Posted by: Marie | October 25, 2011

(609) Hitting back – Part 5 of 5

Post #609
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Me: I feel the strongest emotion in my diaphragm.

Edward: Is it also in your arms or legs?

Me: No . . . I don’t have any arms or legs right now . . . or a head . . . I just have the trunk of my body right now.

(This realization surprised me – on most days, I usually have a head and not a trunk. Maybe when I only have a head, I’m detached from emotion. Maybe I store my emotions in my trunk.)

Edward: What emotion are you feeling the strongest?

Me: Terror is still with me, but I am starting to feel some anger at the fact I feel terror – I’m angry that my dad’s behavior of 30 years ago still affects me this strongly now.

Edward: Is it okay if we focus on the anger you’re feeling?

Photo by Martin Chen

Me: Yeah.

Edward: Okay . . . so, allow yourself to really feel your anger . . . take a moment to observe its shape, its color . . . allow yourself to sit with it . . .

(After a few minutes) I’d like to place a racquet on the pillow in front of you. Would that be okay?

Me: Yes.

(He apparently leaned over and placed the racquet on the pillow, but I didn’t hear him moving around – I was too busy fighting an internal battle to stay present with the exercise.)

Edward: Whenever you feel ready, I’d like you to reach out with one of your hands, slip your hand through the safety strap and place your hand around the handle of the racquet.

(I opened my eyes enough to find the racquet – it was a racquetball racquet. I did as he asked me to do. I didn’t yet lift the racquet off the pillow – I allowed its weight to remain on the pillow.)

Edward: Imagine all of that anger moving from your diaphragm, into your right arm. Feel the heat of that anger as it fills up your arm – feel your arm muscles pulling strength and energy from that anger – feel your arm growing in size and power . . .

Whenever you are ready to do so, I’d like you to lift the racquet into the air and take a whack at the pillow in front of you. It might be a soft whack, it might be a hard whack . . . it might even be several whacks. Do whatever you feel the need to do.

(I really wanted to follow his direction, but my muscles were frozen. I could not lift my arm or the racquet off the pillow. I tried, but I couldn’t – I was again paralyzed with terror. I started “hearing” the belt flying through the air again . . . I found myself tensing up for the blow. I could hear my dad’s voice growling, “Don’t you dare defy me . . . you will do as I told you to do . . . you will do it right now and you will not speak back to me, not one word . . . “)

Me: I can’t do it . . . I can’t move my arm. I’m paralyzed.

Edward: Okay . . . you don’t have to, it’s okay. Do you think you can use your voice instead? Can you use words to describe what you are experiencing?

Me: (Hyperventilating, talking in gasps) I keep hearing the belt whooshing . . . I think I’m going to get hit because I’m being defiant . . .

Edward: Are there any words you would say to your dad right now, in your own defense?

Me: (Whispering) Shut up, shut up, shut up . . . just shut the fuck up.

Edward: Good! Good!

Are you saying those words to your dad?

Me: Yes.

Edward: Can you say them louder?

(I was hyperventilating again . . . having trouble catching my breath . . . reminding myself that I am choosing to do whatever needs to be done despite the fear . . . that’s what I want to do, anyway . . . but, the fear is so powerful . . . )

Me: No, I can’t say it louder. I feel like I’m going to die.

Edward: Would it help if I said the words loudly for you? I could demonstrate anger on your behalf with my voice . . . ??

Me: No . . . the idea of you being vocally violent feels VERY unsafe to me. I can’t imagine being in the room with you if you did that.

Edward: Okay, I won’t do that, then. It is important that you feel safe. Would it be helpful to you if I came over there and sat next to you, if I provided that kind of support to you?

(The idea of having Edward that close to me – of feeling his powerful energy so close to my body – was overwhelming – not frightening, just overwhelming. Suddenly, I became overwhelmed with the process of considering all these possibilities, of trying to find my way through all of this. I started feeling panicked.)

Me: No . . . no . . . no . . . I can’t . . . I think I’m done for today. This is all I can do right now. I want to stop.

Edward: Okay . . . we’ll stop right now. We are done for today.

(I slowly started moving back into the present space and time . . . I sat silent for a few minutes. Then . . . )

Me: This is the part of my dad I hate.

Edward: Well put! That is a great way to say that!

You did some amazing work today, Marie – absolutely amazing! Look how far you have come! Just a few months ago, there is no way you would have been able to sit on the floor and take a few steps towards standing up for yourself with your dad. Your progress is awesome!

(Pause) Can you give yourself credit for doing so well today?

Me: Yeah . . . actually, I’m in awe . . .

Edward: In awe of what?

Me: In awe of this . . . in awe of us!


As I was packing, I asked Edward to help me fold the blanket – I figured it was a good opportunity to practice asking for help. Then, we talked about schedule . . . I have one more session scheduled for the school year, then I’ll need to schedule more. I asked if it would be okay for us to meet every two weeks during the summer (we normally meet every three weeks). He said that would be fine, so we set up the summer schedule that way.

On my way out, I light-heartedly told him I wouldn’t be hugging him today because I wanted to practice withholding physical touch. He congratulated me for doing so.

And that was that.


  1. I agree with Edward. Amazing work, well done!

    • Thank you for the encouraging words, Evan!

  2. I just reached your blog from another (cannot remember which one now).

    This post really got to me, I could feel what you were saying and it reminded me of some work that I need to do.

    You did amazing work here.

    I’m off to check your blog out more.

    • Hi, Amanada –

      I think many of our experiences are common . . . I guess that comes from the fact we are all people!

      I appreciate your checking out my blog and your encouraging words!

      – Marie

  3. hi marie,
    just wanted to let you know i changed the name and URL of my blog, from marmite on toast to one brave duck. the new URL is Just so you can update your blogroll. Looking forward to your updates. Catherine

    • Got it, Catherine! I’ve updated my blogroll!

      Thank you for the encouraging words!

      – Marie

  4. Just checking in…it’s been a while since you’ve updated, and you were on my mind today. I’m interested to see where this remarkable breakthrough took you next. Love to you–

    • Thank you so much, David, for checking in . . . I’ve been buried with all the holiday recitals and such . . . but, I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel . . . and, I just submitted a post to be published this afternoon . . .

      No promises on how often I’ll publish, but I’ll do it as I can! I miss hanging out in the blogosphere!

      It sounds like your life has been adventuresome!

      – Marie

  5. Hi Marie – That was an amazing session….hope the after effects weren’t too tough. That can sometimes be the most difficult part of therapy.

    Thinking of you and hope you keep posting.

    • Ain’t that the truth, Ellen! I’ve learned to set aside several hours after each session to process and gather my wits before attempting to teach. I’m not such an effective teacher when I’m one hiccup away from bursting into tears . . .

      I will keep posting . . . just no promises how faithfully . . . I miss the community . . . thanks for checking in!

      – Marie

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