As you already know, my sister gave birth to a perfect little boy two weeks ago. I’d originally planned to be there when he was born, but due to my intense class schedule, I decided against making the trip. My sister said she’d rather have me there for a full week during my Spring break than for a quick 48-hour trip anyway. As it happens, my Spring break starts today. Which means I’ll be going to therapy this morning and then making the several hour drive to my hometown.
I’m technically not staying IN my hometown. Wife and I will be lodging with my “Mom” during the stay, who lives about 15 minutes outside of the town I grew up in. Also, my sister lives roughly 15 minutes on the opposite side of said town. So we may need to drive through it, but I don’t plan on spending much time in it.
Still, it’s hard to even be in the area. Living in NYC has made me into a true urban gal. I remember making the trip last year and going on a rant about how much I hate rural and suburban America. I’m pretty sure at one point I yelled, “I even hate their stupid guard rails!” Just driving along highways past towns that resemble the one I was raised in can be an intense trigger.
I haven’t been there in nearly eight months and it did not go so well during our last visit. The company is fine. I get along beautifully with all of the people I see when I travel there. It can be hard to navigate the specific dynamics in play simply because it is so reminiscent of the past, but the joy I feel far outweighs any negative emotions.
The system, however, was thrown into total chaos.
As I mentioned previously, ANPs and EPs hold very different value systems. So simply being near my immediate family causes the ANPs to feel a strong draw towards a previous life. They don’t have the same anger and disgust that the EPs do toward these people. They miss them and love them and struggle to understand why we don’t just go visit our family. Which, of course, creates tension between parts as well as fear among the EPs that someone will switch out and end up creating an unsafe situation (which has not happened yet, thankfully).
Unfortunately, all of this chaos and in-fighting led to some self-injury. I have no memory of it. I would wake up in the morning with fresh cuts on my thighs and have no clue how or when they were put there. Julia, a part who has written here before, was particularly distressed by the push-pull between parts and reached out to Zooey during our last trip for support. Zooey was able to text with her periodically throughout the trip to help her feel safe and supported. But upon returning from that trip, we were still in a state of distress and that was the beginning of the end for our relationship with Zooey…
Only a few days after we returned from the trip, Julia confessed that she felt intensely suicidal – in part from the effects of an unraveling system. Zooey decided that a hospital stay might be the best option if the system was truly unsafe. I firmly believe that a hospital is the absolute last place someone like me should ever be, but I understand why she made the decision she did. We were there for a total of three days and it was absolutely awful from beginning to end.
Right after being discharged from that hospital is when Zooey proclaimed that we needed “more intensive treatment.” So she gave me an ultimatum – either enroll in an intensive program, or she would have to stop seeing me. My first choice was to not do any program, which I told her very clearly. I thought it would be too hectic to interrupt my classes, work, AND internship for two entire weeks (not to mention disrupt therapy itself). But she stood her ground and demanded that I choose between the original two options she’d presented. I caved. I chose her. And that’s how I ended up doing a two-week trauma treatment program, in another state, in the middle of my Fall semester.
We truly responded well to the program and I’m actually very glad we went. But when we came back, things were weird between Zooey and I. I thought it was just some strange re-adjustment period that would work itself out. But then she went on Thanksgiving vacation. The session immediately following her vacation was quite tense and session following that is when she terminated my treatment.
So I supposed that, going into this trip, I’m scared of a lot of things. I’m scared of the system unraveling again. I’m scared of self-injury reappearing or the eating disorder getting worse. I’m scared of all the emotional chaos and triggers and tension that always comes up within the system when we’re near my hometown.
And I’m scared that once I return to NYC, everything will go to shit with a therapist I’m just beginning to trust. Maybe she’ll forget about us. Maybe having a week away from me will make her realize she really doesn’t want to work with me after all.
Or maybe things will simply be weird between us once I get back and it will mark another beginning of another end.