Posted by: Marie | January 17, 2012

(621) Pushing boundaries – Part 2 of 4

Post #621
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, May 12, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Me: On a different topic . . . we had a family get together last week for Mother’s Day . . . and because my sister was in town from the west coast. My sister and I had some time together, just the two of us, when I picked her up at the airport. We stopped for dinner on the way between the airport and my mom’s house. So, that was nice to have some “sister time” with her.

It seems that she is really trying to have quality conversations with me. I would like for that to happen . . . I just don’t trust that she can handle hearing what is really going on with me, so I limit what I share with her – for example, she knows I’m in therapy . .

And a few years ago, I mentioned once to her that I believe I was molested – I mentioned it to her when the memories first started coming up and I was trying to make sense of them. I was hoping she could validate – or invalidate – some of the memories because she is 16 years older than me and would remember more from that time period.

When I brought it up, she didn’t say anything that would discourage dialogue about it, but she didn’t really seem to believe me, either . . . I have always felt that she thinks my memories are false. I have never talked to her about it again.

But, anyway . . . my brother and his wife were also at the family gathering this week . . . as always, my brother showed no interest in anything I have to say. I have to fight to get a word into the conversation, and when I do, he fidgets and yawns and rubs his eyes like he can’t wait for me to shut up.

I have given up on ever gaining his attention . . . I’m done fighting for it. He is simply someone I am related to that I don’t mind hanging out with during family events. But, I’m no longer willing to put effort into having a strong relationship with him. It hurts to not have a relationship with him, but it hurts more to keep hoping for one and for my hopes to be dashed over and over.

Photo by Martin Chen

Edward: (Putting his hand on his heart) Ouch!

Me: (After a pause) So . . . anyway . . . there is something I want to ask you . . .

Many sessions ago, you mentioned to me that when a child has a need that is not being met, the child first gets sad. If the need is still not met, the child then becomes angry. If the need is still not met, the child then falls into despair.

Edward: Yes, that is true . . .

Me: I also remember you saying that, if the child is not allowed to express sadness and/or anger – maybe he is punished for crying or showing emotion – he bypasses the sadness and anger and goes right to despair. You speculated that is what happened with me as a child . . . that I was punished for expressing sadness or anger – I was not allowed to express those emotions – and therefore I began a pattern of bypassing sadness and anger and directly falling into despair.

Edward: Yes, that sounds accurate to me . . .

Me: While I was sitting on the floor last session, I realized that maybe I’m still doing that . . . still bypassing and going directly to despair because when I start to feel sad or angry, I immediately am overwhelmed with the feeling of hopelessness. I’ve seen this happen several times in sessions. So, I was wondering if you had encouraged me to express anger by beating the pillow with the racquet as a way to learn how to own and express my anger instead of bypassing it.

Edward: Well, that is one great way to explain the purpose of the exercise . . .

Me: But not the purpose you specifically had in mind?

Edward: No . . .

Me: Okay . . . so, what is the purpose you had in mind?

Edward: I heard you say you could feel the anger in your body . . . I thought having a way to move the anger out of your body and then to release it would allow you to feel better on all levels. It might give you some emotional and physical relief.

Me: Okay . . . that makes sense.

At the end of that exercise, when I was struggling so hard to raise my hand and whack the pillow, you offered me support in various forms . . . you asked if it would be helpful if you said gentle encouraging words to me, or if you verbally expressed anger on my behalf . . . you asked if it would be helpful if you sat on the floor behind me so I could feel protected as I expressed my anger . . .

I appreciate all the options you were giving me. However, I was already so overwhelmed by the struggle going on inside of me that I was no longer able to sort through the options and find one that felt do-able.

Usually, when I’m in that situation, I can consider an option you are offering . . . I can say to myself, “That one feels do-able if such-and-such a parameter is in place.” Or, I might say to myself, “Nope, there is no way I can tolerate that option . . . but maybe I’ll be ready to do it next time.” That requires examining exactly what about the option scares me and then finding a way I might cause that scary part to be more tolerable. Usually I can handle the process of figuring that out.

But, I was so overwhelmed by the end of the exercise that I was no longer able to do that kind of processing, so I had to just stop the entire exercise. I really appreciate all the options you were giving me, I just couldn’t handle them in that moment.

Edward: It is helpful to me to have that feedback . . . thank you for telling me that!

Me: I think it could be helpful to me if you sat behind me during that kind of an exercise. It is an option I’d like to keep around for future use.

Edward: Sure! When I offered that, I was thinking it might allow you to feel that I literally “had your back” during the exercise.

Me: I can see where that could be supportive. But, I have a question about that . . . .

Edward: Okay . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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