Friday, October 29, 2010

The Cycle of the Parts

This was the first really complicated piece of art therapy that I managed to complete.  It's a map of how some of my parts work.  If you haven't already done so, for the sake of clarity you may want to go back and read my posts about the sad one, angry one, the empty part, and the happy part. 

This diagram really helped me clear up who was doing what and why.  The name of my boyfriend is blurred, but that is who the diagram is primarily about.  This system of alters has been around for a long time.  As far back as I can remember (which is only age 12) all of these parts were present and participating in this system, which is set off by insecurities and feelings of being lonely, unloved, unwanted, etc.  It takes surprisingly little to set this cycle into motion sometimes.

It starts with the happy part getting her feelings hurt.  This is something that is very easy to do as this part is extremely sensitive (thus why the other parts keep her hidden so much of the time).  Once this part gets sad (note that the happy part feeling sad is not the same as the sad part), the angry part comes out to defend her. 

If the argument is bad enough, the empty part decides that it's best if I don't remember and takes the argument into the back where it fades away.  If it's not bad enough, the sad part comes out and blames herself for the hurt feelings or the hurt feelings she perceives even if my boyfriend endlessly reassures her that this is not so.

This diagram is a little confusing, but what it primarily shows is that a cycle or loop starts forming until the happy part feels loved and secure.  If the parts believe that the happy part is hurt than the empty part takes the eperience away and then the happy part can come back out again, realizing that my boyfriend still loves me sometimes, but not always, brings the sad and guilty part back out.  If my boyfriend doesn't reinforce that he still loves me and everything is fine than the happy part gets upset and the mad part comes back again. 

This is a very exhausting cycle that takes a lot out of all of us.  Luckily, it is not something that happens to this extent very frequently.  The angry part rarely makes it completely out.  What this part wants to say and what actually gets said is usually heavily filtered by the logical defender part or the suspicious and questioning part that I often call "snoop" (I haven't written about either of those parts yet).  This allows me to very rarely raise my voice or handle a situation rudely. 

Another interesting thing about this system is the recovery time.  More severe arguments are actually easier to recover from because the empty one comes out and takes the majority of the experience to the back.  This is probably also why I have a handful of memories of more minor abuses/traumas, but no memories of the "major" ones.

A lot of my work has been with this system.  With acknowledging when this group of parts are cycling through and understanding their motivation so that I can address their needs without hurting myself or my boyfriend.

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