T For Two

I cannot wait to see the new AIW movie.  I have heard great things about it, and Tim Burton better not fuck it up.  Then, HP the Last, Part I and II.  They better not fuck up the movies too badly.  You know, I will watch any movie with Alan Rickman in it, and then there’s this video by Texas, called In Demand.  The lead singer wanted Alan in it, and he said yes.  I would give my eyeteeth (what the fuck are eyeteeth, anyway?) to trade places with her in this video, especially in the gas station scene (plus, I would love to have her body).

So, I had therapy today.  My therapist was in Florida, so it’s been over two weeks since we’ve had a session.  On Monday, I had a meditation session with Julie.  Then, she made a fabulous baked tilapia in cornmeal crust with rice and red beans (and turkey bacon!).  She even bought two bottles of Pepsi One for m because she’s thoughtful like that.

Yes, I have a point to my rambling, as usual.  In the meditation session, more images were coming up.  More flashbacks, but nothing new.  Repeats, as it were.  The difference is that the little Minna started fighting back more.  No matter how much my father told her to be quiet, she struggled, fought, and shouted to him that he was not a part of her.  That only caused him to ratchet up the violence.  In the last scene, he tied her wrists with his belt, strung her up, and started whipping her across the face with his second belt.

Let me be clear.  This never happened.  My father never hit me–as least, not as far as I can remember.  He used to beat my brother, though, but I only know that because my mom told me at a much later date.   However, when I described this scene to my therapist, she said it might be a representation of the sexual violence he perpetuated upon me.  This coincides with something Julie suggested to me about why I have never had difficulty enjoying sex.  She posited that perhaps I categorized what happened to me as physical violence and not sex, therefore, I could enjoy sex without flashing back on the molestation.  I have to think about it some more, but it sounds possible to me.

I will say that when someone uses the word rape with what my father did to me, I wince.  The same with what happened in Thailand.  I say something like, “He forced me to have sex” rather than…the alternative.  It’s even hard for me to type.  “He raped me.”  Rape is such an ugly word, and in it, there is no control whatsoever for ME.  I said to Julie that rape was an uglier word than murder to me, which is sad in a way.

Before I started having flashbacks, I knew that something awful had happened in my childhood, but I couldn’t remember exactly what it was.  My friends can tell you that I have an excellent memory for things that happened in the past, say twenty years or so, but I can’t remember much of anything before the age of eighteen.  When I started having flashbacks the first time, I quickly suppressed them.  I questioned the validity, and I was content to know that something happened to me, even if I never knew what exactly that something was.  At the very least, there was emotional incest and inappropriate boundaries.  At the very worst…well, I didn’t like thinking about that.  I still don’t.

Where am I now with the molestation issue?  I waver.  I believe that there was some physical abuse.  I am not entirely sure to what extent because I have such a very vivid imagination (which, ironically, makes certain types of meditation easier for me), and the images were coming to me fast and furiously.  I am fine with that.  For now.  I have enough childhood shit with which to deal without obsessing about the finer details of the sexual abuse.

The meditation session was designed so I wouldn’t have to concentrate on my breathing.  Since the images have started surfacing, I have had a hard time remembering to breathe.  The other thing I’m good at, apparently, is moving my chi around.  During the meditation session, I had icy-hotness bolting up my spine at the same time as I had warmth burning at my forearms and my right knee.  In addition, my groin was completely pulsating with energy.  My face started tingling, too.  Julie said this was all positive, but it’s damn uncomfortable.

I have spent fifteen years trying to repress all movement and energy from moving around.  Deliberately letting it loose is scary as hell.  In fact, I think it’s one of the reasons I have a hard time practicing Taiji.  I am used to being frozen–and I can’t stay frozen while I’m moving my chi.  Next up, lucid dreaming, but that’s another entry for another time.

In my therapy session, I was talking about the meditation session and about the phone call with my mother.  I was down on myself for freezing up when talking to my mother.  My therapist and I focused on the “Pray for him” request from my mother.  When I told my therapist my mother had said that to me, she asked what I said back.  I said I froze.  I didn’t say a damn thing.  And, I was really disappointed because I didn’t say something like, “Mom, I don’t pray.”  My therapist gave me a few other suggestions as to what I could have said, such as, “Mom, you know I don’t pray.  It hurts me that you don’t listen to what I tell you.”

I mentioned what one of my commenters (hi, Rob M.!) about saying something like, “Mom, Dad molested me.  I don’t want to talk about him.  You are in your bubble, and I can’t be there with you” because it was something that never occurred to me to say.  With all the other responses, it’s about finding a way around the main issue, which is the childhood abuse.

So, my therapist and I started doing EFT around my issues with my mother.  Dramatically reduced, EFT is a systems of tapping that release tensions and helps free one of repetitive destructive thoughts.  While tapping, one gets to the crux of the matter like this, “Even though I freeze when I talk on the phone with my mother, I deeply and completely accept myself”.  Both parts of the equation are important.  Then, more tapping on certain acupressure points while repeating certain phrases from the aforementioned sentence.  I know it sounds nutty, and believe me, I was fucking skeptical in the beginning, but by the time my therapist mentioned it to me, I had nothing to lose.

In addition, since I am good at conjuring up images, this technique is a good fit for me.  As I am tapping and my therapist is having me repeat certain phrases, images and words and emotions spontaneously come up in me.  I tell her about them, and then we discuss what they mean.

Around this particular issue, I got images of a wall crumbling down as well as a tower falling.  The Tower is my favorite Tarot card, and it basically means that everything old has to be destroyed before something new can be built.  I also got the image of my mother’s heart being frozen, much in the same way I’ve been frozen over the years.

At some point in the session, I started talking about Taiji.  Many martial arts focus on being strong and overcoming an opponent.  The basic philosophy of Taiji is different.  It’s more about being receptive.  Not passive, but not aggressive at first.  It’s about staying open and redirecting energy.  I’m bringing this up because I started to feel the same thing in my therapy session in discussing my mother.  After doing a few rounds of EFT, my therapist asked me to imagine the initial scenario again.  She asked if I felt any different, and I did.  Instead of feeling tense and frozen and ready for battle, I felt softened and even compassionate towards my mother.

The other thing I talked about was how in Taiji, Julie believes in not getting too technical with the newbies.  I mean, if I were doing something that could permanently wreck my knee, she would point it out.  However, if my hand wasn’t exactly right in one of the postures, but it didn’t matter at the time, she would let it go.  I’ve been studying with her for almost two years, and I’m nearly done with the solo form.  There are three sections and roughly 150 postures with many repeats.  I have about ten new postures left, and then I’m done.  I know the first section pretty well, and I am starting to notice the small adjustments I can make in order to do the postures more efficiently.  This is called self-correction.  The thing is, even when I notice I’m not doing something correctly (such as stepping too soon in the Single Whip), I don’t remember to correct it every time, even though I know what I am doing wrong now.

I have a problem with perfection which is getting in the way with my relationship with my mother.  I want to say the perfect thing to her, and then I end up saying nothing.  I give the above illustration because it shows that I can allow some imperfections in other areas of my life.  Another is this blog.  For the most part, I write the entry, correct for typos and flow, and then I publish.  I don’t do too much editing of thought because I risk losing the immediacy that way.

In my closer friendships, I am beginning to speak out more, even if I don’t have the perfect words to say what I mean.  I am starting to trust that my true friends will accept my imperfect communication in lieu of no communication at all.

I need to take that same willingness to be imperfect into my relationship with my mother.  Our relationship is frozen because I have allowed myself to be silenced by her.  More to the point, I silence myself with her.   This leaves us with a husk of a relationship and me feeling alone in my family.  The thing is, it’s not really good for her, either.  She has the illusion that we are close, but not the real deal.  I barely tolerate talking to her, and I give as little as possible before getting off the phone.

Near the end of my session, we did a little EMDR as well.  Briefly, this is a way to rewire the brain after traumatic events.  One way is to follow the therapist’s finger as she moves it back and forth (while talking), but that makes me dizzy.  She can tap you on the knees, but I don’t like that either.  I prefer the buzzers that I hold in my hands.  It’s a way to reinforce positive adaptations as well.

In short (yeah, I know), I am Taiji and eclectic therapy as a two-prong assault on my childhood abuse issues.  I don’t really have much choice in dealing with the issues now because I have to in order to move on.  As I talked about in therapy, Taiji and therapy are natural complements for each other.  They both play to my strengths, including active imagination.   I am freaked as fuck with all the movement going on inside of me, but I have to believe that in the end, it’s a good thing.  I can’t go back, so I have to move forward.

9 Responses to T For Two

  1. Better to move than be stagnant. Good for you. =)

    None of us needs to be perfect, nor do we ever expect you to be. But letting go of that expectation is one of the toughest things to do, isn’t it? I know I’m working on it as well, but it’s a slow process.

    There is no “perfect” answer for your mother. The best answer will gain you some peace and satisfaction, and cause her to stop and think a bit. But there are many potential word and phrase choices to accomplish that.

    I’m jealous of your learning the taiji. Very cool.

  2. What you said about contrasting feeling frozen and ready for battle with your mother with feeling compassion toward her really resonated with me. I’ve found that, ironically enough, it’s only when I let go of my anger and frustration and disappointment in my father, and try to see him as a product of his own experiences and fears and hurts, and feel compassion toward him, that I am able to get the distance I need to interact with him calmly. Feeling constant fury at him does not enable me to protect myself in the way I need to. Viewing him the way I imagine a therapist would, or a spiritual teacher, is truly liberating.

    Not that I usually manage to *accomplish* this, of course. But it’s something for me to strive for.

    You continue to rock. Congrats on the movement (of all kinds).

  3. Kel, movement is definitely a good thing. However, since I have spent fifteen years desperately trying to keep everything frozen, it’s scary as hell. There is no perfect anything, but damn if it doesn’t stop me from trying. An endeavor that is bound to fail, of course, causing me to be even more pissed off at myself. And, you can do Taiji–just ask Julie.

    Betsy, yeah, it’s not going to be easy to do. I know I will fuck up time and time again. I just have to keep striving, I guess. Thanks for the props!

  4. I cannot state strongly enough how brave you are to take this on. Way to go, rockin’ girl!

    You don’t always need to have the perfect comeback for your mom. If you think of the right one, though, your mom will return to the same subject, so you’ll get a chance to use it later.

  5. Minna — Well, if we can convince Julie to move south, I’d happily seek her counsel. But no way am I commuting to the tundra for taiji classes. =)

    I’ll let you beat yourself up for not being perfect just as soon as you let me.

  6. Choolie, I wouldn’t be doing it without your support, so thank you. As for my mom, no shit. You speak power to the truth.

    snee, isn’t she yummy?

    Kel, when you come visit, you can talk to Julie about it. And, no fair using reality against me!

  7. Kel, I have some pretty sweet things going for me in the tundra. An incredible pair of teachers who I am not done learning from. A really cute house in a really nice neighborhood. Some wonderful students who inspire and teach me (Minna!). So, you’ll need to be pretty convincing.