My Introduction to IFS
- I attended a free training in St. Louis; had full body chills.
- “This is what I’ve been searching for” – I want this!
- Talk therapy hadn’t been enough. I wanted to go deeper. The IFS framework gave me a pathway.
Overview of the IFS Model
- Self Energy = “I AM”
- 8 Cs: confidence, calmness, creativity, clarity, curiosity, courage, compassion, and connectedness.
- Also, the 5 Ps: patience, perspective, presence, playfulness, and persistence
- Exiles/Younger Wounded Parts: I HURT.
- Protective Parts (Managers or Firefighters): I must/won’t/can’t/will destroy.
Professional Training in the IFS Model
- Level 1 & 2 in St. Louis 2010 & 2011
- Level 2 is where I first felt a young exile due to activating as well as nurturing interactions during the training.
- Some of the parts discovered in that training wouldn’t be accessed again for over 10 years. I didn’t know how to get there.
- CPTSD is truly a different beast to treat; more than IFS was needed.
Personal Therapy in the IFS Model
- IFS alone was helpful but not enough.
- Somatic Experiencing – getting in touch with the body & connecting “bottom up” was needed & also super challenging. It was like learning a foreign language. I find many neurodivergent, bright, & traumatized people struggle to get out of their head & connect with their experience below their neck in their body, heart, & spirit.
- Common parts in CPTSD: overthink/analyze/loop, people please, perform, produce, perfect, & carry criticism, guilt, shame, fear, and anger.
- My therapist (Susie, thank you forever!) was awesome. Two things she said that were profound were: It’s safe to come home, Renee. And you may not heal until your dad is gone.
- We did great trauma work together. Yet, I was so unhappy in my marriage & it triggered all my parts. Exiles were experiencing more wounding around lack of partnership, manager parts were burned out, & I had some active firefighter parts that provided impetus to change & also triggered deep shame. My manager parts wouldn’t let me end my marriage from a place of truth & personal power. There was too much fear.
Couples Work with IFS Therapist
- Looking back, I believe our couples therapist was inviting me to level up from the victim story to personal power through radical love & inner-directed boundaries.
- Part of me desired permission & absolution to end my marriage; ending my marriage meant breaking the solemn vow my protective parts made growing up: “do not leave your family”. As a child my parents separated 3x before having a divorce process that was marked by post separation abuse leaving our nuclear family blown apart.
40th Birthday–Divorce or Move: THE PAUSE
- I chose to move over getting a divorce. I also decided to put a pause to therapy. This is not uncommon for many people when they are being invited to the next level of their personal development or healing journey. It can feel like too much.
- Progress: was knowing when I was in Self Energy & when activated by parts; still overwhelmed with the energy & emotion of my parts –” It hurts”, struggle, helplessness, powerlessness, frustration, & fatigue from the corresponding ANS responses/4Fs…. ramping up, burning out, shutting down.
- My heart was in the right place. I didn’t want to cause hurt or harm. Fear of the future & shame of the past kept me stuck in the present.
Trauma Can Break You Open But First It May Break You Down
- Breaking down is often the breakthrough but it is difficult.
- From an IFS lens, there is a collapse of survival & protective parts – adaptive coping no longer works.
- Total ANS burnout/dorsal vagal shut down (See Polyvagal theory link below.)
- It was a dark night of the soul that was also in invitation to spiritual growth.
- Rebirth – a process of release, resolution, reclamation, & reimagining. It’s a return home to your native essence, gifts, calling, & energy. From there you can reimagine a different way forward. This is posttraumatic growth!
- But first, a cleaning up of the internal & external world is required….
- And it impacts every aspect of your life!
I Am Not Alone
- Adults who have higher ACE scores, experienced abuse and/or neglect, & weren’t supported “enough” to meet their developmental needs start their adult life overburdened & underdeveloped.
- They are set up to make life & relationship decisions that further set them back.
- They cope as best as possible until they arrive at a place where they can no longer continue with what has worked for them before.
You Are Not Alone
- The path of healing & recovery is available to you. You have what you need to heal; you just may need some bridging & support along the way.
- Beginning again, connecting inside, & using IFS as a starting point helps CPTSD survivors begin to turn chaos into calm, fear into clarity & confidence, and disconnection & separation into connection.
- Recovery & healing is possible. A pathway of unburdening, integrating, & embodying exists.
- I invite you to reach out to reset.
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