Posted by: Marie | July 27, 2011

(571) Finding comfort in his voice – Part 2 of 4

Post #571
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, January 12, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]

It felt awkward to me to abruptly end the discussion on religion and jump into a discussion about the letter to my dad. But, I couldn’t come up with a graceful segue, so I placed my hand on my copy of the email and simply said . . .

————————————-

Me: And then there is the other stuff . . .

Edward: (Echoing me) And then there is the other stuff . . .

Me: As you know from my email, the other thing I’ve been focusing on lately is what I would really like to say to my dad. I like your idea that my letter to God was really a “safe” letter to my dad.

And . . . recently, I was doing some maintenance on my blog and ran across the script I wrote, and then read to, my former therapist, Mark. As I scanned over that blog post, I realized a lot of what I said to Mark could have easily been written to my dad. I’m guessing it was safer for me to direct those comments at Mark – and he was a great surrogate “dad” because he reminded me so much of my dad in personality, and with the rigidity of his religious beliefs and his tendency to be judgmental.

Photo by Martin Chen

Edward: (Reaching over to his side table) I pulled from your file the notebook you gave me that contains your correspondence with Mark. Your email caused me to think we might be looking at it today.

Me: (Laughing) Yup, that’s what I was planning . . .

Edward: I took the liberty of looking through it and making some notes – that’s why there are sticky notes here and there. However, instead of me telling you what I think about all of this, I would rather start wherever you think it would be best to start – if that’s okay. I can insert my thoughts as we go along, if it seems beneficial to do so.

Me: That works for me!

I think the letter to Mark was more tactful and had more “padding” in it than the letter to God . . . I think the letter to Mark was more logical and the letter to God was more emotional . . . the contrast exists because I was trying to be gentle and to protect Mark’s feelings. I didn’t think I needed to do that for God.

Edward: (Laughing) So, you think God can handle the direct and emotional dialogue?

Me: (Also laughting) Yeah, God doesn’t have an ego to protect!

Edward: So, how would you like to proceed?

Me: (Deep breath) I need a minute to think . . . and to feel where I’d like to start . . .

Edward: Okay! Take as much time as you need. I’ll be right here when you are ready.

Me: (After a few minutes with my eyes closed) I think I’d like to start with the letter to Mark rather than the letter to God because the emotions being expressed in the letter to Mark are not so raw. I think I can reach them easier . . . I’m having some trouble today shifting from the “doing” and the “being busy” of my business world to the thoughtful and emotional place I need to be in order to do this therapeutic work in here. I think starting with the less intense emotions would help with that.

Edward: That sounds like a good plan. Is there a particular place in the letter you’d like to start?

Me: I went through and marked the paragraphs I thought applied . . . I’d like to start with the (counting aloud) one . . two . . three . . four . . five . . six . . seven . . the eighth paragraph . . .

Edward: Okay, I got it . . .

(As soon as I opened my mouth to start reading, strong emotion rolled over me and I struggled to hold back the tears and to keep my voice steady. I took some slow, deep breaths, then I started reading . . . )

“I have tried before to talk to you about some of your behaviors . . .”

(That’s all I got out of my mouth . . . the emotion became overwhelming and I buried my face into my hands and sobbed. Edward sat quietly and waited patiently.)

Me: (In between sobs) I keep remembering how hard I tried to get my dad to listen to me . . . . but, he wouldn’t listen . . . he just wouldn’t. I wanted to explain to him how much his behavior hurt me . . . he wouldn’t give me the space and time to say those words . . . instead, he just shut me down . . . there was no discussion . . . he just squashed anything I might have to say.

Within my experience with Mark, the same thing happened. Mark would just talk louder if he didn’t agree with me. He just squashed anything I might have to say if he didn’t agree. That was retraumatizing for me; it was more of the same of what I experienced as a child with my dad.

————————————-

I couldn’t put into words any more of what I was feeling because there were no more words – just waves of pain. Every time I allowed myself to remember that feeling of being in my room, hearing my dad out in the common part of the house, wishing I could find a way get him to listen to me – get him to understand how much his behavior hurt me – get him to allow me to make some choices for myself – get him to trust my own wisdom about who I am and how I want to show up in the world . . .

But, I could never find the words that would cause him to listen. I could never argue a good enough case in the three words I could strangle out before my voice got shut down with violence – or threats of violence – or threats of disownment – or threats of God’s judgment and wrath – or a reminder that my behavior was causing me to be undesirable – that my deepest desires were causing me to be undesirable.

I kept remembering the sense of keeping the real me hidden in my room and showing up with the family (when I was required to make an appearance) feeling like a cut-out paper doll – only having two dimensions and no real expression. Feeling that the rest of family was real and I was not, that the real me was so disgusting that I had to send a paper delegate capable of passing the inspection of the moment.

I wanted to talk as I sat on the couch. I wanted to tell Edward what was happening, but I had no language and no voice. So, I sat and cried. Every once in a while I would hear his far-away voice telling me that I was already telling my story with the tears – that I was already telling my story by not speaking, more so than I might ever tell it with my words. He kept telling me I was welcome to not speak for as long as I needed to not speak.

I faded away for a while . . . then I heard his voice pulling me back into the room. I reconnected with his voice, then I faded away again . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. Wow, it sounds like a powerful session.

  2. Hey, Evan –

    It was an interesting one, at least . . . we didn’t talk much, it was really more about sitting with raw emotions . . . I’m learning that just sitting with emotion in the presence of another is quite powerful . . .

    – Marie


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