Therapy, Plans and Changing Ingrained Beliefs aka; Hard Work!

I’m looking over this post. It took me two days to write it and it’s very off to me as I read it so, I’m saying ahead of time that I wrote this post without being really with it, so please excuse the mess. Also, I use the word “self-injury” or “self-injure” twice but I don’t talk about it. I don’t always know when I’m supposed to warn people.

Had my session the other day and we covered a lot of stuff.

I hit on the punishment things first. Actually I didn’t do that first. I mentioned to her that I had been feeling very belligerent the last few visits without knowing why, then I went to self-punishment. I expressed my unhappiness at having no outlet to punish myself. She asked me if I knew how crazy that sounded to which I said, “Of course I do!” But I said that I didn’t care. I tried to articulate the feeling, as being therapist, they can’t really know how this feels without personal experience. She can only guess and ‘try to put herself in my shoes’ which is what she often calls it. She’s not bad at it either, there are just some things that have to be felt. Anyway, I tried to sit for a moment and think about how this need feels. I told her that it feels like there’s a giant, gaping hole in my chest and the only thing that can fill it, is punishment. She found that interesting and she began connecting that feeling to my childhood.

I spent a lot of the session expressing images and thoughts that occurred to me when she said certain words or phrases. I found that to be incredibly helpful since I have such a hard time identifying emotions. When she said “childhood”, the image that appeared, was the house where I was in the dark, the house that my mother left me in when I was little, while she met up with guys or whatever. It was so dark there and I was very young, too young to be left alone at night, but I didn’t know that at the time. That was my life so of course I was supposed to be alone in the dark! My therapist pointed out that I still would have viewed that as punishment, but something that I deserved because that’s just how things were for me. I didn’t have a “normal” (haha) life and a part of me knew that something wasn’t right at home, but it felt like it was my fault. So, I now feel the need to be punished to fill the whole that was left by my not being cared for, or loved, and being scared and sad. Ok, I can work with that.

She said that one thing I need to do is replace the negative message “I need to be punished” with something else, something I can say to myself when that thought occurs.

 She started saying things about telling myself I deserve love and care and some other word that I can’t remember right now. I started shaking my head in disgust before she got to the third word, and I told her that what she was saying sounded horrible. I said that needing love and care and stuff like that sounded weak. She said that was a strange thing to say and I replied that it was all weakness. She asked me if I love and care for people? I said yes, because loving someone is a logical result of getting to know someone who you have a lot in common with and you develop a relationship with them. I said that caring for someone is a logical response to a need that someone has, so yes, I do love and care for certain people. (I can hear how this sounds as I write this, it feels very robotic) She then mentioned that when a person is around a child, the natural instinct (I’m assuming with normal non-abusive people) is to care for the child, to comfort them. Maybe comfort was the third word she used. Anyway, she asked me why people naturally care for and comfort children? I said because children need it. She got all happy because I answered correctly and then I burst her bubble by adding that I’m not a child so her argument made no sense. She chuckled a little and said, “People don’t stop needing love and care and comfort. It’s not like you reach a certain age and you say: “Ok, no more care or love for you, you’re an adult now!” So, I told her that telling me about some concept of care and comforting and loving myself meant nothing to me because it’s just a concept. I told her that I need concrete steps, something real to do or say to accomplish this goal.

I told her that in the survivor community many of us are told to be self-nurturing or whatever but not all of us know what that means. I told her to give me specifics.

She went back to the message first, fighting against the message that I need to be punished. She said that even though words like: love, care, and comfort are uncomfortable to me, I’m going to have to use something to get a positive message in my head.

We started talking about words that I could tolerate as a starting point. I cannot tolerate words that tell me I deserve love or anything like that, so she laughed because I was making her think about it. It was one of those moments when you can tell it’s good for her to have someone like me as a client, because she needs the experience of dealing with someone who requires more concrete ideas and not just concepts. So, she tried thinking of wording that I could tolerate, and none of the nice stuff worked. Then she hit upon the thought, ‘I’m not going to live my life based on how my mother programmed me’. For a mantra, that worked! A part of me, literally a “part”, has a huge desire to rebel against my mother ( a lot of people in positions of authority in some ways, but especially her) so when she said those words, that part said “Hell yes!”, so we got some wording to use.

Now, every time the thought “I need to be punished” comes to mind, I’m supposed to counter with the thought: “I’m not going to live my life based on how my mother programmed me.” So that’s one part.

During this part of our session I veered suddenly because I became aware of an internal reaction. I have to say that as I write this, I’m noticing what an interesting session this was. I was aware of internal reactions without really understanding it right away, but I was able to articulate what was being felt so my therapist wouldn’t just go on thinking that everything was ok when it was not.

Ok, so I stopped her at that point because, as soon as we had a “victory” of sorts; the winning phrase so to speak, there was a sudden desire to actively seek out ways to punish me that would be dangerous.

I told her that something suddenly changed while we were talking. I described it as an internal “pulling away”, a part (unknown) that did not like that we had thought of something that would stop me from punishing myself. This part was not happy, and it wanted to immediately find some sort of physically painful way to punish me, it was quite determined too.

I found myself telling her this in a very removed way, it was as if I was observing the internal reactions dispassionately and then relaying the information to her. I told her that there was now a danger that I would seek a way to harm myself. So, she said we would make sure that I was safe before  left her office.

She fell back on positive affirmations and I immediately stopped her. I told her that once again, in this situation, concrete steps are required, and that actions that required something physical would be most helpful. She was happy that I had an idea of what I needed, so we started working that.

She told me that I had already done the first step, which was to tell someone. She also wanted me to blog about it if it became more of an issue so that I was reaching out to someone and of course to tell my husband as well. She still wanted me to have some sort of positive affirmations so I compromised and suggested physically writing them on cards and getting an actual box to put things in that I could use in case of this kind of emergency. She liked that idea.

Then we discussed what I could physically do. I went with getting out my viola to play, which she loved and then I told her that getting out of the house would be also be necessary. She liked that as well, but I told her that it would need to be a firm plan because staying in the house is tempting, because if I stay, I know that I’ll give in to self-injury. She asked me what physical activity I’d like to do and I said that now that the weather’s gotten better, I’d like to walk around my neighborhood, which I never do. She actually had a really good idea here which worked for my brain, and that was not to walk around aimlessly. She wants me to map out an actual route, so that when I leave the house, I know exactly where I’m supposed to go. Having a mapped out route appealed to some part of me, (This part thought of using GPS which was funny to me) so I agreed with that. She also told me that if I was going to have a real, physical box to keep things in that would help me, she wants me to come up with another name for it that’s not the “Emergency Box”. She didn’t want this to be a negative thing so she’d like it if I came up with a more positive title for it. I’ll have to figure that one out.

I realize that all of these things must sound like stupid ideas for dealing with little kids but it’s what we came up with at the time. Completing this post today, two days later, it sounds kind of silly now.

Ok, I’m really out of it so I’m going to stop now.


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, Child Abuse, Child Molestation, depersonalization, derealization, DID, dissociation, 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 Therapy, Plans and Changing Ingrained Beliefs aka; Hard Work!

  1. meredith says:

    You have a lot of information, lots and lots of things to think about, and all of this takes a long time to digest. You don’t have to believe everything you learned, you do have a right to feel defensive and indifferent, but you can think about what you’ve learned, a little at a time and still protect yourself.

    All of this is good stuff, tai; and nothing gives me a meaner migraine than challenging ideas that I suspect have a seed of truth to them.

    Good for you for writing about this. Thank you for sharing it, too. I hope using a GPS to walk around the block will make walking with your life easier. I hope you try it. You’re such an adventurer, I imagine that you have the right stuff to at least give it a try.

    my heartfelt support,


    • tai0316 says:

      Hi meredith!

      Yes there is a lot to think about. This whole post is just a big mess when I even try to think about it, which is unusual for me. And where does my therapist get off trying to get me to like myself more!? How dare she!

      Thank you for the support. Now I just have to figure out where to put my keys and my wallet and my phone, when I go walking…

  2. Freasha1964 says:

    Hi Tai,
    Actually, I think this is a great post and it hangs together just fine. I had many “wow” moments. Thanks.

    First one:
    “a giant, gaping hole in my chest and the only thing that can fill it, is punishment”
    I have been able to relate to that in the past. I hope the nature of my hole has morphed some. I think it is neediness now more than punishment, but only for a mother. A good one like we all deserve.

    Can we have a contest to re-name your “emergency box”? Rainbow box of repair tools. Or Rainbow box, period. Or… keep thinking…

    Even in your despair, you have the best sense of humor and I hope you forgive me for laughing so much (now that I have told you, otherwise, you wouldn’t know). I do understand the gravity of what you are experiencing and it is deeply saddening at the same time.

    I thought your affirmation -aphorism?- was very clever. Then it was riveting to see another part of you put its foot down, so to speak, and threaten to hurt you. And Tai, I sure hope you can use the rainbow collection (OK I win) to keep yourself safe. The picture of you using a GPS to walk around the neighborhood is hysterical. And it fits with your personality, if I am correct, of a techno nerd. (You said something that I interpreted this way a while back. Sorry, sorry if I just insulted you.)

    And of course, getting out your viola is a great idea. One of my teachers once said that tears won’t hurt my violin – well I think he might have said another word than tears. Anyway, music puts me in a different place and I have cried all over my violin and it still goes. And if nothing else you will improve because you will be practicing.

    Best of wishes to you, Tai. I hope that if I say you deserve the best, you won’t have to go for a walk right away. Really you do.

    • tai0316 says:

      Hey Freasha,

      On your first “wow” moment, your comment makes a lot of sense and I appreiate you saying it because I hadn’t thought about it as being something that could change. That was interesting. And a yearning for a good mother makes total sense considering what you’ve been through.

      On the contest, uh…. 😉 I’m going to let you think about my personality for a moment and then have you consider that the first name I came up with was “Strategy Box”. I don’t do rainbows too much, unless Lisa sends over one of her famous rainbow armies with unicorns to help me out. 🙂 You can keep trying though, I’m open.

      If I didn’t have humor I would be dead by now but thankfully I think I’m naturally like this anyway, besides years of being bullied and thinking that I have to make up for my looks by being funny and smart.
      I’m glad people think I’m funny, it’s not a bad thing and it makes people happy which makes me happy.

      Talking about the affirmation, yes, feeling that part (which I may have to talk to my therapist about) get very not happy was…I don’t know how to explain it. I still need to think about it. And yes, you have gauged me correctly, I am a HUGE techno nerd and proud of it lol! Heck, I’m a huge nerd period, so yes GPS sounds cool. 🙂

      And yes, music is a definite good thing and I’m glad you find it that way too. I just wish I could play real music, but I’m too new still. I just want to jump ahead a year down the road so I play real stuff.

      Thank you for the kind thoughts Freasha, you’re awesome.

      • Freasha1964 says:

        “Strategy Box” is great! and much more “‘you'” now that you mention it. Since you left it open, one more alteration suggestion: “Strategy Collection”? But your own name for it is the one I go with.

        I think humor is vital for survival under the most difficult circumstances so I am not at all surprised that it has kept you alive. Me too, I think.

        I am supposed to walk more, but yes, I need a purpose, and my bike is faster to accomplish purpose, so it’s not happening much.

        You hang in there, and I hope you enjoy your walks.

  3. castorgirl says:

    Hi tai,

    You’ve got some amazing stuff here tai…

    I totally understand the need for concrete steps, over concepts. So I really like how you worked with your therapist to get to the line “I’m not going to live my life based on how my mother programmed me”… awesome! There’s strength and determination in that line… Are you aware of any guidelines which will help you recognise actions and thoughts which would be considered as falling back into that programming?

    Are you like me, and needing to have a purpose to getting out of the house? I can’t do aimless wandering, but I like the idea of having a firm route planned out before you go. One of the best things I ever purchased was an iPhone… not for the status type reasons, but because it has two key things – a near endless supply of games for distraction, and the GPS. The amount of times that thing has saved me from being totally and utterly lost… So although it does sound gimmicky, I do recommend a GPS of some sort.

    This sounds like a really heavy, and challenging session. How are you feeling now you have a little more distance from it, and have had time to think through some of the issues raised?

    Take care of yourself,

    • tai0316 says:

      Hey CG,

      Good question right off the bat. We didn’t get to talk about guidelines to recognize the programming so to speak. I’ll have to bring that up. Thank you.

      I am very much like you. I cannot, go out of the house for no reason, Nope, uh uh. When I leave the house, I have a list of every single place I have to go and I know exaclty what roads I’ll be taking to get there. I even write the places down in order and I mark them off as I get things done. Obsessive much? And yes games and GPS are why I have a Droid, so much fun and GPS is freakin’ awesome!

      As for how I feel, I had a moment yesterday when the thought of harm came literally out of nowhere, so I stopped, got dressed and drove around a couple of streets in my neighborhood with the purpose of figuring out where I want to walk, which I did. By the time I came home I was ok again. I haven’t thought too much about the other stuff which is weird. When I try look at this post, it’s like I can’t look at it, the words make no sense to me and it’s almost like there’s a mental block to looking at it. So, actually I can’t read it. Thinking about it is weird too so, I don’t know. How’s that for an answer? It made no sense, I know.

      Thank you CG, as always your insights are welcomed and you presence is comforting 🙂

      • meredith says:

        OMG, tai!

        When you wrote about leaving the house I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. Your description of how you leave the house is exactly the way JJ does things. She has lists of lists that refer to lists from other listed days… on her Droid. She absolutely loves tech toys… and me, I almost lost her cell phone while I was away because I’m not used to carrying one.

        You are so clear about the way you think, and how you need things done. It’s something that made a big impression when I read your post last night.

        For as out of whack as you described yourself, the post made absolute sense to me, and after reading it a couple of times I thought, “wow. to be so clear about what you need is fantastic!”

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