A denial sort of day…

Last week I knew that I was going to talk to Liz about denial.  In many ways I see my denial as attention seeking – like I’m wanting Liz (or whomever) to say “of course it happened” or “you’re right, it didn’t happen and you’re just attention seeking”.  It feels manipulative to be in denial, like I’m playing games.  But then, when I’m in the denial, it seems as if I’m playing games when I say that the abuse happened.  It’s an awful place to be in.  You have the clarity to see your actions in the past and you judge those actions, every word or behaviour is analysed and destroyed.  As a perfectionist, I’m my own worst critic, so nothing is spared.

Liz questioned me as to why this was happening now, when 2 weeks ago I said that I needed to turn and face the past, instead of continuing to run from it.  I’m not sure of the answer to that question.  I think it is partly due to the stress that I’m faced with – wedding anniversary, disastrous visit from my mother, yearly performance review at work, etc.  Objectively I understand that I may be stressed and this is what has caused the denial/lock-down, but I don’t get any sense of being stressed.  When I’m like this I don’t feel much of anything, sort of like I’m on auto-pilot.

In order to sort through some of the issues, Liz said that I needed to try and re-frame the anniversary into a new context as a way of trying to move forward.  We were nearly out of session time, so this was very much a passing comment.  I know what she means, but this year it was impossible to do.  I’m not aware of any real reaction, other than losing great chunks of time.

I almost broke through the denial yesterday by listening to Beethoven’s Grosse Fugue, but it didn’t last.  As it’s a long weekend in New Zealand, I’m not seeing Liz this week.  Possibly the wrong time to have an interruption in sessions, but it couldn’t be avoided.

I’m dreading looking at the dissociative walls again – whether it be to knock them down, or to reinforce that they never existed to begin with.  I know that this is not a positive place to be in, but I’m not sure how to move beyond it.  I also know that living like this is full of contradictions…  How can I be losing chunks of time and not be dissociative?  How can I have no personal history beyond newspaper headlines and not be dissociative?  It’s confusing and yet meaningless all at once, for when I’m like this, I only live in the present moment with headlines as reminders of what I need to do.

It feels very odd and very normal all at once.

Now playing: Sting – Fields of Gold
via FoxyTunes


14 thoughts on “A denial sort of day…

  1. My god. I know exactly what you mean. It’s confusing, and during brief moments where feelings exist, it is also very distressing. To me, it seems like a riddle with no real answer. Or worse, it is like a riddle with many answers – all of them contradictory and all of them seeming to be correct at one time or another. It makes me feel like a mad woman.

  2. Here are some thoughts for you. The denial is obviously a place we all go to when things are overwhelming and we have to shut down. When we decide to talk about the denial and address it and then think it’s attention seeking, we think it’s the latter because in many ways there are parts inside us who need that validation. For they they are seeking attention, recognition, validation. All of which they deserve. But we perceive it sometimes as a negative.

    I think Liz is on the right track about reframing, but we all know this is easier said than done. Our task when things become about maintaining safety, is to try to get through the walls. The functionality, for those who are at the same time self-harming, can be viewed somewhat as a self-trick. We cannot accept the functionality if we also have to accept the self-harm.

    I know that for all of us, there is a way where we can have the functionality without all the compartmentalization and be safe. I know many of us think that’s not possible. But I’ve had glimpses of it and I do think it’s possible and within reach for everyone who is committed to healing. It’s within reach of you too.

    I am glad to hear the walls are being challenged. I am sorry that you had to make them so strong to get through this difficult period.

    I have every faith in you.


  3. I still have trouble understanding the difference between the negative concept of “attention seeking” and the normal, healthy concept of “seeking positive attention”. I can often identify it in others, but when it comes to myself it gets lost in all the negativity and issues of the past.

    I think the re-framing is something that needs to be built towards. This year, the wedding anniversary was lost in the dissociation. It was only when this day had past that the dissociative walls began to crumble… Sophie, Aimee and the internal noise are back more frequently now. This tells me that I need to be more aware of possible triggering dates and let Liz know about them with more advanced warning. It’s going to be difficult not to think of this as attention seeking or expecting the date to be negative (if you expect it to be bad then you’ll think yourself into it being bad). But I realise that’s what I need to do. I know when the next potentially rough day is going to be, so I’ll let Liz know next week so we can start working through it together.

    I know what you mean about getting to that level of safe functionality. It’s beyond me at the moment, but I’ve seen glimpses of it in others and I believe that it is possible.

    I have very little faith in my own ability at this stage, but thank you for the vote of confidence.

    Take care,

    • It’s impressive that you are thinking about these issues in the way you are.

      Attention seeking is done usually deliberately with the intent on causing the other person (usually therapist) discomfort. It’s a power play sort of thing. You do not do that at all in any way, shape or form. You minimize and ignore and don’t bring your problems to the table.

      The seeking positive attention that comes from parts is extremely healthy. These are unmet needs. It’s not even seeking attention. Maybe you can change the words, so it doesn’t merge so much with the other which you know is not healthy. It’s seeking validation, support, safety. These are all good things and necessary things for you to heal.

      It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, but I know that behaviors become a distraction and can sidetrack that good intention. It’s being pro-active and not going to cause the date to be bad). In fact, it could be viewed by parts who have the most difficulty with the dates as your attending to them and that intention could make a big difference. If you acknowledge what they are likely to feel and plan for that, then you have a chance of reframing it. This is what Liz is trying to say.

      Sometimes it’s oaky for others to have faith in us. They can hold it until we can claim it for ourselves.


      • Thank you for giving me something to think about Paul… I do need to re-frame my ideas around attention seeking and being pro-active around dates which I know are potentially negative and triggering. I understand what you are saying about the pro-active stance helping ones feel as if they are being taken care of or being noticed.

        I’ll talk to Liz on Monday about the up-coming ex-husband’s birthday.

        Take care,

  4. I enjoyed immensely reading what Paul had to say in respect to the concept of “attention seeking” and I would like to elaborate on it furtherly (oh no, our Intellectual Alter is going to run the show – we should go and play somewhere else…)
    What was I saying?

    It is not the act (or the concept) of attention seeking that is negative in itself. It was made negative by parents (and wider society)! It is the parents who – due to their own unresolved needs for attention from their own childhood – are unable to pay the pure (100%) attention (the kind of therapists and/or Zen masters are able to pay to others and to themselves…) then because they are unable to pay the needed attention say that the concept is negative.

    But it is not! says our Bold Alter.

    • So what is it then The Bold Alter?

      I’m not sure that I totally agree with The Intellectual Alter on this one… I agree that this is often the cause of attention seeking behaviour as we get older, but I’m not sure if this explains it in all cases. I think there is some attention seeking that is negative and manipulative, but the cause of that behaviour is sometimes un-resolved issues from childhood and poor parenting.

      I do know it causes a great deal of confusion for us…

      Take care,
      (((warm safe hugs))) to all who want them 🙂
      Sophie & M

  5. Sometimes, younger alters will vie for attention in inappropriate ways when they have no other means of asking for help. At least mine do that from time to time. I think the fact that you are so worried about being attention seeking says a lot about the fact that you are not just wanting attention. Denial is sometimes how you survive the moment.

    • Denial is how we survive the moment. It’s just so confusing to be in that place. I think I’ll always have issues with the concept of attention seeking, but I know what you mean about it being one way in which those who don’t know any other way of getting attention of any form seek it out.

      Take care,

  6. I am going through something very similar. If I try to deny what was done to me, I feel like I am making up the fact that I am in denial. When I tell myself and others that the abuse did happen, I question my sanity.

    I didn’t know others felt like they were seeking attention with their feelings of denial and/or the stories of abuse…its really strange.

    A very good post with good follow up replies.

    Fat Girl Oreo

    • It’s an odd place to be in, isn’t it? It’s very much the mind playing tricks on itself…

      I’m lucky to have some really kind, intelligent and wonderful people comment on my blog over the time it’s been up and running. I’m still waiting for the time when they all realise I’m a total “crazy arsed, fruit loop, spinner chick” and not worth the time of day… I also know that’s my past talking, but it still doesn’t stop the thought at this stage.

      Take care,
      CG 🙂

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