Intense Work with Parts

Intense therapy session with Erica.  We did some parts work which I found very complex and confusing at the time, and I was upset when it ended.  But reading back over my notes, I was able to make a lot more sense out of it.  I’ve been feeling a lot better today, not so lost, more grounded, back to my “real” self.

The important piece had to do with what IFS calls “polarization,” where two parts are pulling against each other.  The external circumstance was a dinner table conversation the night before.  At the table were two men I know somewhat as friends, and a woman in her nineties who has some memory loss and comes on very strongly.  My feelings about Molly were exactly what Erica was talking about, pulling in two directions, but it took us a while to get to them.  We needed to be able to identify my reactions correctly, with a certain amount of subtlety.  Simplistically, there was a part that didn’t like Molly and a part that envied her vivaciousness.  It took a while for me to understand that I didn’t like her because her vivaciousness felt false in some way, it wasn’t about connecting, it was about overwhelming us with her energy.  I didn’t in fact want to be like her.  My enthusiasm is not about me, but about the topic, and I want to have a real conversation, a discussion, not a speech.  I want there to be connection and relationship.

Last night, as I left the dining room, I was feeling like everyone saw me as a very boring person.  What I realized in the session with Erica was that I didn’t at all want to be like Molly, I wanted to be vivacious in my own way, with real enthusiasm for the topic but no wish to coerce someone into agreeing with me.  As I was leaving the dining room, though, all I had was the part who envied Molly and saw me as boring.

Oddly, I felt the presence of my introjected mother, criticizing me, but if my real mother had been there, she would have said of Molly “She thinks she’s so great.”  It looks like my introjected mother is not like my real mother, but a part who would only attack me, whereas I remember hearing Mother say of someone else “She thinks she’s so great.”  I realize that Molly really does “think she’s so great,” whereas I never do, I think astronomy or folk dance or somatic experiencing is great. Understanding that what I really want is the Truth ended the polarization.

But I can see, while the polarization was going on, it was very damaging.  As long as I had the two parts pulling me in opposite directions, I couldn’t see what was really going on, but got stuck in the place in between. No wonder I was confused and feeling hopeless. One thing that helped a lot was the presence of the two men, who didn’t buy into Molly’s intensity, but were more interested in conversation and relationship than figuring out what was “right.”

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