Posted by: Marie | August 27, 2011

(584) A space for crying – Part 1 of 3

Post #584
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, February 23, 2011]

It’s here . . . the therapy session about which I’ve been experiencing much turmoil . . .

Edward and I followed our usual routine of greetings and getting settled into our respective places in his office . . .

We made some small talk first . . . Edward mentioned that his three-year-old daughter has been sick and he was sleeping with her in her room last night . . . she woke up in the middle of the night, jumped out of bed and ran yelling through the common part of the house in a big circle. Then, she got back in bed, he put his arm around her to comfort her, and she put her head on his chest and went back to sleep.

He said he figures she had some kind of dream . . . it seemed she was awake when she went running, but she could have been sleep walking. Either way, he figured the best thing was to allow her to do what she needed to do and then be there to comfort her when she returned so she could feel safe.

After he told me that, I just sat there and looked at him while I pondered what he had said. I could envision the scene . . . but the idea of a little girl being allowed to be openly expressive and then to be comforted by her father . . . well, that is an incredibly foreign concept to me. I had to sit there and think on it for several minutes . . . it is difficult for me to imagine what that must be like for her.

I’m glad she has such a gentle father. What a precious gift to her.

Photo by Martin Chen

I wondered why Edward would tell me something like that . . . was he sharing a bit of his personal life so I could feel more emotionally connected with him? Or, is he trying to influence my idea of a normal father-daughter relationship – maybe cause it to shift towards the healthy end of the spectrum?

Maybe it is a bit of both.

Anyway, I came into the session feeling like therapy would be a waste of time. At the same time, I was hoping Edward could show me it was worth my time. I really needed some assurance from him that therapy would work for me.

After our opening pleasantries, Edward asked me to provide more information about my concerns. I decided not to read the script I wrote yesterday because Edward prefers spontaneous communication – and I’m learning to prefer it. Instead, I winged it . . .


Me: Like I said in my email, I can feel in my soul there has been some healing because there are some areas – for example, my sexuality – in which that sense of shame and the need to act out compulsively have lessened tremendously.

However, I still experience significant depression on a daily basis. On most days, I’d prefer to not be alive. On most days, the small pleasures I experiences are far outweighed by the pain of having to get out of bed and face the world. If this is as good as it gets – and I believe it is – then I really don’t want to live any longer than absolutely necessary.

Edward: Do you think, overall, things have improved?

Me: Well, yes, there are more joyful moments during the day – during the busy times. But, most mornings, I don’t want to get out of bed. And, the nighttime and the downtimes are just as bad as they always have been. I still have this very heavy weight around and on me that isn’t getting better.

Edward: Can you tell me more about that?

Me: It’s just that . . . well, I have this picture in my head that, at some point, I’ll feel a bit happier and lighter, which will allow me to eat less ice cream and to maybe do a little bit of physical exercise, which might allow me to feel a tad better, which might encourage me to eat better and take better care of my body, which might allow me to lose a few pounds, which might allow me to fit into my clothes better, which might allow me to feel a bit better about my appearance . . .

I’m not looking for miraculous cures, I’m just hoping for a little bit of progress towards feeling better – towards feeling lighter and more joyful. It’s frustrating to me to not feel better after putting this much time and effort into healing.

Edward: It doesn’t surprise me that you still feel this heavy weight of depression. When you were a child, you had your feelings literally beat out of you. If you dared to express anger, or disagreement, or sadness, you were beaten. Your only option was to suffer in silence.

When a child is not given the opportunity to feel and express strong emotion, the child moves directly into a state of despair. The anger and the rage and the sadness are pushed down and are replaced with despair.

So, now, anytime emotion starts to rise up in you, you do what you were taught to do – you deny your emotions and instead move into a state of despair. You’ve been doing that all your life. It’s the only way you know how to respond to your own emotion. So, it is not surprising to me that despair is a consistent state of being for you.

(I didn’t respond, I just listened and processed what he said . . . it rang true for me – I do often have a sense that I won’t survive if I dare acknowledge and express emotion – that I’ll die – more specifically, that I’ll be killed, at least on a soul level. After a moment or two of quiet thoughtfulness, I continued on a different tangent . . . )

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. I think what Edward said was right too. It looks to be shaping up to be an interesting session!

    • Hey, Evan –

      It does make sense . . . I’d just never thought about it before!

      – Marie

  2. That description of a cause of despair seems so true to me….excellent to learn from others’ therapists.

    Do you find yourself just the tiniest bit jealous of Edward’s children? I find I am with my T’s, from what I know about them, though he never does talk about them. I just think they’ll have so much better chances in life than I had, because they had loving parenting. I’m glad for them, and also sad for myself.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      I do sometimes have pangs of something when I hear about a daughter who has such an incredible relationship with her father . . . I’m not sure it is jelously . . . I think sadness, more than anything, about not having that experience myself.

      Edwards explanation about despair really was a lightbulb moment for me. It gave me space to breath.

      – Marie

  3. I’ll be very interested to hear about the rest of this session. Edward’s explanation about despair is spot on, and very well-explained. One of the hardest things for me in my journey toward more emotional integration has been exactly what you describe — that sense that feeling will kill me. Like literally, kill me, or I’ll never snap out of it, or both (though I suppose if it did kill me, I would have snapped out of it in rather an extreme way).

    I think what Edward’s explanation does so well is show *why* we are so confused about this. Despair actually *doesn’t* ever go away. So we get confused, because the despair, which is pretty permanent, is the result of not feeling the emotions that we are afraid will be permanent if we feel them, because our experience is of the permanence of despair, and we don’t understand that the hard emotions, themselves, won’t be permanent in the same way. I can’t tell you how many times, in the incredibly hard work of “teaching” myself to feel, I’ve actually said aloud, “Well, that didn’t kill me.” I’m still kind of surprised.

    • Hey, David –

      I hadn’t ever heard about despair being a more permanent state than other emotions . . . but, that makes a bunch of sense to me.

      I think it will be helpful to me to have in mind that the tough emotions are temporary . . . thank you for sharing that!

      – Marie

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