Last Monday, I discovered another thread in my intricately woven tapestry of Complex PTSD.  I’d like to share this process of discovery with you simply to give you an idea as to how the process of therapy can go.

First of all, when you have been seeing a therapist for a year or so, you may notice that the closer you get to the therapist’s office as you go to your appointment, the more apt you are to feel “odd.”  This seems to be normal.  At some place in my mind I am constantly processing my life experiences even though I’m unaware most of the time that this is happening. It seems that as I get closer to my therapist’s office and the time for my session, the process makes itself more obvious.  When this happens, I often feel spacey or odd.  Remember:  this is just my own personal experience, and what I experience may not be what you experience.  But my experience is not unusual.

By the time I entered my therapist’s office on Monday, November 26th, then, I was really spacey.  I didn’t know the reason for this, but I knew that sooner or later, I would know and understand the reason.  And that is just exactly what happened.

I told my therapist how I was feeling, and she questioned me to determine which part of my psyche we were dealing with that day.  If you have read my older posts on my Word Press site (https://relievingptsdsymptoms.wordpress.com/), then you know that I have been working with Ego State Therapy, identifying the “parts” or “people” within my psyche that comprise my basic personality.  The part within me that has been greatly affected by my childhood traumas is Jeanie, my little girl self that is now finally beginning to grow and mature since I’ve been in therapy.  Jeanie is growing and catching up to “Jean,” the adult.  Here is a web page that will explain the concept of ego states or “parts” or “selves” more thoroughly:  http://www.clinicalsocialwork.com/overview.html.

This web page also explains to some extent the “before” and “after” conditions of a person who goes into therapy for C-PTSD and who has a problem with psychic fragmentation, as I have had.  It’s all related!  My PTSD symptoms have calmed down because my inner fragmentation has decreased, and this has come about because I have been working hard at Ego State Therapy.

But back to Monday’s session:  As my therapist and I worked at understanding what Jeanie needed that day, I went deeper into myself so I could access Jeanie.  Going inward into myself is not difficult for me because I am naturally introverted and have taken this path all my life when I have needed to cope.  When they feel threatened, some people fight and go outward; I’ve fled and have gone inward ever since I was a small child.

One more thing I need to mention is that I have always felt invisible, to some degree.  Perhaps some of you, my readers, know what I mean about this feeling of being invisible.  I learned very early that I was safer if my parents, especially my father who was given to violent rages, were not aware that I was around.  I learned to keep a low profile, to be invisible, in other words.  Later, I was invisible to avoid the impact of my husband’s temper outbursts.  On this particular Monday, the day of the session I am describing, I was feeling invisible in addition to feeling spacey.

Somehow, during my conversation with my therapist, I connected to Jeanie and to the odd feeling I had that day and to the feeling of invisibility.  And at some point, I asked my therapist, “Am I easy to work with?”  She said yes and asked why I asked her that question.  In answering her question, I connected with Jeanie and her need to be invisible.  I also realized that I have always, during childhood and adulthood, tried to be easy to work with.  In fact, I’ve done everything I possibly could to be easy as a person.  Why?  Because, in my thinking, being agreeable, being easy, helped me maintain a low profile.  And if I maintained a low profile, then I would be less apt to be noticed, and if I were not noticed, then I would not be yelled at, raged at, or hit.  It’s as basic and as simple as that.

My therapist asked me how I made myself easy for her to work with, and I told her that whenever I’m telling her something that I had told her before, I give her the background material so she doesn’t have to work hard to remember it.  I did that for my first therapist back in the early 1980s, too.  I’ve accommodated these therapists because I’ve wanted to be easy to work with.  If I was easy to work with, then they would be more apt to like me and not want to yell at me or hit me.  Remember–I was hit by a therapist at one time, so my wanting to be liked and not hit has a legitimate basis.  Also, if I was easy to work with, then I would not stand out in my therapist’s mind as being a client who was a troublemaker and, therefore, my therapist would be less apt to punish me by saying that she no longer wanted to work with me.  NOTE:  This process has been, like an idle computer program, running in the background, and I have not been aware of it until last Monday’s session.

“With awareness comes change,” says a dear friend of mine.  Now I have identified one of the important threads of my C-PTSD tapestry, the thread of why I choose to keep a low profile much of the time and why I so often feel invisible–or why the Jeanie part of me so often feels invisible.  The identification of this thread is a major step in unraveling the threads that make up my diagnosis, C-PTSD.  So now that I have taken this step and have identified the thread, what am I going to do about it?

Short answer:  I don’t know.  I’ve gone through 73 years of invisibility and maintaining a low profile, and I’m not certain that I can drastically change this aspect of my personality.  However, perhaps now that I am aware of the dynamics, aware of this thread and aware of the effect it has had on my life, maybe I can take small steps toward change.  In “real world language,” what might these small steps look like?

This Sunday, for example, I’ve been asked to read an essay I had published in The Red Door, a literary journal put out by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral here in Portland.  I’ve been dreading this experience, just dreading it.  Why?  Because I will be required to be visible!  In order to do this, I must leave the anonymity of being a face among many faces in the pews of the cathedral and make my presence known by sitting before an audience and reading an essay I wrote.  I can’t keep a low profile, and I can’t hide.

What will I do?  Well, on Sunday morning I’ll find out.  However, I suspect that I will simply do what I have agreed to do and sit before an audience and read my essay.  I have the inner discipline to make myself do this.  Maybe, though, the reading won’t be quite as difficult on this coming Sunday as it would have been last Sunday, the day before I had my insight and identified this particular thread in the tapestry.  Maybe I will actually enjoy doing the reading and enjoy giving the gift of my essay to the listeners.  If I think of the reading as giving a gift to the audience, I believe I can do this.  I say this now.  I hope I can say the same thing at 9:00 A.M. this coming Sunday at Trinity Cathedral!

Small step by small step, I’m unraveling the C-PTSD mess.  It isn’t happening in a hurry, but then, the tapestry has been 73 years in the weaving.  It’s reasonable to believe the unweaving will take a while.  Here is a Chinese saying to help you hang in there:  “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.”

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