[Private journal entry written on Friday, October 5, 2012 about a conversation with my therapist – continued from previous post]
Me: I would like . . . (sob) . . . I want you to . . . I would like for you to move closer to me . . . I want to feel safe . . . with you . . .
Edward: Oh . . . would you like for me to come over there and sit on the couch next to you?
(I nodded . . . and sobbed . . . )
Edward: Okay . . .
(He cautiously moved over to the couch and sat down to the right of me with about an arm’s length between us. I remained up against the arm of the couch, sitting up very straight, my body rigidly facing forward with both hands on my knees . . . I could hardly bear to turn my head to look at him . . . )
Edward: Is this okay?
(I nodded . . . )
Edward: Do you want to keep some space between us or would you like there to physical contact between us?
(I could feel a sense of panic coming over me . . . I was desperately afraid of what would happen if I told him what I really wanted . . . I desperately wanted to tell him anyway . . . I pulled together as much courage as I possessed . . . )
Me: (Whispering) I would like there to be physical contact.
Edward: (Carefully putting his left arm on the back of the couch behind me) Okay . . . whenever you are ready, you can move in towards me . . . where would you like to sit?
Me: (Getting hit hard with sobs) Is it really okay for me to touch you?
Edward: Yes, it is okay. You can touch me.
Edward: Yes, really.
Me: (More sobs) I’ve never done this before . . . (sob)
Edward: That’s okay . . .
Me: (Hiccup/sob) But, I don’t know how to do it . . .
Edward: What do you mean?
The simplest answer would have been to say, “I’ve never ‘just cuddled’ with someone” or “I’ve never been ‘held’” . . . but there is no way in hell I could ever use words like that . . . they are far too loaded with shame . . .
How can I possibly find the words to explain that I don’t have the faintest idea how to have physical contact with a man without there being a sexual component to my behavior? If I screw this up – if I do something that causes Edward to think I’m coming onto him – I’ll lose the one relationship that is giving me hope. I can’t afford to screw this up.
I struggled to find a “safe” way to answer his question . . .
Before I attempted to speak again, I took some deep breaths to try to calm down a bit and to stop my hyperventilating . . .
Me: Like (sob) . . . I don’t where to put my body . . . where does my head go? Where do my shoulder and arm go? I’ve never done this before . . . I need you to help me figure it out.
Edward: I would be happy to help you figure it out.
Would you like to lean away from me or lean towards me . . . or maybe just sit side-by-side, facing forward?
Me: I would like to lean towards you.
Edward had been sitting up straight. His posture felt so “formal” to me that I felt I would have had to also sit up straight, which meant, in order to have physical contact with him, I would have had to scoot my entire trunk close to him. I was overwhelmed by the idea of that much of our bodies touching.
As if he read my mind, Edward scooted his buttocks closer to the front of the couch – just a tad – so that he was slouching a little bit. He kept his arm on the back of the couch while he turned his knees towards me a little so there was a scooped-out cubbyhole place for me. Because he was now slouching slightly, it would be possible for me to keep the lower half of my body a ways away from him as I leaned the upper part of my body in towards him.
Edward: (Patting his chest with his right hand) You could put your head right here . . .
Me: Okay . . .
(I took a breath and prepared to move towards him . . . froze up . . . sobbed a little . . . took another deep breath . . . another attempt . . . froze up again . . . )
Me: Phew . . . this is tough . . .
Edward: You don’t have to do it . . . it might be too much, too quickly . . .
Me: I want to do it . . .
Edward: Okay . . . take your time . . . there’s no hurry . . .
I had been keeping my left hand on my face – covering my mouth when I sobbed, covering my eyes when a new wave of emotion hit. I kept my hand on my face as I took another deep breath and carefully scooted my way towards him. I closed half of the gap between us with my lower body.
Then, I kind of fell over sideways, in towards him, and put my head on his chest while supporting most of my weight on my right elbow. He weighs a lot less than I do and I was afraid I would squash him if I put my weight on him. I ended up halfway lying down, halfway sitting up. The only part of me that had contact with him was the right side of my face and my right neck/shoulder. It was an awkward position, to say the least.
As soon as I got into that position, big, loud sobs tore out of my body – I continued to cover my mouth with my hand as each sob escaped. Edward put his left arm and hand on my left shoulder. He patted my shoulder a few times, then lightly rubbed his fingertips in small circles on my shoulder . . .
I heard him say, “It’s okay . . . you’re safe, little girl . . . it’s okay to cry . . . go ahead and let all those emotions come out . . . I’m protecting you . . . I have you . . . you are safe . . . ” That brought fresh sobs.
Within a couple of minutes, I felt the terror drain out of me. A sense of peace and safety moved in, all over my body. My breathing eased up . . . I felt my spirit move further into the core of my physical body . . . I became aware of the vitality of Edward’s body . . . in my “feeling safe” fantasies, the man’s body always has a quality of inanimateness . . . I was surprised at how alive and real – although relatively cool – Edward’s body felt . . . I was clearly aware that he is a physically separate being with his own will and autonomous movement, rather than an enmeshed figment of my imagination.
In my fantasies, the men have to follow the dictates of my fantasy. They have no free will. And, they always disappear into thin air when I get to the part where I want them to hold me in a safe way. They disappear and I’m left behind, stuck in my place of terror.
Yet, here, in real life, Edward was holding me . . . for real. He’s very much alive, he very much was freely choosing to engage with me in this way. He didn’t disappear.
I felt his hand gently shift from my shoulder to the back of my head . . . just above my neck . . . he lightly stroked my hair a few times with his fingertips before cradling my skull with his hand.
Me: I can hear your heartbeat.
Edward: Yes . . . you can hear my heartbeat! How about that!
Me: That’s weird . . . I hadn’t thought about that being the case . . . I mean, it’s weird in a good way . . .
(Edward laughed a little – I could hear his breath and his laugh through his chest. We sat like that for maybe three or four minutes (or less? It was so hard to measure time in that situation, it moved so slowly) . . . until the fear I might overstay my welcome became too intense for me and I sat up. As soon as I sat up, he moved back to his chair – I think he could sense that I needed space again. We settled back into our respective spaces . . . and I realized I had snot running down my face . . . )
Me: Did I get snot on your shirt?
Edward: I don’t think so . . . and, if you did, it doesn’t matter . . . the shirt is washable. It doesn’t matter, either way.
How are you feeling?
Me: I actually feel relatively good . . .
Thank you for that . . . wow . . . that was an intense experience . . . weird . . . really weird . . . but, in a good way . . .
Edward: Good. I’m glad. Congratulations on taking such a brave step!
Me: Thank you for being willing to support me in that way.
Edward: You’re very welcome!
Where are you in the processing of that memory?
Me: I’m feeling pretty calm . . . settled . . . I would say that there is a sense of completion, to a significant degree. I’m not in that fragile place I was in when I walked in here this morning.
Edward: That’s awesome!
Me: (Reaching into my bag for the hand lotion) So . . . you were saying that you wanted to say something to my dad . . . ?? I kind of interrupted you . . .
Edward: Oh, that’s fine! I’m glad you did! I always prefer going with whatever comes up organically.
Me: (Rubbing lotion all over my face, especially on very irritated skin around my eyes and nose) Me, too.
So, do you still want to talk to my dad?
Edward: I do, but I don’t think we have enough time left today to get into in a way that would honor the process. I’d like to save it for another day.
Me: Oh . . okay . . . I guess I lost track of time! I didn’t realize our time is almost gone.
Edward: It’s my job to watch the time . . . so it’s fine that you weren’t watching it.
Since we have a couple of minutes left, let me update you on Renee, my student whose dad spoke to me about feeling like he was “losing her” . . .
Edward: Oh, sure! I remember you talking about her . . .
I told him about her wanting to play in the recital and her recently improved attitude . . . and how emotional I am about her participating in the recital – and it’s still six weeks out. I wonder . . . how big of a mess will I be on the day of the recital . . . ??
Then, we said our good-byes . . . Edward asked me to call him later in the day to let him know how I was doing. He said he was concerned about me, given the intensity of the session. I promised him I would do so.
And that wrapped up our session. I packed up my stuff. As I walked towards his office door, he asked if I would like a hug – of course I wanted one! Then, I headed out into the daylight . . .
After I got back home, I took it easy for a while . . . I didn’t take a nap, though, I just snuggled up with the cat and watched TV.
About 3pm, I left a voicemail for Edward telling him that I was a bit tired but that I was experiencing a sense of completion around the memory. I told him I was feeling settled and calm . . . connected and comforted.
Shortly after leaving the voicemail, I got dressed and headed over to the studio for lessons with two sisters. Other than an hour of lessons, I had a pretty relaxed evening . . . a nice way to end a tremendously meaningful day.