I have long had this image of Self-Loathing as either a dirty, shuffling wreck of a woman or someone very haughty with sharp fingernails and a sharper tongue. It turns out, however, that behind that disguise, SL may in fact be a little girl.
In therapy this evening, E approaches SL as a defense mechanism. I begin to argue, “But wait, what if SL is right? What if I did make it all up?”
As we go back and forth on this topic, it seems that E is not talking to me. She is talking to a fierce, stubborn girl. I am still there as myself, watching it all, but all my adult reactions are tucked away as I just let the angry girl talk.
The girl can’t tolerate even the idea that my father might have molested me. She is indignant at the suggestion.
E asks her a lot of questions, and she responds with some of the things she loves about her dad: how much fun he can be, how silly, how he thinks she is smart and is proud of her for that, how he likes that she is good at math. He’s gone at work a lot but when he’s around, he acts like he likes to be with her. She knows he loves her. He wouldn’t hurt her.
E is quite gentle with this girl and acknowledges how important this attention from her dad must be to her. She didn’t get it in a lot of other places. She can’t bear to give it up. She’s worried that if adult Q even opens up the topic of something negative about her dad, that might undermine her connection to her dad. No, no, no. It’s not true. It can’t be.
So E asks if the girl would like me, adult Q, to show her that I see all the good things about my dad. This is the first time that the girl says yes to anything. I agree to make a book or a collage or something. Then E tries to talk a little about how grown-ups can be both good and bad, or they can be good and do a bad thing. But the girl is not having any of it, and E agrees we can save some of that for later.
It’s a strange session, and I leave feeling exhausted, but at the same time, a little relieved. I finally have something to do besides just yell at SL to go away–which wasn’t working anyway. And though I know it may not make sense to some readers, it makes me oddly happy to think of pulling together a lot of my good memories of time spent with my father.
CREDIT: Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
No wonder you’re exhausted. I’m glad E was gentle with the girl. There’s no rush for her to accept that good people can do bad things.
I thought this was very clever. Emotionally draining no doubt. I like that both you and your T are respecting that young girl x
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It makes sense to me. Sending you and SL both love and gentleness for this process. Xoxo
Hi q. I am sorry I’ve been absent for so long. I am slowly catching up. I have missed talking to you. I hope you and little q and all of the other parts are all doing well. lots of hugs and lots of love for you guys, ❤ xoxoxoxo
Q, I’m really curious how this worked out? Ironically I tried to do the same with my mom. Like I’m totally tired of every memory of her making me nauseous and afraid when I know for certain that at some points I loved her and she cared for me and we went shopping and laughed and ughh. So I gathered a few of my favorite pictures and really tried to find that loving feeling. Really I’m just left rather feelingless. How about you? Are you able to integrate the loving and fun father along with the one who also hurt you? I get how that would be relieving! Love to you
I am able to remember the good things, the silliness, the gardening, the generosity. For a few days I felt like “I miss that father” because I haven’t experienced him in that way in a very long time. And then I felt mad at myself because I shut that part out. So… it’s complicated.
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It’s complicated is all I know for certain. I get the being mad at yourself for forgetting the good. I do the same thing and feel totally ungrateful and selfish and why am I always so negative and only remembering the bad and ughhhh…it’s complicated.