Posted by: Marie | June 21, 2012

(653) Men providing shelter – Part 4 of 5

Post #653
[Private journal entry written on Friday, July 8, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Edward: (After a respectful pause . . . ) Can we go back to something you said at the beginning of the session?

Me: Sure.

Edward: I heard you say you had been getting hit with waves of grief since the last session . . .

Me: Yes.

Edward: Can you tell me more about that?

Me: It feels like I’m grieving deeply, but I don’t know what I’m grieving.

Edward: Do you have any guesses?

Me: I can think of many things it could be . . . the nurturing I didn’t get, the relationships I have missed out on because I was not emotionally available, the hurtful relationships I did have because I was recreating the relationship with my dad – the damage that came from all of that – the joy and passion I have never really known . . .

There are many things it could be, but I really can’t put my finger on anything in particular.

Edward: Does it feel more like anger or sadness or something else?

Photo by Martin Chen

(I started getting frustrated with all of his questions . . . I had already said that I didn’t know what I was grieving . . . why was he continuing to ask me questions about it?)

Me: I guess a mix . . . but probably more like sadness.

Edward: Do certain memories or images of people or events come up during those times you feel that mix of emotions?

Me: (As frustration started rising into anger) Nothing in particular . . . I try to connect the emotion with someone or something, but I’m not able to. I’ve tried to figure it out but I haven’t been able to. I just can’t figure it out.

Edward: When you get hit with this emotion, do you feel like you want to lash out or do you want to hide . . ?? Or, do you want to react in some other way?

Me: I don’t know . . . I just get paralyzed . . .

(Raising my voice) I don’t know the answers to your questions!! I said I don’t know . . . I don’t think asking more and more questions is going to help!

I’ve been trying to figure it out and I can’t. If I could, I’d have the answers for you, but I can’t and I don’t! I’m sorry, but I don’t know the answers!

(Even before I finished my last sentence, Edward interrupted me.)

Edward: (With a slightly raised voice) Marie, I think there is a lot of information you could tell me.


We both stopped talking.

I stared at my coffee cup and started flicking my fingernail on the edge of the cup lid. I was thinking that I didn’t have anything else to add and that he was wrong and pushy to say that I did.

But, there was no benefit in telling him that because I knew he he would argue with anything I said. He would argue until I conceded.

I felt attacked . . . and angry and frustrated . . .

Once again, I had lost access my voice.


Edward: (In a much gentler tone) If you went for a drive in the country, you could tell me where you went, on what roads you traveled, how fast you drove the car, if it was sunny or rainy, if it was hot or cold, if and where you stopped to take pictures . . .

I’m asking you to fill in some of those details about your experiencing grief . . . I’m not asking you to explain what is causing it.

(I said nothing. I just continued flicking my fingernail and staring at the cup. However, I had to admit, he had a point . . . but, I still felt attacked and didn’t feel safe enough to talk yet. I was fighting tears.)

Edward: Do you feel pressured by me?

Me: Yeah.

Edward: I’m sorry you feel pressured by me. That was not my intent.

Me: (Finally making eye contact with him) I know. I recognize that you were being reasonable in asking those questions and I reacted the way I did because I got triggered.

Edward: Do you feel I was pressuring you to have all the answers?

Me: Yeah . . .

I’m reliving the exchanges I would have with my dad where he would tell me to not come to him with a problem unless I already had some possible solutions in mind. I had to have my complaint clearly defined and I had to know exactly what I wanted to change and I had to have a plan for making the change happen . . . and the change could not cost him time or energy or money – or, at least very little – I had to make the change happen with my own resources . . . with my own time, my own energy, my own money . . . I couldn’t bother him to take care of my needs.

I had to have it all figured out before I ever talked to him about it.

Edward: Was this the case when you were younger or when you were a teenager?

Me: Both . . . he expected that of me from as early as I can remember.

Edward: Ouch.


I nodded my head . . .

I allowed myself to remember how it felt to have those exchanges with my dad. A few tears slipped down my face as I remembered the anxiety I felt . . . I could never have enough information prepared to get my needs met . . . I believed that whatever information I presented to my dad, it would never be enough . . . I knew that, most likely, I’d mess it up and get in trouble for wasting his time by not being prepared enough . . .

Edward’s gentle voice broke into my remembering . . .


Edward: Marie, in here, it is okay that you don’t know all the answers.

(I glanced up from my coffee cup to make eye contact with him briefly . . . and I whispered “thank you”. A second later, I was hit with strong emotion, covered my face with my hands and sobbed for a minute. After the wave of emotion passed, Edward checked in with me . . . )

Edward: What just happened?

Me: It feels really good to hear it is okay that I don’t have the answers. It gives me space to be a kid . . . well, I’m not a kid now . . . I mean, it gives me space to be human . . . to be human now, as an adult . . .

I wasn’t expecting that – it is a new experience for me to get that response from a man.

Edward: How does that make you feel?

Me: In this moment, I’m feeling the freedom to be imperfect . . . I feel that I have the space to explore possible answers with you instead of having to already have the “right” answers when I walk in the door.

And, I’m feeling that I’ve been relieved from the responsibility of always performing in a way that proves I have all the answers already figured out.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]

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