Posted by: Marie | January 20, 2012

(622) Pushing boundaries – Part 3 of 4

Post #622
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, May 12, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Me: I think I’d be more comfortable with the idea of that if I knew ahead of time what it would look like. I would like to talk about it now so I will know what to expect if we ever do use it in a future exercise – then we could just jump right into it without having to stop and have this discussion first – we can get this discussion out of the way, now.

So, can you tell me what that would look like?

(I could feel myself starting to tense up and my breathing started getting fast and shallow – I tried to act like I wasn’t being affected by the conversation.)

Photo by Martin Chen

Edward: Sure!

In the racquet and pillow exercise, I was thinking I could sit behind you and silently support you by just being there . . . or I could also say supportive words, if that would be helpful to you.

(As he was answering my question, I started hyperventilating a bit because I could imagine him walking towards me to move into a spot behind me, but then sitting down closer than felt comfortable . . . I started experiencing the paralysis and fear that comes with being unable to speak up and to protect myself. He continued . . . )

Edward: I would make sure to stay far enough away from you that you didn’t feel crowded, but close enough that you felt supported . . .

(With that, I felt a wave of relief . . . a sense that he would be careful about making sure I felt safe. But the wave was short-lived. A new wave of fear washed over me as he said . . . )

Edward: I would also be willing to put my hand on your back or your shoulder so you could experience my support through physical contact, if that would be helpful to you.

(The idea of him being close enough to touch me, and the idea of him actually touching me in that scenario put my fear over the top and I started hyperventilating and sobbing . . . he stopped talking and watched me with concern in his eyes . . . in between sobs, I explained what was happening . . . )

Me: That’s what is freaking me out . . . the touch part. I don’t know if I could handle having you that close, and I don’t know if I could handle you touching me during an exercise.

Edward: Marie, I wouldn’t touch you or even get close to you without asking first . . . ever . . . never, ever.

I would ask you first where and how close you would like for me to sit, and I would ask you if you would like to be touched and, if so, I would ask for very specific direction on how you would like to be touched.

I know you feel safer if we talk about that first. I promise I won’t touch you without your express permission.


That was all the assurance I needed and I immediately started relaxing.

I know he is trustworthy . . . I just wasn’t sure that he clearly understood how important it is to me that he ask permission to get close to me and/or to touch me. I wasn’t sure if he thought he could slack off a bit in that area because we have been working together for a significant amount of time now. I just needed assurance from him that he understood physical closeness and touch is still a scary issue to me and that he needs to be as careful as he has ever been. He gave me that assurance.

After a few minutes of sitting quietly, wiping the tears and snot from my face, I found myself feeling that I would be comfortable if he did sit behind me in that way, and that I would probably be comfortable with him putting his hand on my back or shoulder – after I granted him permission to do so, of course. That option started feeling very do-able to me.


Me: I know you wouldn’t do anything harmful to me. I know you wouldn’t do anything against my will – logically I know.

Edward: Yes, but your body doesn’t know that. And, having to deal with a body memory could be distracting while you are trying to focus on expressing anger.

I absolutely understand why you would want to talk about it now and why, even after talking about it now, you still might not want to be touched then.

Me: But, I do want to be touched in that way. I crave it. In fact, sometimes I find myself wanting to sit on the floor next to your chair and rest my head on your knee – or, if you are sitting on the floor, I find myself wanting to curl up in the fetal position next to you with my head lying next to your knee like a little girl might do.

(I had been wanting to ask if doing that would be okay but I had been to afraid to ask directly – so, with this last comment, I was testing the waters with Edward.)

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. You are dealing with some really big stuff here. Hope the session continued to go well (it looks to me like it was going well so far).

  2. Hi, Evan –

    It is some big stuff . . but, I guess that is the purpose of therapy!

    Thanks for the well-wishes!

    – Marie

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