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Throughout my adult life, I have lived with the vague, uncomfortable sense that I was not a complete woman, whatever that may mean.  I had an affair before I was married, performed in the bedroom as I was supposed to, and looked like a woman.  I enjoyed being a mother and insisted on breastfeeding my baby when breastfeeding was not in vogue (1960s).  So what was missing??  I had no idea!  All I knew was that I had a nagging sense that something was missing, especially when I was in the company of other women and when I attended social events and watched how other women behaved around men, the flirting and the smiles and all the other normal female-male interactions.   But try as I might, I could not identify the source of my discomfort and feeling of being incomplete–that is, until sweet little Blossom arrived at the arena about a year ago.  

To set the stage, Blossom enters the arena unexpectedly and chooses to begin her life there by bunking with Constanza, an ego state that I have not yet mentioned in my posts.  Who is Constanza??  Constanza is that part of my personality who is flamboyant and on the verge of being out of control, who lusts after the hot, muscular bodies of athletes and movie stars.  She is the part who most women must, no matter how elderly they are, rein in by saying, “Whoa, Babe, don’t let anyone know about this thought!  Naughty, naughty!  Keep a lid on!”  

Constanza, in other words, is the person within me whose presence I would never reveal to a priest if I were to go to Confession.  Especially my Constanza, for she exists at the arena in the form of a huge, black, nasty-tempered, part-Appaloosa  mare with white spots on her withers and who paints the large lips at the end of her muzzle with cherry-red lipstick and who applies extensions to her eyelashes and gobs them with layers of black, sticky mascara.  Constanza is the part within me who believes she is God’s gift to males and is entitled to throw horrendous tantrums to get her way.  Constanza, in other words, is that part of me who, like a jack-in-the-box, must always remain hidden under the lid of “acceptability and appropriate behavior” but who more often than not is pressing and pushing the lid, trying to pop up to see what’s going on and what kind of havoc she can wreak. 

 

Yes, I’ve known my Constanza for a long time, and I’ve grown to love her despite her volatile temper and her flamboyant nature.  Since she has arrived at the arena, Constanza has become much more civilized, though.  Cowboy has tamed her, and the other parts, particularly First Protector, have loved and accepted her, and now she has the primary responsibility for meal and snack preparation.  She has a flair, especially, for preparing exotic treats for some of the more exotic creatures. Gemini, the wise old land turtle, is especially fond of Constanza’s deep fried beetles and succulently seasoned cabbage worms.  Constanza has won the appreciation of all who inhabit the arena, and she is at home there.  However, if each individual part were asked whether Constanza can be trusted one hundred percent to behave herself, I suspect that many parts would politely change the subject.  So that’s Constanza, the part chosen by little Blossom as a roommate.  Ironic, huh?  We’ll see. Please note:  Most of this dialogue excerpt is in maroon to mark it as being part of my dialogue.  However, I have used black text to denote the section in which Blossom explains why Jeanie, my little girl self, sent her away and told her never to return.  Some of you who have been victims of child sexual abuse may be able to relate to Blossom’s words here.   

*  *  * 

February 5, 2014 

While we are attending to the discussion between J.P. and Cowboy, there is another drama presenting itself in the area of the kitchen, to be specific, in the area we know as Constanza’s stall.  Constanza has been napping to get her rest before she is called upon to organize the kitchen forces for dinner preparation and before she must prepare the delicacies for J.P.’s reception.  She suddenly becomes aware through the fog of sleep that she is not alone in her stall, that she has company of the most unusual sort.  As her eyes begin to focus, she is aware that she is being watched by a being she doesn’t know at all and who does not belong in her stall or anywhere near it!  

This being is clad in a short-sleeved knit peasant-style top the soft shade of pink we often see in the tulips that herald the spring, and it is embroidered at the neckline with tiny blossoms in white and tints of pink.  Her skirt is a softly-flared denim the color of forget-me-nots.  It reaches modestly to four inches below her knees.  On her slender legs she wears smooth beige tights, and her sandals are dark brown leather with a design of tiny blossoms punched into the straps.  Her clothing, thus, is simple but feminine, comfortable but attractive.  

But what of her face and her hair?  She has an altogether pleasant face, round with features that one cannot describe as beautiful, exactly, but they are not unattractive.  Her lips are average and a natural shade of rose.  Her nose is not too large but is well-shaped and suits her face.  But her eyes, her eyes reveal her heritage, for they can be a bright blue, as blue as the bluebells of Scotland, and yet they can be as gray-blue as the stormy North Sea from whence her Viking ancestors arose.  Her hair?  In her younger years, her hair fell lightly into waves of soft brown, but now the waves of brown are, like the foamy sea, wisps and curls of soft white.  Age has had its way with this newcomer, but despite that, she remains comely and vital.  Now that we have studied her, let us once again witness the activity in Constanza’s stall so that we might gain some understanding of this new arrival’s personality. 

Constanza:  blinking, trying to focus her eyes, wondering if she is still asleep.  . .  Who are you??  What are you doing here??  In my stall, yet!  I don’t even know you!  Are you dangerous?? 

Blossom:  No, Constanza.  I am no danger to you.  I am no danger to anyone here, in fact.  I have come home, and home is where I am.  Well, maybe not specifically right here in your horse stall, for I’m not a horse.  I’m a woman, a sexual being.  

Constanza:  So what are you doing in my stall, watching me sleep??  You make me nervous.  I can’t figure out whether I’m asleep and dreaming about you or awake and actually talking to you.  If I’m talking to you, I shouldn’t be.  Or should I be?  Can you help me? 

Blossom:  Well, I’m not sure how to answer that question, Constanza.  

Constanza:  How do you know my name?  I haven’t introduced myself, and neither has anyone else.  So how do you know? 

Blossom:  I was guided here by Light, and Light told me that the best place for me to begin my homecoming was in your stall.  Light said that if there was part here who would understand me and have empathy for me, it would be you, Constanza.  So that is why I arrived in your stall.  I just more or less found myself here.  I hope you don’t mind too much.  

Constanza:  So what did Light tell you about me?  Did she say good things about me? 

Blossom:  Of course she did, Constanza!  Light is proud of you.  You do great work here, and you have had the courage to make changes in your behavior.  I’d say you should be proud of yourself!  

Constanza:  bats her long eyelids and smiles a toothy smile . . .  Well, Blossom, those words make happy.  I always wonder if I’m appreciated for my sterling qualities.  So what brings you—as they say—to this neck of the woods?  And where did you get your name?  Your name strikes me as being more fitting for one of my cousins, a lady of the bovine persuasion.  Oh, don’t be insulted!  My cousin is a wonderful producer and a great lady.  She and I spent many a moment together in adjacent isolation stalls before I arrived here at the arena.  You could do a lot worse than having a name like hers.  

Blossom:  What, actually, was your cousin’s name, Constanza? 

Constanza:  Well, if you really want to know, it was Appleblossom.  And her sisters were Peachblossom, Pearblossom, and Quinceblossom.  Quinceblossom we called Quincy for short.  Her name fit her.  She was dried up and sour.  Quince blossoms are a beautiful intense pink, but the fruit is inedible—horrible!  And that was the way Quincy was—sour and horrible!  But you don’t strike me as being sour, and somehow I doubt that you are horrible—at least, you have not shown me your horrible side thus far. 

Blossom:  laughs gaily .  .  .  No, if I were horrible, I doubt that Light would have sent me here.  As it were, she didn’t hesitate, so I guess I must be okay.  

Constanza:  Well, why has it taken you so long to find your way to us here at the arena?  

Blossom:  According to Light, I’ve been the farthest away and the most thoroughly hidden.  She was sure I existed somewhere, but she simply did not know where.  Luckily for me, she kept searching.  However, she did mention when she found  me that she was on the verge of giving up the hunt.  She didn’t, though, so here I am.  Right here in your stall with you, Constanza.  

Constanza:  Yes, that’s for sure!  But who are you, Blossom?  I mean, each of us here is a part of Jean, working for her welfare.  But who are you?  What part of Jean are you? 

Blossom:  As near as I can figure, little Jeanie went through some bad experiences, and she banished me to a place as far from her as she could find so she didn’t have to be reminded of those terrible experiences.  And those experiences all had to do with the fact that she was a little girl and had the body of a little girl.  She was female, in other words, and horrible, awful people took advantage of that fact.  She was a little girl who had a little girl’s sexuality, a natural sexuality, the kind she was born with.  And she liked being a little girl and dancing and singing and feeling the raindrops on her outstretched hands and catching snowflakes on her tongue and watching to see if the fairies really did dance around their rings in the grass at night.  

But when those horrible, awful people took advantage of her femaleness and hurt her, she decided she didn’t want to be female anymore.  She didn’t want people doing those things to her, so she made me leave.  She said she never, ever wanted to see me again.  So I left and went as far away from her as I could.  I understood why she didn’t want me around to remind her of horrible events, so I departed and headed for places where I knew Jeanie would never stumble across me.  Problem was, when I disappeared, Jeanie was never able to remember me and to understand me.  So the little tyke grew up to think she was neither male nor female—well, she didn’t know WHO she was!  She knew the other little girls, her schoolmates and playmates, were little girls and were growing into becoming big girls, but she didn’t believe that was happening to her.  She was very, very confused!  You see, I had been her sexual identity, and she couldn’t find me. 

But when Jeanie grew up and became Aurora, that poor, sad creature who sheds brittle bits as she wanders, somehow horrible, awful people recognized me in her, and once again, I—in the body of Aurora–was used by somebody intent on satisfying his own needs at Aurora’s expense.  Oh, if only I had gone unrecognized!  Aurora would have been spared so much misery!  I was devastated when I knew that harm had come to Aurora because of me!  Of course, Aurora did the same thing Jeanie had done—she told me in no uncertain terms that I had to leave and never come back.  She had a lot of very harsh words for me, blaming me for her woes.  

But I knew better.  I knew that what had happened was not my fault.  So I did not go as far away as Jeanie and Aurora had wanted.  In other words, I disobeyed their orders.  Now that I am here, I am somehow going to need to earn their acceptance.  Sighs  The only thing I have going for me is Light’s approval.  Light has let me know that whether Jeanie and Aurora will admit it or not, they need me—Jean needs me!  So I have a hard task ahead of me.  I must gain the respect and trust of all the parts here, including yours, Constanza, and I must find myself a comfortable place among you.  

Constanza:  But that doesn’t explain why you wound up in my stall!  

Blossom:  Well, and I don’t want you to take this wrong, Constanza, but I believe Light figured that you and I have some common traits, being female as one, and being more or less what I might describe as “unconventional” being another.  What do you think?  Do you think maybe I could bunk here with you until I earn a bed elsewhere in the arena?  I don’t have any belongings to take up space, and I’m not nearly as big as you, so I wouldn’t need much room.  I could even be useful, in fact.  What do you say? 

Constanza:  intrigued at the prospect of a little novelty in her otherwise regimented and somewhat boring life .  .  .  I suppose that would work, Blossom.  That is, if you will help me supervise the little girls when they serve at mealtimes and serve special refreshments—such as those we are serving tonight when J.P. comes.  Would you do it? 

Blossom:  Of course!  That would help me meet the others and begin my effort to find my way here at the arena.  But what would we tell people tonight when they see me?  Only Jeanie and Aurora would recognize me, and I have no idea as to what their reaction would be!  Or maybe they wouldn’t react.  They may be too ashamed to react.  What can we do to save Jeanie and Aurora from grief? 

Constanza:  Hmmmm . . .  I need to ponder this a bit.  I think we need to slow down.  Tonight may not be the best night to spring you upon everyone. Say, did you ever hear of the Trojan Horse?  Maybe I could enlist Cowboy’s help and build you a Trojan Horse, a way for you to not look like yourself and yet you could be there at the meeting tonight and listen in.  Big things are planned for tonight, a major shift in the power structure here at the arena.  Hmmmm . . .  Yes, I believe a Trojan Horse might be just the ticket.  After all, if the others see you for the part you truly are tonight, that might be a bit over the top for most parts.  What do you think of that plan? 

Blossom:  Do you really believe Cowboy will go along with your plan? 

Constanza:  If I know Cowboy, she won’t want anything to muck up her plans for tonight, and so she would probably be happy to build you a Trojan Horse.  And she could build you a large enough horse so that it could serve as a cozy little home for you.  We can park it right here in my stall at night, and if anyone asks about it, I can just say that I was so lonesome Cowboy built me a wooden companion.  And if I play my cards right, I bet I can talk Cowboy into painting the horse to look just like me!  What do you say to that??  Wow!  I believe I’m really getting into this!  A wooden Constanza!  I would really, really like that!  After all, with my looks, I believe I deserve to be duplicated.  Don’t you?  After all, how many mares have my lips and my eyelashes?  How many mares can flirt like I can?  How many mares . . .   

Blossom:  interrupts Constanza’s litany of her own assets .  .  .  Oh, yes, Constanza, I believe Cowboy will not only agree to build my Trojan Horse but will, with the help of all those strapping but not very bright Formerly Little Needy Ones, get it built toute de suite, as the French say.  Shall we ask Cowboy?  

Constanza:  My, my, I think maybe it would be best if you left this to me, Blossom.  I must approach Cowboy in a certain way to broach this to her.  Just leave this to me, okay? 

Blossom:  If you say so, Constanza.  But where should I go while you are discussing this with Cowboy?  

Constanza:  Well, I’d say my stall is a pretty good place to lay low.  Nobody stops by for fear that Cowboy will put them to work mucking out my stall.  So why not just hunker down under one of my old blankets over there by the hay bales and the muck bucket?  I know it doesn’t smell too great, but all the more reason to use it as a hiding place.  Would that work for you? 

Blossom:  I think I could tolerate that for a short time.  Oh, I just hope Cowboy agrees to build that horse!  

Constanza:  Leave it to me, Blossom.  So I’ll get you settled in over by the hay bale, and then I’ll take myself off to the stables to find Cowboy.  In the meantime, you can catch a few winks.  Constanza and Blossom head for the blanket by the hay bale, Blossom settles in for a needed nap, and Constanza leaves to find Cowboy.  .  .  . 

 

This excerpt marks the end of my Ego State Therapy dialogue thus far.  With the coming of sweet, little Blossom to the arena, I understand that I am, indeed, a complete woman just like all the women I have watched and wondered about.  My innate femininity and sexuality has been inside me all this time, but Blossom, my sexual innocence, had been waiting for the right time to make her presence known.  Now I recognize her and love her for the innocent creature she is.  My innocence was taken from me when I was a child and unable to protect myself–or I thought she was taken from me.  Furthermore, I actively blamed that sweet creature for my pain and shunned her.  No longer!  She is now a beloved and cherished ego state who dwells in peace in my arena.  She has chosen to continue living in Constanza’s stall despite its environmental flaws, and sweet little Blossom has become a friend to all and a beloved companion to Jeanie and Aurora.

*  *  * 

Lest you think that my ego state dialogue is finished, I can assure you that it is not finished.  I no longer write my dialogue, but when I am feeling disorganized or sad or distressed, I return to my pals at the arena, and we work together to resolve whatever matters are bothering me.  My dialogue continues in my mind.  This, then, is my way of doing Ego State Therapy.  Other people may do it differently.  But this form has worked for me to alleviate my PTSD symptoms and to help me get my life back. 

“When you feel that you have reached the end and that you cannot go one step further, when life seems to be drained of all purpose: What a wonderful opportunity o start all over again, to turn over a new page.”    Eileen Caddy, Scottish writer.

 

 

 

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Dear Reader, 

Before I begin this next installment in my description of my journey through Ego State Therapy, I want to give you this web address:  http://www.shirleyjeanschmidt.com/doc/db-prep.pdf   I don’t know why I have not found it before this, but now I have found it, and that’s what counts.  If you read this article, you will understand how and why I have benefitted from Ego State Therapy.  Just as the woman in the case study, I managed to dramatically reduce my PTSD symptoms after working for two years with my ego states.  Also, like the woman in the case study, I was able to locate the unconditionally loving ego state within me and enlist that ego state’s help in reducing the conflicts among my other ego states and bringing about peace.  I did my work on my own while in a light trance state and wrote about the process in dialogue form.  The ego state I refer to in the title of this post is the part of me that enabled me to do this work!  

In the previous installment, I described my introduction to Cowboy, one of the first ego states I met.  Slowly, some of my other ego states drifted to the arena in Jasper Canyon, and I became acquainted with them.  Upon settling into the arena, each ego state had to interact with the other ego states in some way, and in the process of doing this, the role of each ego state was clearly defined–usually!  There was one ego state, however, that arrived at the arena in one form and, given loving care, gradually morphed into a different form.  

Poor old Nothingness was truly “nothing” when Cowboy and a few of my other ego states encountered him/her–for simplicity’s sake, I’ll use the masculine singular pronoun from this point on.  Nothingness’ story begins the day Cowboy and First Protector, the nanny who tended the very young ego states lodged in a nursery off the arena’s kitchen, ventured out to give the little ones some fresh air and sunshine.  The little ones, being little, had their choice of riding in the big red wagon Cowboy pulled or walking along the trail on the banks of Jasper Creek.  As they walked, they chattered and sang and skipped and hopped–all under the watchful eye of First Protector, of course.  Cowboy and the wagon led the procession, Cowboy being vigilant, making sure that no danger approached the little party.  

Suddenly, the procession and all the chatter stopped, for there, lying completely across the trail ahead of Cowboy, was a huge gelatinous blob.  I can’t say that the blob was formless, but it was as close to being formless as it could be.  I also can’t say that it was colorless, but being a nondescript grayish shade, it was as close to being colorless as it could be.  Although Cowboy’s first inclination was to kick the mass and shove it to the side of the trail, she hesitated to do that.  In the first place, she realized that the mass was possibly immovable due to its lack of form and its size.  In the second place, Cowboy, ever curious, noticed while peering closely at the mass that beneath its translucent covering there flickered tiny pink lights.  A sign of life?  Yes, decided Cowboy, perhaps a sign of life.  So what to do??  

After putting their heads together, Cowboy, First Protector, and all the little ones decided that the only thing to do was to somehow transport the blob to the arena.  As First Protector contended, “This blob is here for a reason, and the only reason I can see is that he was trying to reach the arena and just couldn’t quite make it.  It’s up to us to help him.”  Having said that, she and Cowboy, with the help of all the little ones, managed to pull the side rails from the wagon, gently ease the gelatinous mass onto them, and slide the blob onto the wagon floor so he could be safely transported to the arena.  

Once the mass reached the arena, he was housed in a special stall where he could be cared for tenderly.  After careful examination of his outer membrane, the parts at the arena realized that the poor creature was so dried out that he needed constant moisture available to him if he was to survive.  Cowboy, always quick to invent devices to serve special purposes, designed a misting system to keep the blob’s membrane continuously hydrated, and some of the other parts formulated a special ointment that they gently rubbed over the entire membrane of this newcomer.  Also, so the new arrival would feel at home, one of the parts decided upon a name, Nothingness, for the creature–with the thought that if this mass changed and grew and became a Something, then the name would be changed.  

Thanks to tender, regular care, the appreciation of all his new friends, and the safety of his new home, Nothingness lived and changed.  Each day he grew a little pinker and a bit more inclined to define his shape.  Slowly Nothingness became a Something.  And one day the folks at the arena saw him for what he truly had become–a handsome and wise old land turtle, filled with the wisdom of ages and able to impart his knowledge of life to all ego states. 

 

If you have puzzled over the title of this installment, I don’t blame you.  Initially, the wise old land turtle, after revealing his amazing powers of imagination and intuition, was renamed Gemini, the Twins, because within him appeared to reside two entities, one capable of great imaginative powers and the other capable of great intuitive powers.  Eventually, though, these seemingly semi-separate entities appeared to join and become almost one single entity.  They never completely integrated, however, so Gemini still carries within him my powers of imagination and intuition, not completely separate, on the one hand, but not completely one and the same, on the other hand.  He doesn’t seem to mind, nor do I.  

So what does this story mean, really?  And how is it related to my healing?  First off, I have retold the story of Gemini here in narrative prose.  In my Ego State Therapy writing, I told the story in dialogue or conversation format, revealing the interactions among the various ego states.  Unfortunately, I can’t find my original dialogue work on my present computer.  Luckily, my therapist has the printed text, so it isn’t lost.  

My healing has occurred as I have written the dialogue because in interacting with one another in the dialogue, my ego states have ironed out their differences and have learned to accept one another and live in harmony.  At times, when conflicts among ego states were not resolved by the ego states themselves, Light, the channel of the Universe’s unconditional love, offered her assistance.  Eventually, all my ego states were working together to bring peace to my psyche.  Now, when I begin to feel psychic discomfort or distress, I go back to the arena, the place where my ego states dwell, and we once again work together to resolve whatever issue is causing discord.  If you have read the article I cited at the beginning of this post and then read this post, you may have been able to get a glimpse into how this therapy modality works.  It’s not easy to demonstrate the inner workings of the human psyche, but I have tried here to do that.  

Next Post:  Conclusion–Sweet Little Blossom Comes Home

 

 

First of all, my initial visit with my new therapist on that April day in 2010 gave me hope because she gave me a tentative diagnosis of Complex PTSD and told me that I had a choice of treatment modalities.  She presented me with my choices, and I chose Ego State Therapy with the idea of preparing for EMDR.  Ego State Therapy appealed to me because I’d known all my life that I had a lot of parts of me inside my head, and from the time I was a child, my parts had conversed with one another.  I remembered how as a little girl I had taught myself to solve problems by setting my parts up to talk together in order to find a solution to what bothered me.  Ego State Therapy sounded like what I had been doing since I was a child, so I felt comfortable in choosing it over the other modalities she described.  My therapist let me know that preparing for EMDR work might take me a while but that the preparation was essential if EMDR were to be helpful.  For the first time, then, I had a definitive diagnosis and knew what I needed to do to help myself heal.  I had a direction and was eager to begin the work.    

From the reading I have done on Ego State Therapy, I have learned that traditionally, ego state work is done in a therapist’s office with the therapist available to help the client identify ego states and facilitate a useful and beneficial interaction between client and ego states.  In fact, several articles have described the therapist as facilitating a family therapy session with the family members being the client’s ego states rather than being individual human members of the client’s family.  Most of the time, from what I have read and from what my therapist has told me, the client is asked to imagine herself sitting a large conference table and inviting her ego states to come to the table and introduce themselves so that she and they could meet one another and begin what might become a beneficial interaction and relationship.  

I didn’t understand at the time my therapist introduced the modality to me and told me about the conference table why I objected so strongly to the traditional setting, why I couldn’t have simply done my Ego State Therapy the way I was “supposed” to have done it.  The day in April when my therapist mentioned the conference table concept, I told her there was no way meetings around a conference table would work for me.  I would have no part of that!  Boring, boring, boring!  Nope!  I was not doing that!  She appeared shocked or puzzled as I left her office that day after my outburst, and I was shocked at myself.  Normally, I didn’t do outbursts.  Normally, I did as I was told.  Later, though, I realized that I associated conference tables with the meetings I had been forced to attend when I taught in the community college.  They were boring and often a waste of my time.  I resented being forced to attend them when I could have been grading papers or planning lessons.  Yes,  I knew that I had hated going to meetings, but I had not realized how intensely I hated meetings until my outburst in my therapist’s office.  Aha! 

By the time I caught my bus to go home that day, I had thought about my situation and realized that if I were not willing to sit at a conference table and interact with my ego states, then it was up to me to find another way to accomplish the same thing.  How did I want to do this?  I understood the basic principle–I needed to design a way that suited me to accomplish the same thing I was asked to accomplish around a conference table.  Coming up with my own substitute for the conference table would be risky, I knew.  Maybe my therapist would insist I follow the usual procedure, insist to the point of refusing to work with me if I didn’t cooperate.  There was that possibility.  Oh, well, if that happened, I supposed I’d have to find another therapist.  But I was 70 years old, old enough, surely, to be allowed to do this in my own way.  Thus, I began to construct my own setting for my therapy. 

First off, at home I decided I needed to think of a setting for my therapy.  Where would I like to have my ego states gather?  Since a lot of good memories centered around the location where I had done archaeology work back in the late 1950s, I chose Jasper Canyon as my locale.  Because I loved to watch dressage events, I decided to place an indoor dressage arena into this canyon.  The super-deluxe indoor arena would have apartments for all my ego states, and when they needed to meet, they could meet in the show area.  The space was flexible and would allow for small group meetings, large group meetings, and for meetings of all the parts together.  This decided, I was ready to greet my ego states.  

Who would arrive first?  I waited a few days, but nobody arrived.  What to do?  And then I remembered my brief course of art therapy in 2002 and how that therapy had allowed me access to memories and information that seemed inaccessible through deliberate thought.  So I got out my trusty oil pastels and my huge pad of newsprint, let myself go into a light trance state, and began to draw.  I’m no artist, for sure!, but by drawing, I allowed myself to meet my first group of ego states.  

Cowboy arrived first.  Here is a picture of her: 

 

cowboy

Cowboy is the part of me that flies into action when action is called for.  She gets her energy from all the anger I have kept inside myself throughout my life.  Cowboy is not a delicate, sensitive creature, but she gets the job done–whatever that job might be.  Cowboy and I have been old friends from my childhood, and we respect one another.  She is direct in her speech and manner, and she is not terribly respectful of the unwritten rules governing social interactions.  In other words, Cowboy probably rubs a lot of people the wrong way.  But she is honest and hardworking, and she fights for the underdog.  Luckily, some of my other ego states/parts know how to work with Cowboy so that she does not completely run roughshod over the rules governing social interactions!  Cowboy has been part of me since I was a child.  I believe she was born when I first knew that my parents would punish me if I showed anger or if I contradicted them.  I endured quite a few hard spankings when I was a little girl before Cowboy took over the reins and protected me from the effects of my parents’  physical abuse.  

Along with Cowboy came her counterpart and companion, Internal Therapist.  Where Cowboy initially acted without considering the effects of her actions upon others, Internal Therapist’s job was to help Cowboy become aware of possible consequences and the effects of her behavior on others and to use that information to temper her behavior.  This, at any rate, was their relationship in the beginning, when I first met these ego states.  Later, Cowboy and Internal Therapist appeared to integrate to a certain point, and Cowboy actually took over Internal Therapist’s role herself, retaining the qualities of blunt speech and the ability to fly into action when needed.  Today I am no longer aware of Internal Therapist as being separate from Cowboy, and I cherish Cowboy’s presence in my psyche.  I know that when I am in a difficult situation, I can put on my chaps, my boots, and my spurs, and Cowboy and I can tame the wildest bucking bronco.  That’s my Cowboy!  

Shortly after meeting my first ego states, I became aware of shadowy, menacing figures slithering and creeping along the perimeters of the arena’s huge main show ring.  I recognized these figures as being a threat to my well being, and I wanted to simply annihilate them, get rid of them.  When I told this to my therapist, she gave me the one and only rule I was to follow:  Do NOT kill or get rid of the shadow figures because they may have played a protector role at some time.  Instead, preserve them and see what happens.  See how they evolve.  Over the months, I had grown to respect my therapist and to believe that she had my best interests in mind, so I agreed to follow this rule–not, however, without objecting to it, of course.  I kept my word to her, and as time passed and more ego states found their ways to the arena, these shadowy figures slowly changed.  Eventually, they became staunch protectors of my spirit.  When I look back and think of what might have happened if I had tried to kill them off simply because I was afraid of them, I shudder.  During my journey through Ego State Therapy, I kept the one rule my therapist gave me in mind.  Doing this led me to accept and be willing to acknowledge the value of each and every ego state who arrived at the arena.  By accepting and valuing each of my ego states, I have grown in my ability to accept and value my whole self.  I no longer feel worthless.  That’s progress! 

Next:  Part III, I meet an amazing set of twins who isn’t really a twin. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Each week, at least, I check my Google blog’s stat page, and in the process, I check the list of words or phrases that have brought people to my blog.  Today I found that somebody had reached my blog by typing “Ego-State Therapy–I don’t understand it” into a search engine, and because this particular therapeutic modality has been so essential to my healing, I decided to write a post on the topic.  If you type “Ego-State Therapy” into the search engine on my Google blog, you will find that I have written about the therapy in many of my posts, but I have never described my journey through the process from start to “finish.”  I put “finish” in quotes because I’ll never be completely finished with Ego-State Therapy.  I learned in therapy how to use this modality to achieve inner peace and freedom from my PTSD symptoms, and I will continue to do this work with my ego states as long as I live.  My C-PTSD will never be completely “cured,” but I will continue to heal for the rest of my life so long as I use the skills and techniques I learned in therapy.  

Listed below are three articles on the topic of Ego-State Therapy that might help you understand the basics.  If you read them before you read the description of my own process, you can see the theory and how the modality works.  My own process differs in some ways from the traditional process, but the principles of my process remain in line with those of the traditional process.  My process has led to healing, and that’s what is important to me! 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ego-state_therapy  (A brief, to-the-point definition of Ego-State Therapy)

http://www.clinicalsocialwork.com/egostate.html  (A site with lots of helpful articles about Ego-State Therapy.)

http://www.egostatetherapy.com/Ego-State-Therapy/ego-state-therapists/what-is-ego-state-therapy  (A page with links to helpful articles on Ego-State Therapy.)

Finally, I have found Ego-State Therapy to be an excellent preparation for EMDR.  The insights I received during Ego-State Therapy amplified and enhanced the insights that came from my EMDR sessions.  I think of that saying “The whole is composed of more than the sum of its parts.”  Ego-State Therapy + EMDR= Healing!  And healing is, indeed, much more than merely “the sum.”  

My Own Trip Through Ego-State Therapy:  Background Material

For seventy years I had suffered the misery of Complex PTSD symptoms–the nightmares, the anxiety, the dissociative episodes, the derealization and depersonalization, the flashbacks–all the miserable symptoms that made my life so difficult and caused me at times to wish I were dead.  By the time I was five years old, I felt as if there was a full-blown war taking place inside my head, and the war stopped only when I was asleep, at least my conscious awareness of the war stopped.  At that young age, I didn’t know that nightmares and horrible dreams could reflect the activity of the unconscious mind.  By the time I was six, I experienced my “Alice in Wonderland” days, the times when the ordinary appeared weirdly different from usual and when I felt myself to be living in a world where I seemed to be the only person who knew I existed.  Like Alice, I often felt myself to be so tiny that I was afraid I would disappear completely.  

As a young child, I knew my life was a struggle, but I assumed that everyone struggled as I did.  I didn’t know this for a fact because I said nothing to anyone about the abuse I had endured, and I said nothing about what was happening in my mind.  I said nothing because the important adults in my life were also my abusers.  One and the same!  I kept myself to myself, observed the acceptable social behaviors of other children, and did what I needed to do to fit in.  

I credit my Sunday School teachers and other welcoming and accepting adults at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church for giving me the nurturing environment I needed to stay afloat and not give up on life.  Looking back, and I am reluctant to admit this, it wasn’t faith in God or Jesus or the Holy Ghost that kept me going so much as it was the kind and loving attention I received.  But, then, I was a child, and God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost were abstract concepts that did not mean as much to me as being treated with kindness and respect meant.  My parents were nonbelievers and seldom stepped foot into my church, and for that I was grateful.  In church, I was happy coloring pictures of Jesus holding little children on his lap, singing songs about how Jesus loved me, putting pennies into my mite box for poor people, and learning about martyrs and saints and how I could be a saint, too, if I said  my prayers and obeyed the Ten Commandments.  In church, I learned how to see myself as being a valued child of God, and I learned what might now be classed as “old-fashioned” values and how to be a good person, something that my parents did not teach me.  What I learned as a child at my church sustained me and gave me the desire and courage to survive.

As an older child and a young adult, I struggled to cut through the chaos and noises in my head that threatened to block my thinking, and I managed to force myself to ignore the anxiety that threatened to rend the fabric of my inner stability.  Somehow, I kept myself together through the flashbacks and functioned well enough to meet the expectations of my parents and the other people in my environment and graduated from college.  And then I got married.  Then came twenty years of repetition of the abuses I had endured as a child.  Only when I had reached a point where I was no longer able to reassemble the fragments of my mind by myself–I called the days when I felt impossibly fragmented my “Humpty Dumpty” days–did I get help.  After six months of therapy, I slowly realized that I was not the cause of every bad thing that happened in the world–and in my home.  My eyes opened, and I caught my husband in the act of molesting our daughter.  I reported him to the police, and then I knew I was free to help my daughter recover her life and also free to make my own life whatever I wanted it to be.  Thus began my journey toward healing.

Looking back, I believe the most important piece of advice I could give to anyone with a background of abuse similar to mine is this:  LOOK AT THE ENDING OF YOUR ABUSIVE MARRIAGE/RELATIONSHIP AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO SHAPE YOUR LIFE INTO WHAT YOU HAVE ALWAYS DREAMED IT COULD BE!!  That’s what I did.  I asked myself, “If I could have any life I wanted, what would that life look like?”  I answered that question. And then I set out to make my dream a reality.  And I succeeded.  I have no regrets.  

I made that decision in 1981, shortly after turning my husband in for child sexual abuse and filing for divorce, and then I planned my course.  I knew I needed to include therapy in my life’s plan because I had experienced so much benefit from working with my first therapist.  From 1983, when my therapist retired, until 2010, I tried to find the help I needed to bring about peace in my psyche.  I saw no fewer than 15 therapists before I found the person I saw from 2010 until recently.  One person along the way gave me an accurate partial diagnosis of PTSD–C-PTSD was pretty much an unknown at the time–but then he relocated to another part of the state before he was able to help me.  Otherwise, I saw a lot of well-intended therapists and a few who, it turned out, were not so well-intended, but I survived and continued seeking a definitive diagnosis and appropriate help.  Without an accurate diagnosis, how, I reasoned, would I find appropriate help?  Good question!  However, in April of 2010, after following up on a referral by a well-known Portland, Oregon, psychiatrist, I found the right person and had my first appointment with her.  Thus began my trek toward significant healing and peace.

Next time:  My ego states begin introducing themselves to me, and we commence our work together.