Posted by: Marie | December 27, 2010

(474) I can only imagine

Post #474
[Email written on July 21, 2010, to my therapist in preparation for an upcoming session]

Hi, Edward –

First off . . . thank you for looking at my photos during this last session. I don’t know why it was important for me to share those with you, but it was important and I appreciate your undivided attention and authentic interest.

And, looking forward . . .

I keep feeling like I want to do some “remembering” while curled up under my blanket. I have long suspected I would have access to some important, buried memories and emotions if I could go “there” while curled up under the blanket and while I had a therapist assisting me with the remembering. I have wanted to use the blanket in that way (in a structured exercise) for a long time.

Photo by Martin Chen

However, I have never felt comfortable asking for that from my therapists. I have always been afraid they would frown on it as being too “childish”. I tested the waters with Mark by saying I had the blanket with me in case I felt unsafe and needed to take it into a corner and hide under it – somehow, that seemed less weird because it would be reactive (“couldn’t help myself”) rather than proactive (planning in advance to behave like a child).

He responded by saying he had strategically placed items (end tables, plants, etc.) to block all potential hiding spots to keep people from climbing into corners. That made it clear to me that dramatic “childish” behavior was not acceptable – however, he said it would be okay for me to wrap up in the blanket on the couch. I don’t think he would have been okay with me “hiding” under the blanket, I think he would have only allowed me to wrap up as if I were cold. I think he would have required that my head stay out from under the blanket.

I have carried that dang blanket with me to many, many sessions with Mark in the hope we would somehow randomly fall into doing something that would allow me to use the blanket to go back in time without me specifically having to ask to do it. It never happened . . . I never felt safe enough to get the blanket out of the bag. One time, before a session, I got brave enough to unfold it and put it in the bag all crumpled up so it would be easier to get to it (I could quickly grab it and wrap up in it in a spontaneous, reactive way). But, it didn’t make it out of my bag that day, either.

I tested the waters with you by saying I had considered hiding in the corner. You can imagine my surprise when you invited me to go into the corner. That let me know “childish” behavior would likely be okay with you. And, in this last session, you seemed open to the idea of me curling up under the blanket . . . reactively or proactively. This is giving me hope I may actually get to try this exercise . . . finally.

I think I’m ready to try it . . . I’ll have to just see where I’m at with it when the time comes. I’d like to consider the possibility in this next session. I’d like to hear from you if you think it would be a worthwhile exercise and if you have any concerns about it.

When I imagine how it might go, I see myself curled up, lying on my side, wrapped in the blanket . . . I think I would be on the couch, maybe on the floor. When I was a kid, I always kept my head under the blankets . . . I slept that way, even in the summer. I always made sure all the edges were tucked in . . . I couldn’t have any gaps left open for the bad stuff to sneak in through.

As a kid, if I needed to “disappear” during the daytime, I would use the quilt my grandmother made me because I wasn’t allowed to mess up the bed (it got made every morning). The quilt sat folded on top of the covers so I could use it and then fold it and put it back in place and no one would know. The quilt had a flannel backing, which is why I still like flannel sheets (and why my present day “blanket” is actually a flannel sheet.) I actually still have the quilt . . . maybe I’ll go dig it out of storage . . . it’s not big enough to cover me now, but it might be nice to have it nearby.

I get the sense that, when I did this as a kid, I was waiting for things to be okay, waiting out the storm, waiting to be old enough and big enough to stand up for myself – or maybe to leave and take care of myself – I’m not sure. Maybe I was waiting for my dad to hold me tight and tell me I was safe. I think I was waiting for someone to come and tell me it was okay to come out, waiting for someone to assure me it was okay to use my voice.

In my imagining what it would be like to do this exercise in the current time, I see myself drifting back into being a little girl. I see myself allowing myself to use the voice, the language, the posture, the gestures and the logic of a little girl. When I imagine what that might be like, it seems I likely wouldn’t have access to my voice during the exercise. Maybe I would, but it doesn’t seem to be the case when I imagine it. Maybe I would be able to use my voice if you assured me it is okay for me to use my voice.

I don’t know if I would be able to read the letters to my parents while under the blanket, while in that state . . . maybe you could read a sentence or two to me and ask me to talk about it . . . I’m not sure what would work. I don’t know what might happen.

The scary parts for me are that I might look foolish . . . an adult behaving like a child. When I look at the letters to my parents, I find myself wanting to use a little girl voice – and that feels silly to me. But, I’m learning that you might be okay with that, that you might see it as a healing step rather than an overly dramatic request for attention. I think I can get past the feeling foolish part.

I find myself worrying that, while under the blanket, I wouldn’t be able to watch for everything that might happen . . . all the dangers, all the risks that might suddenly come at me. I’m thinking that, if you could assure me you have that covered – that you are watching out for boogie men on my behalf, I could let go of that responsibility for a while and hand it over to you.

I know it sounds silly . . . I logically know there is no boogie man in your office . . . but it just seems that I need to officially hand off that duty to you and I need for you to officially accept that responsibility and for you to actually watch out for the boogie men who might come . . . I don’t know why, I just need that. Then, I could stop watching what was going on around me and focus on what was going on with myself under the blanket.

And, finally, I am concerned that I might go so far into “that place” that I might have trouble coming back out. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to talk. But, as you have pointed out a number of times before, I believe I would be able to listen. I believe you could help me communicate and/or to come back, if I need help.

I hope this makes sense . . . and that it isn’t too weird. (Yeah, this sounds so weird to me and I feel weird about sending this to you. Oh, well.)

Thank you . . .

– Marie


Responses

  1. I can’t wait to hear what happened with this exercise, as I’m 100% sure that Edward was delighted that you’d hit upon your own protocol for regressive therapy, which is one of the most powerful things someone with childhood trauma can do in a safe therapeutic context.

    I feel kind of bad for Mark’s other clients … how judgmental and repressive, to not allow people’s full selves to inhabit the therapy relationship! It would be so much better for him to openly admit this is a skill he doesn’t have, and refer clients on who have that need, rather than block his clients from allowing their full spectrum of self in the room.

    • Ah! So it is called “regressive therapy”!?!?!? I learn something new everyday!

      I guess there is something to be said about listening to your instinct when it comes to figuring out what you need to do in order to heal . . . I didn’t know this exercise fit into any sort of industry-recognized protocol, I just knew my instinct was telling me I needed to do it.

      And, there is certainly something to be said about highly qualified therapists like Edward . . . I’m so glad I finally found him!

      I, too, feel bad for Mark’s other clients . . . but, I guess they each have to figure it out for themselves what they need and if Mark can provide it.

      This letter was very difficult for me to write and send . . . I felt like I would surely die if I ever let anyone know I felt the need to do something like this . . . I felt such shame in even giving any indication I wanted this. So, as you can imagine, actually doing it seemed impossibly scary to me.

      Stay tuned for the rest of the story, LOL . . .

      – Marie

  2. Oh yes indeed — hiding under a blanket to give voice to traumatized younger parts is a highly-regarded protocol for depth and trauma therapy. It requires an incredible amount of vulnerability and commitment from the client to do this type of work. It was suggested to me more than once, and my response was always, “No way in hell.” I continue to be amazed by your guts and your wisdom about your own path.

    • Thank you, David . . . I really appreciate your support and kind words . . . they mean a lot to me!

      – Marie

  3. Marie, You know how much I respect and value the contributions of this blog and the work you’re doing. Have you looked at all into e-publishing on kindle (Amazon) and Barnes and Noble (pubit)…you can self-publish electronically at no cost. It’s very easy to do, the royalty system is great. I think you should make a book of your journals and put it out there as a book. I feel strongly that there is an audience from this and–gasp–you might even make some money from your hard work!

    • Hey, Aaron –

      That is a great idea — and one I have considered.

      In time, I may do something like that. I believe that, at some point, this blog will have a natural conclusion, or at least a natural pause or turn in focus, and at that point, I may take what I have created and publish an abridged version in the manner you have mentioned. However, my gut says putting that together right now is not the best use of my current time and energy. But, someday . . . someday . . . maybe . . .

      Thanks for sharing your creative thoughts with me!

      – Marie

      • P.S. By the way . . . I wrote a book 20 years ago (paperback) and made a few bucks from its publication (via an established publisher). And, a few years ago, I published a 9,600 page, 79 volume technical reference e-book that I attempted to market myself without success. So, I know firsthand what level of effort is required to get a book published and then to sell it . . . . it’s not something I care to add to my current workload right now. But . . . maybe someday, LOL!

        • Hey Marie,

          It’s true that it would require some time and effort, although nowadays most of it would be “cyber effort” but still…point taken.

  4. Hi Marie, I hope the session went well. These days the writing of the book is easy – which means that the effort goes into the promotion.

    I do know what you mean about this blog reaching some kind of point of pause or change.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Maybe it is the perfectionist in me, but I find the writing to be a significant challenge. However, it is true . . . the promotion is the even bigger challenge. Either way, I don’t think I can accomplish either in the my spare 20 minutes a week, LOL!

      – Marie


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