In therapy I experienced a state of complete vulnerability and terror, which I carry around in myself, in a safe setting. If
- I am affected in my daily life by this terror, though I am unconscious of it
- I can bring it to consciousness in therapy, and
- bringing it to consciousness helps reduce its power over me, so that I function better
then therapy has value and I should continue with it. That seems likely. It is possible that bringing it to consciousness will just make me feel tired and wretched, as I do now, without any positive effects, but on that I trust to the psychotherapist to steer me away from-
At this my pitiless judge speaks up, and names it “pointless navel-gazing which only makes me even more useless and incompetent and non-functioning than I am now.” One advantage of having this level of judgment is I can think, well, that really is unlikely.
Another example of the judgment. I think, My femininity must be in my innate real self, as my upbringing valued making me a Man, a Christian gentleman, a good man, a solid and dependable masculine being. And my judgment says,
Rather my parents expected me to be weak and soft, they just wanted me to pretend to be male.
It ascribes to me the meanest motives, not even self-serving in a useful way, and utter worthlessness. It is not true. Yet it has power over me.
Last week, as I spoke from a feminine real self and a masculine protector wanting her not to be so open and truthful- the real self unmasked, and another saying the mask was necessary for safety, and the judgment judging both as completely wrong, both worthless and stupid and self-serving, I got more and more tongue-tied, and at the end I imagined that IB client and his mother. At the end of our interview, I gave my reassuring speech that yes this was worrying but I would be there to help, and she repeated it to him, stripping out all the respect and care. “Mr Languish knows you will be stressed but try not to worry too much” as in don’t make a fuss or be even more useless. A memory may be my unconscious’ way to communicate with my conscious mind what I am feeling.
I wondered if this were transference, and if it would be useful to speak to her as if she were my mother. She wondered if the therapy was useful, and if it were worthwhile continuing after six sessions. I said that I appeared to be functioning better though that could be down to daily worship with Pendle Hill, and there must be some value to six sessions or it would be unethical to offer them and we should try to get the most out of what we had. Though I am unhappy with the length of time I took to express that I am happy with the thoughts expressed. The second one may have come from her, last week: I am suggestible.
How have I benefited from therapy in the past?
Well, I feel I have had certain steps forward. I realised that I was afraid of my fear and anger being visible, so when I felt fear or anger I resisted them and the resistance, like an isometric exercise, made them unbearable. Then in October 2018 I was moved to meditate, and it felt like I was swimming in my pain, aware and not resisting, and it was bearable. Though on Monday with Pendle Hill, I found I was judging the ministry as uninspired, then rebuking myself “Receive spoken ministry in a tender and creative spirit”, then judging the next: setting up a resistance, which stopped me hearing the ministry, rather than noticing the judgment and still hearing the ministry. Resistance is still possible, it just happens less. Permitting all my feelings when they seemed so dangerous is difficult.
And in September 2009 I could have told you a story of my mother, of weeping uncontrollably, and ended it with all the emotion of myself aged nine wailing
She didn’t understand!
And in 2009, I thought, oh right. She didn’t understand. (That is, she was human.) I would have said it was a moment of forgiveness, reconciliation, and understanding- until this morning when it seemed there was unresolved pain from it- unmet expectations of my mother I still thought reasonable, or anger at the World.
Now it seems to me that was about the last of a series of battles of will, and the only one I remember. I am a baby, on my back, utterly vulnerable and terrified, with my mother judging. And so in the past I have had days when I felt a complete lack of trust in myself, my feelings, perceptions and beliefs, I could not even trust them to be reliably wrong, just stopped clocks whose rightness was random. This is a destabilising feeling. In the past it has happened rarely, and the feeling has ebbed over the following days. The last time I had such an extreme attack is over a year ago.
This morning, it seemed- this was the last of a series of battles of will, most of which occurred very early. It was a freak of nature. My will had been subsumed under hers as a toddler, and this aged nine was an assertion of my own judgment which never happened at any other time. For a moment, part of me had protruded out from under her thumb, and was squeezed back. Then in my thirties I thought “It is time to rebel against my parents”- time to become my own person- and I now have my own moral and aesthetic sense, though not clearly my own desires.
Are you safe, she asks again. Yes. I have suffered extremes of distress before, and I live through them. I can be distressed here, and I will survive. In fact I am safer doing this by video, because when it ends I do not face the labour of getting myself home when desperately tired.
I hope this is not pointless and painful navel-gazing, that it creates understanding and resilience.