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Magic Moment - very long

Posted by DAisym on August 31, 2007, at 2:19:15

I have been trying to figure out how to write about the experience I had in therapy a few days ago. I want to share it because I believe that this is the best of what therapy has to offer. And because I shared it with someone IRL and his response wasn't what I expected at all. I'm open to all opinions here, even though I know I already feel somewhat protective and defensive about my therapy and my therapist.

We've been talking about my mother a great deal again lately. She's been around a lot and I really like her - we have fun together. But she has never completely approved of me - she wishes for a different kind of daughter, one who is less sensitive and silly and not such a bleeding heart. She wants me to make money, not save the world. *sigh* My therapist gets all righteous sometimes when we talk about her, he has this whole "can't she see all that you've done?!" speech that is very sweet and makes me feel very protected. One of the things that really drives him crazy is that she has this way of negating what I want and talking me into believing that I really want what she wants. And as I talked about this during the session, I felt this wave of grief come over me.

My therapist doesn't make very many interpretations. It isn't his style. But when I told him I was feeling sad, he said, "it makes sense to me that your mother has been so present in our sessions because you have been thinking about writing again. Which takes you further away from whom she wants you to be. So you took a step toward your dream and now you are terrified of her disapproval. What would happen if she saw you for who you are?"

My immediate response was to go small and feel very young and answer, "I'd be in big trouble."
T: "for what?"
me: "she'd know it was my fault."
T: "and then what would she do?"
me: "she'd hate me."
T: "maybe she'd hate your dad..."
me: (completely astonished by this idea) "really? But she said you aren't allowed to hate."
T: "but you just said she'd hate you."
me: "yes, but...that is different." (in a whisper): "is she allowed to hate?"
T: "oh yes. If someone did this to her child, she is allowed to hate them."
me: "then can I hate?"
T: "yes. Most definitely. You can love and hate at the same time."
me: "I never thought of that."

It went on like this for awhile. The ideas that were being exchanged were important, but more important was that the room had narrowed and time was suspended and he and I were wrapped in this bubble. I felt young - 7 or 8 and I was truly astonished by the idea that my mother might hate my dad and not me. And if she could hate, then by-gosh so could I. Normally I'd feel really stupid to not "know" this - but it wasn't like that at all. This part was completely safe to talk to him and he responded with answers, a few questions and even a few challenges but not in a threatening way. It was just us, in that office, with nothing else pressing in. At the end of the session, he very gently pulled us back and then worried a little about me having to go back to work. I stayed a few extra minutes and left with tears, but not the bad kind.

When we talked about this yesterday, he said he felt something really important had shifted and it wasn't just in the content of our discussion. I told him what I felt, like being in a safe bubble and he said he felt that too. I described it as psychically (is that a word?) merging - never touching and yet being in each other's space in a way that made me not alone. I wasn't just seen by him - I was felt. Meaning he could sense my feelings, my questions and my fears and he was OK with them. He said it was a "moment" of perfect attunement. They don't happen very often and you can't force them. But in this profound connection that we made, there is healing. And the idea that my mother could hate my dad, and not me, is an idea that frees up the little girl to tell her mother, instead of fearing the loss of her mother's love. He said he was both a stand in for my mom in those moments, as she should have been the one attuned to me at 7, and he was himself, the person who does know how awful it was for the little girl and who won't leave her to carry all these memories alone.

I was explaining all this to a friend last night. He said that while he knows this kind of connection and merging feels good, he believes it is gratifying an infant/toddler wish to re-merge with their mother after they've begun to separate and it could cause a client to actively seek out this gratification instead of doing the work that is more painful. I asked him how? I can't recreate that intense-connection since I don't know how or why it happens sometimes. In fact, this surprised me because I'd begun to think that we've worked together for so long that it wouldn't happen anymore. It isn't that I don't feel connected most of the time, but it is rare that it goes so deep like that. And my friend said Dan Stern would say (from the book "The Present Moment") not to discuss these "now" moments, it will ruin them. Both parties, having shared a moment, know it and just leave it alone.

But I talked about that with my therapist today and we decided we both disagree. By talking about our share experience, it enhanced it for me because he felt it too. So I guess it validated it, but more, I then knew it was a shared experience and that was OK. There wasn't a need to "take it back" or get all stirred up about being intrusive or doing therapy wrong, etc. He said he wants me to trust my own gut more about my experiences, and not let someone take them from me or call them into question for me. He asked me if I could hold onto to the connected feeling we'd created after the session. I said I could for awhile -- I didn't feel so alone. But in some ways it sharpened the loneliness now. He asked if I would prefer that those "moments" didn't happen. And the answer is a resounding "no." In fact, I wish everyone could have an experience like that in therapy - of really feeling completely with another person, of being seen and understood and just...allowed. Allowed to be who you are with the questions and sorrow and love or whatever.

It makes the rest of the struggles worth it.




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Psycho-Babble Psychology | Framed

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