Taking Risks in Relating

493e8095167f91743a1b Rather than focusing on the processing of trauma, the therapeutic relationship became a place of practicing and exploring how to relate. Not only did the relationship with the therapist become the blueprint for other relationships, therapy sessions were also a place for feedback and guidance.  Clients now needed to test themselves and other people by taking risks and cautiously revealing themselves. 

Each one has little terms to come out, and then bit-by-bit they gradual learn doing things together. It’s like sticking their nose out, and testing, always testing. And then it’s important to trust. Trusting the inside to be able to deal with the outside (Katherine 3/1).

When I go out, I usually ask people that I know to meet me, go with people that I feel safe with, people I trust. And I watch people, I suss people out.  When I have the feeling that they are OK, then I give them a chance. If they fuck it up, that’s it! If not, it’s good (Ruby 3/1).

The need to MAKING HUMAN CONTACT was so strong, that, even if clients did not understand why, they had to keep connecting. They had to continuously stretch beyond their comfort zone and take risks with other people.

I had to take a risk. I had to do it. I don’t understand it. I had so strong suicidal thoughts and acted on them but there was also I had to keep going, I had to keep connecting. I wonder whether because of different parts of us. (Carol 3/1).

Learning to relate was done by expanding one’s own interactional range and opening oneself up for new and different experiences. Clients observed people’s reaction when they gave them information about themselves. This took place very guardedly and they needed a lot of positive re-enforcement to continue with taking risks.

I told one set of friends (about the DID diagnosis), because I felt that they would understand. I haven’t told anyone else. Well, because they (friends) accept me for who I am (Sharon).

I going to hold myself here for the rest of my life if I don’t … open myself up to something different … nobody can get in, nobody can pull a thread out of my ball, you know. So I sort of try to open myself up a little bit more. But it’s not that easy. That’s why I am trying to do that group. I’m afraid it’s not going to happen and I am thinking, oh God, what am I going to do next? It’s going to be somewhere for me (Krista 1/26).

Krista indicated how at this stage a group experience would be ideal for her to explore and experiment with ways of relating to other people. For staying with the process of MAKING HUMAN CONTACT she needed a lot of support and encouragement. Faced with the alternative of living in isolation, MAKING HUMAN CONTACT and Learning To Relate took on a desperate dimension for her.

This is a time of enormous vulnerability because the DID client ventures out into a situation for which s/he has no guidelines or road maps. To continue with their recovery, clients need to have lots of reassurance and support that helps them to be aware of their progress and achievements.

36 thoughts on “Taking Risks in Relating

  1. Leonie says:

    Vicki,
    You have summed this up beautifully, THANK YOU !
    I love the training wheels & aspire to the “No Hands”
    It’s a literary “piece” to behold & cherish.
    Again thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Leonie says:

    Vicki,
    You have summed this up beautifully, THANK YOU !
    I love the training wheels & aspire to the “No Hands”
    It’s a literary “piece” to behold & cherish.
    Again thank you for sharing. 🙂

  3. sophie says:

    keep on with your wonderful, inspiring ramblings. We all need to be reminded occasionally of the wonders of life and the things we should be grateful for – on this site i feel free to express how i feel, whats troubling me, and like you am very grateful for as you say “all who breathe life into this site”
    I look forward to the day when you write ‘look no hands’
    Loved the analogy of the training wheels – it brought a smile to my face (and tears to my eyes) – those tentative first tries, the wobbles, the crashing, the getting up and trying again, and again, and again – the mastering of it. we will all hopefully reach that stage.
    thank you for the smile you bought to my face – and the memories.
    keep on training!!!

  4. vicki says:

    CAUTION: Airy fairy fluffy comment ahead!!!!
    Some thoughts … I am so grateful for this site I started visiting here in 2007 shortly after I started with my current therapist and I feel like I have grown with the site. It feels like it has its own heart beat, its own breath. It seems the more people connect on here the more life that is breathed into it. I have the sense that it is developing its own soul, a beautiful strong survivor soul with a powerful healing aura. This site has really shown me what healing looks like. I am a book person who likes to teach myself things but I have understood so much more about healing through connecting with people here and in therapy.
    Sometimes I wish that all relationships and connections could be a blog where you could privately ‘chat’ with people in your own time whilst still safe behind your computer in your own bubble. For me this place is a stepping stone between only talking internally to beginning to talk to real people on the outside. Where would we be without those ‘training wheels’ I guess either crashing a lot or never daring to ride. I can feel my confidence building as my thoughts and experiences are affirmed here and my sharing is supported. I don’t know if or when I will be riding on 2 wheels but for now I am grateful for my training wheels. Who knows I may ride past sometime shouting “look no hands!”
    Today I am grateful for all those who breathe life into this site.

  5. vicki says:

    CAUTION: Airy fairy fluffy comment ahead!!!!
    Some thoughts … I am so grateful for this site I started visiting here in 2007 shortly after I started with my current therapist and I feel like I have grown with the site. It feels like it has its own heart beat, its own breath. It seems the more people connect on here the more life that is breathed into it. I have the sense that it is developing its own soul, a beautiful strong survivor soul with a powerful healing aura. This site has really shown me what healing looks like. I am a book person who likes to teach myself things but I have understood so much more about healing through connecting with people here and in therapy.
    Sometimes I wish that all relationships and connections could be a blog where you could privately ‘chat’ with people in your own time whilst still safe behind your computer in your own bubble. For me this place is a stepping stone between only talking internally to beginning to talk to real people on the outside. Where would we be without those ‘training wheels’ I guess either crashing a lot or never daring to ride. I can feel my confidence building as my thoughts and experiences are affirmed here and my sharing is supported. I don’t know if or when I will be riding on 2 wheels but for now I am grateful for my training wheels. Who knows I may ride past sometime shouting “look no hands!”
    Today I am grateful for all those who breathe life into this site.

  6. shyme says:

    If I wasn’t too much I would take off my lid and let myself spill over the sides
    If I wasn’t too much I would open my curtains and have you all peep insides.
    If I wasn’t too much I would let myself out to scream and to shout
    And make not a jot of sense.
    I would hiss and I would stamp and I’d rave and I’d rant
    And have you all calling out for more.
    If I wasn’t too much I would tell you my stories and paint them all black and red
    I’d tell about all of those places and all of those faces and let the screaming fall out of my head.
    If I wasn’t too much I would escape in a voice that’s stuck captive in my throat
    I’d be real life words not black and white letters needing to be wrote
    I’d roll right up from insides where I no longer hides
    saying everything not allowed
    And I’d say once more then I’d say it again
    and I’d say it all alive and out loud.

  7. jessica says:

    I read today,
    TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS – NOT YOUR FEARS
    I thought, sometimes instincts are what tell us to fear, then I looked up instinct in the dictionary and it said ‘a natural ability or skill, imbued or filled with a quality, insight, aptitude.’
    Our ‘fear’ response, I realised, is not instinctive but learned( but it may become what we feel is a natural response, because we keep going back to that place, not looking forward.)
    Then I thought, … our skills as a survivor mean that we are skillful, because we are HERE, and I liked what Gudrun said about how we must now learn to ‘adapt our response’ to the present and go boldly, not blaming everyone and everything for how we feel.
    The other thing is that we sometimes say…’I PRETENDED that everything was alright and just carried on,’as if this was a failure.’ I know we must not block things out by denial(especially in therapy) but this is a survival skill. We CAN carry on. We are good mothers, wives, friends, workers, colleagues, mates, etc. This is what we learned in order to keep ourselve ‘in the world’. We learned to carry on, we took our lives in hand and went with it.
    I hope that our work to heal from past wounds does not need to overly effect how we live in the world today, for most of us have support, a therapist, a friend or family that care for us’ And as we learnt right from the start of therapy… we are worthy.
    Now that was a something I didn’t know I was going to write when I sat at the computer this morning!!?? Talk about stream of consciousness.

  8. jessica says:

    I read today,
    TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS – NOT YOUR FEARS
    I thought, sometimes instincts are what tell us to fear, then I looked up instinct in the dictionary and it said ‘a natural ability or skill, imbued or filled with a quality, insight, aptitude.’
    Our ‘fear’ response, I realised, is not instinctive but learned( but it may become what we feel is a natural response, because we keep going back to that place, not looking forward.)
    Then I thought, … our skills as a survivor mean that we are skillful, because we are HERE, and I liked what Gudrun said about how we must now learn to ‘adapt our response’ to the present and go boldly, not blaming everyone and everything for how we feel.
    The other thing is that we sometimes say…’I PRETENDED that everything was alright and just carried on,’as if this was a failure.’ I know we must not block things out by denial(especially in therapy) but this is a survival skill. We CAN carry on. We are good mothers, wives, friends, workers, colleagues, mates, etc. This is what we learned in order to keep ourselve ‘in the world’. We learned to carry on, we took our lives in hand and went with it.
    I hope that our work to heal from past wounds does not need to overly effect how we live in the world today, for most of us have support, a therapist, a friend or family that care for us’ And as we learnt right from the start of therapy… we are worthy.
    Now that was a something I didn’t know I was going to write when I sat at the computer this morning!!?? Talk about stream of consciousness.

  9. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    Hi Shyme, you asked earlier whether prayer could be enough for recovery. Your question about relating and connecting ties into your ‘prayer’ question and seems to highlight the dilemma survivors have. One of the common legacies of CSA is the loss of trust in people which makes relating and connecting almost ‘dangerous’ and is often avoided.
    You learn about relating and connecting only in relationship with other people. Some people may find family or friends whom they trust and with whom they can learn and experience healthy relationship styles. For many others, having a counsellor or therapist seems to be the first (sometimes only) place where they feel safe enough to experiment with opening up, trusting, and getting close.
    The point is, as you said, its very painful when you get it wrong by being either too much of ‘X’ or too little of “Y’. Unfortunately, we only learn this stuff by doing the relating. We slowly learn to trust our intuition and have to risk that we might get it wrong. In the end, its not a crime to get things wrong. It only takes a sorry coming from your heart! 🙂

  10. Gudrun Frerichs, PhD says:

    Hi Shyme, you asked earlier whether prayer could be enough for recovery. Your question about relating and connecting ties into your ‘prayer’ question and seems to highlight the dilemma survivors have. One of the common legacies of CSA is the loss of trust in people which makes relating and connecting almost ‘dangerous’ and is often avoided.
    You learn about relating and connecting only in relationship with other people. Some people may find family or friends whom they trust and with whom they can learn and experience healthy relationship styles. For many others, having a counsellor or therapist seems to be the first (sometimes only) place where they feel safe enough to experiment with opening up, trusting, and getting close.
    The point is, as you said, its very painful when you get it wrong by being either too much of ‘X’ or too little of “Y’. Unfortunately, we only learn this stuff by doing the relating. We slowly learn to trust our intuition and have to risk that we might get it wrong. In the end, its not a crime to get things wrong. It only takes a sorry coming from your heart! 🙂

  11. shyme says:

    I had a question about all this. How do you know the rules about relating and connecting to others. When I have tried in the past i got it all wrong and then I stopped trying for a long time. Its actually really hard to get it right. I try not to be too much or too annoying. I try not to share too much or be talking about myself and problems too much. I have to hold back or I know it willl be a mess. But if I hold back too much then I am not really relating or connecting. Usually I am not trying to really connect woth people i am just dealing with people. Dealing with people is easy and I am usually good at it. I wish I know the rules about connecting like when is it ok to call someone? if you talk about a problem once then how long before you are aloud to talk about it again? How do you know if someone wants to connect with you ? how do you know if you are giving enough or being what they want? If you are connecting with someone then do you have to give them big breaks? like 2 weeks or a month? but then if you leave it to long then your are not connecting anymore. Should you always wait tilll someone tries to connect with you – and then how do you know they mean it? I cant just ‘trust my feelings’ because I have tried and i have gotten it all wrong and I dont want to try again until I know how better.

  12. Jessica says:

    I meant to reply to this earlier but the day just dissapeared. I just want uo to know that you might have a belief that no one wants to know you, but you don’t know that for sure.
    I am enjoying knowing you. I often feel like you do too though. I am surprised when someone talks to me. I think, ‘Why would they want to? Perhaps there is something likable about me.how strange.’ So ingrained are the beliefs from our past that we are afraid to let anyone in, in case we get hurt, or get asked for more than we can give. I think we are afraid of love more than anything else, so we think the best thing is to avoid it or pretend that we are not worthy. It’s a tough one, which I am learning is about trust. I thihk sometimes too, we test our therapists to the limit so that if they give up on you, we can say, ‘I told you so!’ However my therapist has more stickability than I gave her credit for. And I now KNOW that she is quite fond of me, I can relax with the knowledge that I am not going to drag her down with the weight of my needs . Of course it is a different kind of relationship, but it’s good enough until the next step is ready to be achieved. It is as close as I have got to love for most of the parts of me. Finally, (I’M SORRY THIS IS NOT A LECTURE AND NO I’M NOT A TEACHER. AND I DON’T MEEN TO SOUND BOSSY, I JUST CARE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR ‘STUCK’ PLACE) even as a multiple, it is very difficult to have a satisfying and sustaining relationship with yourself, and in talking to yourself the answers are always predictable, and conversations keep going round in the same circles. What I’m trying to say is, I love it that you reach out to connect with others here, and I feel privaleged to be taken into your confidence. Also,in some way my replies to you help me feel accepted. thank you.
    love Jessica

  13. shyme says:

    My Analogy for the client and the therapist…
    Therapy is like sending a starving person into a little room and handing them food advertisements. They haven’t eaten for so long that they almost forget what different foods taste like. Then they get handed a food magazine filled with pictures of different dishes and some hunger deep inside them is stirred. They want to eat the pages but they know that paper can never nourish them and they will end up feeling worse having eaten paper when what they really need is food. Showing a starving person pictures is actually just cruel they are better to not be reminded of food. The therapist is just an advertisement for something they can’t get. Its almost painful when a therapist be’s nice because it to hard to remember its not really real. And it its only the therapists who know how to do this the real people don’t try so hard to be nice.

  14. shyme says:

    I am stuck, I don’t know how to share my life with anyone. I want to, but I have a very strong and deep knowing that there isn’t anyone who would want to know, or that it won’t mean anything to anyone or it would be impossible to explain and impossible to understand. People may even hate me. I have fantasies sometimes that I could connect with someone who would want to know me and I would be wonderfully reciprocal. I actually spend a lot of time imagining talking to people about my life and my ups and downs and so far the closest I have come to this in reality is via the computer. The sort of people whom I would like to share with seem to be too far above me. They already have their friends and family and I would have nothing to offer, I would be a burden. Even in therapy I have given up sharing anything about my weekly struggles. It’s all too repetitive and hopeless. I seem to have organized it so that I counsel myself over my weekly struggles and navigate my own ups and downs and keep therapy as something separate. Therapy has become just a place to dump off bits and pieces of stories/memories/pictures I have found. They are just piling up there in my therapists office just rotting and decomposing in a revolting pile. Eventually it will just stink my therapist out! I seem to be understanding more about myself in therapy and what I have found is that I really am sub-human and the thought of getting rid of myself is actually the most logical and sensible thing to do. Sharing myself with others can only lead to more isolation. At present if I am careful about how I am around people and how I present myself I can be accepted by people and people can like me. I don’t want to loose this. The only option possible seems for me to deal with my demons myself and to decide for myself if it’s worth carrying on or not. As usual I am contradicting myself as I am sharing this with anyone who can be bothered reading this far. I could have just kept this in a journal – I guess a part of me wants to connect, however pointless.

  15. vicki says:

    fi ti sleef refas ot etirw siht yaw s’taht k.o.
    I nac dnatsrednu uoy.
    semitemos ew dah ot evah syaw fo gniklat taht erew efas.
    os taht ew t’ndid teg truh.
    I does make it harder to relate to some others though on the outside (like people on this site) who may want to understand too. Maybe you don’t want to do that yet and that’s o.k too.

  16. Jessica says:

    Trouble is , every time I really tried to relate on any sort of human contact level, I didn’t quite know the boundaries. I would start off trying to relate but get it all wrong or relate with the wrong people. Then I would have to hide away in shame. Well I really like that idea of practicing with your therapist, because she doesn’t take it personally if you make mistakes or become desperately needy, and it’s all in a private setting. Problem is, I wish my therapist to be everyone to me. Then I will never need to relate to anyone else but I know this can’t be. That takes me back to square one. Can’t live in a fantasy world. Can’t create a life inside the therapy room. Got to practice outside of that precious space. A group is a good way but it sure is risky to present yourself in front of others.Can’t hide behind a mask. Any one who joins a group is very brave and I don’t know if I can manage that. I know that it’s the next safest place though.. I am afraid of people knowing me,who I am. Sorry I’m writing so much. I’m really trying to work things out at the moment and I feel like I’m slashing through the brambles.I’ll get there.

  17. jessica says:

    I shouldn’t have to worry about the devil. I had him ‘sucked’ out of me in the name of God when I was about 12. So he’s no longer a problem, God reigns…Yea right!!! Don’t ask about the method.

  18. jae says:

    I think in talking about the Devil is talking about a part of me as well it kind of joins, re lates but im not sure how yet, I guess for the most part of this I am really scared of the emotions that go with those parts of me what they stood for and what some I have to learn about, the only way I seem to be able to learn is by feeling there pain and what they held, Its very hard and I know that the part of me that needs me the most I hold at arms length It all feels so like a lye

  19. jessica says:

    Yes, it’s this/these parts of myself That worry me. The ones who come in to sabotage all the good work done. The ones who tell you you are a liar, a slut. The ones that kick us when we’re down and kick us when we are taking a risk to step out and leave the past to join the present. And they are us. We end up harming ourselves in some wierd protection ritual. Oh shit, this sounds stupid. But I know what you mean, being afraid of yourself. If only we did have someone that protected us from our vulnerable selves when we needed them. then we could take our fear in hand… or by the hand.

  20. jae says:

    I no the Devil is a hard one, I just about trust that all will be well with this and then something gaults me into being to scared to believe it, I am really scared to beleive in anything, I am very much trying to find my spiritual self but it ends up to do with old stuff and Devil things, I just don’t trust sometimes that its not a trick. I have come an amazing long way, but this is the thing I can’t shake and even though I listen to my selves and people I trust to no different, the fear still rules. It is paralysing to my journey and I hav’nt been able to explain to anyone what it does, words don’nt match

  21. jessica says:

    Yea, I know what you mean. The world has changed, but every so often we fall through the ‘time-slip’ and find ourselves on the other side with seemingly no way back. And it is here that the doubts, anger, confusion. humiliation and overall self esteem kick us around all over the place. I think that at these times we loose all sense of ‘being’ in the world. For me, it may be that I don’t know how old I am, or who I am, or what is entirely appropriate for social situations, will any one even want to talk to me. I plan escape routes or try to make myself invisable. I t may seem strange but I still find it hard sometimes to talk myself into the fact that the world is not a scary place. At times like this I just shut myself inside and don’t go out unless I have to. then the lonileness sets in and ther is more chance for the intrusive thoughts. It is a case of ‘the devil you know.’… And how to tame that devil to get him on your side?

  22. jae says:

    Thoughs angry parts are afraid to as they still live within the old walls, I guess just being ever so gentle with them through this but also staying strong (sounds contradictory)show these parts what is different make them notice how streets and houses have changed people have grown older etc,,Show them that the world around them has changed and they might start to take notice. I dont no if this will help Its just something that helped me on my way.

  23. Jessica says:

    I am making an effort with human contact. Yet I have always made human contact, in one way or another. But then again I also have invested a lot of time and energy avoiding or ‘managing’ human contact to be at the minimum or at a very superficial level. But now I feel that I’m at the risk level and I keep wondering why I am feeling so ‘vulnerable’ and ‘desperate’ (to quote from above) when from another angle I sort of know that I am making huge progress. I am thinking … How does progress, and what to me seem like regressive thoughts, go hand in hand… oh yes, I remember… I’m a multiple… Ha Ha, and does this mean that the ‘risk’ to be taken, is how to relate now as a multiple and dealing with those parts who want to keep you hidden? Those parts of mine are angry with me for taking these risks, (they want to shut me down) and they are now confused as to their role. So am I. And I’m also a little bit afraid.

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