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Parts Therapy Therapy and IFS - New Subject for me

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Pingman, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    Thanks to Eric for having me post this topic in the IFS section. I was poking around the forums and found the IFS section and right away I recognized it as the logic my therapist might be trying to use to help my newly found anxiety that is a residual from a health scare I had.

    Njoy and Jay - Eric said you might be able to provide some insight.

    Quick background on my childhood. At the time I thought it was perfect. Now that I am old and have my own son and wife, I really how imperfect it was. My parents fought all the time. My mother wasn't a soother. My half sisters were trouble makers who added family stress. My mother cheated on my father and they divorced at age 11. I lived with my father from then on. He had to work two jobs so I basically raised myself.

    Current life, have a stressful IT job where I am up against deadlines. I developed health anxiety back in 2009 with a misdiagnosis. That lead to a few more health scares since then not including my latest that got better once I had health tests. This last once convinced me I had MS due to some leg issues. I actually applied TMS to this and began to run and the leg issues went away. They settled in my head with tension style headaches and vision issues. I was cleared of any medical issues with an MRI on Friday but the anxiety has not gone away nor has the head tension.

    My therapist mentioned the firefighters and drew up a complete family tree on me asking me to describe each person in 3 words.

    What I am struggling with is this..... how did my health scare trigger my childhood exiles? That appears to be the traumatic event that brought whatever it is out and has caused me to obsess over my anxiety and head issues. Is it possible that I have an exile from my anxiety scares or is it always childhood related?

    Just curious if you have any insight on how I should start approaching my thoughts on it.
  2. MatthewNJ

    MatthewNJ Well known member

    Pingman, I am too new at IFS (although an old hand at TMS) to address this. That said, You have come to the right place. I have been getting a lot out of IFS as I did a bunch of Inner child work with my counselors over the last 8 years. Bravo for you for finding us and joining our community. You will do well here!
  3. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Pingman said, "What I am struggling with is this..... how did my health scare trigger my childhood exiles? That appears to be the traumatic event that brought whatever it is out and has caused me to obsess over my anxiety and head issues. Is it possible that I have an exile from my anxiety scares or is it always childhood related?"

    Hi and welcome. My understanding (through reading about IFS - Internal Family Systems) is that exiles are usually created in childhood but adult events remind us of those early traumas.

    When danger approaches similar to an earlier trauma, a firefighter protector will step in to prevent attack on the wounded child and to prevent a break through to conscious mind. The protector's job is to keep you safe and also prevent pain.

    An example might be a child hurt by his mother (or her father) at age two and, from then on, wary of all people of the opposite sex. This happens to almost everyone, of course, to some degree. If the trauma was severe, or repeated, or simply happened to a sensitive child at a sensitive time, the consequences can be life changing.

    There are two kinds of protectors (managers and firefighters) who may try to keep your wounded inner child (now exiled into your unconscious) safe. Perhaps the manager will tell a man to avoid certain kinds of women or to go far out of his way to constantly please them so he won't be hurt again. Of course, this strategy sometimes fails and then a different protector, a firefighter, may take swift action (ex: rage; running from the relationship, etc).

    In a way, the protectors work together but my understanding is they also often disagree and even fight against each other. The result can be chaos in the inner family of parts. An analogy is a parent and a teenager fighting about who gets to run what!

    I hope this has been of some help. I am far from expert on these matters. Most likely your therapist will be able to help answer your questions. Sounds like you are in good hands, there. If he is knowledgable about IFS, you may soon learn about the real, natural leader of the inner family, the true Self. For me, this was amazing information and has changed my life for the better.

    Welcome to the forum, Pingman. We hope it will help you as much as it has helped us. Also, many people who are exploring parts therapy would be very interested in hearing how it goes with you.
  4. Pingman

    Pingman Well known member

    The only thing I can think of at the moment would be how I was tought to view women as a child. My father and mother were both married twice and my mother cheated on my father. My father and older brother both have picked the wrong women and preach that a woman is not to be trusted. If you don't satisfy them they will get bored and leave.

    With each of my 3 health anxiety breakouts my wife has grown more and more anxious and frustrated even though she has clinical anxiety and is medicated. After each of the first two scares I was able to get back to normal after a few months. This third time my wife was really frustrated with me and I know I felt scared that if I didn't get this figured out quickly she might lose respect for me and possible leave.

    I have expressed how worried I was about that with her and she assured me that she never would. BUt still the anxiety and tension in my head exists?
  5. njoy

    njoy aka Bugsy

    Wow, Pingman, it sounds like you may have nailed it.

    As a woman, age 68, I have known a lot of cheaters and a lot of women who never would cheat. Basically, the first group "wants to" and goes with what they want. The second group may also want to at times but would not allow that part of them to take over their lives. I'm sure it is the same with men. I have a friend who had endless trouble with her alcoholic, abusive husband. Once, she was chatting with her grandmother, and mentioned that he was going out of town and would be gone for a week. The grandmother said, "Oh good, you can have some fun". My friend wondered, "What kind of fun?" (thinking kids to look after, not much money, etc.) and the grandma replied, "Well, with another guy, of course!" My friend was beyond shocked. She would NEVER have done any such thing despite any temptation. Grandma, on the other hand, clearly had cheated in the past and thought nothing of it. Polar opposites. Different universes, in a sense.

    I would think that with your family history, it is natural to experience anxiety (which is tms, by the way) to distract yourself from whatever threatens the little boy (the wounded child, aka the exile) who once suffered so much pain. We all have trauma and trauma creates exiles. Then we all try to keep our wounds buried. But life has a way of reminding us and scaring us that the pain is starting again. No wonder we focus on physical pain (or anxiety, or depression or any number of what we call tms equivalents) to take our attention away from the psychic pain we could not deal with when we were 2 or 6 or 10 years old.

    The reality is, however, that this time around we are NOT a little kid who doesn't know what to do. We can use our adult intelligence, our acquired wisdom, the life tools we have learned. We have a true Self that is the real us, not a wounded part. We can use all this and get help from books, from forums like this one, from a good therapist or a good friend. We don't have to bury it this time.

    Many people don't need to "go deep" to recover from tms. Just knowing the pain is not from the physical body is enough. Others do need to explore what happened to them in the past to release the anger, sadness, fear, that affects them in the present.

    I think you are a very self-aware guy and are going to find this journey is a gift, much as it probably feels just the opposite right now. As to your wife, she is who she is and there is almost nothing you can do about it. If she is trustworthy you likely can't drive her away. If she is not you can't appease her. The goal (mine, at least) is to have the inner peace and strength to be able to face (and eventually appreciate) whatever the future brings. The only real control we have is our ability to know and become content with who we truly are.

    Sorry to carry on. You inspired me!
  6. Alecroyer

    Alecroyer New Member

    Many times, in order to reduce the stress people take the pills which is not good. There are some therapies available which is very helpful and according to me they must take help of these therapies instead of pills.
  7. MatthewNJ

    MatthewNJ Well known member

    Alec, I don't completely agree. I agree any long term medications are probably not needed. There are times when pills do help in the short term. Toward the end of his career even Dr. Sarno was prescribing. For me, when I had my last (and I do mean last) severe pain episode, I would not have been able to "do the work" needed with my counselor Dr. Evans, had I not had a pain patch. The pain was so severe it was a complete distraction. My medical doctor agreed and sent me to a pain management specialist. The pain specialist was fascinated by the idea that I only wanted him to mange the pain while I dealt with the real cause with Dr. Evans. Dr. Evans agrees that you should not suffer. He also advised me that when ever I took medication I recite a mantra. “This pill is to treat the symptoms, I am dealing with the real cause with Dr. Evans”. I would like to hear your thoughts on that

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