i carry your heart
Sorry it has been so long since my last post, life has thrown a few wrenches my way (if you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball!) and I’ve been a bit off balance (ok, try triggered as all get out) which tends to interfere with my writing abilities. I also had an ear infection and as my dear husband has to remind me EVERY time, antibiotics tend to depress me. I never, ever remember that when I’m in the middle of it. I just become convinced I’ve derailed, made up all my progress and throw in a few “I’m failing everyone and everyone thinks I’m a big selfish maw of need’ just for good measure. Cleaning out our old tape libraries can be a slow business at times. But I am feeling better (gosh, do you think that has anything to do with finishing your course of antibiotics?) and slowly finding my balance. I also saw the Boundary Ninja and was able to deal with a chunk of what’s bothering me. We hit some stuff late in the session ( unusual for me but I needed to bring up something that scared me so badly, it took over half the session to finally go there) so I’m going back in two weeks to finish that particular topic. So thank you all for your patience.
We had a lovely interchange at one point during the session that I wanted to share, but before I tell you that story, I need to tell you this one (which also allows me to shamelessly steal from one of my posts on Psychcafe for blog content. Remember if your stealing your own stuff, it’s not cheating, it’s efficiency! )
The poem “i carry your heart” (reproduced below) holds a significant place in my work with the Boundary Ninja. Just why it does is the subject of this post.
i carry your heart by ee cummings
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)
i am never without it (anywhere i go you go, my dear;
and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet)
i want no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;
which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
The BN and I spend a lot of time working through my inability to hang onto the connection between appointments and even more so, vacations, as well as my inability to trust that the relationship was a real one.
BN allows contact between sessions by email or phone and one evening I made an emergency phone call (the word “emergency” was defined by my needing a reply right away. If I said the call was an emergency, that meant he would call back (almost always) within one hour. So it was not uncommon for me to make “emergency” phone calls. For a very long period of our work, I would call and/or contact him by email 1-3 times between every session when I was seeing him weekly, although two week gaps between appointments were not rare due to both our schedules.)
On that particular evening, BN called back, but while he said all the right stuff, he sounded VERY irritated to me. I freaked, convinced that he had absolutely had it with me. I wrote him a really long email in which I asked what had happened. I recognized I might just be projecting since I knew I could get very scared for reasons that had nothing to do with him but at the same time I felt like I had picked up on something and I needed to know if I could trust myself so I wanted to check with him. Then I even offered to take a break from the relationship if he was hitting “compassion fatigue” with me. In retrospect, I may have overreacted.
He wrote me a wonderful reply in which he explained that he was rushed and he understood why it might have felt like he was irritated with me, but he really wasn’t. And he talked about the bind I was in, that no matter how he reacted, I was either suspicious or fearful; that it was a terrible spot to be in. He finished by saying it would be a good topic for our next session.
So at my next session, we were discussing the relationship and how I reacted and BN talked about the fact that the attachment bond is NOT supposed to be the focus. That during normal development, that bond should be a taken for granted background against which we learned and explored and did what we needed to. That my focus on the relationship: was it real? would he abandon me? could I trust him not to hurt me? Did he really care for me? was all a result of how injured I had been. That what I needed to learn was that the relationship just WAS, that I could trust it and no matter where I was and where he was, we were still connected.
He brought up my older daughter who had just left for college and he asked if I knew we were still connected? I told him definitely and he asked how I knew that. And I said that I carried her with me, and she carried me with her. That’s when he mentioned the poem. It was used in the movie “In Her Shoes” ( awesome movie btw, about healing from chilhood stuff) and he asked if I had seen it, and talked about the poem being about recognizing that our connections transcend distance and time.
I told him that it was difficult for me to believe that he carried me in his heart. He asked me how could I know that? And then he answered his own question by saying that I could call him and experience that he knew and remembered me. I asked if he ever thought of me in between sessions or when he was on vacations? (Just for the record, it took me about six months to wwork up the nerve to ask that!) BN told me of course he did, that these were deep, significant relationships and of course he thought of his clients. That it was impossible to look around his office (there are a lot of gifts obviously given by clients; otherwise there’d be a new reality show about hoarding small knicknacks and BN would be the headliner. ) and not think of his clients.
I went away and mulled that over for a week, but as I struggled, I realized a few things that left me very unhappy with the conversation. I went back in a week later and told him that it felt like he dodged the question when I asked if he carried me in his heart. That what I had wanted to hear (knowing it was too much to expect, but that I felt that way) was that he loved me, and of course he carried me in his heart but instead he talked about being able to call. He told me that the question was really about why hadn’t my parents carried me in their heart. That it wasn’t the same thing to have him carry me in his heart and that due to the ambiguities of the theraputic relationship that it could be difficult to trust it was real.
Then I told him that his pointing out all the things in his office and how he thought of his patients made me feel like one more person in a very long line of people. He told me that he knew that it was hard to believe that it could really be love if it was offered to so many people, but if I understood that it came from a deeper source and only moved through him, I could it accept that it was real.
I took in this time his reassurance that the connection was real and was something that I could depend on. As I wrestled with that before our next session and thought about how I should have been able to trust the bond but never could, it broke through that I had been scared my whole life. That I lived and moved through fear so constant that it was in the very air I breathed and woven into every cell. BN agreed. But I also said I wasn’t sure what it would be like to not be scared, that how could it actually be scary to think about not being scared? Who would I be without the fear? BN told me I deserved to find out. I told him that I was mourning because who knew what I would have done and what decisions I would have made if I wasn’t so scared, that fear had driven a lot of my decisions. That I was mourning the fact that I couldn’t even know WHAT it was I was mourning. That maybe it would have turned out the same but I couldn’t know that. BN told me that he didn’t know if it would have been different but that I would have spent a lot less time scared and that I deserved to live not in fear.
I stopped being scared. I don’t mean that like I never felt fear again or that I never struggled with doubting the relationship again, but it stopped being constant. I finally experienced on a really deep level that I could trust BN, that he was really there and not going anywhere.
A month of so later, at the end of a very intense session, I gave him a gift and a card. The card had a quote from Winston Churchill on the front: “Never, ever, ever give up!” On the inside, i had pasted the second half of the ee cummings poem (first part felt a little too romantic to be appropriate) and said “Thank you for teaching me this.” The gift was a silver heart shaped box with a green stone heart in it. BN was very touched by the gift, and the heart box sits open on the table in his office with the stone heart in it. Every time I go to see him, it helps me to see my heart sitting safely in his.
So now I can tell you what happened in the session yesterday.
The first topic I had to talk to him about was that I was hurt and angry about something he had done. In this particular instance, it wasn’t really displaced anger, it was about something he had actually done here and now (I do hasten to add, it was not a particularly heinous act, nor would it have upset me nearly as much if it wasn’t for how important he is to me. And just for the record, he handled it beautifully, was totally non-defensive, listened to and affirmed all my feelings, and worked hard to assure me it was a good thing I brought it up.) I am profoundly uncomfortable being angry at him so I was a little scared. In the middle of talking through this, I glanced over and started laughing. There was my heart box on the big round table that sits between us, where it always is, but it was closed. I looked at BN and said “how ironic, my heart is closed.” He laughed and said he had noticed that, that it was normally open and he wasn’t sure who closed it. We sat still for a few beats, and not one to miss a golden opportunity, BN very gently asked me if I wanted my heart open or closed? I started laughing and said “ah, that is the question isn’t it?” Then I leaned forward and said “I definitely want it open” as I opened it. Then he broke into a huge grin and said he was glad that I waited until he asked because “it was a gift and it was his now.” It was a perfect moment. So strange that one small object could provide me with so much, until I realize that it’s actually a symbol of the mystery holding the stars apart, a mystery the Boundary Ninja taught me how to embrace.
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