When I work with a family member or friend on a therapy assignment, my contact with that person usually happens after I've laid all the groundwork in place. In general, I've spent six months or more on myself, or my part in the assignment, I've done a great deal of research, and I have only to lay the last piece in place in order to finish what I began. That final piece usually involves asking questions of another person, or discussing something between us that causes me stress, or requesting a change in our relationship (usually just a minor one). As a result, the person involved hears about the difficulty I'm trying to manage at the end of the assignment. They're usually completely unaware of the work I've been doing and I usually don't tell them a great deal about it, but it provides the illusion that I identify a problem, talk with the person involved, and instantly solve whatever difficulty has presented itself. I'm amazing.
Example: Integration of Tolkien Boy
The problem was identified months ago. The first step I take is to look at the depth of what has happened, figure out what might have triggered it, and find all the tiny details that might need changes made. In the case of TB, there were large details (i.e. my feelings about the two entities which had to be identified and catalogued--this took at least three weeks), and smaller ones (for instance, I'd replaced all online pictures of real-life TB with the most obscure ones I could find--they were taken at least seven years ago and didn't look at all like TB today).
Once the detail identification was finished, I took care of any small changes that could be done immediately (easier said than done--my guts did not want ANY changes made--I spent a great deal of time arguing with myself: "Sam, you have to do this." "I don't want to. I like things the way they are." "No you don't, you hate them, that's why we're here right now, trying to fix what you messed up with your subconscious." "I still don't want to." "Do it anyway, Sam." "Fine, but I hate this." "Me, too."), and listed the ones that might need more lengthy work.
The tasks that needed more time were then further subdivided so they didn't seem overwhelming and, bit by bit, I hacked away at them, doing the necessary emotional exercises to force me into reality.
There is a reason I dissociate. It's because sometimes reality sucks.
Eight months later, I had finished the miserable work of undoing the dissociation, and I had accepted that I'm a freak, and I had sort of put TB back together--but not really, because the last step needed him in person and he lives a million miles away from me.
Tolkien Boy loves me, I think, because even though he was a newlywed, and exhausted, and leaving early in the morning for his honeymoon, he stayed up with me into the wee hours of morning, allowing me to talk about the problem, and ask questions, and telling me his thoughts, as well. If he doesn't love me, then I have no idea why he would do that, and besides, I prefer to believe that he does because being loved by Tolkien Boy is a priceless gift, and if I'm going to be delusional, I like that delusion so much better than the dissociative one I created earlier.
The truth is that my life right now is still really difficult. The insanely desperate part has eased and I'm left with a huge mess to clean up--emotional, physical, financial...you name it...if it exists in my life, it's a mess. That's hard to wake up to every morning. And all the support people in my life who are physically present are somehow involved in that mess; either they've presented me with new problems that need my help (like DJ having surgery and being unable to drive and limited in his ability to care for himself), or they are as deeply responsible for the problems as I am (like Darrin, working extra hours in the hope that we can pay off at least one debt before the year ends), which means they're all emotionally depleted, as well, and very tired, and not really a great deal of support.
I'm actually not sure where we all go from here.
I was speaking with Ambrosia last night, expressing disappointment that I'd allowed the transferred dissociation to happen. She said it seemed like I expect myself to be perfect. I don't, though. I just want to be normal. I don't want to feel much of what motivates me to seek out unhealthy coping. I feel badly when my deficits affect my loved ones. And let's face it, I'm still very afraid that those staunch friends, however few, who have stayed by me through the horrible mess of the past couple of years, will get tired of me and leave--especially when I do freaky things that affect how I feel about and act around them.
Normal. It seems I'm always shooting for that and missing. But there are so many days when I realize I'm an anomaly in nearly every part of my life and I just want to be unremarkable.
This is such a weird post.