The Critical Voice

I saw A. I read her an abridged and also added to version of the last post. Things were fine and we were talking. I felt connected. Then about half way through, they weren’t fine anymore. 

We had been addressing my critical voice. It’s something I worked really hard with Em to shut down, and it had been successfully minimized for so long. It only ever came out when I was about to share, to warn me it wasn’t safe. It was after A affirmed that Wednesdays session did in fact happen and that it was powerful that the voice rose from what I thought was the dead. 

I’m guessing that since I chose to ignore it, and let A in, and that it actually happened, it’s motherfucking angry. I leaned against her couch and all I could hear was “you are the worst. You were supposed to take care of them, your parents, your brother, and now after you know the pain of being abandoned you are leaving them behind? You are walking away from the people you swore to your dead Grandma (who was the most important person in the world to you, the person who kept you alive, might I add), you’re walking away from the people you were supposed to protect? What makes you better than them? 

You selfish, undeserving brat. How dare you. How dare you heal and leave them behind now, after all this, after all they’ve done for you. You are a piece of shit.”

And I’m shaking my head and shaking and I can vaguely hear A in the background going “PD, where are you? Your affect has changed, and the expression on your face has changed. Something is going on. Can you let me in?” 

And I go to respond and ask her for help but nothing comes out and my mouth is frozen in this perfect O and all I can hear is “ha, see! You’re so selfish. You’re going to make this connection with someone who isn’t family and leave your own family behind to rot. After they’re spending $20,000 on your wedding and have gifted you a $500 hotel room. Such a spoiled brat. Not to mention all the other stuff they’ve done for you over the years. And you can’t even bring them on a healing journey with you – you are too good for them, you’re going it alone. Leaving them in the dust. You’re such a fucking hypocrite. You’re useless.”

A is concerned or curious but definitely aware something is happening, I can tell because she is leaning forward in her chair and trying to catch my eye contact. “Let me in PD, let me share this pain with you. Let me hold it with you.”

You think you’re in pain, what would your family think if they knew what you were doing. You’re telling all their secrets to a stranger. She only knows your side of the story and you’ve never tried to let your family in. You just skipped that and now are going to go get better and abandon them. Don’t talk to her. That’s a betrayal of your role in this relationship. How many times do you have to learn talking to others isn’t safe. How many times do we have to do this before you finally listen to me. Things were fine before. And now things are changing and that is bad. That is very bad. And it’s all your fault, and you’re going to get it. So stop. Don’t make it any worse.”

I am staring out the window and choke out “I am a horrible daughter and sister. I’m leaving my family behind.”

A is answering me and there’s something about generational pain and giving a gift and me being brave and her being there and me being safe but she’s being drowned out by the critical voice – this internal threat. 

“Brave would have been not speaking to her, and not falling apart. Since when are you the one who falls apart? Since when do you trust? I tried to tell you this was a bad idea. One day you’ll learn. You’ll learn when she betrays you or when your family finds out what you’ve done. You’re so selfish.”

I say out loud “there is a part of me that is so hatefully angry at me right now. It won’t let me get to you.” I am visibly shaking.

“Now you’ve done it. Can’t do anything on your own, can you. I thought this was your ‘safe space’ (mockingly), I thought this was where you could be you and you could be whole. Guess not, huh. Was it worth it? Was it worth trusting her once to lose your whole family? They arrive next Thursday, they’re going to know. They’ll read the betrayal all over your face and then A will leave you and you will have nothing left. Everyone will know who you truly are.” 

This narrative is going on and on and it’s so self deprecating and so overwhelming and I want to get to A but I’m slipping further and further away and resisting her more and more and I don’t want to be but that critical voice – it is winning. 

A has put on her you-need-to-listen-to-me voice and is telling me to breathe, asking me to look at her. I do but it’s not me – it’s hard to explain but I am completely believing this angry voice. I am one with it now – and it’s taking over and looking at her, but defiantly. Like “PD may not be able to defy you but I can. We are going to do what you want so you leave us alone.” This defiant part of me isn’t connecting with A, it’s more like it’s in a staring contest with her. Normally I look away really fast because the connection overwhelms me but not now.

“PD, I honour your pain. I honour this part of you that is hurting. I can see you struggling and I invite it into this room with us.”

“Therapist bullshit 101” echoes my inside voice and I have to work hard to not actually and literally roll my eyes. I think this part of me is trying to shame me away from A, to kill the connection. It feels threatened, and like it has failed, its purpose in life has been to keep me safe and it was okay with growth until I trusted someone and now that I trust, well, “we just can’t have that.”

She asks me to put my feet on the floor and she has to ask me twice. I’m throwing this attitude at her that I don’t want to throw her way but it’s like I’ve lost to this critical voice. I truly believe I’ve done something horrible by connecting with her and that I’ve done something awful by coming to therapy at all and I’ve done something absolutely unconscionable by sharing my story with her. I have betrayed everyone who has ever loved me. And how awful of a person do you have to be to betray your own family. 

She asks me to breathe, I cross my arms and sarcastically breathe with her or breathe just enough for her to let it go. I know I’m not fooling her but I also know I need to play along or she will – actually not sure because it’s never happened – but she would say something I’m sure. I’m behaving so differently than normal, and she’s not stupid. She knows something is going on, but we are out of time and it’s not like I’ve let her in at all.

I feel briefly connected to her when we hug, and a different part of me whispers save us before we leave. The critical voice is back and going “shut up, we don’t need her, she’s just going to hurt us, let’s go” and we leave and it calms. 

One part of me shamed another part of me into total silence today… And I was helpless to do anything about it. 

And I am on the bus and I want to cry but that part of me is having none of that because according to it “we are done crying, we are done being selfish, and we most certainly are done seeing A. I didn’t keep you alive this long for you to throw it all away.”

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45 thoughts on “The Critical Voice

  1. Wow, that’s very strong and powerful. It must’ve been so overwhelming when you tried to resist the critical voice. I know how that voice can be. Sometimes, I shout back and we have a screaming match but most of the time, I can’t stop listening to the voice and believing it. I wish there was a way we can shut this voice up, huh? It’s so dead wrong about everything. It thinks it knows everything… Sure, maybe it’s trying to protect you but it’s also trying to keep you in stagnation because change sucks and change hurts. I hope that you’ll be able to share with A what had happened. I hope that you’ll be able to work on calming the critical voice down more in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Therapy can be such bullshit, right? All this touchy feely stuff is just not okay and parts of us like it and that is REALLY not okay. Want to come for a run with me, critical voice? Maybe burn off some of that angry energy?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really get this place, of moving towards, then backpedaling because of the vulnerability that comes up. My therapist always reminds me that with disorganized attachment, the closer you feel, the more intense the pain/discomfort/fear is going to be. So in the moving towards, all of the fear comes up which makes it then feel so dangerous. Knowing that doesn’t make it go away, but having context helps me, and I am saying all of this with the hopes it might help you too.
    Hang in there, I know it doesn’t feel like it, but all of this will pass and you will feel safe and connected again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The context did really help me, actually. I was starting to think maybe I was defective or something to spend time craving that emotional release and the connection and then push it away as soon as it arrived.

      It’s been a rough weekend. I am glad that I get a chance to talk to her on the phone before seeing her again in person.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The quote “therapist bullshit 101” made me laugh out loud. Seriously. I’m in public right now, so I look like a weirdo laughing out loud. Also, it was weird to laugh when your post was so sad! I’m so sorry that you’re struggling. I admire your openness – my post from today addresses the fact that I’ve been having a ridiculous amount of self-deprecating thoughts this week too, but on my blog I cover my pain with jokes instead of just putting it out there. Maybe that’s helpful sometimes, but…I admire you. My husband was like, “Stop pulling yourself into a negative spiral,” like I could just say, “Oh yeah, good idea! I hadn’t thought of that!” *glare*

    Here’s to us both having a better week next week, okay?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha oh Hazel, I’m so glad you’ve made your way over here. Your blog is a thing of beauty and has made me laugh many a time out loud in public – so now we are even 😉

      Thank you also for saying you admire me. I have only one real life person who reads this so maybe that’s why? I feel like I can really be me.

      Yes, lets both have better weeks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lily. I tend to write immediately after sessions and I find often my words capture how I feel better than I can later.

      Although that critical voice is quieter, it’s lurking. It’s happy as long as we aren’t talking to A.

      Like

  5. I drunk emailed A – asking for another session next week, which I promptly then did not take when I sobered up. And just berated myself for asking. She offered times and I don’t even want to respond, like, wtf is wrong with me right now.

    Shame is intense. OMG, that’s who is in the corner. Thank you for that. I wrote to A that one of the emotion ‘children’ – the only one not clamouring for my attention, is alone in the corner. Ah, it’s shame. I couldn’t identify it and now I can.

    Everything IS out of balance. And my family is coming and that exacerbates it and they don’t know about the sexual assault and then work and the weddings and everything is all stressful.

    I emailed A, she responded with times, and I am not taking them. And I feel better doing that than I did talking to her yesterday.

    Everything is ass backwards

    Liked by 1 person

    • Take one of the times, unless you think the phone session will be better. That shame is what’s making you not want to respond. Nothing is wrong with you; shame is just intense.
      There’s a lot of stress coming. Take a breath, we will make it through this together. And if you ever want to talk outside of WP, you can send me an email journeytostrengthblog@gmail.com
      Is there something other than shame that is making you not want to take a time?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I ended up emailing her and taking one. It’s just work logistics. It has to be on the phone cause her office is under Reno. She offered an earlier time when I left and then realized that she wasn’t able to be in the office so I asked if she was able to do phone.

        I will email you, actually, since you offered. 🙂

        Paperdolltherapyblog@gmail.com coming your way.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I hear how ashamed and angry and scared you feel. It makes so much sense that you have so much deep emotion and tumultuous feelings about getting closer to A. And you are under extra stress because of your family visiting soon and your wedding. So everything is probably amplified (when I’m stressed, it seriously amplifies any negative feeling). I understand having such a powerfully critical inner voice that demands attention. It is so difficult. Sending warm thoughts and I hope you are in less pain soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, I really appreciate the amplification point, very true and very astute of you. Thankfully that critical voice is only over A – WP seems to be safe still as does my fiancĂ© – and as long as I’m not thinking about or talking to A it quiets.

      The problem there is how to talk to her about this then.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re probably right. This part of me kept me alive for so long by not trusting anybody… it was loud when my fiancĂ© came into my life but settled after a while (it tried it’s very hardest to get rid of him but he is the most stubborn human I know).

        Now it wants A gone, I’m shaming myself after every contact with her or even thinking about wanting to speak to her. And it’s loud.

        I know fear is at the root but I feel like I’m losing the logic battle over here.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s the fear of being so vulnerable. In the past vulnerability equaled pain. Of course you are afraid after the intense session you had. But A has proven to be trustworthy. Just like with your fiancĂ©, the critical voice will settle as you get used to having A’s support at a new level. You are in the hard part of the healing process. That’s good!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Sharon, so much. Really your perspective is often so needed for me. I need it to settle and in the meantime I’m trying to not listen to it. It’s easier when there is no A, but as soon as I’m in the room with her I know it’s going to come back. Do you have any ideas of bringing it up with her when I can’t even speak to her right now?

        Like

  7. That was intense. I can relate to those thoughts and that voice. It’s hard to shut it up. It’s for protection, and at one point, it was successfully protecting you, maybe for a time when it wasn’t safe to share what was going on with you. But it is safe now, and you deserve to have A on your side. And A will still be here. Even if the critical voice had tried to push A away, I think A would’ve fought it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • PD: I fully agree with Staystrong10. Also I am sorry everything is so difficult for you right now. You are working very hard! Sharing it with us is very brave too! Sending you Thumbs Up! TS

      Liked by 2 people

      • Fight this part of me again. It feels impossible. I spent so much time trying to shut it up.

        I got drunk last night (which is when I wrote that – drunk WPing is a thing apparently), and I emailed A and this morning the shame and hatred for myself is overwhelming.

        I know that this is in response to a change in me that is changing my role in my family. I know it is in response to the fact that A is trusted and I let her in and we don’t let anybody in ever.

        But I need this voice to shut up. And I am not the stronger part right now. I felt paralyzed to talk to A and all I wanted was to connect, and I feel like it was a wasted session and that makes me mad.

        I don’t know

        Liked by 1 person

      • Of course drunk WP-ing is a thing! I invented it! (Probably not but I’ve been there, and it’s okay).
        Shame is such an intense, overpowering emotion. I’m hoping you get a supportive email back, and soon.
        I understand that. In one of my classes this week, we discussed family dynamics/roles/dysfunction (you can guess just how happy I was with that). The way a family is looked at is like a baby mobile. Every piece of it is in balance. But when one piece starts to change (like, going to counseling, for both of us), the system goes out of whack and is no longer balanced.
        And there is that pressure, on us, not to change so that the balance is restored. It is hard, wanting to grow and change but knowing that doing so puts everything out of balance.
        I understand that too. Wasted sessions aren’t actually wasted. They bring stuff to the table to work through going forward. But it’s impossible to see that in the heat of the moment; it’s later down the road that we see that it was okay.
        There’s a few family rules that are common among dysfunctional families. One is not to trust others or let outside people see what’s going on. It’s brave when people, like both of us, can break the rule. It’s scary, too.

        Liked by 1 person

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