Posted by: Marie | September 28, 2010

(410) Internal battlefield

Post #410
[Email to my therapist written on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 – 2pm]

Hey, Edward –

I wanted to provide a status report (that’s what I call them) in preparation for next week’s session. Again, I would appreciate you letting me know you received this email; but, beyond that, I don’t need a response before the next session.

For the sake of process, the above paragraph is standard issue for any status report unless I specifically state otherwise . . . I’ll assume you know “the drill” and don’t need me to tell you again in future emails, LOL.

I’d like to give you feedback on our first session . . . mostly that I am very, very pleased with how it unfolded.

There are many things you did that are helping me feel welcome, “seen” and “heard”:

– made a point of recalling bits of my biographical information

– kept track of the questions I had asked and if you had answered them yet (you kept better track than I kept)

– assured me you do create notes at the end of the session

– shared little tidbits about you and your life

So . . . thank you, thank you, thank you! Those gestures are much appreciated and they mean a lot to me.

In another direction . . . I was thrown a loop when you dove right into the very tender areas of my history. I was not expecting that in the first session.

However, I felt relief when you did so. Those areas have been festering for so long and I am so ready to clean them out. Those areas really hurt and it is past time to work on healing them.

Lonely by Martin Chen

For the past two years, I worked so very hard to get the other two therapists to go there with me. Once in a blue moon, I was able to set the pain in the middle of their path so they couldn’t help but bump into it and talk about it with me. But, for the most part, they went everywhere but there.

I’m glad you are approaching those issues with direct questions. It lets me know it is okay for me to go there with you.

Have you ever been so exhausted that, when you do finally get to the time and place you can collapse and sleep, the sense of relief is almost overwhelming? That is what I’m feeling right now as I think about what is possible in our sessions. I’ve been holding it all in for so long . . . it is awesome to have someplace I can start letting it out.

So, thank you.

And . . . onto yet another direction . . .

Concerning my inability, at the very end of the session, to tell you about the “movies in my head” . . .

I was hesitant to tell you what I am going to tell you. I was afraid you might pull a Mark-ism and take it as a personal attack. I thought it might be safer to just not tell you.

Then, I realized I would be dragging my history with Mark into our relationship if I withheld information because of fear.

So, I’m choosing to tell you. I do believe you will take what I say as I intend it . . . based upon the little I know about you, I think you will handle it just fine. So . . . here it goes . . .

At the end of our session, I told you that rape, pain and violence are associated with arousal for me. It has always been that way for me since before I even understood sex.

For as long as I can remember, I have used violent porn as a tool of masturbation. When I was younger, I used romance novels that contained rape scenarios. As I got older, I gained some access to movies. As you can imagine, the internet has opened up all kinds of possibilities for access to violent pornography in more recent years.

I have even used other people’s stories for masturbation – I’m talking about stories being told as a step towards healing . . . I’m talking about taking someone’s confession . . . like the confession I’m giving to you now . . . told as a painful purge . . . and using it for masturbation.

It is difficult for me to admit because it goes against my basic nature.

So . . . I understand, first hand, how good people can be driven to use other’s painful stories to momentarily quiet their own anxiety and pain through sexual gratification.

This topic, this area, is by far the most shameful and most painful part of my story. I have never told anyone the details; I’ve only talked about in general terms. It feels like I will surely die of shame if and when I talk about it in detail with another human.

Anyway . . . back to our session . . .

As I was in the midst of telling you about the sexual abuse, the thought crossed my mind that you were moving so quickly into the sexual topics because it was a sexual turn-on for you – in other words, you might be using my story for your own sexual gratification – to deal with your own anxiety/pain.

I immediately “poked a finger” into your energy to test your intention – I could feel no such thing was happening. I could feel your motives were pure.

So, I was already fighting this internal battle – my logical mind saying all was okay, my primal reactions telling me I was in a vulnerable position . . . .

Then, you asked about the “movies in my mind” – and, while I was struggling for words, you scooted forward in your chair. It was a visual cue to me that you were inappropriately interested in what I was about to say . . . the primal side of me won the argument and, for a moment, I believed you were becoming aroused.

I froze up.

A moment later, I was able to talk myself into again believing your motives are pure and I was able to say a few things more to you. But, there was no way I could go into the real story at that time – I was too fearful.

For what it is worth, I experienced this very same fear with Dr. Barb and with Mark the first few times we talked about sexual stuff. In both cases, it passed within a session or two. So, I logically know it is about me, and my history, and not about you.

I also know the fear would have come up even if we had delayed talking about sexual stuff for a few sessions – because Dr. Barb and Mark both waited a few sessions . . . it didn’t make a difference.

I don’t want you to change anything you are doing – I mean, I don’t want you to back off of the very tender areas. I need to “go there” – sooner rather than later.

I just need for you to be aware of the internal battles I’m fighting.

I hope this makes sense.

Thank you . . .

– Marie


  1. Hi Marie, shame is such a difficult issue for the abuse survivor. I do feel that Edward is a good choice for someone to work on it with. He does sound like someone who is receptive, non-judgemental and able to maintain boundaries.

    • Hey, Evan –

      What you are saying about shame is true . . . even when I logically know I have no reason to be ashamed, I feel deeply ashamed. It is such a powerful emotion.

      Yes, Edward is most certainly an awesome therapist!

      – Marie

  2. Courageous of you to talk about it in therapy and write about it here in a semi-public forum.

    Hats off to you.

    • Thank you, Aaron . . . one of the reasons I started this blog is because I felt a strong need to unload the shame by telling my story . . . even the really ugly parts. I also wanted those who feel alone in their shame to know they aren’t the only one. I’ve had a number of people say they thought they were the only one until they read my blog . . . that makes me feel good!

      – Marie

  3. I have no doubt that Edward responded to this information with the deep respect and gratitude that any truly good therapist would feel upon receiving such transparent honesty from a client — while shameful things are hard to discuss in therapy, for most clients it’s almost impossible to articulate these complex issues of transference and projection.

    It’s interesting, too, how therapists “learn” clients’ body language needs … I had to tell my therapist to never make any type of movement toward me and never try to touch me, even though she was an excellent therapist and I trusted her. Even a change in facial expression would sometimes shut down my ability to communicate with her, if I sensed that she was “too interested.” And this wasn’t content anywhere near as personal and painful as yours … but something in me deeply resented giving her anything she “wanted,” because I felt exploited — which I mention only to say that what you experienced with Edward is, I think, very common … and not always talked about, though it should be.

    • Hey, David –

      I guess I got good at figuring it out and explaining it with Mark . . . that experience was good for something, at least, LOL!

      I hear what you are saying about the body language — I am constantly watching for clues to know where I stand with someone. And, I’m learning that the more emotionally connected I feel with someone, the more weight every little body movement, facial expression and word carries for me. I guess I feel I have more to lose.

      Thanks for chiming in!

      – Marie

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