Mom and Sidekick get together after an extended Fourth of July hiatus
Scene: Mom’s weekend came and went like a speeding train. There were picnics and parties, day and night. Crackling and booming, the black night sky was lit up with red, white and blue, fireworks and rockets that burst heaven-ward. Mom had flashbacks and triggers that could have bad outcomes. Can she overcome these challenges?
Mom and Sidekick were talking about what happened over the busy holiday, since the last time they met. Mom told her about visiting some slippery places, “using” struggles; the triggers, cravings and the urges that were blocked. They talked about that and how Mom had changed her thinking: “that she was such a loser in drug court.” The previous week they agreed to do the Parts Change piece this time.
Scene: Mom had said earlier how “it would be nice to make changes without conflict.” She knew she wanted to and must change the alcohol problem part if she was to succeed in drug court. Well, not only drug court, but long term. Now, she felt like she was ready. Yet, one part of her was ready and at least one other part was holding her back – a little. She felt strange about that because she knew that she wanted to be free.
Mom: “I don’t know if I want to do this. Something is wrong. There is a part of me that says “get it fixed.” Then it’s like another part is saying “No, wait a minute! What will my friends think? How will my friends take this? Do I want to be rejected by my friends?” I don’t know if I can go through with this. We better wait. I don’t want my friends to feel like I think I’m better than them.” Mom relied on Sidekick’s reassurance that it was normal and there is always at least one part that objects. Mom just shrugged a kind of agreement.
Sidekick: “If you don’t like the change you can always change it back. So, don’t worry. Unless we do it in such a way that it is ecological, and all parts agree to the change, it won’t work anyway. So, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Isn’t that right?” Mom nodded a ‘yes.’
Scene: Sidekick: “Okay, then, let’s get started. Here’s how it works. Standing there, take a deep breath; breathe in through your nose and exhale through your mouth.” Mom breathes in filling her lungs and then releases the air by exhaling slowly and completely. “Do that a couple more times, slowly, relaxing, getting to be one with all your parts. Mom does this and is focused with her eyes fixed, searching.
They continue with Sidekick reminding Mom of their conversation when Mom described the “change part” and the “don’t change” part. Mom nods and says, “I remember.” Mom looks confused and hesitant. Can she go on?
Sidekick: “Okay then. I want you to get in touch with the “don’t change” part and bring it into your consciousness. Imagine that the ‘don’t change’ part is with us now. Mom searches, feels it, and nods okay. Ask the part “what is the positive intention of not changing?” Mom asks the part and it replies, “I’m not sure I can do this, if I’m capable of change. I’m afraid. What about my independence?”
Mom tells Sidekick what Part A said. Sidekick tells Mom to thank Part A and ask it “If I can show you a way to be more confident and secure would you be willing to make the change as long as you don’t give up anything else?” Mom does this and Part A agrees that it would be okay. Sidekick then has Mom ask Part A if it would mind meeting Part B, the pro-social, “change part,” so they could learn from each other.
Part A agreed, they met, were introduced like members of a club and when Part A asked, Part B, it, shared ideas about how powerful strengths and resources that it uses help to get through the same types of doubts and challenges. “I use the courage of my strong, pro-social role models. I visualize me using those strengths and being successful. My self-talk gives me empowering feedback. I use relapse and recidivism prevention skills like anchoring to help me collapse those triggers. These skills and results give me a great feeling. My strengths are reinforced this way. I learned these on the Trail to Transcendence. I give to you, the gift of these empowering strengths and resources. You may use them any way you choose.” Mom had Part A thank Part B as Sidekick suggested. With Part B gone now, they continued the exercise.
Scene: Mom is kind of stunned now and feels like she has just been through another thundering, dazzling, fireworks display. Sidekick gives her help desensitizing before they continue.
Sidekick: “Do you feel okay, like we can go on?” Mom nods, ‘yes.’ “Okay. Now, I want you to check with all your other parts to see if this change is okay with them. Take a few deep breaths and focus on what you are feeling, where you are feeling it and let me know what’s happening. If any of your parts object to this change you will feel it now.” They wait as Mom contemplates it all.
Moments later Mom is frowning, her forehead is wrinkled, her lower lip begins to quiver and she looks confused, anxious. Almost like she’s getting ready to run away. Sidekick is curious and waiting to see what is happening?
Suddenly, Mom gestures an okay sign with her thumb and forefinger. A smile comes over her face. “I feel great,” she says. “Is that it? Is that all there is to it? She asked.
Sidekick: “No, but almost. Now we will anchor these feelings of strength, accomplishment and security so you can use them in the future as needed. Anchoring is a psychology tool we use to create a new neural pathway to give you a mental boost when you need it. We will use a kinesthetic (feelings) anchor to set or install your new, empowering, skills and experience that you just had. Think about what you just experienced and really get into it. See what you saw. Hear what you heard and feel what you are feeling now. Just before your experience peaks, say, at 11 O’clock, I want you to set the anchor with your thumb and forefinger by lightly pressing the tips together, like this.” She demonstrates and asks, “do you get it?” Mom nods yes and does it.
They practice it a few more times till Mom can do it easily. Then they test it. Sidekick has Mom imagine an event in the future when she will be in a slippery situation and will need the strengths and resources to maintain her sobriety. Or, maybe to be more assertive in a relationship. To be able to just say no!
Scene: They discussed the experience. Mom assured Sidekick that she’s got it and will be able to use this in the future with other issues like procrastination. This could be used to succeed in drug court too.
Sidekick: “Yes. You can explore your permission-granting beliefs and values about alcohol and other drug use as well as criminal thinking and conduct too. When you understand the positive intent, or, secondary gain, you will be in a better position to make the right choices. Pro-social choices.
Mom: “I can see how this can be used to understand the positive intent of using alcohol and other drugs to feel better, to self-medicate. Thank you.” Sidekick nods a welcome and they say, “until next time.”