I really hesitated about posting this, because of the intensely personal nature of the events I’m about to describe. But I need to document it in order to help me process it and also remember it for future reference. I also think it’s so important that leaving it out would be like leaving a pivotal moment out of a novel.
This week in therapy we continued to work on my inner child/true self. He said he noticed that whenever I talked about the “waif-like little 6 year old girl” who lived inside me, I always looked over at the chair on the left hand side of the room (I’d already noticed that whenever I spoke of deep feelings or anything from the distant past, I had a tendency to glance over to the left). So he asked me to put her in that chair and asked me questions about how she would feel about various things I was experiencing right now.
We talked about the shame and embarrassment I said I’d felt toward her in last week’s session. There had been a lot of ambivalence–I felt protective but ashamed of her too. He noticed there was a difference this week: I didn’t mention the shame this time. Instead, I told him I wanted to mother her, to be the validating, nurturing mother she never had. He said he felt touched and this filled him with joy. I have a habit of not looking at people when I talk, but I looked at him then. He was smiling and his eyes looked glassy as if there were tears in them, so I knew he was telling the truth. The moment felt slightly awkward. I felt myself blush and I hid my face (like my 6-year old self would have). I think I giggled nervously too. But it was also so lovely and incredibly validating I got a lump in my throat. I couldn’t speak for a minute. I’m not used to that kind of emotion, but I’m starved for it. I didn’t tell him that what I want more than anything else is to cry with abandon in his arms like a little child, but I think he knows this. I also think it might happen–sometime in the future.
He asked how I felt about him having emotions toward the things I told him. I said emphatically that it helped me, because I would feel uncomfortable and intimidated if he sat there like a robot. Knowing my therapist has feelings during our sessions gives me more courage to feel my own feelings and express them, knowing they will be appropriately mirrored. That’s why an empathetic therapist is so important, especially for patients who have trouble accessing their own feelings. I’m so starved for this kind of validation that I lap it up like a starving kitten laps up milk from a plate.
He said something else at the end of the session that rather stunned me. He said he wished our sessions lasted longer and he enjoyed our time together. I’m not naive enough to think he has personal feelings for me of the romantic or even friendship sort, but I still have to be mindful because this counter-transference/transference (mutual feelings) are known to be a slippery slope between some clients and their therapists. In their place, these mutual feelings indicate empathy and are an important part of the therapeutic relationship. They can be very validating and healing and I think are necessary for therapy to work, but there’s a fine line between appropriate emotional expression and something that might not be quite ethical. But I trust my therapist and know he would never go there–and I wouldn’t either.
I didn’t go home and have an emotional meltdown the way I did after last week’s session. For a few days nothing much happened. But this morning I had the most amazing dream. It was a short dream and pretty straightforward but I think it’s an indicator that I’m starting to break through.
We were sitting in a field of tall grass, isolated from the rest of the world. As far as you could look in every direction, there were no people, houses, or indications of civilization of any kind. But there we were, and I was leaning against him, and he was stroking my head the way a loving father strokes a child’s head. I felt my body mold toward his, not in a sexual way, but in a way a baby or toddler molds their body to their parent when they are being held. I was completely in the moment, not thinking about anything at all, but just feeling. It was what you might call a zen moment. I can’t even begin to describe the emotions. I admit there was a sexual element present, but the relationship was definitely not a sexual one, just an incredibly validating one. Is this what unconditional love feels like? I don’t know.
I also seem to recall another dream-snippet from before the main dream, in which I was pulling magnetic tape out of a cassette. This too seems to have some kind of meaning…