Marie: My First Therapy Session with Carl

Posted By: on December 20, 2014
Therapy session

 
Editor’s Note: This is part 4 of Marie’s story.
 

His making such a direct inquiry into such a sensitive topic caught me off guard. I wasn’t expecting him to go that far in the first therapy session, I figured we would build up to it.

But, at the same time, I felt a huge sense of relief . . . it let me know that, here, with Carl, I will not have to fight for the space to tell my story – the space already exists, starting from day one.

I struggled for a few moments to know where to begin. The story is so complex.

As I rolled the story around in my brain, I started experiencing very strong emotions . . . anger, shame, disgust . . . they became so strong that I found myself moving out of my body and out the window into the tree branches of the big elm trees situated just beyond the yard of the old house.

I heard Carl’s comforting voice tell me that I could take all the time I needed, that I didn’t need to say anything with my voice, if I didn’t want to, because my tears were already telling him the story.

I grabbed onto his voice and started working my way back into the room. I did want to use my voice today to start telling my story. I want to talk about it. I want to cry about it. My body aches to let it go.

I told him about the church I grew up in . . . how cloistered from the secular world we all were. I began telling him about “X” … how he called me his girlfriend and I told everyone I was going to marry him, how he let me sit on the piano bench with him as he practiced for choir.

I talked about how I’m not 100% sure “X” did anything sexual to me because I “only” have disjointed flashes of memory. I “only” have unexplained physical reactions to current events. I “only” have the shameful movies that have been running in my mind since I was very little . . . and I have the fact that pain, violence and rape are shamefully intertwined with sexual arousal for me. I told him about my dream of the male dog raping the female dog and how I think it is a representation of what happened with “X”.

He asked me to tell him more about the shameful movies . . .

I want to go there . . . I know talking about it in detail would release most (all?) of the power it currently holds over me. I want to talk about it. But, not yet. I need to get to know – and trust – Carl a bit more before I can go there with him.

I just shook my head in response to his inquiry. He understood and backed off.

I guess he was seeing how far I could go, finding the point at which I would start resisting, seeing how far along in my healing journey I had already traveled before arriving in his office.

As we were wrapping up, I found myself taking deep breaths and saying, “Okay, okay, okay.” Carl called attention to the fact that, when I do that, I’m pushing down my emotions as a way to “pull myself together” enough to operate in the “real world”. I can see that . . . and, it is interesting how hard I push downward on those emotions to keep them in place . . . it takes lots of effort.

He noted that I had gone quite a way today in telling my story. He asked if I felt okay with going that far – I did. He told me that, if something came up for me in subsequent days that made it not okay, he wants me to call him.

We set up the next two appointments . . . April 14th and May 12th. We have agreed to meet every three weeks, but I have jury duty in three weeks from now, so my schedule is iffy for that week. Our workaround is to have a session in two weeks and the next one four weeks after that.

Assuming this session is representative of future sessions, I am excited about the progress that will surely come through our work together.

There was no battling between us, just an effortless release of pressure for me. He didn’t talk much; he just asked questions and listened.

Coming out of this session, I’m finding there isn’t much for me to “figure out” for next session – my mind is calm.

It’s rather like being in a windstorm and leaning hard into the wind, straining to stay upright – then the wind suddenly dies off and you almost fall over. I feel a bit toppled over today . . . but in a very satisfying way.

I can feel that my body is backing off the fighting stance and is relaxing. I don’t feel in danger of being squashed. I already feel safer with Carl than I have felt with my previous therapists in a very long time.

I don’t know how he does it, but he recreated and held the same intensity and focus I felt in the last five minutes of the interview. It feels so good to me.

I am used to dragging my therapist (both Dr. Barb and Mark), kicking and screaming behind me, towards the direction I want to go. Today, my therapist was in front of me, creating space for me to proceed as quickly as I was able to proceed.

It was like we were rock climbing . . . he is the instructor, light-footed, sure-footed, leading the way . . . and I am the student coming behind him, moving as quickly as I am able. This new dynamic feels very strange to me . . . but, I like it! He moved faster than I could . . . he didn’t pressure me to move faster than I could, he just kept the space open three steps in front of me so nothing would be in my way when I was able to move forward.

Most importantly, he was leading me in the direction I wanted to go. What a concept!

He legitimized my desire to go in that direction . . . . he confirmed that where I want to go and the path I feel I need to travel are valid.

You know what . . ?? I think my broken picker wasn’t so broken this time. I think I chose well when I picked this gentle spirited man.

Other posts in Marie’s series:

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