Marie: Carl Helps Me Connect With My Emotions

Posted By: on April 13, 2015
image of the word "emotion"

Editor’s note: This is part 20 of Marie’s story.

Carl: I’d like for you to read your letter out loud, if you’re comfortable doing that. But, I want you to read it very slowly. I want you to stop and feel the impact of each sentence. Can you do that?

Me: Sure . . .

Carl: I would like to interrupt you periodically, if that is okay. Would that be okay?

Me: Sure . . .

Carl: The pace at which I would like to move may feel uncomfortable to you. But, I really want you to connect with the emotion behind the words.

Me: Okay. By the way, my mouth is feeling dry . . . I should have brought my water bottle. If I need some water in the middle of reading, can I get some?

Carl: Oh, of course. We’d need to go downstairs, but we can certainly do that. However, I don’t anticipate you reading the entire letter, so I don’t know that a dry mouth will be an issue – at least not from reading.

Me: Okay, I’ll let you know if I do need water. Should I start reading?

Carl: Yes, go ahead! To whom is the first letter?

Me: It is to my dad. I didn’t include a salutation, I just jumped right into the meat of the subject:

“You scared me when you whipped me with the belt. You were . . . “

Carl: Okay, wait . . . stop right there. Go back and read that sentence again.


“You scared me when you whipped me with the belt.”

Carl: Can you feel the emotion behind that? This is a little girl speaking to her father. “You scared me when you whipped me with the belt.” Ouch! Can you feel it?

(Thought I kept to myself: Well, no, I can’t feel it because I’m too busy trying to read the letter. It would help if you would stop interrupting me!)

Me: (Dutifully nodding my head) Can I read the next part?

Carl: Okay . . . go on . . .


“You were 5’10” (1.8 meters), 180 pounds (81 kg), I was . . . well, I was very small. I had no chance of defending myself.”

Carl: Listen to that . . . “I had no chance of defending myself.” “I had no chance of defending myself!”

Can you read that part again, please?


“You were 5’10”, 180 pounds, I was . . . very small. I had no chance of defending myself. You seemed like a giant to me.”

Carl: Can you remember how terrified you felt back then?

Me: I’m trying to, but I’m not feeling much. When I read these words, it feels like I’m reading someone else’s writing. I remember little bits of this stuff happening, but I’m not feeling any emotion. I have very little memory of writing this letter.

Carl: Okay. Just stop for a second and try to remember. Stop reading, stop looking at the words . . . go back into your mind and remember. Let your body remember.

I really don’t want you to see reading the letter as a task you need to get accomplished. I think your dad taught you that idle hands are the delight of the devil – I think he taught you that to just sit and “be” and feel is sinful. This is powerful programming. But, I would like for you to consider a different truth.

I really would like for you to stop and feel the impact of the individual words in your letter. Can you do that?

(I did as he asked . . . and, I started recalling little snippets of emotion . . . )

Carl: I see some tears . . . it looks like you are starting to remember . . .

(Head nod)

Carl: (After a moment of quiet . . . ) Okay . . . can you read that sentence again?

(I looked at the piece of paper but I couldn’t make sense of the words.)

Me: When I’m like this, I can’t read. I feel confused and out-of-control. I don’t even know what to call it when I’m like this.

Carl: If you want the clinical term, it is called the “child ego state”. It’s the part of you that is still operating in the reality you knew as a child. We want to get in touch with that part of you.

Me: I don’t know what to do when I’m like this. I feel very fragmented and confused.

Carl: That’s okay . . . I’ll help you figure out what to do. You don’t have to know how to do this. You don’t even have to do anything in particular. I really want you to sit and do nothing. I want you to be idle – it’s a healing activity and it is the most caring thing you could do for yourself right now.

Me: Okay . . . (Deep breath . . . trying to pull myself out of the confused state)

Carl: How do you feel about the possibility being idle is a good thing? In your status report, you talked about how you checked in with your anxiety level last session . . . if you were to check in with your anxiety level right now about this, at what level would you be?

Me: Actually, knowing that it is okay for me, in here, to not have to always be productive in an outwardly obvious way takes a lot of pressure off of me. It is causing my anxiety level to drop significantly.

Carl: Well, good!

You don’t have to read the letter right now, you can just sit and allow yourself to experience whatever you are feeling.

(I allowed myself to slip back into the “feeling” mode again. I sat and looked at my hands for a while – I’m not sure for how long. Maybe a minute? Three minutes? Seven minutes? I don’t know . . . I lost my sense of time. After a while, I pulled myself out of the time warp and read the sentence again.)


“You were 5’10”, 180 pounds, I was . . . very small. I had no chance of defending myself. You seemed like a giant to me.”

Carl: How small were you? Thirty or forty pounds (14-18 kg)?

Me: Oh, no. I was smaller than that . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Other posts in Marie’s series:

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