Sand therapy 2

During the last fortnight of therapy, I played with sand therapy and met some protector/ gatekeeper parts and two internal perpetrators- machine men parts.

When we finished the activity last time, we talked with one of the machine men. His role turned out to be a cutter of parts internally, and he became open to considering taking on a new job. T reminded me, we had suggested he become a wood cutter to help make tree house cubbies for the kids. So today we gave him his new role, however he thought the kids would be scared of him. T said he could assume a new identity if that helped and so he became a samurai wood cutter. He is in the sand tray below but he is next to the wood blocks so it is difficult to see.

Then the other machine man decided to join and assume a new identity. He is on the right hand side of the picture and his job is to look after the little ones and stand guard for them. They can read and draw around his feet whilst he stands guard and sing songs if they want.

Sand tray: machine men come out of darkness
Sand tray: machine men come out of darkness 2
Sand tray: machine men assume new jobs and identities

There was a key in the sand tray and I felt the parts were giving me the key, so I took it. It was like they were giving me control/ access. You’ve got the key to turn this on or off…

A key to my inner world? A key to unlock new thinking?

Finally, T commented on the dark tree still sitting in the sand tray. I said I wanted to smash it. So she gave me a baseball bat and I put it on the ground and I smashed it and broke it. I felt charged and angry.

Smashing evil trees.

Then, it was time to go home.

Swollen eyes

Dear parts,

We are going through a rough patch. Mentally and physically. Last night our eyes swelled up and we could hardly see. This morning it wasn’t much better. Turns out we have an allergy. So today was part rest although it was still busy. I know we’ve been having bad dreams the last few nights which have been playing on our minds. We dream of the family having killed someone and then having to pretend to cover it up. In the dream everyone had this massive story we all had to believe and tell the police. I just remember feeling so guilty and bad, like we were going to get caught and go to prison.

It is ritual month and nights of madness. Sleep comes and goes. the eyes: we don’t want to see what happened again. We want to be able to breathe again. Too much heaviness, sleep kicks in.

Full circle

I feel so deeply worthless at the moment. I work hard to achieve things because I enjoy it and it helps build my esteem. But it seems like nothing I do is ever good enough or the feeling of shame and not being worthy returns full circle.

Stop trying. Lord, I give up.

I said to her, let go, He will catch you. Yet I’m afraid to stand down. I am exhausted.


I hate birthdays especially kids ones. Think they’re all clever and safe but they have no idea. Stupid family fake ass gatherings and procedures. Wish I was dead.

Voices in head. Sick of playing Mrs nice guy. I see you in memory and want to fight you. Get your filthy hands off me. You disgust me jerk face. I’m gonna be sick.

It’s excruciating lying next to you. I want to sleep on the couch and be alone. Alone. Alone. Maybe I can watch the football and fall asleep with television light on. If you weren’t here I’d do that. I’d sleep with my clothes on.

Forgotten where I am and why it’s necessary to exist. I hate families. Oh god they make me sick. Just leave me alone so I can sleep. I prefer work. Activity. Espionage and high speed drama.

God won’t give you more than you can handle. Not.

Reference below. Found this in my notes and tonight it rang true. Copying here as reminder to self and whomever this resonates:

“Actually, all of life is more than we can handle. The point of living in a fallen world is not for us to try really hard to carry our heavy burden, but rather realize we can’t do it alone and surrender to God instead. That’s what faith is all about.

Everything is more than I can handle, but not more than Jesus can handle: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).”

Sand play therapy

Tonight my therapist and I did sand tray therapy. I’ve tried it with her in the past and it was good but this time it felt more powerful. Like I could see (and kinda feel) the process working. T got me to pick figurines off the shelf who represented the adult protector parts from last week. So I ended up picking quite a few and put them in the sand tray. The representation all seemed very obvious to me.

Sand play therapy. Protector parts block inner world.

At the front is robot, behind him is a tough protector girl; super spiritual. Then in the middle is fighter man. To the side of him is a protector man who can mentally block anyone from the outside. Then there is a guard dude. Behind the fighter man is a bridge, and a cauldron pot being boiled over fire. Then there are the two evil soldiers who told T to F off b**ch and I’m gonna kill you. She acknowledged they had been hurt, that she didn’t believe they would do that and understood they believed the lies of the perpetrator. She said we don’t need to accept their hate, or something like that but we can still hear them.

T asked the fighter dude if he could see what was behind him and he just said darkness. Then we talked about monsters and it turns out all the protector parts believe in monsters (both inside and outside of system). Also there is still lots of internal punishment going on.

T talked to fighter part but I think he’s not sure about changing roles yet or cooperating with anyone. She asked the other protector parts what they needed and they said rest. Go figure. It’s hard being on guard all the time. Finally she talked to the evil machine dude at the back, on the left. His job was to cut and slice people up. I’ve had many fragments say they have been cut into half or bits. T mentioned he could have another job cutting and building tree houses for the parts and cubbies. He’s thinking about it. People might be scared of him. Who knows. Anyway I feel exhausted and just want to wake migraine free tomorrow to join group.

Play therapy

I missed fragments group again today because I woke with a terrible migraine and had nausea and threw up. I slept till 11:30 am and then had to go to work for afternoon meetings. The headache finally dissipated and I feel back to normal tonight. I’m not sure if it’s coming off the back of therapy on Wednesday evenings as this has been two Thursday mornings in a row. If it happens again next week then I guess I’ll know and I will change therapy as I don’t want to miss out on the group.

My T and I did play therapy. I asked her if she would lead it and direct as it’s very hard for me and my inner parts to drive this stuff. So she set up a little rug on the ground and then got some figurines from her wall. She’s got a whole wall of shelves lined with toys and figurines. She got out an African zoo animal set where the animals were seated on chairs and they sat around a table with drinks. There was a lion, a zebra, a rhino, a cheetah, an elephant and a giraffe. Then we got baby animal figurines of the same type of animals. Whilst the big animals were having a committee meeting the little animals got to ride around in a boat. T set it up so they could look at things whilst we went around the lake. So she put out a mermaid on a sea shell and trees and then we got out Mr Frog 🐸 and Mrs Snail 🐌 from last week.

When we checked in with my system – using the toys as a representation of the parts- there were a few observations.

  • The little ones said we need to keep quiet otherwise we would get in trouble.
  • My T said we could make as much noise as we wanted but the little ones were unsure.
  • They felt they would get into trouble. T asked if they would by the bigger parts (the parents) and the little ones said yes.
  • Playing and having fun was quite hard and awkward and my little parts were very activated but watchful and trepidatious.
  • To end the play session, T checked in with the African animal committee and they said that it’s not all fun and games and that there are serious matters to be discussed. T acknowledged them and agreed that there was and that next time we could talk about more serious matters. They just wanted her to know most importantly that this is serious.

I can’t remember much else and then I left and came home and my head started hurting and so when I woke up it turned into a full blown migraine. I think the play therapy is unlocking inner world stuff but it’s hard for me to process as I am so busy. I will attempt to do more check ins with my system to see how they are travelling and to open up a dialogue.

So far you can’t even see it.

I went to a hip Asian restaurant tonight in the city and felt cool, somewhat part of a scene. It was so busy and felt “normal,” pre Covid normal. It’s been weeks of malaise and this time last year was when lockdown hit us in Melbourne, Australia. Then it was 9 months with only a few weeks of grace of loose restrictions in between. I keep wondering if it’s going to hit again. I can’t help but think the government will go at us again… one more swoop down to jolt us back into fear state so we are banging on the doctors door for a vaccine. Get me a bucket.

I’m frustrated. Annoyed by a few gatekeeper administrative types who have “service” in their titles, yet do everything on earth to make your job and life harder. You know the types. That was half of my day, spent with passive aggressive over burdened bureaucrats who drain all joy from others lives. I’m being harsh but they make me want to smash computers against a wall. I find these personalities so irritating. I have tried, believe me, to work with them over the years but they’ve worn me down. Tomorrow’s a new day, and perhaps an opportunity to adopt a new outlook, yet tonight my blood boils. I think it’s the shifting goal posts, the passive aggressive tones, the over emphasis on minutia that grates me the most. It’s the “I’ll help you” one minute and then “don’t bother me, this is all too much” the next that is destabilising. Of course it triggers me. It’s the games the cult people played. Constant destabilisation, shifting things, confusion tactics, false promises and undermining. Grrrr.

Meanwhile; shits going down in politics with rape allegations and people are acting surprised. It’s not the rape allegations that get me; it’s the incredulousness from people. “Really? How could this happen? It happens in high places?!” Yes. Yes. Yes. Very high places so untouchable you can’t see them. And they love it. Arseholes.

Q&A with myself on International Women’s Day.

First up Leni, happy international women’s day. What does this day mean to you?

L: Hello, this is the first year I have ever given it much precedence. I have mostly felt alienated from the idea of being a woman. I never thought it was something to celebrate or be proud of. As I am growing more aware of the structure of patriarchy and the gender imbalances of our world, I can see how these constructs have disempowered me and kept me separate from other women. By acknowledging this day, I am choosing to side and stand with and for women, who have been structurally, physically, mentally and conceptually abused. So this day means a lot to me now and is a day to reflect.

That leads nicely into the questions I have for you. When you were growing up, what were the ideas in your family about gender?

L: My father was a dominant man, impatient, brash, rude and scary. He worked full time, he controlled all the finances and I never saw him cook or clean. My mother was a housewife. She looked after us as four kids, and waited on him hand and foot. She was subservient, submissive and often in the house we felt like we were walking on eggshells. My father used to beat my sister too. I don’t remember much though. He would also call us names when he got angry, he would say we were worthless and a piece of shit. I have two older brothers and an older sister. So I guess some of the ideas I learned about gender are:

  • Boys can get away with anything
  • Men are strong, women are weak
  • Girls / women are bad (they get in trouble)
  • Being tough and assertive gets you things. Keeps you safe. You don’t get hurt if you are in charge.
  • the man should look after the woman
  • Women can’t look after themselves.
  • It’s the woman’s fault. She causes “him” to do things.
  • Women are stupid.

What do you think these ideas made possible for you and how did these ideas limit you?

L: I think I rejected a lot of these ideas, particularly as a teenager and in my twenties. In some ways rejecting them made me fearless and not care. I didn’t see being a woman as something that held me back, but I didn’t embrace it either. I didn’t feel like a woman. I think I was ultimately scared of accepting my womanhood, as though that meant accepting my inferiority. At the same time I think the ideas limited me because I looked to men to take the lead. I never felt like I had power, I just tried to maintain control, I guess like my mother did to the best of her ability. I rejected femininity for a while. I became independent, almost an F you to my mother. I think these ideas limited me because I had no direction. Deep down I felt worthless, bad and not good enough. Later, I turned to a man to try and save me.

What is the most important role you have in the world? What would help you or support you to fulfil this role in the way you want to?

L: There are lots of things I could say here which is nice. One could be as a teacher but I could lose my job so that wouldn’t count. The other is as a girlfriend to someone but I don’t know if I value that role enough yet. What jumps out at me is as a survivor. Money would help me to fulfil my role in the way I want to. Quite simply, money to start a social enterprise business.

When you think about the kind of person you want to be in the world, how is this different to who you are now and what do you feel needs to change?

L: Right now I feel like my mind is still frozen and I can’t seem to articulate or think the way I would like; with ease, clarity and grace. I feel what needs to change is confidence and practice.

If you think about times when you’ve acted in ways that have harmed others, what would be helpful to understand or know more about so that you can do things differently in the future?

L: I guess I would like to know more about the beliefs and unconscious drivers that contributed to my harming others.

Is there past hurt that constantly sabotages or gets in the way of who you want to be in the world?

L: I guess it’s not one. It’s a series of hurts and repressed memories of trauma that lies underneath my skin. It keeps me from feeling safe, connected and free.

Questions taken from The Dulwich Centre, Intersecting Stories: Narrative therapy reflections on gender, culture and justice. p.66 2020.

A quiet knowing.

Ah yes a night of feeling normal – actually it’s almost been the whole day! My partner has lost a bit of weight, about 5 kilos and I had noticed it recently but hadn’t said anything. I think it was silently triggering me because I felt like she was doing it on purpose. She weighed herself yesterday and we had a bit of a moment and I was quite mean spirited about her looking too thin and gaunt and weak. Plus it makes her look very young, more young, which some readers will know is a massive trigger for me. It wasn’t fair what I said as I was coming from a place of anxiety. I think I was jealous because of my desire to be skinny and I was also triggered because I used to be that skinny. When I was, I always thought I was fat and couldn’t see I was skinny. Seeing S was stark evidence that I was thin. Too thin! Yet the body dysmorphia and anorexia was so strong I couldn’t reconcile it. When we woke today S said she was booking in to the doctor to check on it as she wasn’t trying to lose weight. She had looked it up online and apparently if you lose about 5kilos without trying you could have thyroid problems or something else. I didn’t even think that it could be about sickness which shows where my head goes- self centred triggers. I spoke about how it triggered past body stuff and after that things just became normal again and we were connected. It’s funny how talking about stuff helps clear the air.

Life feels manageable and exciting again. And I recognise all the things I have and am thankful for and that I am grateful to have Yeshua. Even tho there is a lot I don’t understand about faith and love and God, I feel He keeps me grounded and strong. When I think about life, sometimes I feel so weak and incapable. I am glad I don’t have to just rely on me. I feel like the spirit of God gives me sound mind and quiet power. Not in an overbearing way; just an inner strength. A quiet knowing.