The waif inside.


Tonight’s therapy session definitely made up for the one I had on Monday, which I felt wasn’t very productive because I seemed to be deflecting and avoiding talking about my feelings.   I asked my therapist to stop me if I did that again, even if I get angry.   He agreed to this and tonight I dove right in.

We were talking about myself as a little girl, especially the way I was never allowed to express my emotions, especially anger.  He wanted to know what I did with all that anger.  I thought about it for a minute, and told him I turned it toward myself, and that’s why I started to become so depressed and why I started to hate myself .  He asked me to put my mind inside the mind of “little me” and describe how she felt and what she looked like.

We came up with a picture.  I described her as a waiflike child, like those paintings from the ’60s of those sad, big eyed little kids, dressed in rags, with a gray, unhealthy pallor.  She is always sad, almost always crying.  She’s afraid of everything.  She feels completely defenseless and in fact she doesn’t have any defenses.   She was never allowed to grow up.

I was asked how I felt about her.  I said I didn’t hate her, that in fact I felt protective of her and had to keep her safe from harm.    She also makes me feel angry when she comes out without my permission because she’s too vulnerable and defenseless and that makes me feel ashamed.   I have to protect her, but I also have to protect myself by keeping her hidden away so she doesn’t embarrass me.

It was harder to talk about her feelings about me, the way she views me.   All I could come up with was that she felt like I kept her safe but wishes I’d let her out more.  I realized then that it was easier to describe my feelings toward her than to describe her feelings toward me.   I’m not completely disconnected from my true self, but dissociation is present.

He asked me what good qualities she has that I want to protect.  I said she has a kind, gentle soul and a big heart.  He asked what she wants.  I thought about it and said, “all she wants is to love and be loved, and to belong.”  I got emotional at that point and started tearing up.  I wasn’t able to describe the emotions I was feeling at all, but I knew we’d made some progress.   He wants to start seeing me more often.   Somehow I’m going to find a way to afford it.   This type of inner child work is hard, but it’s amazing.

14 thoughts on “The waif inside.

  1. How did you go about finding your therapist? I’ve asked around my work (community college) and one counselor said I should look for some one who works with FOO (family of origin). I had never heard that term before, have you?

    Liked by 1 person

    • FOO is used a lot in the narc abuse community. I definitely lucked out in finding this therapist. I was looking for someone who specializes in trauma therapy and/or reparenting and doesn’t discriminate against people with cluster B disorders. My therapist doesn’t believe in labels because he thinks labels put people in boxes, which they do. I was lucky enough to find someone who is highly empathetic and seems to know exactly what I need and when I need it. I feel like we work as a team and have more active input in my own treatment, if that makes any sense.
      I have a question though–when you say you are looking for someone who works with the FOO, do you mean actually working with the other family members, or addressing the issues of the FOO in treatment?


      • I’m looking to find someone to help me address the issues brought upon by my FOO. There is no way I would ever want to break my 15 year no contact with my mother. I do have a brother (golden child), but I’m fairly certain he has turned into a full blood narcissist at this point (even though I did give him my kidney). I have a very buried sense of rage and an almost crippling sense of social anxiety that I would like to work through. My daughter is 9 years old and is really needing me to step it up for her. I push myself to do things with her, but I know it so people be easier in the late my run if I worked through my demons. I hadn’t heard of therapist having an aversion to treating certain clients. Is that something you would ask up front?

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        • What disorder is it you’re afraid they might not want to treat you for? Some have an aversion to “cluster Bs” but if you’re not cluster B (BPD, NPD, Antisocial PD, and Histrionic PD) then there’s nothing to worry about.


          • I’m not sure what I would be pegged with as I’ve never had a full work up. Therapy is new to me. I’ve read books and practiced cognitive behavioral methods, but as far as bringing someone else in, I’m clueless. I have never trusted anybody enough to spill it. I met with one person about 10 years ago, but they never bothered to turn off their phone so I never bothered to make another appointment.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Labels don’t really matter anyway. They’re overrated and tend to shove people into boxes. My therapist doesn’t believe in labels and only treats symptoms. He advertises himself as treating “trauma and attachment-based disorders” which basically covers Complex PTSD and all the personality disorders. I like the fact he refuses to stick a label on me. I already have a diagnosis (well, several), and while I accept them, they can be very stigmatic and tend to encourage negative stereotyping.

              I’m sorry you had that experience with a therapist. That’s very irresponsible. Sounds like someone who wouldn’t have been good for you to see anyway. You have to be careful because a lot of therapists are really trying to address their own emotional issues by proxy.


  2. I’m happy you had a good session. I was told in therapy once that I need to feel my feelings rather than just talk about them. I was advised to feel them and when they got to be too much to distract myself and then re-visit them later. For the time being they would be out in orbit. I liked that.

    When you spoke of wanting to love and be loved that hit home with me. But when you said the word ‘belong’ that followed that, I realized that is such a missing part of my life right now. People need people. I once heard on Animal Planet that, A Lone Meerkat Doesn’t Survive For Very Long. So, I’ve got to get back out there with people. I need that more than anything right now. I’m glad I can identify that need for myself and my social skills are better than ever, so that helps.

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    • Yes , saying “belonging” surprised me too. It just came out. I realized I’ve never belonged to anything, not really. I never had anything that qualified as a real family. The one I started fell apart and God knows, my FOO didn’t qualify for the title. Any feelings of belonging I ever had did not come from my family.

      It’s true. Animals need attachment too. They need to feel loved and cared for. They will die early or fail to thrive if they don’t get that.

      One thing that helped me be able to get in touch with my emotions in therapy was when my therapist told me to think of my emotions as something I HAVE-not something I AM. In other words, if I’m angry, I can say, “I have anger” or “I feel angry” and not “I am angry.” I am not my anger or any other emotion, but I have them. Putting that little bit of distance between myself and my emotions makes it seem safer to let myself experience them.


      • I got a WordPress account and still can’t seem to ‘like’ comments and responses. The truth is I really do like them! I try pressing on the star symbol as well as the word Like but nothing seems to happen. It prompts me to sign into WordPress and I do but that doesn’t seem to matter. Am I ‘liking’ things in the wrong way? Is there another way to do it? How do you do it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Don’t worry. It’s annoying, but I didn’t even notice you weren’t “Liking” things. You comment, and that counts even more! WP is full of glitches. I’ve had more issues than I can count.


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