Me: I need to ask you something . . .
Carl: Okay . . .
Me: Are you going to stay over there, in your chair?
Carl: (Confused look) Yes . . . why do you ask?
Me: I got scared you were going to come over here and put your arm around me.
Carl: I’m not going to come over there. I’m going to stay right here, in my chair . . .
(With a sudden realization) Oh . . . I didn’t ask permission to scoot in my chair like I promised you I would! I am so sorry . . I forgot. Thank you for reminding me. Here, I’ll scoot back in my chair and quit moving around so you can feel more comfortable.
Me: It’s okay . . . I’m actually fine with you moving. I just needed a confirmation you intended to stay over there. Now that you’ve confirmed that, I’m fine with you moving around.
I’m okay now . . . a part of me got scared for a moment, but I’m fine now.
Carl: (Paused to make sure I really was okay) Can you tell me what it would have felt like for you if I had come over there and put my arm around you?
Me: (Starting to get very emotional) I would have not been able to get away.
Carl: You would have been trapped?
(The emotion flooded over me and I buried my face. Carl waited for the tears and sobs to pass before saying anything more.)
Carl: Thank you for saying something. It is a big step that you were able to ask questions and set boundaries instead of staying frozen!
Me: Thank you . . . I’m okay now.
So . . . not to change the subject or anything . . . (little laugh) . . . but, let me ask you something. Why do you think I don’t feel anger about this stuff with my parents? If I were to think about this stuff happening to someone else, I would be very angry. But, I don’t feel angry about it having happened to me.
Carl: When a child has a need that is not being met, he soothes himself by expressing his pain with sadness. In the case of an infant, the infant would cry a sad cry. If that need continues to not be met, the infant expresses anger, then rage. If the need is still not met, the infant falls into despair and hopelessness.
If a child is punished for expressing sadness about an unmet need—especially if he is punished with physical violence—he skips over anger and rage and moves immediately into despair and hopelessness. In that case, the child will never develop anger. And, when he becomes an adult, he won’t be able to remember being angry as a child because he never was angry as a child.
Me: So, you think that may be what happened with me?
Carl: It is a very real possibility.
I think it is very good you have started connecting with the child part of you. By connecting with that part of you in a controlled, proactive manner, it will help minimize the number of times she pops up unexpectedly at inopportune times when she gets scared or hurt. If you can learn how to proactively check in with her on a regular basis, you will begin to better manage your outward reactions to situations.
Me: That makes sense . . .
Carl: I want you to know you are doing enough . . . I want you to know sitting quietly, being connected with that child part of you, is a worthwhile activity. You are being productive when you do that.
Marie, you are one of the most focused and committed clients I have. The work you do is amazing. You are doing more than enough. You are doing well. I want to make sure you know that!
Me: Thank you . . .
Carl: So . . . we have a few minutes . . . do you want to do something with the items you brought with you?
Me: Yeah! I’d like to leave a token of our emotional connection in your office. I have a penny for that purpose . . .
Whenever I find a coin on the ground, I pick it up and take it home. When I get home, I write a word or phrase on it that represents the life lesson I am learning at that particular time. A year or two ago, I found this penny. But, I didn’t have anything in particular that I wanted to write on it, so it has remained blank for all that time.
When I concluded I want to leave a token of our emotional connection in your office, I knew the penny would be the perfect token. So, this morning, before coming here, I wrote the word “connection” on it and brought it with me today.
And, do you know what was weird . . . ?? When I got into my car to drive to your office this morning, I found another penny on the ground, right by the driver’s door. It’s like I got a replacement blank penny!
Carl: That is so neat! Where in my office would you like to leave it?
Me: Oh . . . I don’t really care . . . (looking around)
Carl: How about on a shelf of my bookcase?
Me: That would be good!
Carl: Would you like to put it there or would you like for me to put it there?
Me: You can . . .
Carl: (Placing it on a shelf) There, I’ll put it next to this book titled “Priceless.” That is a good place for it!
So . . . can we look at some of my photos?
Carl: Sure . . .
(We looked at a few photos of my family . . . )
Me: And this is a picture of the guy I married . . . for ten weeks . . .
Carl: You were married for only ten weeks?
Me: Yeah . . .
Carl: Hmmm . . . we’ll have to talk about that someday . . .
Me: And here is a picture of “X” . . . and another of “X” and his wife . . . I got them off of his Facebook page.
Carl: I see . . .
Me: Anyway, I think we’re out of time . . .
(As we were walking out, I felt so zoned out that I was having trouble being polite . . . I walked like a zombie. Carl helped me carry my stuff down the stairs to the front door . . . as we were going down the stairs, I apologized for being so rude . . .)
Me: I feel like I’m blowing you off . . . I’m not being very polite in my farewell. It’s just that I’m gone . . .
Carl: Gone? Or numb?
Me: I’m gone . . .
Other posts in Marie’s series:
- Part 1: My Therapist Stinks… I’m Searching for a New One
- Part 2: Choosing A Therapist… and Breathing Again
- Part 3: I Have Always Had to Keep the “Real Me” In Hiding…
- Part 4: My First Therapy Session with Carl
- Part 5: An Email I Sent to Carl After Our First Session
- Part 6: Dad Threatened to Kick Me Out, So I Planned Accordingly…
- Part 7: Do You Feel You Have Intrinsic Value as a Person?
- Part 8: I Am Learning Not to Fight the Tears
- Part 9: It’s About How I Have Violent Fantasies
- Part 10: He Is Providing That Validation That I So Desperately Needed
- Part 11: Relief, and Carl Assures Me He Does Know How to Help Me
- Part 12: I Feel Like I Can Relax Into His Leadership and Expertise
- Part 13: Remembering Child Abuse
- Part 14: Anger Feels Like a Deadly Emotion for Me Because, if I Was Angry, I Got Hit
- Part 15: Relief, Terror and Shame
- Part 16: I Talk About My Relationship with My Dad
- Part 17: How Can I Fault My Parents for Doing the Best They Could?
- Part 18: I Knew My Dad Was Going to Die
- Part 19: Is It Okay to Complain in Therapy?
- Part 20: Carl Helps Me Connect With My Emotions
- Part 21: I Think He Started Spanking Me When I Was 6 Months Old