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Old 07-26-2022, 04:50 PM   #1
Waterbear
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Default Connecting with yourself

I've done a lot of work in therapy reconnecting with the younger part of me, Little One, and it has had an incredible impact on my life, for the better. But there has been another part, an older part, which I have never been able to reach, to connect with. It's a Teenage part who holds so much anger and fear, but not in a 'please help me' kind of way but a 'back off and do t ever try and come near me' kind of way. It means I can't get close to some of the trauma that I am trying to process, and apparently I dissociate a lot when we get too close. The other response is a physical writhing as I try and fight this part of me to try and do 'the work'.

I am so close to giving up, because it has been years trying to do this now, with seemingly no (or very little) progress. My Ex T and I tried all sorts of different things, and failed, and it seems it is going the same way with this new lady, sadly.

I am completely at a loss as to how to proceed here, and would love to hear any suggestions anyone may have as to how to reach this very difficult part of myself who is clinging on to all the hurt and anger so incredibly tightly.

I'd also love to hear some success stories, because I could really use the motivation to continue right about now. Thank you in advance for any support you might be able to offer. I'm more than happy to elaborate if needs be!
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Old 07-26-2022, 06:04 PM   #2
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

I've only started parts work maybe the past 2-3 months? We're working on the child me. My first step was even just admitting she existed. Now we're getting into her feelings, wants, and needs and trying to figure out how to meet those things.

L is teaching me healthy dependency at the same time. We're you ever to the point of depending on your T? L says dependency is needed to learn interdependence. It's like a child needing to hold its parent's hand before trying something on their own.

I'm interested hearing others experience about the teenager as well. When I was doing my trauma history for L, I made it up to 13 and couldn't go any further. It was like hitting a wall. I could not get passed it to even just write about it. She is definitely holding most the trauma.
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Old 07-26-2022, 08:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

I don't have personal experience with a teenage part (yet?), but my EMDR T sometimes combines EMDR with parts work, which adds an interesting dimension to both the EMDR and the parts work. I already can't explain EMDR, so explaining EMDR + parts work together is beyond me, but there is something about the integration process that makes accessing the parts easier. It's like you're already in a state of reactivation so the raw trauma stuff is right there, but you're also reprocessing things so the pain feels more controllable (or just less scary to re-experience?). So you're probably not asking about adding another therapist with EMDR and IFS expertise, but if you're really wanting to get creative eventually, this could be one option.
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Old 07-27-2022, 01:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

Thank you Scarlett, oh yes, we definitely went to the dependence stage, and luckily came through it into the independence stage! With my Little One that is. I too think that it is needed, as is the modelling, which we also did. It sounds like you are doing very similar work, and I know how beneficial it has been to me. I hope it is the same for you.

I just wish I could get to this other part. About the same age as you, I also hit a brick wall and I have no idea how to access it. How to communicate with it.

Thanks Scarlett, I wish you so well on your journey through this with L, and hopefully I'll manage to find a way myself!
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Old 07-27-2022, 01:47 AM   #5
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

Thanks ElectricManatee, I think that does make sense, and thank you for trying to explain something inexplicable!! You are right that at the moment I'm not looking for a new T, but hey, if I ever do then getting creative might be the best way forwards!

I can see how getting into a state where things are more loose before trying to go there could be useful, and EMDR has certainly been something I have considered before. Only problem is that I don't even look in the direction of my T at the moment!
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Old 07-27-2022, 04:00 AM   #6
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

I know someone who is learning about IFS(Internal Family Systems). You might be interested in googling IFS or Dr. Richard S. Schwartz. Much of the therapy seems to be about the different parts in people. I hope every1 has a very pleasant day.
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Old 07-27-2022, 06:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterbear View Post
Only problem is that I don't even look in the direction of my T at the moment!
Haha that's not necessarily a problem! My EMDR T has this contraption with a light bar and buzzers to hold, so I can watch the light, hold the buzzers, or both. I usually choose just buzzers so I can close my eyes. It helps me concentrate and not get distracted by what my T is doing or how she looks or whatever.
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Old 07-27-2022, 08:44 AM   #8
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

I don’t have answers for anyone including myself, yet can relate to having a challenging time connecting with parts of yourself.

I do relational therapy and probably some other stuff, Idk. T and I work with parts I think. Years ago he talked about him relating to a child. She has become more present to me through our work. A teenager is rarely present.

The most challenging part of T going on vacation generally and being on vacation now is that I get lost. Not only does T fade away but I lose parts of myself too. I can’t find him and I can’t find me. Parts are so sad and afraid and angry they hide. Poof, T disappears. It sounds pathetic to me but his vacations are so very disruptive. He says our connection has a short half life for me. It’s tough when we can’t connect with parts of ourselves also in the ways we want to or have before.

Drifting away on a raft
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Old 07-30-2022, 05:49 PM   #9
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

Might there be another way to look at this than a parts work paradigm? Like if you’re dissociating a lot can you work on grounding techniques, can you work with someone who understands polyvagal theory and helps you figure out how to recognize when you’re not doing okay (like you become triggered or something hurts your feelings etc) and how to move yourself back to okay?

Maybe just give your teenage part the privacy that teenagers tend to want and assure them that you’re there when they’re ready. then work on being there. Be the strong safe adult you needed as a teenager. Make an inventory of what strong and safe adults have and do and see whether there’s work to do on that? Would a teenager coming into your home feel safe and grounded? Is there enough routine and order? Do y’all eat regularly and have a bedtime? Are you strong enough to hold their swirling hormonal chaos and stay constant?

Teenagers hate to be chased and forced to talk, I have one now… but they’ll often come to you if you remain available.
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Old 07-30-2022, 06:24 PM   #10
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

Thanks Favourite Jeans... That all makes a ton of sense, but I feel like I've tried this 'tactic' too!!
My therapist does seem to really understand dissociating, and together we do find ways to ground me when I get triggered in session, for sure. And I come back in the room, so to speak. I am finding it easier and easier in session to do this on my own, too, as time goes on.

And as for giving it the privacy it needs, yup, I totally understand that, as I was a teenager who pulled away every time someone came close. The more they tried, the more defensive I would be. So I can really relate to that happening inside me too. And over the last six years I've been in therapy I have given this as much space as I can, but still it doesn't seem to have encourage it to come forwards. Only recently have I tried this different tack of really trying to address it head on.

Interestingly, I nearly said 'confront' then... Which I guess could be revealing about how it is actually going down. It does feel like I am physically and emotionally wrestling with parts of myself, but only because nothing else has seemed to work.

Outside of therapy I don't really get triggered. Maybe because I try my damnedest to stay away from triggers. I don't watch TV shows that I know contain potentially harmful content; the radio gets turned off if certain words are mentioned and I don't socialise with anyone who has, or I think might, trigger me. Long term, not the ideal solution, but it works ok while I try and do the work.

Other than that, yeah, I am that strong, reliable adult that I should have had. I make time for all of the parts of me (adult and child), I do eat well, I exercise, I go to work, I communicate in my now healthy relationship after walking away from an unhealthy one.

The only thing I can think of that might be stopping this from happening is the way I, as the adult, view this teenage part of me. Not with compassion and kindness, yet, but with fear, trepidation, impatience and a little resentment/anger maybe.

That needs to change, but again, I don't know how.

It really does feel like the relationship between us had broken down so badly, and I don't know how to repair it. Except even more time. But this is costing me thousands of pounds, and that alone doesn't help the feelings of anger/resentment. It is like a vicious cycle, sadly.

Thank you so much fo suggestion/help though, and if reading my reply you have anything to push back against, please do!!
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Old 07-30-2022, 07:12 PM   #11
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Omg. I can really relate to struggling with compassion for my teenage self (and the teenage part). I read all the books and did all the things too. Just as you’re saying you have been. I made some breakthroughs in dreams, writing exercises and in the therapy hour itself but it never “felt” different.

What I reallllly wanted was for T to look after that part of me. I didn’t even realize the extent to which the adolescent part was furious with her. My casting her in a maternal role made me always wary of her, like I knew I could never get what I needed and I became nervous and jumpy around her. For her part, even though I was pretty open about what was happening for me, she was unable to harness the power of that transference and use it in a creative or corrective way.

So ultimately, it was very sad because I’d loved her and done great work with her, but we didn’t end on the best note. Nevertheless, terminating was really calming for the adolescent part. Like it wasn’t constantly triggered by her and all the growing and changing that my adult self had done while with her was freed up and available.

So suddenly compassion is pretty easy. My new T is very different and works in a different way and I kind of just gave her an overview of what I’d worked on for years and years.

And all the stuff that I’d worked and worked on just kind of integrated without much further effort in my year with new T. Another big part of the puzzle is that new T is very knowledgeable and experienced in ADHD and that has helped me understand myself and have compassion for all these aspects of myself that made less sense before. I had no idea how much ADHD effed me up (I just figured it was a character flaw or something.)

Anyway. To give you an idea, I spent 10 years with my first T. So sometimes this kind of stuff takes awhile. But it really is so much better now. I hope it will be soon for you too!
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Old 07-31-2022, 05:00 AM   #12
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

Your Teenage part sounds like mine. "Back off and don't get close" indeed.

They're also the therapy skeptic, and holds alot of anger and trauma. I try to understand their needs, and to unburden them of their formerly adaptive role which now doesn't help so much.

I'm writing in the context of dissociative identities with their own sense of self and who have "Free will" , and not ego-states in IFS. Still think maybe similar principles can apply even though blind adherence to IFS "tell the part to step aside" doesn't work for dissociative identities.

For example, Teen believes its their job to protect by keeping people away so that we don't get betrayed by someone getting close. One way it manifests is by being deliberately hostile to my current therapist, and being very blunt about the mistrust.

They also felt they weren't appreciated by me (me being the adult self in charge of daily life and work), and that I didn't understand they took a lot of physical violence for me in the past. I'm amnesiac for those, but I know they happened.

They bonded with me only after quite a while of private inner work.

I couldn't just thank them. I had to be genuine and really consistent, I had to affirm exactly how they helped and in what ways.

In addition to Teen switching in for the more vicious beatings, one of "my" traumas is being abused badly in an attempt to destroy this angry teen part within my psyche. So that my will to fight back could be broken.

I remember crying once I realised some of the trauma this teen part carried. They didn't like that, they think crying is "weak", that I'm "weak". I had to show that my tears of compassion and remorse weren't weakness, and show them I'm not "weak" now. That they did their job well, and I'm an adult who has left the abusive family and am living independently outside. That it's now my responsibility to protect them.

And only then could I explain exactly why particular ways wasn't helpful now.

For example, shouting "stop", "no", "somebody help me" when someone is physically hurting me and pushing them away is adaptive, but I can't behave that way in other situations that aren't self defense. I need to have legitimate alternatives for various situations too, of course.

One of their fears was that I'd just be a pushover because that was my role: keep your head down, and tolerate mistreatment so you don't end up getting kicked out into houselessness.

I negotiated a sort of team work where they'd "come close" to lend me their anger when appropriate, but not flood me. So I can then be assertive.

I might want to punch a rude person patting me on my head (it's extremely invasive and offensive in my part of the world with a strong Buddhist culture), but obviously that would be a crime. I can, however, step away, glare at them, and state clearly that I don't tolerate this behaviour.

(ETA: I've never been violent as an adult, just in case I sound really violent.)

When I was younger and a minor, I did actually need to fight peers who were physically hurting me, in self defence. I grew up in "rough" schools, and yes, physical fights did happen. My teen part would take over because otherwise I would be frozen and keep on getting physically hurt by people causing me actual physical pain. (For the record teachers didn't do anything and I've been abused by teachers so...)

As a young adult, there was a time where I was reckless. While I never hurt anyone, I'd intervene when two adults were going to fight and so on. Obviously, that is/was a safety concern it was important to work on with Teen.

(Yeah, and Teen didn't understand we're a petite Asian woman.)

I also am needing to address "see I told you so!!!!! Look what happens when you trust?!" after a recent betrayal from people I trusted. Can't say I've answers for that yet.

In therapy, one thing that helped too was my therapist saying she could hold space for whatever anger this self, or any part/self carried. My T even said the teenager could shout if needed.

We agreed on limits: No using the swearing on the therapist as a person (using swears about a situation, or when talking about one of my abusers is OK), no violence obviously, no damaging the room. Although I actually can throw soft stuff on the floor (instead of harming myself which used to happen in my early therapy days wherever we came close to talking about particular abuses) and I'd never throw anything at her, of course.

They're still a skeptic of therapy, but that's okay. The important thing is that we're a team even when we don't agree. Nor am I some tyrant, but their non abusive inner "parent". They get privacy and don't have to talk to me when they don't want to. I'm still their inner parent, and the adult part.

I hope at least some of this helps.

Last edited by Quietmind 2; 07-31-2022 at 08:48 AM..
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Old 08-05-2022, 07:25 PM   #13
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Default Re: Connecting with yourself

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to you both, Favourite Jeans and Quirtmind. Your comments here gave me a great deal to think about and I sincerely appreciate the time it took to write them, and tell your stories.

I am really sorry I haven't replied, it is just that my mind and body are both swamped right now and I didn't have the capacity to reply. I'm not even sure I had the capacity to take it all in, but I haven't forgotten and I felt I really needed to at least say thank you!!

I will certainly be reading both of your comments again when things feel a little calmer/clearer for me, when I can give them the headspace that they deserve. Massive thank yous.
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