Posted by: Marie | October 16, 2011

(604) Collaborative negotiations

Post #604
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, April 23, 2011]

I sent a status report to Edward today in preparation for our upcoming therapy session:

Hi, Edward –

So . . . there are a few things I’d like to mention in my status report . . .

1) I am curious about something you said in the last session. At the end, when I was sitting up after being in the corner, I stated that I believe my dad was a good man who did the best he could, but that his best wasn’t very good because he was fighting his own demons – nevertheless, I believe he was a good man. You and I then went back and forth about whether he was a good man or a bad man. We ended with you saying you didn’t want to villain-ize him.

In our session this week, I’d like to better understand your reasons for saying he was a bad man. I’m sure you don’t have a stake in whether he was “good” or “bad”, so I’m assuming you see a benefit in my viewing him as “bad”. Maybe it would also help if I knew how you are defining “good” and “bad”.

The reason this has stuck with me is because I have found you to be consistently nonjudgmental and this feels like a strong judgment. It feels inconsistent with who I know you to be. So, I want to better understand what is behind your statements.

2) As I was driving home from our last session, I was feeling really good about hugging you – that was a huge step for me. And, at the same time, I started getting a panicked feeling. It seems I have this fear that once I’ve engaged in some specific type of physical contact, I am obligated to always do so, even when I don’t want to – in other words, I fear being required to be compliant.

I know I am not obligated to hug you at the end of every session just because I did it once. And, for the sake of re-wiring body memory, I will likely refrain from hugging you sometimes – just to help me remember that I have that choice. It will give me a chance to check in with myself to see if I really want a hug, or not. And, of course, you have the option of accepting or declining a hug, as well . . .

3) I have been rolling around in my head what “using my adult voice to stand up for myself” might look like. The conclusion I’ve reached is this: I’ve spent my life trying to be “enough” (as defined by my dad) and trying to hide that fact that I don’t measure up to that standard. For a lifetime, I’ve been paralyzed by the shame of not being “enough”. My focus has been on “who I am not”.

So . . . at this next session, maybe we can look at how I might go about creating my own picture of “who I am” and at how I might go about this business of using my adult voice to stand up for myself.

Happy Easter! I’ll see you Wednesday!

– Marie


Dear Marie,

Thanks for the update. It’s appreciated.

I look forward to our time together, and to attending to (and responding to) you in a caring manner.



Today, the cop’s daughter (cop = James, daughter = Sara) had a piano lesson. Both the mom (Cindy) and the dad were there so we practiced their “Ode to Joy” trio they are preparing for the upcoming studio recital.

James has some musical experience, so he is doing okay with reading the music. But Cindy does not have a musical background and is really struggling to read the music. And, she really has no intentions of learning to play the piano; she is just going along with this for the benefit of her daughter.

Photo by Martin Chen

So, we devised a system for her . . .

I wrote in the letter names of the notes into her part of the music. Then, we put sticky flags on the keyboard with the letter names written on the flags. I gave her a set of flags to use on their home piano and I created a set for her to use on the day of the recital.

It was so funny . . . we all got to laughing at the extremes we adults are going to just to give this little girl a really cool musical experience! I’m glad they have such a great attitude!


[Private journal entry written on Sunday, April 24, 2011]

With this very full schedule, I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’m feeling a strong need to “get things organized” to facilitate doing what I need to do in order to be healthy and productive and to meet all the expectations set upon me by myself and by others.

Today, I deep cleaned my small suite of rooms at the house. I needed to have things organized and clean, and I needed a clear picture in front of me of what I need to do each day.

I have taken on the attitude that I must do whatever I need to do even though I don’t feel like it. I must quit patronizing and coddling myself. I must “just do it”.


[Private journal entry written on Monday, April 25, 2011]

My advanced student told me today that the simpler arrangement of my composition was still too complex for him to get ready for the competition in two weeks. So, tonight, I’m staying up late into the night to create an even simpler arrangement. I don’t know if he is going to pull this off . . . I’ll support him to the best of my ability.

I’m desperate for sleep . . . I have so many things on my plate . . . I’ll hang tough and get it all done . . . just hang in there . . .


I sent an email to my mom today about the two student recitals scheduled for this weekend:

Hey, Mom –

I had a brainstorm . . . on Saturday, we have the family trio performing “Ode to Joy”, and a student’s father will be playing a solo at the end of Saturday’s recital (he plays wonderfully!!)

But, on Sunday, I don’t have anything special scheduled beyond the little kids playing. My one advanced student might be playing that day, but that is not confirmed yet. So, I was wondering if you would be willing to come back on Sunday to play a duet with me on the two pianos . . . we could do a couple of songs out of the hymnal . . not anything fancy, just something fun.

One of us could switch the keyboard to organ or trumpet or something or we could keep it on two pianos. We could practice after the recital on Saturday. I think it would be fun to show the kids how families can create music together — it would be a special treat for the kids. Would you be willing to come to both recitals and to perform on Sunday?

– Marie

I heard back from her . . . she agreed to do it . . . she thinks it would be fun!

How awesome!


  1. It sounds like this was a busy and demanding time for you. Hope you got through it ok

    • Hey, Evan –

      This was only the beginning . . . hold onto your hat, LOL!!

      – Marie

  2. I just think a father who beat and terrorized his child the way he did you cannot be a good person. I’m amazed that you can think that he was. Were you not worth nourishing and cherishing as a child?

    Interesting about the goodbye hug….Sounds nice actually.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      I do understand where you are coming from . . .

      I consider myself to be a good person and I know I’ve made many, many harmful choices . . . harmful to me and harmful to others. I think the vast majority of us, including my dad, are just doing the best we know how to do.

      By the way, the hug was very nice!

      Thanks for sharing your input!

      – Marie

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