Posted by: Marie | December 6, 2011

(610) The short path to despair

Post #610
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, April 28, 2011]

Yesterday’s session was an impact-full one . . .

I’m beginning to see a pattern concerning the acute bouts of hopelessness I often experience during sessions . . . I recognize that the reason I keep suddenly dropping into hopelessness in sessions is because of how I learned to deal with frustration, anger and pain as a kid.

A while back, Edward explained to me that, when a child has a need that requires attention from a caregiver, the child expresses that need with bodily movement and/or verbal sounds. If the need is not met, the child becomes frustrated and/or angry. If the need continues to not be met for a significant period of time, the child falls into despair.

If a child is actually punished for having and expressing that frustration and/or anger, the child learns to short-circuit those emotions and to go directly to despair. Edward believes that is the case with me . . . that I was not allowed frustration and anger so now, when I feel the first stirrings of frustration and/or anger, I bypass those emotions and immediately fall into despair and hopelessness. That explains why I can feel relatively positive about my therapeutic progress and then, a few minutes later, I’m suddenly in a state of hopelessness.

Photo by Martin Chen

By encouraging me to express my feelings, Edward is teaching me to break that cycle. He didn’t tell me this is what he is doing, but I can see it now, looking back.

In another direction . . . in the hours since the session, I find myself repeatedly wishing I could put my head in Edward’s lap . . . like a little kid might when needing comfort. I’m quite sure it would not be okay to do that . . . I mean, that would border on sexual contact since we are both adults and I can’t claim the innocence of childhood. I’m sure it wouldn’t be appropriate.

But, that doesn’t take away from the fact I keep wishing I could do it. If I could, I’d curl up next to him on the floor next to his chair and lean my head against his knee . . . or, if we were both on the floor, I’d curl up in a ball, on my side, with my head on his thigh. I’m sure that’s not okay, but I wish it were. It would be so comforting.

I wonder if there is any chance he would be okay with that?

I sent off an email to him very early this morning . . . I wanted to share my thoughts with him:

Hi, Edward –

I’m lying here in bed, trying to get my head around the pieces of memory I experienced in our session yesterday and in the hours since . . . I think it would help to write it down and share it with you. I don’t need you to do anything except bear witness to it.

In our session yesterday, I was very surprised at how powerful the sense of being paralyzed was for me. I’ve experienced that before, but it was extremely strong as I sat with the racquet in my hand.

I had forgotten the extent to which my dad required total submission and compliance of me. If I didn’t keep my head lowered and my eyes downcast, he saw it as a sign of defiance. If I said a word in my defense, he saw it as a sign of defiance. If I put my hands on my butt to protect that part of my body from the blows, he saw it as a sign of defiance. If I didn’t cry soon enough or loud enough, he saw it as a sign of defiance (because sometimes I did refuse to cry – I didn’t want to give him that satisfaction). If I cried too long afterwards (looking for undeserved sympathy), he saw it as a sign of defiance.

If he perceived any sign of defiance and/or disobedience, he hit me again/more with the belt as a way to “break my will” (his words).

Just in case that was not enough to convince me to do what I was told to do, he told me that not doing what he told me to do (be physically and psychologically submissive) was a sin – the sin of not honoring one’s parents. He told me that if I committed this sin, then a minute later the Second Coming of Christ occurred (before I had a chance to confess my sin and be forgiven), I would go to hell and have to live with the devil and be separated from my family and friends forever and ever. He regularly reminded me that God knows and sees everything, so even though he (dad) didn’t always know the secret sins of my heart, God did – there was no hiding, no escape.

So, the bastard found a way to keep me submissive even when he was not in the house – and it seems he found a way to keep me submissive now that he is dead (because God is not dead).

No wonder I’m terrified to open my eyes and lift my head, or to lift a racquet into the air to express my anger. His programming was very powerful.

I’m having trouble figuring out how he could have justified that behavior – I can’t imagine treating another human being that way, much less my own child. The insidiousness of his behavior is starting to sink in for me.

– Marie

He responded quickly:

Dear Marie,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It’s my pleasure to bear witness, as well as support you in this healing journey.



Okay . . . enough therapy stuff for now . . . I’ve got to get the last minute stuff done in preparation for my two big piano recitals this weekend! Chop chop!!


  1. Hope the recitals went well.

    You have certainly hit some big stuff in your therapy. I hope you and Edward managed to process it.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Slowly and surely . . . we’re getting through it! It is amazing how much time and effort it takes, though!

      Thanks for letting me know you are still keeping an eye on my blog!

      – Marie

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