I saw my therapist twice last week. It wasn’t planned that way but something happened in my first appointment that left me overwhelmed and a little rattled. We ended our session rather bluntly, in the middle of me recalling something pretty upsetting. He is always very good about making sure I don’t leave his office in a state of distress. He watches the time, because I rarely do, and he takes the time to ground me and bring me back into the present moment if I need it. But this time, he lost track of time and he needed to go. I was reluctantly ok with that, as I do respect his schedule and hate being or feeling like I’m a burden, so we ended. It was just really hard and took some serious effort to pack things away. He offered to meet again later in the week if I felt like I needed to, so I took him up on that and we did.

That was a bizarre session for me. We were talking about different things. I had previously gone two weeks without seeing him and I was still trying to catch up, as a lot had come up internally, and at home with my husband. Nothing felt threatening and I was not really thinking I would be processing trauma that day. The conversation was balanced. We were talking about me feeling pressured to make certain choices, and fear issues, and some upcoming travel plans, which led to a conversation about my parents. He asked me a question and I answered it including details about locations I have been remembering being in with people I don’t know yet who they are…in a large house, out in the woods, a concrete building, a tunnel, in a car. “Wait, what tunnel?” he says. More questions came and before I know what’s happening, I was knee deep in a memory about being in a dark car with a strange man, in a tunnel. Tears started streaming down my face. I had no idea why. That’s all I saw. The car. The tunnel. The man. Another little girl. Nothing horrific. But the tears continued flowing and I started feeling something in my face. My face was burning. The pressure was so intense. The bridge of my nose hurt, my cheeks hurt, my sinus’ hurt, behind my eyes hurt. Was my body remembering something related to this that I could not??

What the heck is happening right now??  Why am I crying? Why does my face hurt? What just happened? How did I get here??

He asked another question. And another. My words shut down. I couldn’t talk anymore. And all I hear in my head is this small little voice screaming…screaming, in complete panicked terror… Stop talking! Stop talking! STOP TALKING!!!! 

WHAT?!?

STOP TALKING!!!!

He obviously could see in my face that something big was going on inside my head. So he prods to get me to talk and tell him what it is.  I eventually mustered out I’m trying to understand what’s happening right now. Why am I crying? Why does my face hurt? There’s a voice in my head screaming at me to stop talking. “What voice? ” A child’s voice. “What is it saying?” She’s screaming…screaming...stop talking! Why can’t you talk? Who’s telling you not to talk? You are an adult. No one has any control over you. You can tell me what you see. No one is forcing you not to. You are in control. You make your choices. No one else is here with us. You are safe here. I started to feel so overwhelmed and angry and just wanted him to stop talking because I couldn’t do anything that he was telling me to do.

I have read in many books about trauma about the concept of our “inner child.” I never really understood or bought into the idea. It sounded a little out there to me. Psycho mumbo jumbo. Weirdness. But I was wondering in that moment…is this for real? Is this my voice screaming? Is “younger me” telling me to stop talking? That it’s not safe? Is “she” keeping me quiet?  I felt so crazy and wondered if I had hit a wall and was losing it in this moment. But I was curious at the same time. But I still couldn’t talk. I was shut down. And this is where the session had to end.

In my second session things went similarly. He went back to the memory and we talked a little more about it. He was asking questions again and I said something about water. Water? And just like that, there I was again in another place I had not seen before…except I realized later I have…parts of it in a dream. Being a normal human being, he started processing himself the information that I have been sharing. He starts to talk about the sheer amount of trauma I have experienced and how many layers there are and how my stories are like things you just read about happening somewhere else. “This is so unbelievable…it’s believable,” he said. As I listened to him process, though, I felt defensiveness rise up in me. I start thinking, What do you mean unbelievable?  Which was a curious reaction in and of itself because I don’t even believe myself. Oh no, he’s right, and I’m right, this isn’t even real. It’s too out there and crazy. I’m nuts. Go home. Just shut this down and GO HOME.

He doesn’t believe us…he doesn’t believe us!! Stop talking!

US?!?  What is wrong with me??

And there the little voice was again. Telling me to stop talking. Protect myself. Don’t give anything else away. Get out of there. Run. And I shut back down. It was an immediate response. My therapist eventually said he thought it was interesting that I said “stop talking, he doesn’t believe us…”  I paused to think about this and asked him (and myself) in exasperation, “Who’s us??”  He looked back at me and said again he thought it was a younger version of me trying to stick to the same old protocol I was taught as a child…to stay silent. “Is that even a thing?” I asked, and he shook his head yes. He told me he doesn’t really focus on or talk about that kind of stuff because he sometimes dislikes these types of psychological theories that are taught. But he explained it more in depth in that moment because he said he knew I needed to hear it, and to try to help me make sense of what I was experiencing.

One thing he told me that stuck out was, when looking back at memories from the past, we see them different ways. Sometimes, the things that come to me, I see from the vantage point of me looking down and witnessing the situation. Other times, I am actually re-experiencing something and see what I saw or feel what I felt in those moments. He described our inner child as a navigator and to look at those times when I see things as an outsider looking in on a situation as “younger me” showing me what happened. This really impacted me in a big way. I use this type of “remembering” as my proof sometimes that this stuff, this abuse, didn’t really happen to me. That I’m just making it up. Because how could I know what I looked like in that moment if I was the one who was experiencing it? I wouldn’t see it like a movie. I would remember how I experienced and felt it, right? I couldn’t actually see it. But younger me can take adult me by the hand and take me there and say, “Look…look what happened to us…”

I’m not sure I buy into this idea 100% yet, but I am definitely more willing and open to exploring and experimenting, and will maybe even talk to and interact with “younger me” from time to time as my therapist suggested. Is she the key to unlocking the mysteries inside of me? Will she show me more or help me connect more dots? I don’t know. But for now, I want to welcome her into my life. I want to know who she is and what she needs because I have no memories of myself as a child. I don’t even recognize some pictures I have of me, as me. I am curious enough (and desperate enough) to see if learning how to draw her out of hiding and engage with her will help me heal like all the “experts” on this sort of thing claim. I want to know who I was so I can understand myself better now.

Hey there, little one…don’t be afraid. It’s ok. Do you need to talk? Do you have something to share or show me? It’s ok. You can trust me. I’m safe…

And as I wrote that I heard in my head “I’ve heard that before…” 

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “Hey, Little One…

  1. I have had similar situations with my therapist – she gave me a small, pocket sized doll to carry with me as a reminder of the inner child. Hard to get a grasp on, but I think important if we are ever to recover.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My inner child comes out when I’m afraid. My daughters say my voice changes to a little girl’s voice.
    The biggest time this happened was when I was in an emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack. They decided to admit me. My sister went home at 3am. As I lay there I thought about all the male nurses that were there. I asked myself, “Am I safe from rape here?” I decided I was not.

    The next thing I heard was a little girl crying. Then a nurse came in to take some blood. I realized it was Me crying! I asked her if I was safe and she said I was. They gave me some pills to calm me down and I slept.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This makes me realize I may need to pay closer attention to how and when I am reacting to things so I can learn to recognize her emergence. I can say with out a doubt upon thinking about this that when I freeze in certain stressful situations this could definitely be younger me. This happens a lot. Thank you for sharing your experience with this. I appreciate it very much.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I am JUST exploring the same type of thing. What parts of my self have not had a voice, or do have a voice but don’t know what to say. Do I have ages to parts of my self that have memories or experiences that want to be spoken of. It is a little scary for me to think about and talk about. But we have all of the memories of each age within us and the feelings in our mind and our bodies from those time periods. So what would my 8 year old self want to say now. What does she need to feel healed that she did not get at that age. I wonder. I’ve been wondering.

    So thank you so much for posting this. It really helps me a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m thankful this has helped you! This is uncomfortable for me to think about and talk about too. But I am wondering, like you described, what voices and memories need to be spoken and heard? I’ve read in so many places that when we can do this (engage with our inner child) and accept it (her, and her voice), healing will take place. I don’t necessarily think this is the be all end all to all trauma recovery, but I can certainly buy into it being a necessary part of the entire process of healing. I look forward to hearing more about what you discover over time, if you are willing to share. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

      1. In my last therapy session we talked about a moment when I was being abused at that age. A certain age. She asked me how I felt. She asked me what that part of my child self needed. Well i needed to be rescued. So we created a scenario where I was rescued and I could feel what it felt like to be rescued, saved, loved, protected. It was a pretty neat …thing…can’t think of the right word…scenario…no…ugh. Can’t think of the right word but whatever she created and did was healing

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is not something I have done yet but it sounds so interesting to me that doing something like that could in fact provide a healing experience. I’m happy it was something that was helpful to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I so admire the hard work you are doing. I hope you can intersperse it with comforting activities. In “The Courage to Heal” she had a teddy bear picnic… : ) I always loved the thought of that, something for the child in us…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words. It has been very hard work and I do get overwhelmed sometimes and want to quit. I try to set it aside and engage in things that soothe me from time to time. That does help. I have not read The Courage To Heal but I wonder if we could accomplish this same idea by engaging in play with the children in our lives?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! It is so brave of you to share this with us. My therapist always reassured me that if I wasnt ready to go there, my mind would still be locked down. It sounds like your therapist is awesome. Take good care of yourself and that little girl who will start to trust it will be okay and that you are safe to talk about it. Big hugs! ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes, my therapist is very awesome. I am very thankful to have him in my life right now. Thank you for sharing your experience with your therapist as well and for the encouragement. I appreciate it very much!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I wanted to comment last night but I needed some more time to process. I’m going to try and put together cohesive thoughts, but I apologize in advance if I don’t succeed.
    I totally understand being triggered near the end of a session and not being able to “pack things away.” And despite my therapists’ reassurance that I am not a burden, I continue to feel that way. I’m glad you were able to schedule a second session, sometimes we just need that.
    I’ve been going around in circles trying to figure out what I want to say here. Two nights ago I couldn’t sleep because of pressure and burning in my nose and sinuses. I didn’t know until yesterday that I had developed a sinus infection. But what was strange to me that night was that the sensation triggered a flashback. Very fragmented, but vivid. It was the sensation that really bothered me. I kept wondering what it meant. It seemed so inexplicable and strange. I almost dismissed it after coming to no solid conclusion, but then I read your post. Now all I can think is, what does this mean? Usually when my body remembers something related to the abuse it’s fairly easy to determine the cause. This time I’m quite confused.
    But back to your post. It sounds like you had several different kinds of flashbacks at once. Visual, and sensory/visceral, and emotional. My therapist talks about getting stuck at different developmental stages. Often when I go through something like you are describing here, especially when I can’t answer her questions anymore, she asks me “How old do you feel?” She seems to intuitively know when I can’t tell her anymore. That’s usually when she will start doing EMDR with me to process through whatever it is. Also, drawing can help then, because sometimes I literally cannot speak it. I can be totally overwhelmed by what is happening inside me, desperate to show her somehow, and can’t open my mouth. That’s actually the norm for me. I can’t speak during or after a flashback. My ability to speak just shuts down.
    I can really relate to thinking the “inner child” stuff is hokey. It just sounds weird to me. That being said, I think there is something to it. I don’t understand it, but I’ve been there. And as strange as it sounds, there’s not really another way to describe it.
    My heart kind of cringed when I read “This is so unbelievable…it’s believable.” Ouch. I mean, I get what he was saying, but my first gut reaction is to withdraw. Everything you said after feels like exactly how I’d respond. The instinct to protect myself would have been so strong! Good for you for staying with him and working through it.
    I also thought I would mention that I experience my memories from various perspectives as well. Sometimes I’m right in the middle of it, experiencing it, and other times it’s like watching from another perspective. Apparently that is “normal” too. Some people even see themselves like they’re floating above themselves. If I recall correctly, my therapist said it has something to do with dissociation. But I can’t remember for sure.
    I wish I had more helpful information about the inner little girl. As it is I’m trying to sort it out myself. I do know that healing from trauma is complicated, and it feels like honoring my little girl is part of the healing process. I don’t know what that means yet. But I think you are being really brave and I think you’re on the right track.
    I almost cried when I read “I’ve heard that before…” That’s powerful stuff. All I can say is, me too. Me too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s interesting that you experienced a flashback with your sinus pain. I haven’t been able to determine yet if the sensations and pain I felt meant anything or not but I did experience it again for a second time when we talked about that particular memory again…although it wasn’t quite as intense and shorter lived. I don’t know what it could be. I haven’t ever drawn in session when I couldn’t talk, but I do draw things at home sometimes when I am alone and will sometimes share them with my therapist. I have about 4 drawings in progress right now that I’m kind of stuck in. It’s like the words thing…I can’t talk anymore, I can’t draw any further. My ability to speak after remembering something sounds very similar to you. My words get stuck or I can’t find them or I literally cannot open my mouth either. Some times I want to talk but still can’t and I get so frustrated and confused. My therapist has also told me that when I see things from “outside my body,” like watching things happen to me in memories, that it’s because I had dissociated in that moment and removed myself from the situation to cope with it. It’s so weird to me how trauma works and manifests itself. And confusing! Thank you for sharing that you have experienced this as well. It makes it more real, I guess, not that I want it to be…but it impacts me to know that others experience things that same as I do. I appreciate that and your encouragement as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really powerful, and also really intense. The idea of inner parts seemed ludicrous to me at first, too, but now it has really helped me. Remember, you can take this therapy as fast or slow as you need to. Like your therapist said, you’re in control. And if you need to take a break and care for yourself, that’s okay. And if you feel that you’re on the brink of something big and you want to keep pushing towards it, that’s also okay. You get to decide. ❤
    Also, I know you probably know this, but I think what he meant by "unbelievable" meant that he was incredibly saddened by what had happened to you – not that he didn't believe you about it. However, I would have taken it in the exact same way as you did 😉 Hugs to you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience with this and that it helped you in the end to embrace your other inner parts as you processed things and that it helped you. And I agree with you, I know logically, he was not questioning me or not believing me, but in that moment I heard him say “unbelievable” I felt very defensive. Thinking back on that feeling, I should probably pay attention to it and give it some weight to the support the argument that I’m not making this up. Why would I react that way if I was lying? It seems unlikely that I would. It’s just something else to consider. Thank you for your encouragement. I appreciate it!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Im new here and just left you a message… WOW I also am working on the little parts inside of me.. the young part we call it. Been working really hard on the young little part inside of me for about 5 years now.. I write about it a lot in my blog…. I look forward to reading more about your sessions …. I just started writing again as I took about 6 months off… I am really encouraged to start writing about my therapy sessions again …. anyways keep working with that young part.. its so important and very healing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. None of this seems bizarre to me. You are allowing yourself to recall, in a safe setting, what was severely traumatic in childhood. We sometimes “bury” the recollection of extremely painful events. It is a way of protecting ourselves. Recalling such events can be frightening. But the “remembering” you’ve used to prove to yourself you were never abused is actually strong evidence that you were. I’m glad to know you have a good therapist to help you through this.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s