Posted by: Marie | June 10, 2012

(646) Space for new ways

Post #646
[Private journal entry written on Monday, June 20, 2011 at 6:00pm]

Wow. The therapy session this morning impacted me deeply – especially the last part when Edward assured me that it is reasonable for me to need twenty sessions to get to the point I’m ready to use my adult voice with my parents – and when he assured me he is committed to continuing our relationship for the long haul.

I’m beginning to understand how little space was created in my childhood for me to be a child – to make mistakes, to speak my preferences, to have fears . . .

Backyard by Martin Chen

Status quo for me is not having space to be a human – not having the space to have needs. This has been so much the case that, when someone creates space for me, I can’t believe it. I cannot believe someone would allow me that space. I’m sure there must be a catch.

The idea that I deserve that space – that having that space is a basic human right – has not even registered yet.

Well, it is starting to register now, thanks to Edward. What a gift . . .


And then, about the time I start feeling all warm and fuzzy about Edward’s words, this other little voice pops up in my head . . .

The little voice tells me it is silly to worry that my therapist wouldn’t be willing to continue working with me for as long as it takes me to be able to use my adult voice. Of course he will stick with me – I’m paying him to do that. As long as I’m not a total pain in the ass, it’s worthwhile for him to work with me because it creates job security. It’s revenue for him – it helps pay his bills.

But, I’m afraid this therapeutic relationship means a lot more to me than to him. I continue working with Edward because I’m not sure I can survive if I don’t. I’m unsure of his reasons for continuing.

For whatever reason, it matters to me that he believes my continuing with him is worthwhile and recommendable in a clinical sense – that I’m not malingering. And, I want him to get something from our relationship beyond the money – I want him to gain satisfaction from doing a great job as a therapist . . .

And, if I allowed myself to be honest with myself, I have this wild fantasy that he actually values the relationship, itself – that he values me as a person and values the time we spend together – that he would continue to value me as a person even if the money fell out of the equation. I have this wild fantasy that he actually enjoys my company.

I mean – let me be clear – not in a romantic way, just in a platonic way. I don’t have a crush on him, but I have a ton of respect for him and think the world of him. It would be nice if he thought that way about me, even to a lesser degree.


Anyway . . . I’ve been doing more thinking about my being triggered by exercise. I think I could expand that . . . not only does my traumatic history affect my ability to exercise, it affects my ability to care for my body in other ways: hygiene, caring about my appearance, eating, etc.

There are many symptoms of unhealed trauma that are showing up in my physical realm:

– am incredibly lonely

– can’t imagine men would value me

– the idea of having sexual contact makes me want to vomit

– believing I don’t deserve pleasure

– exercise triggers somatic traumatic memories

– using binge eating to soothe emotions

– why bother taking my body since I don’t want it anyway (suicidal)

No wonder I’m struggling with this!

I’m unclear if these symptoms are results of the same few traumas or if they have differences causes. But, I think I first have to have healing of the traumas, then the healing will slowly start affecting the aforementioned areas, then, finally, I will start feeling/looking generally healthy in the physical realm. I guess it is going to take a while – I guess there is good reason for how long it is taking.

I guess I have to be patient with myself.


I sent an email to Edward this evening:

Hey, Edward –

I’m still processing everything we covered this morning . . . including the idea that you will set aside as much time and space as I need to allow the conversations with my parents to occur naturally (without an artificial performance) . . . thank you for that assurance. I might need for you to assure me of that often, as we go along, since the idea of being allowed all the time and space I need is as foreign to me as the sun rising in the west – experiencing that would be a “first” for me.

Anyway, I was able to sort through something and I wanted to capture it while it was fresh in my mind . . .

My frustration with feeling frozen whenever I consider having conversations with my parents comes from the fact I haven’t been able to stay present with the idea long enough to figure out what I would say and/or what comforts need to be in place in order for me to feel safe enough to use my voice.

Every time I consider that possibility, I can hold onto the idea for about 2-3 seconds, then my brain shuts down – much like a TV screen does when it loses power. I just go blank. I fight hard to turn that screen back on, but it won’t restart. I stay blank and disconnected.

So, I haven’t yet been able to stay in that space long enough to answer your questions such as: What words might you use? Would it help if I spoke the words on your behalf? Would it help if you could hide behind me?

I’m frustrated because I believe I ought to be able to provide those answers . . . I hear my dad’s voice saying that, if I have a problem, I ought to be able to clearly state my plan for solving the problem and then immediately implement the plan and fix the problem.

Because I haven’t been able to stay present with the idea of using my voice – because I haven’t been able to formulate a plan, I believe I’m dissolving into a weak victim – which has never been acceptable to my dad/me. I feel I ought to be tougher than that.

So, that’s what I’m dealing with . . . that’s what I’m attempting to shift. I don’t know if that insight helps you or not . . .

Anyway, I trust you’ll have a great 4th and I’ll see you in 2+ weeks!

– Marie

He quickly responded:

Dear Marie,

Thanks for the thoughtful email.

I want to offer you two reassurances:

(1) first, that I look forward to giving you all the time and space you need to complete the unresolved conversations with your parents, and

(2) second, that what you are experiencing, what you described as a blank TV screen, makes complete sense in light of what you’ve experienced, and it’s something that I am confident we can work through together.

Have a wonderful 2+ weeks, and I look forward to our ongoing work in this, your healing journey.



I sent a quick response:

Thank you for the assurances . . . I’ll hang on to them and draw strength from them!


  1. The ‘paid friend’ part of counselling is tricky. I’ll be interested to see if this comes up with Edward. And if so how he responds.

    Dealing with the deeper causes of behaviour is important I guess. I think that sometimes dealing with the symptoms can give us something specific to work on too – and a gateway into the deeper stuff.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Yes, the paid friend part does come up in session and Edward handles it beautifully . . .

      You make a great point about the treatment of symptoms being low hanging fruit!

      – Marie

  2. glad you were able to talk about the “paying” issue with edward, the same thing came up with my therapist about six months ago, and i decided to tackle it head on and ask her if she cared about me, outside of our financial transactions. she was able to explain, to my satisfaction, how she holds those two things separately. looking forward to hearing how your therapist handled it.

    • Somehow, I doubt we are the only ones asking this question, LOL!

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