Posted by: Marie | May 5, 2010

(306) This day finally arrived – Part 2 of 4

Post #306
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, January 7, 2010 – 3pm – continued from previous post]

After we got the preliminaries out of the way, Mark asked me to participate in an exercise. He directed me to stand in front of the mirror. He told me to tell him if I felt uncomfortable with any part of the exercise — that, if I felt uncomfortable, we would stop. I told him that, when I get triggered, I often am not able to speak or move – and that there is a good chance I wouldn’t be able to alert him to the fact I was uncomfortable.

So, he gave me a rubber stringy stress ball to hold – if I felt uncomfortable, I could let him know by letting go of it and letting it drop on the floor. I guess he didn’t understand that I feel unable to demonstrate IN ANY WAY that I’m uncomfortable – I feel an obligation to perfectly maintain a posture of total compliance.

Photo by Martin Chen

But, I figured I go along with the exercise – in that moment, I was feeling safe overall, so I figured I’d be okay – either 1) I’d find a way to show my discomfort or 2) I wouldn’t be that uncomfortable with whatever happened. I took the ball and walked over to the mirror.

Mark told me to look at myself and to describe what I saw. Now, I hate mirror exercises – I hate looking at ME. I can get within two inches of a mirror to examine the gunk inside each pore, and I can look at something specific (like my hair) to see if it looks okay enough to be seen by the public in a specific situation (buying groceries or going to an interview), but I am not able to look at ME.

So, I looked at Mark’s reflection instead of mine (he was standing behind me) – I knew I could get through the exercise if I just kept my eyes on his reflection.

He asked me about my hair . . . what message I was trying to send with my long hair? He said that guys see long hair as a symbol of sexual availability. So, was I wearing my hair long – and loose and wild – as a way to display my sexuality or as a way to hide my face (and be unavailable)? I didn’t have a good answer – I guess a bit of both. I guess my hair is the one source of femininity I still have.

He pointed out that, if I want people to see me (my personality and spirit), I could help that along by pulling my hair off my face. Good point.

He asked me about my choice of clothes – comfortable, shapeless, even frumpy. I told him it was because I’m fat and I just want to cover up my body – I don’t want anyone looking at it.

He asked me . . . if a really cool guy ask me out on a date, but he was really into going to the beach, and, in order to be part of his world, I would have to wear a bathing suit . . . would I do it? I said, “No, not at my current weight.” Even if it was a deal breaker for the guy? “Even if it was a deal breaker – I just wouldn’t date that guy.”

He asked me if I could see that way of thinking was limiting my choices in men. Yeah, I can see that – it’s one of the reasons I haven’t dated in three years. I’m working to change that as fast as I can – and I really didn’t need him to point out the obvious to me – nagging me about it doesn’t make me change any faster.

He asked me why I don’t wear make-up. I told him it is because I don’t think it makes a difference – I’m no prettier with it or uglier without it. He said that, in Colorado, because of our casual environment, it is perfectly acceptable for professional women to not wear make-up. He said that he agrees with me that I don’t really needed make-up . . . because I have a pretty face.

I think he meant it as food for thought and as a compliment, but it struck me wrong – it felt like he was sitting up on his throne, making judicial decisions for me – like I was not capable of deciding for myself if applying make-up was a worthwhile time investment for me or not, that he was the one in charge of making that determination.

I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way – but I was getting really irritated with the exercise and was looking for a fight – I was looking for fault in the process. He was wasting my precious session time telling me stuff I already know. I know I am unkempt and frumpy. I know I take care of myself just enough to be allowed in polite society. It’s all I can manage right now – I’m doing good to get out of bed and get my bra on. I’m doing really good if I don’t have body odor and if my hair is relatively tame. Trying to “look good” is just not something I care about right now.

I told him this – and he pointed out that, if I want to date a man who will respect me, I have to first respect myself – and my appearance says that I don’t respect myself.

Yeah, I know – thanks for stating the obvious. Thanks for pointing out what my dad pointed out to me a million times growing up . . . that I don’t measure up in the eyes of quality men. I know only too well.

I told him that this exercise was a waste of session time – that I wanted to stop the mirror exercise and instead work on the body memory stuff . . . because I need to address the body memory stuff so I could feel better about myself so I can find motivation to take better care of my body. Standing at the mirror and pointing out all the ways I fall short is not useful.

He asked me to just stay with the exercise a few more minutes . . . so, I took a breath and compliantly did what he asked.

He asked me to describe my eyes. I didn’t look at my eyes in the mirror (I just can’t). I didn’t need to look at them in order to describe them. I told him that I think I have fun and kind eyes.

He asked me to hold up my hand. He took my hand in his hand and held it up so we could both take a look at it. He made some superficial comments like, “Well, your hands are nice looking – utilitarian, clean, minimal scars.” I could tell that he was trying to hurry along the process . . . that there was a larger purpose to this exercise than calling my attention to the condition of my hands. I was puzzled . . . what was his point?

Finally, he said it was okay for me to sit back down in my chair. I did.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. There is so much about this that pisses me off, from blanket statements about men to inappropriate judgments (both positive and negative) about you … that I think I’ll just shut up and wait to see what happens next, rather than expressing any projection-related hope that the next five minutes involved your telling him to sod off.

    • Hey, David –

      I had much the same reaction (as you can tell from my writing). I was trying so hard to keep an open mind . . .

      So . . thanks for staying tuned!

      – Marie

  2. I’m with David, I think it was a dopey exercise, and I have lots of better things that I think could have been done.

    Do you think Mark has body issues of his own? Or judgement issues?

    Like David I’m very much looking forward to the next instalment.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I have my own opinions about what was going on here . . . if it was about my issues or about Mark’s issues . . . and the value of what happened within the sessions.

      I hope you will continue to express your thoughts as the story unfolds . . . I like to hear what outside observers think about it.

      – Marie

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