************************************Denial covers the pain of the past * A blanket over the world * Lift a corner * Don't be afraid * Your life awaits you*************************************

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stuck on the Third Rung

Yesterday was one of those rare therapy appointments when I didn’t have an exceedingly pressing issue or anything that felt really unresolved from the last few appointments. I talked about some current things in my life. I love the fact that C is able to both help me with the past and work with me on the present. I know some people have said that they get only one or the other from their t.’s. It’s a blessing to be able to work on whatever needs working.

So, since we ran out of things to talk about with fifteen minutes still left in the appointment, she opened up my (very thick) folder and started going through papers she had paper-clipped – her way of marking things that we had not finished. She found several DNMS sheets that we never completely finished, but when she refreshed my memory about the parts of self and problems we had identified in those sheets, they already felt resolved.

Finally, she pulled out a sheet that was from an actual “ladder rung” of the DNMS process. Honestly, I had almost forgotten that this is how the process is supposed to work.

In DNMS there are four “rungs”. There is a fairly involved protocol for each one, and the idea is to go through them all, in order, to resolve childhood issues.
When I first started working with C in this DNMS process, we completed rungs 1, 2 and 3a in six months.
(Keep in mind that the following is my interpretation from what I remember and what I have in my old email and word files, and not directly from any DNMS book or guide.)

• The issues on the first rung are about existence. They are about knowing you exist and believing you have a right to exist.
• The second rung is about safety. It is about feeling safe and knowing you can keep yourself safe.
• The third rung comes in two parts. 3a is about owning your personal power.

When I look at those ideas, now, I can see how far I've come.

I spent a most of my life with a sense of unreality. On a deep level, I didn't understand that I existed at all. The idea that I had a right to exist - that the world was meant for ME as well as everything else in it – seemed ludicrous the first time it was presented to me. On some level, I knew it was true, but on a much more personal level, it did not feel true. I felt like an impostor .. a hanger-on in a world of the deserving.

Working through that first rung gave me a clear sense that I am real and that I am here for a reason. My existence is purposeful in a way it never was before.

For most of my life, I lived in such fear that I didn't even know I was afraid. Fear was my natural state, my norm. I honestly thought that’s how it was for everyone. I thought it was just how life is, to wade through every experience in states ranging from anxiety to panic. Now I know that is not true. It is my spirituality that helps me keep my fears at bay. Knowing I am connected to everything, that the energy within me is eternal, helps me understand that nothing that happens to me can hurt me. I exist. I will continue to exist in whatever form I am meant to have. No matter what happens, “I” will be okay! That was an amazing revelation that came from my most adult self and my spiritual core. It makes life so much more manageable.

Next we come to 3a – personal power. I did not remember that this was the last rung we completed, but it made so much sense when my therapist refreshed my memory.
I believe I have found my personal power. I have learned how to look inside myself, determine what I want, decide if it is appropriate to go after, and if it is appropriate, I give myself permission to go for it.
There. One sentence to describe an enormous process. I suppose it makes sense that it was at this point that we stopped working through this protocol because I believe I needed time to fully process this before I was ready to go on to the next part.

Apparently I needed a LOT of time. We finished rung 3a in June of 2008! Now, 21 months later, I have gone through major changes in my life, accepting things that I couldn't even allow myself to remember, before that. It seems like a lot of time, but that’s how much time I needed and I’m glad y therapist didn't rush me or allow me to rush myself.

I assume she now believes I'm ready to move forward, which is why she pulled out rung 3b, yesterday.

3b is about self worth.

If there is a piece of the puzzle that I still struggle with, this is definitely it. To me, this is proof that the process is working. We didn't have time to delve back into it, this week, but I’m excited about starting it again, next week. Although we have done a lot of DNMS and EMDR in the last 21 months, it has all been a kind of side road. It was all necessary, but it feels good to think I have made it back to the highway, again.

I wonder if it’s possible that I will look back at this rung of the ladder in the same way I can the others, at some future point, and say “yes, I now understand that I have self-worth.” I hope so. Before she pulled this out, yesterday, we were talking about my writing. She said something about my writing having innate value just in my doing it, even if no one else saw it or commented on it.

While it seems that should be true, I still can't really believe it.

She asked me, “If you wrote a hundred blogs and ninety-nine times someone gave you a positive comment, but on the hundredth time no one did, would that make the hundredth blog less valuable?”

I said, “I would wonder what I did wrong.”

So, since she is certain that it doesn't change the worth of something just because someone sees it, and she gave examples that make sense, I can see that I still have a ways to go on the self-worth idea.

And, in case you’re wondering, the final rung is about relationships with others. I'll get there...


  1. You are making so much progress... and it's inspiring.

    Personally, I think everyone seeing a therapist should expect to be able to work on whatever that person needs, whether it's about the past or about the present or about the future.

    I was wondering if you find yourself moving up and down among the rungs... or if you find that once you've achieved a rung, you stay there. I find that it's somewhat shifting sand for me.

  2. Thanks Paul. I would like to think all this hard work could be helpful to others, through my telling. It is helpful to me.

    As far as shifting from one rung to another - yes, I'm sure that happens. There are some things I have gained completely, that seem like perminant steps up, and others that I seem to gain in pieces. When I have all the pieces, it feels like I can more fully believe that the negative beliefs from that rung are not true, and so in that way I will not have to revisit it.

    For instance, while I lived most of my life with a sense of unreality - not so much as if it was a dream, more like I was just a part of someone else's dream - I now understand that I am real, this is my life, I am in control of my life. I can't imagine ever not knowing that, again. Once learned, it seems like it will be retained.

    Of course, theres no way to know, for sure. I once had this concept that if I could just integrate all the fractured parts of me, I would always exist as a whole being and the pieces would never fall apart again. I now know that is not true. Just because I bring these memories or pieces of myself "home" doesn't mean they never break free and exist seperately, again. Sometimes I still dissociate. I am sometimes aware it's happening at the time and other times not until after... but it still happens. The doors seem to close when I get very stressed or worried or anxious... and I imagine it will always be that way.
    The good news is that I spend so much less time in the fear based emotional states than I used to.

  3. Yes, I have much the same personal experience. Maybe we wouldn't use exactly the same words to describe it as you, but I fully resonate with what you are saying. I also think it's great that your blog helps you. That, to me, has to be the number one reason why we write. That it's helpful to others is icing on the cake, so to speak.

  4. So glad you were able to see all the progress you are making Shen! What an encouragement.

  5. I went round and round with the concept of no self worth with therapists. I thought they were crazy. I had done so many things and had so many experiences.

    I was explaining to a therapist that I was a pro skier when I was 15, the therapist who had a clue said that must have made you very proud and I said. No it is just something I did.

  6. yes, i think you already know self worth has been one of the hardest things for me too. i still struggle with it.

    and i think i told you recently how i have felt those same kinds of feelings about blogging and relating with others. how your feelings about yourself and about what you have expressed can be affected by the responses you get or don't get.

    i feel like i'm finally wrapping my head around how to feel good about myself lately. but it almost feels like mental acrobatics sometimes!

    and some days i feel like i slip back to less positive ways of feeling about myself.

    but progress not perfection, right? :)

    i wish i could say something to help you feel better about yourself. that i could find the perfect words. but i think that's part of what's difficult about this whole thing. i think it's not the words coming from anyone else that matter in this case, it's the ones coming from you.

    wishing you well this evening~

  7. Shen, congratulations on being able to see how far you have come in therapy and life. It is so important to give ourselves credit for just how far we have come in recovery. It makes it easier to take the next steps.

  8. This sounds like me except that we don't do the ladder thing. For me, the my therapist call it existing and just "being." As such, we try to work on whatever is on my mind even if it nothing...that usually starts me in processing something. It has been and is a long arduous road.

    I'm glad that you had an opportunity to see how much progress that you made.

    take care,



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