?

    Just my thoughts. I will tell you that no matter what you say or tell your therapist or any of us, it was not your fault. There are sick, sick people in the world and you had the misfortune of being born into a family with some of them. It was a horrible twist of fate and you have suffered for it. You did NOT cause it.

    • tai0316 says:

      Thank you Amy lol!
      I think protecting ourselves with humor is definitely a way of doing it before someone else does it to us. Great point. I will have to talk about this in therapy.

  4. castorgirl says:

    It’s sobering when someone really sees you, isn’t it? When they see beyond the veneer of laughter/sarcasm/coping to the pain and confusion underneath. It’s like this huge reality check… you were/are human, you were/are worthy of love and care… Sometimes that can hurt the most. It’s easier to dehumanise the situation with laughter and jokes, but that is the old coping.

    Take care.
    CG

    • tai0316 says:

      Sobering! That’s the word CG! Thank you. And again “reality check” is perfect. You said it perfectly, thank you. It is easier to laugh than to feel and I don’t know how I would deal if I had to use a different coping mechanism. Yikes!

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