Posted by: Marie | August 29, 2011

(586) A space for crying – Part 3 of 3

Post #586
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, February 23, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]

—————-

Edward: Your dad’s behavior had a tremendous impact on you . . . and on how you perceive men.

(I nodded in agreement.)

Edward: Does it surprise you that I think we will need to address that wounding in order to heal your perception of men?

Me: No, it doesn’t surprise me . . . I agree with you.

Edward: Would you be willing to tell your dad how his behavior affected you?

(I thought for a moment, then I grinned one of those little grins one offers up as proof the tears have stopped and stoicism is not far behind – and I tried to cover up the almost-truth of my words with sarcasm . . . )

Photo by Martin Chen

Me: Couldn’t we just pretend he didn’t exist – that all the crap associated with my memories of him never happened . . . ??

Edward: (Laughing a bit) It would be nice if we could make that stick . . . but it doesn’t work that way, I’m sorry to say.

Me: It would be nice to treat it like I treat nightmares . . . I am relieved to be able to tell myself, once I wake up, that it never happened . . . it was all a dream and I don’t really have to deal with the aftermath of what happened in the dream.

Edward: It would be nice if it were that easy . . .

Me: Well, anyway . . . I keep thinking to myself that it would be a waste of time to tell him how his behavior affected me because he wouldn’t be interested in what I have to say, anyway.

Edward: I know the real version of him would not have been interested in hearing what you have to say about it, but we can create a fantasy version of your dad who will listen. The advantage of working with pretend versions of people is that we can ask them to do things that we need for them to do that they would not be willing to do in real life . . .

Would you be willing to tell your dad how you have been affected – assuming we create a context in which he would be willing to listen?

(I couldn’t respond right away because I became very emotional and tears started flowing. The emotion was so strong – the memories of how terrorized I had been by his bullying were so strong – that, after a few minutes of struggling, I discovered I had disassociated and was disconnectedly staring at the books lined up on the bottom shelf of his bookshelf. I wondered how long I had been gone.)

Edward: I can see that you have gone away to somewhere else . . . are you able to follow my voice back into the room?

(I pulled myself back into the room – struggled to reconnect with Edward and to keep my eyes open – slowly I started to return. I nodded a bit to show I was hearing him and was working to come back into the room. I still couldn’t speak – mainly because I didn’t know what to say. Finally, I was able to speak . . . )

Me: I don’t think I can talk to my dad. It feels too impossible.

Edward: And that is okay . . .

Me: I’m sorry . . . I just can’t do that . . . (crying again)

Edward: That is okay . . . you made tremendous progress today with it by just recognizing and allowing yourself to feel the terror that is brought up by the thought of speaking your truth to him.

(He waited patiently as I pulled myself more into the room . . . )

Edward: One very important thing we learned today is the extent to which you were terrorized by your dad’s behavior. You are still so terrorized by what happened to you as a child that you are finding it nearly impossible to tell even a fantasy version of your long-deceased dad about it. That speaks volumes about how bad it really was for you, as a child.

I wasn’t aware of the extent of your terror . . . I’m not sure that you were aware, either . . .

(I shook my head “no”)

Edward: I can now see that we need to go back and heal that part of your history . . . and I can see that we are going to need to take baby steps in the healing process. We are dealing with some heavy-duty trauma here, and it is appropriate for us to allow plenty of time and space for the healing of that trauma.

—————-

Once again, we sat in silence as I sobbed and he watched patiently. It actually felt validating and healing for me to have someone create space for me to cry. For the first time in my life, I had the sense it was perfectly okay for me to feel and express pain – and that it was perfectly okay to not hurry through it.

After several minutes, Edward spoke softly and gently . . .

—————-

Edward: A huge part of your healing is predicated on your ability to face your dad and speak your truth to him . . . the truth about how his behavior affected you . . . about what happened to you and how you felt about what was happening to you. It is vital that you claim the feelings and experiences of your childhood . . . and it is vital that you claim the feelings that you have about it now, as an adult . . . and that you speak about it out loud, using your adult voice.

Me: But I have no idea how to go about doing that. I have no idea what I would say . . .

Edward: That’s okay . . . I’ll lead . . . it’s my job to know how to lead you through that process. You aren’t supposed to know how to do it.

—————-

And, that was pretty much the end of the session. It was a session in which fewer-than-normal words were spoken . . . but the moments in which there were no words spoken were incredibly powerful.


Responses

  1. This more like a letter and a comment as if it were the now, although I know there’s a time lapse. It’s also a way for me to thank you. I’d like to share with you my thoughts in the way you share with your readers.

    Edward, I think, once again hit the nail on the head. You absolutely are dealing with the effects of heavy-duty trauma. I was thinking that you as a baby, toddler, pre-adolescent, and adolescent were forced to endure gut-wrenching emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. You survived and it’s really a huge burden to bare. Do not fault yourself for the despair or state you were or are in. You deserved love, nothing but love, from the beginning. May you experience loving-kindness from here on out Marie.

    So, remember when I mentioned the day after I discovered your blog, that I cried on and off feeling helpless a midst a gamut of unpleasant emotions (sadness, anger, feeling broken, hopeless and alone)? On that day, and days since, I could not help but but cry for child who was Marie. And to make a little bit more sense of this I should mention something. Three or four weeks ago my therapist said to me (in response to my despondency over having continually dished out a now undeniable anger in my recent days), “you are angry about the illusion your mother perpetuates that you’re supposed to be functioning well, in spite of it all.You are acknowledging the impact of your mother’s emotional neglect.” Now, that was nearly 4 weeks ago and it’s actually just now sinking in. She says I am in grief. I am. And although I had accepted and I thought I’d came to terms with it all years ago, it’s also really just now that this very painful layer of emotions which should have been allowed to the surface decades ago, is arising and I’m allowing that and suppressing them. To, as you say ‘squash’ my anger, my pain, and my sadness is to perpetuate their lie and maltreatment of me. They are the stuff, so to speak, of acknowledgment. And once I feel them, in their entirety for now, they shall pass having arisen out of me and I will be lighter for the load (sometimes I thing this must be, at least in part, what enlightenment refers to).

    It may have been three years ago when i first began to see with clarity the reality of my (childhood) existence and not some severely skewed perception of that reality but it wasn’t until now I more fully comprehend emotional neglect’s aftereffects and can appreciate a deeply painful awareness of the damage done. After seeing the 3D IMAX movie, Born to be Wild (which I recommend) I was sitting there furious and sad while watching and thinking, “See! They know (as in all the folks featured in the documentary) that even an elephant calf and baby orangutan fail to thrive and die without nurture, love, comfort, warmth, attention. And she expects a child to thrive? F’ing unbelievable!”

    Suffice to say I now know why I’ve been so deeply riveted by your story. Obviously part of it reflects me. (Let me just say here, and I’m sorry if you disagree, but I can’t help but think there’s no way in hell you would’ve have ended up alone with Mr. “X” if your parents hadn’t neglected and abused you but rather protected your safety as parents should. I’m angry. and can’t help but advocate on your behalf that I think they were careless and guilty of reckless abandonment when they starved you of true love, leaving you to fend for yourself before, during, and after the sexual abuse from “X”. No way in hell (had they given you a loving home) would you have remotely showed up on his radar. I absolutely don’t want to upset you with that opinion. For now, I just choose to be upset for you. At least in my experience, a child’s emotional neglect leaves such a devastating hole in our heart that as innocents we’re propelled helpless and ineptly informed left to seek out attention and a shady man’s attention will do. I think kids raised like that become sitting ducks for men with a penchant for children, far to easy to mislead and be tricked into thinking they care or really like us enough to want hang out because inside we to our crave even the most a miserly peice of attention. Were I treated with love by my parents no way would I’d have been so f’ing easily lured to the mend who attempted to abuse me when I was between 6-10.

    I suppose I feel the need to tell you all this, out of gratitude, This past Saturday night I sobbed and sobbed (sitting much like when I did as a 5 or 6 year old on the floor my back to the bed) heart-broken. Heart-broken for me back then who, although she knows the truth now, inside is still in part that innocent little girl. A tiny child who had never been given the chance, a chance all children deserve, who for some mind-boggling reason was expected to have herself and her life well put-together. Never mind that from infancy on she never lovingly was held or warmly embraced, or comforted,and never shown much interest at all. Or that she was left to suffer cold invalidation again and again, a responsive-less example who offered lacked of the gift that children ought to be heard and acknowledged. to feel overwhelmed by self-loathing after having been lied to, made to feel worthless, ridiculed, begrudgingly fed and brought along, usually ignored, and lashed out at harshly and with disdain, forced to face a devastating wrath if she spoke up for what was right, and never permitted to ask for help, not even after she needed it most. After her sexual assault. Unaware to carry on in her adolescence and adulthood in self-destructive behavior because it was driven by such painful powerful (and unconscious) forces. I could go on but I won’t. So I cried for myself as an newborn, a baby, 1 year old, 2 year old, 3 year old, 4 year old, and so on…

    Thank you for that Marie. it helped to hear your story and journey thus far. May you have courage for the journey. Again, I agree whole-heartily with Edward, please give yourself time. You will heal, in time.

    Carrie

    • Carrie,
      Not sure what Marie will think, but your “letter” has moved me deeply. Here’s to your continuing recovery, and kudos for you that you’re standing up and speaking the truth about what happened to you.

    • Hi, Carrie –

      Like Aaron, I also am moved and encouraged by your story. I really appreciate that you took the time to post it here for us to read — I think that anytime someone can share his or her experiences, it allows us to know we aren’t “the only one”.

      I am proud of the work you have done and that you are willing to give yourself the time and space to grieve as you need to . . . my heart hurts for you during the grieving, but I know the experience afterwards will be better for it.

      Thank you for all the well wishes . . . and I wish only the best and brightest for you . . .

      I’ll see you around!

      – Marie

  2. That will be a big thing – voicing those feelings. Hoping you have made some progress with doing this.

    • Hey, Evan –

      I’ve made some progress . . . but, wow . . . it’s a tough row to hoe . . .

      Thank you for the well wishes!

      – Marie


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