Friday, August 16, 2013

An Example of Using Ego State Therapy to Bring About Internal Change

In my previous post, I discussed my use of Ego State Therapy to bring about change within my ego states, my inner family.  Here, then, is a brief excerpt from my therapy dialogue to help you see how I use this dialogue to bring about inner change.  The characters in this brief scene are as follows:

Me:  The part of me that is, in a sense, a teacher or "organizer."

Jeanie:  The little girl part of my psyche, the part that holds my childhood experiences, including trauma experiences.  "Jeanie," as I experience "Jeanie," has her own psyche.  Contained in this "sub-psyche" are specific childhood trauma experiences, including the one alluded to in this excerpt, the naked photo sessions.  The twin girls include the little 4-year-old child I was when my parents invited friends to the house to view me as I was forced to pose naked for a photographer and the little girl's shadow companion, the little gray twin.  Before I told my therapist about these sessions, I made this drawing depicting the photo sessions--

The quality of this photo is not good because it was scanned from my drawing, so I will explain:  I, as a four-year-old child, am sitting on a table.  As you can see from my posture, I am ashamed of my nakedness.  My twin, the little gray girl, is sitting beneath the table in the same position of shame and humiliation.  I could not see that little girl when I was having my photo taken, but I knew she was there.  Her presence was my only comfort.  Without her, I might not have survived these photo sessions.

 People are observing me on both sides of the table--you can see their hands extended holding drinks.  They are also smoking.  I remember the cigarette smoke because it stung my eyes, and I remember the sound of people laughing as they enjoyed their drinks.  Below is the only photo taken during these sessions which I have kept.  It's reminder that this really happened, but it does not reveal much of my nakedness.  Compare the forced smile in this photo with the genuine smile in the photo beneath.  Both photos were taken of me at the same age but under completely different circumstances.  

The other major player in this excerpt is Gemini, a plodding and gentle old land tortoise that has preserved my/Jeanie's powers of imagination and intuition.  Gemini lives near the water trough behind the stables and near the manure pile where Cowboy throws the soiled hay when she mucks out the stalls.  This location is ideal for Gemini because he/she can enjoy the moisture from the dripping faucet and can have fun capturing and eating the tiny insects that emerge from the manure pile--a great dwelling place for a wise old land tortoise like Gemini!

A minor player who also appears in this excerpt is I.T., Internal Therapist, the ego state who does what I term "lightweight therapy" as I go about my days.  This ego state directs my normal daily process of dealing with ordinary and minor puzzling or confusing interpersonal transactions, the sort of events that may result from unclear communication or missed social cues.   

Setting:  The dining hall of the huge indoor dressage arena on the floor of Jasper Canyon.  As the little stream ripples by, day creatures bask on the rocks in the sun, and  bees flit from sagebrush to sagebrush. We are aware of the scurrying noises of tiny rodents and rabbits as they search for their next meal.  Otherwise, all is peaceful as the sun continues its climb toward late afternoon and early evening.

The ego states dwelling inside the arena are just finishing a hearty afternoon meal.  Me is sitting with Jeanie so she can discuss the possibility of Jeanie's spending more time with her beloved horses in the stables of the arena.  Jeanie loves the horses and her room in the stable area with its wagonwheel bed, her little rustic pine table, and her closet filled with formal riding outfits, cowboy duds, and fancy dresses, so persuading the little girl to spend more time in the stables is no problem.  Let's listen, now, to the conversation . . . 

Me:  Jeanie, do you know why we are eating dinner together tonight? 

Jeanie:  Yes, I think so.  Gemini has talked to I.T. about helping me with the sad little twins inside me.  Gemini thinks he/she can help the twins inside me get happier.  Is that what you mean?

Me:  Oh, yes, my dear.  That is why we are having this special dinner.  And do you know that I.T. and Gemini want you to spend a week or so here, back with your horsey friends and sleeping in your little wagon wheel bed?

Jeanie:  Of course I know, Me.  And I can work along with Cowboy sometimes and visit all my equine friends once again.  It will be just like it used to be, except Gemini is going to help me.  And that will mean that Gemini and I will spend some time together.  I won’t be able to spend ALL my time with the horses and with Cowboy, will I?

Me:  No, Jeanie, you won’t, but you will be able to spend a lot of time with them.  Is that good enough? 

Jeanie:  mouth full, nods . ..

Me:  And you understand that you may experience changes inside yourself during this time?

Jeanie:  Yes, but that’s kind of scary.  Will the changes be good changes?  Or will they hurt?

Me:  You must trust that the changes will be VERY good changes and that none of them will hurt. 

Jeanie:  But why am I going to work with Gemini?  I don’t even know him/her.  What does Gemini have to do with me?

Me: Well, are you aware of the twins inside you, the two sad little girls, one pink and with blond curls and one all gray, that separated from one another?

Jeanie:  Sometimes.  And sometimes when I feel very, very sad, I can hear the one little girl crying.**  But I can’t really tell who it is sometimes.  I don’t know if it’s the little sad twin who is crying or if it’s somebody else.  But since there aren’t very many parts inside my psyche, then I always decide that the little crying girl I hear is the gray little twin, the one who separated from me when those people took all those pictures of me with nothing on, when my mother did things to me.  Ooooo, it makes me all sad to even think about it.  Will I feel better after Gemini spends time with me?

Me:  Our hope, Jeanie, is that you will feel so much better that you will be able to grow and grow just like little girls are supposed to grow.  But, I’ll leave that to you and Gemini.

Jeanie:  When are Gemini and I going to spend time together?  And I’m a little scared of Gemini because he/she is a tortoise, and I’ve never known any tortoises before.  Will Gemini be kind to me?

Me:  Of course, Jeanie!  Have you ever met Gemini? 

Jeanie:  Not really.  I’ve just seen him/her from a distance.  Where is he?

At that moment, we behold a large, brown bowler hat poking its way around the edge of the arch leading into the dining area, this followed by a reptilian snout and the rest of the tortoise head.  Slowly Gemini shuffles into the dining area, pausing to express his/her apology for being late. 

Me:  We understand, Gemini.  It takes you a while to get the messages, and then it takes you another while to act on them.  But that is okay.  Jeanie, here, was just wondering about you, for she has never really met you formally. 

Gemini:  Hi, there, Jeanie.  Has Me told you about our plan? 

Jeanie:  Oh, yes, and I’m happy about it!  I know there is a sad little girl inside me, and I’d like her to be happy.  Can you really help me with that?

Gemini:  I believe I can, Jeanie.  At that, Gemini gives Jeanie such a soft, gentle look with his huge brown eyes that Jeanie knows at once that Gemini loves her and will be kind and gentle as they do their work together.

Jeanie:  You name, Gemini, means twins, and did you know that inside me are two twin little girls?  One of them can remember my happiness at being a little girl, and the other contains my sadness, the pain from what people did to me.  They once were just one little girl, the happy little girl, but people did things to me that caused the other little girl, the sad girl, to be born as twin to the happy little girl. 

I want to be happy, and I want to grow.  I don’t like always being a little girl.  Can you help me with that?

Gemini:  That’s what we will be working on this next week, Jeanie.  I will do everything in my power to help you grow and to help those two little girls inside you to help you grow. 

Jeanie:  Okay.  I’m tired right now, though, and I’d like to go to my place in the stable and visit with my horse friends before I go to bed.  May I do that?  And will you come and see me tomorrow? 

Gemini:  Of course, Jeanie.  Do you want to ride back to the stable on my shell?

Jeanie:  Oooooo..  That might be fun.  But what can I hold on to?

Gemini:  You see this front edge of my shell?  Just lie on your stomach and grab onto that, and I’ll take you back to your stable and to your equine friends.  Okay?

Jeanie:  Okay!  Let’s go!

Jeanie clambers up onto the shell of Gemini, grabs the front edge, and slowly the tortoise lumbers down the hall toward the stables.  As they progress toward their destination, Jeanie becomes sleepier and sleepier and drifts into a light slumber, always still clinging to the carapace of the big tortoise.  Meanwhile, after Jeanie’s departure, the dining area is abuzz with post-dinner conversation as J.P., Me, I.T., Cowboy, and F.P. lead a discussion on this latest development, the possible changes about to come in Jeanie’s life and the implications of these changes for the lives of everyone at the arena.  Because these changes mean possible change for all parts and possible fundamental change in the entire way of life for the folks who inhabit the arena and also for Jean, discussion continues far into the night and ends only when Cowboy notices the first spears of morning light piercing the pre-dawn dark.  J.P. hastens to mount Starlight, Constanza and F.P. rush to prepare breakfast, and the usual morning routine falls into place.  Yes, the usual morning routine, but for how long?  What will Jeanie’s possible change mean for the daily life at the arena?  We don’t know that yet, but the time will come when the answer to our question will appear.  For now, we must bide our time and wait. 

**        **   End of Excerpt   **      **

**Re the crying little girl Jeanie hears--In 1980 when I first saw a therapist and before I caught my former husband sexually abusing our daughter and turned him in, I would hear a little girl crying inside my head whenever I was under stress.  And I was under horrendous stress most of the time even though I didn't realize it!  By 1983, when my first therapist retired and I had found a job I really enjoyed, I no longer was aware of the crying most of the time.  Eventually, I no longer heard the crying at all.  I do not really understand this phenomenon, but I explain it to myself by theorizing that it may have been my mind's way of letting me know that I needed help.  It could have been a protective mechanism just as dissociation has been a protective mechanism.  I don't know.  What I do know is that the human mind is amazing, wonderful, and beautiful, and I thank God that my mind is as efficient as it is!  

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