The Repair Part I


I am back with the promised account of my last session. This post is the first of two (it got REALLY long). It was a very long, very intense session, so I’ll do my best to describe what happened. As in the last session that I described in Disruption and Rage, there are exchanges that stand out, but sometimes the order in which they occurred can get a bit fuzzy. And honestly, it feels like there is no way to convey just how powerful and intense this session was. As BN said later in the session, we were in right brain territory and it is in that place that words often fail. I do want to say up front that I experienced that my relationship with BN is very real, involves deep care on his part, I even dare say love, and some of my anger and all of my fears were based on my past. Even in the midst of being angry with BN, I am immeasurably grateful for him and his (sometimes appreciated, many times hated) boundaries.

I also want to confess that this feels scary to post. I am uncomfortable (such a weak, inadequate word) with my anger, so to allow others to see me at my most angry can feel like everyone is going to be deeply disappointed in me. But I thinks its an important part of owning this part of me to speak of this here. Sorry for all the bad language; to quote BN “you do like to cuss.” Especially when I am angry. 🙂

BN let me in and things started very much as usual. We smiled at each other as I entered the room and I asked how he was. He said “fine.” Then I asked how his vacation was and he said he had a nice vacation. By that time I was sitting in my usual location on the love seat and BN was back in his recliner. So far nothing bad had happened, so I focused on trying to actually breathe. I made sure that I actually looked at him when I said hello and confess that there was no steam or flames coming out of his head; he looked like he always does.

So he opened with “so I know you were feeling scared about our session.” And I replied that the fact that I didn’t seem to be breathing would confirm that. Don’t know if I have mentioned it in the past, but humor is my “go to” coping method when anxiety is high or avoidance is to be done. BN dinged me on it later in the session. He told me to take my time. So I looked around to see my heart box open with my heart still alone in the box. Sigh of relief; no need to dramatically storm out. I kept looking to see where the thingamabob was and did not see it (turned out it was blocked from my view by my water bottle) and almost came out of my seat. My first thought was that the person had taken it home and I felt like the world’s biggest insensitive jerk. Then I saw it and calmed down. There was a running commentary from me through this so BN knew what was going through my head.

I told him that I have had a very difficult time since our last session. That while he was explaining to me that he thinks it’s a good thing that all the gifts are out and people can interact with them that I heard him with a split awareness. That half of me heard what he was saying as reasonable and that I agreed with it, but the other part… and I started to choke up. BN was very gentle and told me to take my time and that it was really ok to say how I felt. I told him about writing the email that I didn’t send. I told him that internally, what I heard was “tough shit, you’re on your own, this is the way it is and you just have to deal with it.” I went on to describe what I said in my last posts: that I understood the connection was still there, but that I had seen more in it then was there, that I had made it up. That no one was going to protect me and I was still abandoned and alone.

BN asked what I needed protection from which kind of stopped me in my tracks. My first thought was to wonder if I really needed protection from other clients? And then I realized how deeply scared I was of my rage. I told BN that I think I wanted to be protected from my anger. I also wanted to make sure he was protected from my anger. When I truly allow the anger in, I get really scared that I am going to turn into my father and someone will get hurt.

I went back to our last session and brought up BN telling me that he thought I hadn’t really touched on the anger. I told him I had been thinking about that and I felt there had been times where I had expressed a lot of anger, so could he say more about that? Didn’t  he think I had expressed my anger? His reply was swift and clear. “Not at all.” He went on to tell me that I could talk about feeling angry at another time, but when I got near it in the moment, I would often back off from it by using humor (if we were playing battleship, I would have had to yell “hit” and handed him a red peg. See I’m doing it right now. Ah, defense mechanisms, thy name is AG. :)). Or that I would intellectualize what was going on by explaining the anger away or turn the anger on myself. He talked about how my reaction to thinking the thingamabob was gone, was to immediately go to what a terrible person I was. But I never really allowed myself to actually feel and express the anger in the moment. That anger is part of being human and I had to stop denying this part of myself, that it needed to be integrated. That he realized that I was angry with my father but I was also angry with him and it was ok to express it.

At that point, I admitted I was really angry with him and started describing how it made me feel. Umm, just assume that I was a weeping, screaming mess for the rest of the session. Since I was. I told him how it felt like he just didn’t give a shit how I felt, that he wasn’t going to do anything about it and I didn’t fucking matter. He was very encouraging and accepting about me expressing my anger.

He said that it was no mistake or coincidence that this issue around the heart box, of me feeling violated while he stood by, was coming up just after we started to discuss body issues and sexuality. That as soon as we started talking about my problems with weight and food, that really intense shame started to come out and he thought I had unconsciously found a way to recreate the abuse. That he wasn’t a strategic therapist (he very wryly said he wasn’t that smart), so he had not in any way tried to set the situation up. But that we both knew that it wasn’t under either of our control, but that we would find ourselves dealing with what needed to be dealt with. He hadn’t even noticed something was in the box, and maybe it was his inattention to details but that it was obvious from our last session and how scared I was coming to this one, that this was very important; that the symbolism was really quite incredible. That it was very moving, and full of pathos, to watch me react to this, have the anger come up, then be so scared that I tried to deny the anger by believing the relationship wasn’t real or I didn’t matter.

He talked for some time about the need to acknowledge my anger, even saying at one point “AG, join the human race” to which I replied “but what if I’m not human?” He said he understood my fears about becoming my father or raging out of control, but the only way through was to let the anger out, to own that part of myself and experience that it didn’t happen. Things got very intense and I was expressing a lot of anger about not wanting to do this and being tired of being mature and that I kept dancing around it but I was really angry at him. And it started pouring out. How angry the boundaries make me, that would the universe really stop spinning if I actually heard how he felt? That just once, just fucking once, could he let down the damn boundaries and have a fucking spontaneous reaction? That I hated that what my father had done caused me to need this ridiculous relationship with these stupid rules. Why did I need to own my anger? How about if I just wanted to leave a part of myself split off?

To which BN replied “you’ve already tried that.” I had evidently found my zone, because without hesitation and with a great deal of vehemence, I spat back at him “fuck you!” To which my utterly unflappable Ninja said “that was really good.” 🙂 Who reacts that way? How can you not love the man?

I’ll be back with the rest of the story soon.

  1. August 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Absolutely incredible! BN should give classes or something on how to be a therapist. It sounds like such an emotionally intense, validating session. Looking forward to the next installment 🙂

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  2. Rhonda
    August 16, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Having had a childhood that was at least somewhat similar, I have had a huge reaction to this story. Having Ninja stand by and let someone else put an object in YOUR heart [box] made me so enraged on your behalf. Even if he didn’t notice it at first, the fact that he didn’t apologize and immediately remove it makes me SO angry, and it didn’t even happen to me. Your rage makes so much sense to me, and I am glad you are working through this.

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  3. Ann
    August 16, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    AG, Your T sounds so safe and balanced. How many years has he patiently waited for this moment? I can not imagine a safer place. It would be so much easier on him to tell you what you want to hear. Then he wouldn’t have to deal with all the intensity and could play the role of the good guy. I think your work with him shows he does care for you. I know it is so painful, but now he knows you more authentically and encourages your anger towards him. He sees it as a positive healthy reaction. (Go figure?) I hope one day to be able to allow myself to take the same risks you have! Thank you for your post. Xoxo, Ann

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  4. August 16, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Dealing with parent rage is so damn difficult, isn’t it? I mean, threatens to tear you apart atom from atom difficult. Do you find it intertwined with incredibly intense grief? They always seem to go together for me. I’m sorry, I’m having trouble putting thoughts together- it’s been that way all day. Just know that I’m still in awe of what you are doing and still sending thoughts of support.

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  5. August 17, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    This is really fantastic on so many levels. I know it doesn’t feel fantastic, but BN’s skill in navigating you through the rage is truly..fantastic.

    Swearing is incredibly cathartic, isn’t it? I wonder if they talk about that in therapy school? I seriously am not a swear-er in real life, but I swear like a sailor in therapy. Once, I was relating a story about one of my kids who swore at school…long, funny story…and how we came down pretty hard on him, and he just looked at me like, “You hypocrite!” I’m like, “Seriously…my child has never heard me use that language before.”

    Still not sure if he believed me or not! 🙂

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  6. JD
    August 17, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    AG. Thanks for this insight you given about your life. I think it is very thought provoking. I am not sur about the foul language; something about lack of respect for the T. I suspect your T does not lose that language!
    I know though that this can happen when you are very angry.

    Normally you find that underneath all that anger there is sadness and sometimes we use anger as a defence mechanism. I know you use humour very appropriately but I am just wondering whether on occasions underneath the anger as well as the sadness there is loss. Furthermore there is something about the child within you and the real stamping of the feet!

    I admire your openess and honesty in sharing your session.

    Thanks Josie

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  7. muff
    April 26, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    “Who reacts that way? ”

    Someone with minimal agro in store; someone who isnt afraid of their own feelings of agro, someone who has vented most of their repressed agro, someone who should have been from their beginning ….without a traumatic childhood, someone worth connecting with and knowing, someone who is a rarity in this world today.

    “We shall overcome.” 🙂

    Like

    • April 26, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      Absolutely right Muff! I once asked BN how he could be so calm when we were discussing my feelings for him and he told me that some of it was experience but some of it was that he had cleared his own stuff out. He’s very centered and sure of who he is and what he believes without believing he’s always right or doesn’t have more to learn. He models what a healthy human being looks like in front of me every session, which has taught me so much,. And we shall overcome! 🙂

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  8. muff
    April 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    “Dear God,

    We struggle, we grow weary, we grow tired.
    We are exhausted, we are distressed, we despair.
    We give up, we fall down, we let go.
    We cry. We are empty, we grow calm, we are ready
    We wait quietly.
    A small, shy truth arrives.
    Arrives from without and within us.
    Arrives and is born. Simple, steady, clear.
    Like a mirror, like a bell, like a flame, like rain in summer
    A precious truth arrives and is born within us. Within our emptiness.
    We accept it, we observe it, we absorb it.
    We surrender to our bare truth.
    We are nourished, we are changed.
    We are blessed. We rise up.
    For this we give thanks.
    Amen”

    Michael Leunig.

    Like

    • April 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

      Muff
      Thank you for this. What an evocative description of a process that is almost impossible to put into words, it resonated very strongly with me, xx AG

      Like

  9. muff
    April 27, 2014 at 2:58 am

    “The human child at a tender age
    Is often placed into a cage
    Where it is trained to join the cult
    Of acting like a nice adult.
    The nice adult then goes all sad
    And starts to act a little mad
    Until it turns completely wild
    And liberates its inner child.
    Childhood must be had when young
    Something like when spring has sprung
    Let the birds and angels sing
    Childhood is the time of spring.”

    Michael Leunig. 🙂

    Like

  1. September 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm

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