Posted by: Marie | October 13, 2011

(601) Brave new frontiers – Part 3 of 3

Post #601
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, April 6, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Edward: Are you trying to be superwoman?

Me: (Getting angry) I don’t think I’m trying to be a superwoman! I just want to eat a salad and piece of chicken for super some evening rather than an entire pint of B&J ice cream . . .

I’m not trying to have a perfect eating regimen, I’m not trying to have some incredible workout program, I’m not trying to lose 75 pounds . . . I’m just trying to have the strength to make one healthy choice . . . just one.

Photo by Martin Chen

But, when I’m faced with these daily choices, all I care about is trying to numb the pain. I don’t care about the consequences of the unhealthy choices; I just want the pain to stop. I can’t figure out how to find the strength to make a first better choice that could lead me to making a second better choice. I just want to be able to make one small change – just one. But, I can’t.


The anger and frustration welled up and I buried my face and sobbed. I could feel the need to really turn loose and sob starting to rise up in a big way. I found myself wanting to go into the corner of the room – to my safe place – and allow myself to express the pain – the need to do so was overwhelming.

So, I grabbed my folded blanket out of my bag, hurriedly told Edward I was going to the corner, and walked/ran/crawled/nose-dived into a fetal position on the floor in the corner. I landed so hard that I banged into the end table and caused it to rock a bit. I got my blanket unfolded only one fold, so I just pulled the still-mostly folded blanket on top of me. Then, I let the sobs come . . . audible sobs . .

Edward quietly assured me that I was safe, that I could take as much time as I needed in the corner, that I could ask for help if I needed it . . .

I ended up not staying in the fetal position for long . . . maybe 3-4 minutes. Once the big rush of sobs was over, I was ready to sit up. I sat up but stayed in the corner and said what was on my mind . . .


Me: I’m still struggling with being angry with my dad. I find it hard to be angry with him – it makes more sense to me to be angry at the circumstances and not at him, the person. I honestly believe he was a good man with a big heart and that he did the best he could. I honestly believe he thought he was doing the best thing for me. I believe he acted out of love and concern for me. There was a lot of pain, but there were also a lot of good times.

Edward: Marie, he was not a good man. Any father who will do what he did to you is not a good man.

Me: I have to disagree with you. I knew him well and I know the color of his heart. I think he was doing the best he knew to do, but that he was fighting his own demons. I know he had his own demons, just like I have mine.

Edward: Okay . . . I don’t want to villain-ize him, but I think it is important for you to understand how wrong it was for him to do what he did.

Me: I do understand that – but, if his underlying intent was not malicious, then I can’t label him a bad man.

Edward: Okay.

(We sat silently for a few minutes. Then, I looked at the clock and noticed we were about out of time.)

Me: Are we done for today?

Edward: Are you ready to be done?

Me: Yeah.

Edward: Okay.

(I got up, sat down on the couch and started gathering my stuff)

Edward: Will you do something for me?

Me: Sure . . .

Edward: Within the next few days, will you either send an email or call me and let me know how you are doing? I know our sessions have been hitting you pretty hard and I worry about you. Please don’t make me wait two or three weeks to know how you are doing.

Me: Okay, I can do that!


At the end of each session, when I stand up to leave, Edward always stands up, as well. At that point, I have sufficient space to move sideways to the door, or to step towards him.

I have always moved sideways to the door, making a very deliberate choice to not move into his personal space. It has been very important to me to keep physical space between us – just because I feel safer when I’m not within “grabbing” distance.

We have never touched. Even at our first meeting more than a year ago, he did not extend his hand for a handshake. We have never had physical contact of any kind.

But, today – for whatever reason, I was feeling especially connected with Edward . . . and I was feeling very safe. So, I asked him if it would be okay for me to hug him . . . and he said “yes.”

I moved into a 45-degree-angle hug with my arm around his waist. He put his arm around my shoulders. I was surprised to realize that he is actually several inches taller than me, which allowed me to lean my head against his shoulder and chest.

I stayed with the hug for a good 5-7 seconds – a long hug by my standards – and he didn’t pull away. Being held in that way felt so incredibly good – and the good feeling caused me to start sobbing again.

When my tolerance for close contact started running low, I pulled away, but I was still sobbing – Edward’s safe touch was having a very powerful – and healing – impact on me.

I walked out of his office sobbing . . . I walked all the way through the hall, through the waiting room and out to the street sniffling and trying to not sob . . . and when I got in my car, I bawled.

So . . . that was the session today.


  1. It seems to me that that hug was a huge step.

    • Yes, really huge!!

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