Naming of parts

The baby lies under the trees. His mother told me that is where he particularly likes- in his pram, looking up at sunlight dappling through the leaves. I notice he lies rigid, all his muscles tense. He looks frightened and angry, but is still and silent. I want him to relax. I wonder about picking him up, but it would not relax him.

I wonder what I want from this friendship. Is it the drama? No, it’s that R is a troubled soul, and I get to look after her. However it is not working out that way. She keeps asking me questions about a woman I hurt. Then I shout at her, and the moral high ground falls away beneath my feet. Perhaps it was never there.

R is not here to be cared for, but to teach. I have spoken about my issues, and people have recommended “Internal family systems”, but R shows me the videos. Together we do Dr Richard Schwartz’s “One part” exercise.

IFS explains that we break off bits of ourselves which stay unconscious. So does Carl Rogers in client-centred therapy: he wrote of the “Organismic self” and the “self-concept”, which was different. Jung wrote of the shadow. The baby holds my rage and terror, the anxiety I am almost never conscious of, the anger which makes others fear me. Unless they tell me they fear me out of a malign attempt to gain power over me.

IFS postulates a loving parent, which can manifest through my conscious self, and look out for the unconscious parts. So there I am, not holding the baby.

This freaked me. As well as the inner critic telling me it was a made up scenario from old fantasies, I now worry that the Heart, or true self, which I was speaking from has no real conscious connection to my rage and terror. And I have just finished “Run towards the danger” by Sarah Polley, a sublime account of incidents in her life. Her brilliance and bravery shine through, and I am now an adoring fan. It ends with an essay on concussion, saying she cured hers by giving no concession to her headaches and difficulties. I ask myself whether my retreat from the world is doing me no good at all.

I want to tell R that’s not her loving parent she’s coming from, but, would we both not end up in the ditch?

There is a directory of IFS practitioners, and I email several of them. One writes back to say she could offer Identity-orientated psychotrauma therapy (IoPT) on the same principle of working with parts of the self.

IoPT was created by Dr Franz Ruppert. His editor in English is Vivian Broughton, who has written a book on theory and practice of IoPT for therapists and clients. Ruppert writes of his experience growing up unloved and unwanted. Then in 2017 he was lying awake, restless and tense, and he heard a voice in his ear which said,

“You are allowed to cry!”

So now I know what to tell the baby.

I thought I was speaking from the Heart. Then someone asked, “What are you Brits doing here?” And I lied. I went straight from Heart into Mask, or Ego, and gave a plausible reason for being there. I was there out of my need, but perhaps feared saying that.

That lie has really bothered me. I can be in a place where I feel heart-centred, truthful, expressing my true self, and then be knocked back into the mask. It is not the question that makes me change like that, but my own unconscious fear. However, the fear, anger, sadness is almost entirely unconscious for a reason. I am terrified of it still.

J told me of different 12 step programmes. All forbid cross-talk: my Emotions Anonymous script tells me to use I statements, and not to interrupt, speak directly to another, or give advice. At one Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families meeting someone ritually answers each share “Thank you [N], you were heard”. At Co-dependents Anonymous, however extreme anyone’s share no-one responds at all, as to hand them a tissue might be to start a “caring”, or co-dependent, relationship.

R gave me an utterly gorgeous duvet cover. It’s cotton with a 300 thread count, and an embroidered border. I would never get such a beautiful thing for myself.

This is the eleventh anniversary of my blog. I started here, and all the optimism and hope of that moment is being fulfilled.

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