Friday, January 13, 2017

The wise, healing girl

A few more days of doing therapy, and there’s the thirty-six-year-old woman who wants to be a permanent resident of a psychiatric hospital: She feels overwhelmed by all that is here-and-now and knows at the gut/bone/heart level that she is completely unable to be an adult. The twenty-four-year-old who, at her third session, came in wearing pink bunny slippers and cap, carrying several stuffed animals and talking in a fairy tale sweet infant’s voice. And the fifty-four-year-old woman, frightened to leave her boyfriend in the waiting room, with a tired baby face who waxed poetic about her perfectly love-filled childhood. She “enjoys” cutting herself deep – her replacement for decades of drowning in alcohol; she planned once to kill her child with her, to “save” them both from the abuses in the fifteen-year-long marriage. And there were her two brothers who “went crazy,” one sister who committed suicide young, and all alcoholics.

In order of least to most insight and capacity to change, they are the cutter, the citizen of the psych unit, the infantile young woman.

This child is marvelous. She is the essence of psychological problems and their solution. She told me she is in truth four years old, feels it to the core. She is the inner child. She wept, so sad, to be insulted by people when she acts very young. She doesn’t want to be a grown-up, but knows she has to. I empathized fully: This little girl is right, but the world is “a machine” that has to run competently. So we are required to be adults.

The solution, which we celebrated, was for her to be who she is, be the youngest of children and cry the sadness of missing that childhood: Why else would she still be stuck there? But our room was not a prison, but a haven or at least a refuge in which to be the real happy and grief-filled person. I think knowing you have that home is so magical that an hour can be a long time. I could hear her talking in that lilty high voice while knowing some sophisticated things, then being a baby, then not. At the end of the hour, a hug was asked – from both of her persons, I am pretty sure.

Observe how this odd young woman was an immeasurably better healer than the two others who, also stuck in childhood, were matured in their self-medicative mindsets. One was satisfied in self-pity, the other in a blindness dream of childhood love. For them, and for most people-as-clients, the therapist’s job is far too much the battering of defenses, the confronting of delusions, not being a healing agent. This can be enjoyable work, but I only like it when the client seems amenable to awakening, to accepting her truth – to being where the girl with the fuzzy bunny feet was.

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Comments are welcome, but I'd suggest you first read "Feeling-centered therapy" and "Ocean and boat" for a basic introduction to my kind of theory and therapy.