Posted by: Marie | November 15, 2012

(749) Allowing vs forcing – Part 3 of 4

Post #749
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, December 21, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Edward: Is there value in the natural expression of the children?

Me: Value to whom?

Edward: Value to the parents . . . how do the parents benefit from allowing their children to be fully expressed?

Native by Martin Chen

Me: I’m not sure what you mean . . . . I mean, the children benefit because they are healthier people in the long run . . . and their childhoods are more pleasant . . .

But, I’m not sure how the parents benefit from that . . .

It seems well behaved children might be less trouble than children who have a mind of their own, if the parents value submission and compliance. If the parents value less hassle, then encouraging children to be fully expressed might not be of benefit to the parents. The natural expression of the children would likely create more hassle and angst for the parents in that case.

Edward: What about a case where parents value the authentic expression of their children over minimal hassle?

(That question stumped me . . . and that’s when I realized that I have a hard time believing that parents actually value their children . . . except that I have adults in my life who actively demonstrate otherwise . . . for example, James and Cindy live and breath for their daughter, Sara – and, as a result, Sara knows her value as a human being. I had never thought about this before and I had to ponder my answer for a few moments . . . )

Me: I’m struggling to find an answer to your question. I’ve never considered how a parent might think about the value of his or her child’s individual contribution to the world. I guess I’ve always believed parents see their children as objects . . . the “dream” is to have a house, two cars, three kids, a dog and a cat . . . the children are just part of the formula and they don’t really “count” until they reach adulthood and become their own persons. As a children, they are simply an extension of – a reflection of – their parents.

Obviously, I see children differently – maybe because I’m not a parent. I’m aware that each child in this world has a unique way of showing up in the world . . . each child contributes to the world in some way . . . I see it everyday. I spend my days acknowledging the value of individual children. But, I guess I’ve always held this unrecognized belief that parents don’t see that about their own children.

Edward: That belief came from your own childhood experience. That is how it was within your family.

Me: Yes.

Edward: Your dad missed out on what you had to offer.

Me: Yes.

But, it’s not that way in every family.

Edward: No, it’s not.

What did your dad miss out on by not getting to know the real you? What value did you have as a child?

Me: (Long pause) I have no idea . . . I have never thought of myself as having value as a child. I’ve never thought about that before.

I have no idea how to answer your question. I’ll have to think about it, I guess.

Edward: Can we go back to your students who are too stifled to show up authentically . . . ??

Me: Sure.

Edward: What more could you say to the dads of those children?

Me: I could say, “You have really awesome kids. They have opinions and preferences and creative thoughts and there is a lot of joy in spending time with them and letting them express who they are. I get to experience that about your kids, I wish you would create the opportunity to experience that part of them. You’re missing out on so much.”

Edward: It seemed pretty easy for you to say those words.

Me: Yeah . . . I’m not getting triggered much by the thought of saying those words to the dads of my students . . . I feel some anxiety, but it’s not like I want to curl up and die . . . not like it is when I think about saying words like that to my dad.

I’m feeling pretty strong today . . . brave, even . . .

Edward: Would you like to push the envelope a bit?

Me: Sure.

Edward: Would you like to say those words to your dad?

(I nodded. Then, I took a moment to put together some words in my mind . . . I took a breath in, preparing to speak the words . . . but, the same old thing happened . . . I froze up. My ability to “breath out” locked up. The fear overwhelmed me . . . I dissolved into tears and sobs . . . )

Me: (Whispering) I’m paralyzed again.

Edward: (Very gently) You don’t have to say anything to your dad . . . it’s okay if you don’t . . . you’re safe . . . take your time . . . I may have pushed you too hard . . .

Me: (In between sobs) I hate this place of being frozen – I just hate it. I feel like I’ve moved through a lot of the emotional stuff . . . but the physical stuff still gets me . . . I’m so locked up in my body.

Edward: Can you tell me more about what is happening for you right now?

Me: I’m feeling so hopeless about this paralysis stuff. It feels like I’ll never be able to face the stuff about my dad without getting all locked up and frozen. I don’t think I’ll ever get past it.

(More tears . . . more sobs . . . Edward waited patiently until I caught my breath again.)

Edward: I heard you say that the physical stuff still gets you . . . can you tell me more about that?

Me: I thought that, after doing all the talk therapy and dealing with the trauma, I would start feeling some relief on the physical level. I’ve been really patient with it, but I’m still in no better place – physically, I mean – than I was when I started. I still have all the compulsive behaviors. I still binge-eat as much as I ever have. I still pick at my face. I still get triggered when I go to the gym.

I’m trying to make some progress with exercise . . . I go to the gym and work out for 30 minutes, just doing easy stuff on the treadmill so I don’t get triggered as much. I’m trying to go to the gym often so that I can have more and more experiences of going to the gym and not getting triggered. I’m thinking that many times of not being triggered will offset the fewer times when I do get triggered. I’m hoping that will shift my overall experience over time and will make it easier for me to go to the gym on a regular basis . . . and maybe someday I’ll be able to do more than just walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes.

I’m not even trying to lose weight or get in shape – I love to go hiking – I want to go hiking. I love to dance. I can’t do any of those things because I’m too fat and I get out of breath so quickly. I would love to lose weight so I can do those things. But, I’m not able to even think about getting in better shape because it is all too triggering for me.

It seems I would have some relief from all of that after all the work I’ve done. But, there hasn’t been any movement forward and I’m feeling hopeless. I’ve just sort of accepted that I’m always going to be fat and uncomfortable with my body. I’m never going to be able to date. I can’t experience what I want to experience with my body because I get locked up whenever I try to deal with the physical trauma.

(I had gotten pretty worked up as I was saying all that . . . angry, really. But, after I finished unloading, I felt some relief. I took a moment to catch my breath again before expressing one last thought . . . )

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. I’m interested to see what Edward’s response will be.

    • Thank you for your continued interest, Evan!

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