Posted by: Marie | December 2, 2014

(967) The power of a simple heartbeat – Part 1 of 4

Post #967
[Private journal entry written on Friday, October 5, 2012]

Today was therapy session day . . .

During the last couple of weeks or so, I’ve been trying to sit with the feelings I experience most evenings as I have down time and as I’m trying to go to sleep – specifically the feelings I try to numb with ice cream and TV and sleep. I’ve been trying to increase my tolerance of these feelings . . . sit with them longer and longer before the anxiety becomes too much and I have to use my numbing tools. I’ve been working on breathing and “letting go” . . . and sometimes I try to imagine that some kind and gentle man is lying next to me, telling me that I am safe, maybe reaching over to place a gentle hand on me in a gesture of assurance and comfort . . .

I wish I could hold onto that imaginary comfort of the “safe” man . . . but, as soon as I think about being that close to a man – even an imaginary man – for more than a fleeting second, I am engulfed in terror. I cannot imagine that experience ever feeling safe. It is something I crave, but I cannot imagine it feeling good in reality.

This morning, I woke up around 3 or 4am and I was experiencing full-on body memories. They were very intense due to the fact I was in a half-asleep state. However, I was able to stay with them and not totally dissociate.

I was experiencing vague images of an adult man (maybe my dad?) coming towards me. In response, my heart would take a huge leap and then start racing, my breathing would get fast – it felt like I couldn’t get enough air. I could feel terror rise up in my chest and neck.


Photo by Martin Chen

It would take a few minutes for me to breath through it and get my breathing and heart rate calmed down. I’d tell myself that I was safe at home . . . try to get my muscles to relax . . . wipe away the tears . . .

Then, I’d apply lotion to the skin around my eyes. (I have very sensitive skin and whenever I cry, the salt in my tears irritates the delicate skin around my eyes; it helps to keep the area well hydrated.) I’d settle back into trying to sleep . . . then, a few minutes later, I’d get a flash of the image of someone coming towards me and the whole cycle would start over.

This would go on for 30-40 minutes, then I’d doze off for 30-40 minutes, then I’d have another round of body memory flashbacks. Around 7:30, as daylight was moving into place, it felt like the body memories might be fading a bit. My alarm was set to go off at 7:45am, but I didn’t really need to get up until 8:45am – I needed to leave at 9:15 to get to my 9:45 appointment with Edward.

Sometime during the dark morning hours, I decided that I would not try to “pull myself together” before the session. I was hoping I could stay in this emotionally raw place until I got to his office – I wanted him to help me deal with it. I didn’t want to pull back into myself and not have access to this rawness when I got to his office.

My plan for staying in this raw state was to, as soon as I walked into his office – before he got in there, to curl up on his couch, under my blanket . . . but, before I curled up on the couch, I would pull his chair closer to the couch . . . I was wanting to have him closer than usual . . . I felt the need to have him close . . . not touching . . . but close. I wanted to feel safe in that way. (Because, of all the men in the world, Edward is the man with whom I feel the safest.)

I made a mental note to take my blanket with me . . . and a pillow (I would need a pillow to stay in a fetal position for any amount of time). I haven’t taken my blanket with me to therapy for several months. But, I felt like I was really going to need it today.

I reset my alarm for 8:45 and dozed off again. I only have a faint memory of turning off my alarm clock when it went off at 8:45, but I must have. I woke up with start at 9:11. I had four minutes to get ready, feed my cat and pack my bag . . . and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. The good news is that I know I don’t have to “look good” for therapy. I only have to pull on some sweats, a t-shirt and some shoes and head out. I can show up a mess and he is okay with that.

I got dressed and fed my cat . . . quickly ran a comb through my hair . . . and I started grabbing stuff I needed for therapy . . . I packed my blanket and a pillow . . .

Then, I noticed my mouth was very dry and my blood sugar was starting to crash, so I grabbed a bottle of water, a protein bar and a soda (the breakfast of champions!) And, the skin around my eyes and nose was really irritated from all the sporadic crying during the night, so I grabbed my bottle of hand lotion and my box of soft kleenexes (Edward’s tissues are not soft and I had a feeling I’d need lots of them today) . . . finally, I had everything packed and I ran out the door . . . well, I stumbled out the door . . . I was still not fully awake yet and not quite running on all cylinders.

The brisk fall air hit my face as I stepped out of the house . . . we’ve been experiencing rather warm weather this week – almost warm enough to be considered an Indian summer. But, the temperature today is very chilly – it feels like it could start snowing anytime. I heard a frost advisory on the news last night for tonight . . . I can see why the advisory was put out! It feels like the first day of winter!

I thought about going back in for a jacket, but I didn’t . . . I didn’t want to be any later than I already was . . .

Anyway, the traffic angels were with me . . . there was very little traffic and I hit green on all the lights except two (I pass through about a dozen traffic lights going from my house to Edward’s office) . . . and I was the first car in line at those two lights so I was able to take off from the lights in a hurry. I made the drive in 23 minutes (left at 9:26, arrived at 9:49) . . . it normally takes 28-30 minutes. I was only four minutes late. And, Edward was still in session with another client when I arrived and didn’t come down to get me until 9:55 . . . so, it all worked out.

Edward offered to carry one of my two bags, so I gave him the bag with my blanket and pillow to carry.

As we climbed the stairs, I mentioned that it feels like it could snow. He said that he had seen a few snowflakes flurrying around early this morning – our first snow of the season. That was news to me!

While he took a minute to check his voicemail and email, I kicked off my shoes and curled up in the far corner of the couch, my legs under me and my feet off to the right . . . I propped up the weight of my body with my left elbow on the arm of the couch. Edward still had my bag with him and he hadn’t come into the inner room yet, so I couldn’t get out my blanket. But, I wasn’t really feeling the need to do so yet, anyway.

I didn’t move his chair . . . somehow, that was too scary . . . it wasn’t a scary idea when I was halfway in a dream state . . . but, it was too scary in reality.

A minute later, he came in with my bag. I’m sure he noticed that my blanket and pillow were in the bag – at least, I hoped he did so that he would have a clue what he was in for today – I know he is aware that I haven’t had them with me for months.

He set my bag next to me and settled into his chair. When he asked me how I was doing, I told him that, in general, I was doing well, but that this morning I was feeling emotionally fragile . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]



  1. That’s quite a beginning for a session. I hope it went well.

    • It was a powerful session, for sure!

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