Therapy – Experiencing the Void

Rather than plan the usual agenda for therapy yesterday, I decided to turn up with theth1W15UEW3 same dissociative void that I wrote about in my last post “Find a Way Back to Me.” I didn’t understand why it felt important to share this moment with Paul because to sit with a void implies sitting with nothing, and that is normally a little too awkward in therapy at the best of times. Let me tell you, it felt weird, really, really WEIRD, but I did it.

We sat through most of the fifty-minute session saying very little. I don’t usually deal with silence too well in therapy, but perhaps I’ve reached a stage of feeling comfortable with Paul, or maybe the dissociation just didn’t care.

Paul said I look incredibly sad and tired when I sit quietly, but he wondered if this is more to do with dissociation rather than sadness. It must have been dissociation because I couldn’t think or feel much of anything, other than a strange kind of exhaustion.

thPTT3DKVLIt felt more painful to be sharing such an honest part of myself and it made me realise just how preoccupied I am with Paul’s thoughts and feelings during our sessions. I try not to bore or depress him too much and my final thought is always about the effect of my monotonous voice on his mental wellbeing. This also spills out into my personal life, where I feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

Half an hour into our time and Paul seemed pleased and comfortable with how our session was progressing. I couldn’t help wonder if it was because he didn’t need to listen to my voice. He said, “Not only were you prepared to come and sit with this void today, you are allowing me to experience it with you.” I knew this was probably significant, but it didn’t increase my sense of connection.

I told Paul that it feels as though I’ve hit a dead end. I don’t necessarily want to go over the same methodical details of the past, yet there is a fear and hesitation towards entering the present moment.

There appears to be a wall of painful emotion that I need to walk through first, so I am hovering in this void instead of moving forward. It is not all about fear, but also about the uncertainty of which direction to take because the options are not entirely clear.

This reminded Paul of a seminar he attended recently where the speaker used a line chart to demonstrate the ups and downs of therapy. When things are running well, with realisations and changes underway, a client tends to feel as though they are up and moving forward, until the stage when nothing much appears to be happening and they begin to question why. However, those times of apparent inactivity, are actually the periods when we’re absorbing what we have learned and preparing for the next leg of the journey.

After therapy, I thought about the comments from yesterday’s post. Some were suggesting that maybe it’s not so much about finding a way back to the old me, as it isthD3TGU6OE about getting to know the new me.

In truth, I don’t yet know what all of this means and probably fail to recognise some kind of healing experience, although I imagine that will come further down the line. I have no closing smart-ass statement, nothing to help guide another through something similar. I only have the facts of my experience… Me in the present moment.

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36 thoughts on “Therapy – Experiencing the Void

  1. Priceless Joy

    I think it is great you were able to sit for 50 minutes with Paul and neither of you saying very much. I personally think that is a sign of strength and self confidence. One thing I remember clearly about therapy is that it always had me inside my head and there were times I needed to be there in order to get things out and heal. But it wasn’t a good thing for me to be inside my head all the time. There were times I needed to realize when I needed to be there and when I didn’t need to be there. I had to find the right balance. That was a big part of my healing as well.

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    1. Cat Post author

      Hi Joy… I think it probably does show strength and confidence between Paul and I. You are so right about balance, although this is difficult to achieve during this kind of intense therapy. When I attend on a Weds, I am zoned out that night and Thurs and then I am back for another 90mins on Friday which leaves me in that trance like state over the weekend. Mon and Tues, I am just starting to get my head together and then I am back in therapy on Weds again. We are warned about this at the start of the programme, but nothing quite prepares us for the reality. I only have 8mth left, so plenty of time for balance, I hope 🙂

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      1. Priceless Joy

        I have noticed that therapy does have you “working your mind” a lot. That is understandable because therapy brings out things we have pushed to the back of our minds in order for us to cope. Because all of that can be painful and confusing, it is good for us to get outside of our heads. Example: work crossword puzzles, go for walks, meet with friends, help a neighbor… you get the idea. Yes, you have 8 months and I am looking forward to the new you at the end of that 8 months. (Gee, I hope you will still want to be my friend!) lol.

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        1. Cat Post author

          I already do those things. I have my cut off points when I’ve got so many other things to take care of. Even the days when I am zoned out, there are lots of things to get through. I don’t write about those times because my posts are always about therapy. It’s understandable that this gives people the impression that therapy is all I think about..lol… balance is important and it is something that is especially on my mind this week. Thank you, Joy

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          1. Priceless Joy

            I hope I didn’t say anything to offend you. I’m sure you do a lot of other things. I know for a fact that you take Jack on walks. I’m getting ready to take Bria to her vet appointment. My car is warming up now (it’s cold outside!)

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            1. Cat Post author

              No, you didn’t offend me, Joy, absolutely not! Hope Bria gets on okay. This is Good Friday in the UK, so most people are on a holiday weekend

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            2. Priceless Joy

              You’re right. It is Good Friday here too. I just got home from taking her. The vet is clear on the other side of town. ugh. I can pick her up this afternoon around 2:00 pm.

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  2. Life in a Bind - BPD and me

    I am so awed by this, and it does feel really significant though I think you’re right, for you, the realisation and power will probably come later, right now it all probably just feels too strange. I’m not surprised that in the moment, his words didn’t increase a sense of connection – if they had, they might have got in the way of experiencing the void together. I know exactly what you mean about preoccupied with what the therapist is thinking and feeling and I’m also very familiar with the sense of not knowing which direction to go in next. Particularly after a run of really good and thought provoking sessions, of the type that Paul described (I loved that explanation of the ‘more mundane’ times in therapy – thank you). I don’t know if this will happen to you, everyone is different and therapy feels like such a random walk sometimes! But sometimes something seemingly ordinary or small or unplanned happens which suddenly shifts therapy into another gear and provides a wealth of material. Like my end of session time filling question in November, about whether I should send Jane a Christmas card, which led into some incredibly important work. And like my accidental watching of The Voice one Saturday night when I heard someone sing Chandelier and I went and investigated the original….and you know the rest…who knows what will come out of this session or the ones after. But it definitely feels significant and it was such a brave brave thing too do. I would love to one day have the courage to sit with my emptiness or other emotions and just experience them in silence with my therapist. The thought is petrifying but to have my feelings shared and accepted and held, well the thought also fills me with hope and longing. So very very well done Cat, I am so glad to read this post….

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    1. Cat Post author

      I am pleased you got something from my post, which is always nice to know. I am still not fully aware of exactly what was taking place during those 50mins with Paul, but it felt right and very powerful. I wondered if this is some kind of in between stage, so maybe it was important to share that transition with him, although I am still not quite sure what that actually is…mmmm.

      Paul is very careful with his words, especially since knowing my preference for a blank canvas (Even though we’re closer now, I still prefer this!). The odd thing was that he usually talks too much and there is seldom time for silence. Everything he says is always about me, but I often wondered if he would know when to shut up. Turns out, he did know exactly when to sit and say very little, which only added to the weirdness. I’ve never told him that I have concerns for his wellbeing during our sessions, although this might be my next adventure! Thanks so much for your feedback.

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      1. Sharon Alison Butt

        That reminds me of the story of Job. At the beginning, when he lost his 7 kids, his livelihood and then health, his friends sat with him for 7 days and wept with him in silence. It was only after they opened their mouths that the troubles surfaced. x

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  3. Ellen

    It reminds me of my sitting with parts. Though they are filled with emotion, but sometimes I don’t know what emotion, and I don’t have anything to say either. I think it’s a good insight about how you’re usually trying to take care of Paul, instead of letting him take care of you. Seems like good work altogether Cat.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I’ve never actually told him how I feel concerned for his wellbeing, that only really came to me while writing. I do feel responsible for people’s happiness and if they’re down, then it must be all my fault…mmm… something to share next session, I think. Thanks Ellen 🙂

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      1. Sharon Alison Butt

        I feel like that sometimes, then I remember that it’s not always my fault if people arent happy, but people’s emotions do affect us don’t they? Paul may be feeling sad for your sadness and then when you pick up on this, you may in turn feel sad that you’ve made him sad. Then he feels even sadder, seeing that you’ve become more sad and the cycle continues…

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  4. therabbitholez

    That Paul entered into this void with you says a lot about him, because there are times when there are no words.

    This wall of emotion I think is just a way of gathering your strength for the next stage, i did something similar I just had to take a step back to process and then prepare for the next step, it was like going through a revolving door and when it stopped, the same journey but a new path was waiting.

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    1. Cat Post author

      I am only just beginning to realise what a good Therapist he is. Yes, I would tend to agree about gathering strength for the next leg. Thank you 🙂

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  5. Anxious Mom

    I would probably be thinking the same as you, but I like what Paul had to say about you taking some time to let some of what you’ve learned sink in so you can move on to the next part.

    ((hugs))

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  6. Karen Beth

    Your post helped me to realize something big in my own healing .. I myself have a wall and a void that I cant get past, and your post helped me to see that maybe it’s a wall of emotions that needs a place to be heard, seen, and FELT before moving past it. THANK YOU for this!

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    1. Cat Post author

      I think “the void” has a few things at play, but a wall of emotion is significant, Karen, it kinda makes sense. I am pleased you were able to take something from this, thank you 🙂

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  7. Andi

    This is truly incredible work. It may not feel or seem like it, but overtime we do something new that was previously (heck, currently!) scary, we are allowing room for growth. Nicely done 🙂

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    1. Cat Post author

      Thanks Andi, it does feel significant, but I’m still trying to fathom why. It did feel scary, but like anything else, I won’t be so afraid next time. Cheers 🙂

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  8. mandy smith

    I’m trying to imagine sitting in a room of silence, Cat. I’m sooo uncomfortable with silence that it if exists I either start yammering away or have to leave. You probably knew that since I yammer away in writing just the same! The yammering came because I didn’t walk for the first two years of my life. My mother said (proudly) that she just sat me in the middle of the floor (while she read romance magazines) and I sat there all day long–talking talking talking. My dad told that story forever and then added, “and she hasn’t shut-up yet!” The silence part that terrifies me is that’s what I got as punishment. So if there is silence, my mind spins with being in trouble, having done something wrong, being bad. So, I crack jokes and if that doesn’t make a person come around, sayonara!! I actually admire someone comfortable with silence. It sounds like Paul handled it pretty well. I like hearing about your sessions.

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    1. Cat Post author

      That reminds me of my mum. When we were children, we had to sit in the middle of the floor and play quietly, otherwise there was trouble. Your Dad’s response highlights their ignorance.
      It was weird to sit in silence and even weirder when Paul also sat in silence. He knows how I struggle with silence, so he always uses each opportunity to feed back what I’ve just said (the standard Therapist tactic). I used to wonder if he would know when to shut up and lo and behold, he certainly did, but I hope he doesn’t make a habit of it 🙂 Thanks, Mandy

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  9. cardamone5

    You don’t need to impress, Paul or us or yourself. You just need to be, and to be honest, which you have been. Again, you are very brave.

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  10. Glynis Jolly

    What I see from across the big pond when I read your posts now is you’re more comfortable discussing you. Although I’m sure you’re disassociating to feel “safe”, I think you may be shedding some of your fear.

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  13. manyofus1980

    You are doing a lot of hard work in therapy Cat! Its never easy. Keep going, I know you will get there! hugs ❤

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