Summer School and IFS–Part 4

I didn’t write my usual update last week for a couple reasons. The first is that I was still quite glum over yet another setback in my life. It wasn’t the all consuming pain it used to be, but it was significant enough mid-week that I didn’t want to post anything because everything I wrote regarding my life sounded very depressing at that time. I try not to write to post when I’m like that because my thinking is very clouded and I don’t find that what I write makes a lot of sense. My journal is a right mess for those few days. In the end, it isn’t helpful for anyone, so I just avoid it.

I had hoped that by allowing myself Monday to grieve over this that I’d be OK the rest of the week. But by Wednesday afternoon, I really wasn’t. There was a lot of letting go I had to do, pretty much everything I’d planned. That is huge, and I no longer try to make light of it. I don’t have to because I’m not surrounded by people anymore. I don’t have to put on a happy face for their benefit. I think that ended up being very helpful. If I’d had to go to school each day and face groups of people each day and pretend everything was OK each day, I don’t think I’d have worked through much of it by now.

That’s not to say I’m happy with what’s happening, just that I’m working through it steadily and with less agony than it would have been just a few months ago.

I would have updated on Friday, though. Friday was a better day. Friday was an unusual day.

I wrote last week about my ability to focus as a result of the work I’ve been doing with IFS. Yesterday was another day like that. I needed to finish my rough draft for my first research paper. I had it mostly laid out, and had, shockingly, even started with an outline. Previously I have been a pantser—someone who writes off the cuff, kind of a free flow of ideas. Friday, ll I needed to do was finish putting it all together and, of course, all the citations.

All I have to say is that yesterday was the most unusual writing experience of my life. My focus was 100%. I mean, my mind never wandered at all. I have never done that in my life. I also was not freaked out at all, even though I had given myself an early evening deadline. I never had a moment of panic, never had a moment when I got distracted by something else.

I gave myself a break for each page, or so. When you are writing a research paper, it’s not the same as just an essay or fiction. You spend a lot of time reexamining your sources and trying to decide which to use where. Then you have to input your citations. In this case, I am using Chicago style, so there are footnotes and a bibliography. That takes a bit to make sure they are all in alignment with what you wrote. So a page can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two or more hours. 😄

I didn’t really consider, while I was writing, how focused I was. Likely because it wasn’t what I would consider an intense focus. My mind and body however must have considered it intense because when I was finished my mind wanted nothing to do with any form of thinking. I thought I’d watch a little TV so I turned on a program about Jupiter and even that proved too much. I was out like a light in less than 30 minutes. I never fall asleep in front of the TV.

Despite how exhausting it turned out to be, it was a rather pleasant experience. Of course, I love research, it generally calms me. But this was not the therapy experience I usually have. This felt natural. As if it was just a part of me, of who I am. A lot of things feel that way now. Things that used to be so difficult, things that used to be massive triggers, I just do them like they are a part of who I am.

Last night, I could not help compare the experience between this research paper and the last true research paper I did for Gen Chem last fall. I was so freaked out during that period. I was barely holding it together. When I was writing or editing it felt like I was constantly on the verge of a panic attack. The only panic I experienced yesterday was when it dawned on me that July 7 is actually next Tuesday. That, I feel, is the normal feeling of realizing time had gotten away from you while other things were going on. After that initial rush, however, nothing more.

There are still a lot of moments, still a lot of triggers. There is half-a-century of abuse and trauma to work through. That doesn’t go away overnight. But, in comparison with all the unhelpful therapy I’ve been in for the last five years, IFS almost seems like a miracle. How can it be so easy? And, since it is so easy, why aren’t more therapists interested in using it? I don’t know. I’m just glad I found it.