Posted by: Marie | July 1, 2010

(347) Unlocking the mystery – Part 3 of 3

Post #347
[Private journal entry written on Friday, February 5, 2010 – noon – continued from previous post]

4: Aggression

Once again, I can only speak to what I experience, which is:

When I am attempting to process a “lock-up”, I look at how I have reacted to your behaviors in order to figure out why I am triggered and why I am feeling what I am feeling. I use our relationship as a mirror.

And, sometimes I am so strongly triggered that it feels intolerable to me (like the religion thing) and I feel unsafe. In that case, either I need for you to not do it again, or I need to find a way to tolerate it enough to still feel safe despite your behavior.

When I have tried to work this stuff out by talking to you about it, I have stepped on your “landmine” – which has to do with the criticism you experienced from your father.

When I receive emails from you that contain “don’t blame me” sentiments, I know I have set off your landmine.

The Flower by Martin Chen

The aggression in those emails then becomes a secondary trigger for me – in my life, aggression and anger directed towards me has usually signaled violence, rejection, abandonment and a contentious end to the relationship.

With you, it has always been clear to me that your aggression does not signal violence – I have absolutely no fear about that with you, not even at a body-memory level.

And, I am collecting a big pile of evidence that your aggression also does not signal the rejection and abandonment – you keep showing up for me, over and over.

However, while my logic tells me one thing, my emotions and body sensations constantly warn me that your aggression will likely bring a contentious end to our relationship. I am working to change that belief, but it has been a slow shift – I’m not doing so well with that.

I don’t know how to figure out solutions to “my stuff” without reflecting my experiences off of you. And, I am now aware that, when I reflect my experiences off of you, there is a high risk that I will set off your landmine.

As a matter of fact, I am very concerned about this document – even though I have tried to be as careful as I could in my wording (I tried to keep it about my experience, I tried to use a good mix of “I” statements and “you” statements, etc.), I’m fairly confident that I am triggering your landmine by sharing it with you. I am fairly sure you are reading a bunch of criticism into it – and that you think I’m questioning your competency by “telling you how to do my therapy”.

I am hoping that you can see I’m just trying to figure out what is going on with me in the context of how I relate to people – I’m trying to figure out what I need and what healing process is best for me. I understand you are an expert of psychotherapy – but I am the expert of me. I know myself better than any other human ever will – even you. It is my responsibility to figure out what healing path is best for me. I need your help in that process, but, ultimately, it is my responsibility.

I need for you to know it is never my intention to shine a flashlight on your “stuff” or to make you look bad. I need for you to know I don’t blame you for my thought patterns and emotional reactions. I’m just trying to understand what happens inside of me when I am triggered by people with whom I am emotionally intimate. You are the only person in the world who has 1) repeatedly triggered me (by design, I’m sure), and 2) stuck around long enough for me to make any progress on figuring it out.

So, this document, and this journey, is about me, not about you. But, I need you to hold up the mirror for me – and that may cause you pain sometimes. I’ll try to minimize the pain, but I’m not very good at that yet.

Anyway, since you have the unenviable job of holding the mirror for me, and holding the mirror for me will likely trigger your landmine, I don’t see a way around your aggression (and anger?). I know it’s coming my way again, sooner or later. So I guess I need to learn to survive it without losing my sense of who I am. It is something I need to learn anyway because you won’t be the last person to send aggressive and/or angry words my way.

As a first step in learning how to do that, I think it would help me if I knew what you meant by the phrases you use in your “aggressive” emails. That way, when you use those phrases in the future, I can translate them into what you truly mean instead of into what my child-Marie reactively thinks they mean. Would you be willing to help me with that?


  1. Great post! I love how you use the word “First step” in life we have many of those in order to get to the next!

    • Hey, Erin –

      Thanks for stopping by!

      That is a wise observation — our whole lives are defined by many, many healing steps.

      – Marie

  2. Working through what sets off your therapist seems a great therapy (even if it is the reverse of the way it’s meant to be!)

    I’ll be very interested to see what happens in the next session – or email – if there is one.

    • Hey, Evan –

      It was a great therapy . . . because of what it caused to happen next . . . LOL . . .

      – Marie

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