The Filth And The Muck

In therapy today, E. and I talked about how the people in my emotional house might help the woman who had that hellish night with Stephen (continuing with the Next Therapy Assignment I wrote about the other day). I decided the Wise Woman, Compassion and the Nurse and maybe some of the others would be on a design team to make a plan for her. Today we talked about the purpose of the plan:

  • provide some physical healing
  • create a sense of emotional safety
  • counteract the “it’s not a big deal” message
  • validate the anger and help her find ways to express it
  • create a cleansing ritual

You can imagine that there’s a lot of thinking and feeling involved with each of these. We just started to explore what the team might do within each of them. It’s kind of fun but also meaningful to use fantasy and metaphor to help me figure out my feelings and what I need–what I needed then, and what I need now.

But when we got to the cleansing ritual, I unexpectedly stumbled. We both thought a cleansing ritual was needed, and at first I thought about a beautiful pool in the forest. Then I stopped, struck by a realization.

“What is it?” E asked.

“No wonder baths do nothing for me. Even if I wash the outside… still there is… it comes…” I couldn’t find the words for a while. Then, finally “The dirt, the filth keeps coming back. Because it comes from the inside.”

“No,” said E., right away. “It doesn’t. It’s not hers, that dirt. It comes from the outside.”

Ah, but those words have such a hard time penetrating the well-protected heart! I have heard her say it before, I have said it to others, but to really feel it about myself?!?

I go home after the session and feel that disgusting muck bubbling within me until it fills me up and oozes out, dark and ugly. It chases away the peace I’d been feeling and sends me to bed for the afternoon.


I know I’m much stronger than I was this past summer and that I won’t stay in this repellent slime for long. I’ll let the Christmas smells in the kitchen and our pretty little tree and dinner tomorrow with my husband, son and son’s lovely girlfriend bring me back to myself.

Longer term, I will need to figure something out for dealing with that slime, and I think this will be the biggest challenge for my design team.



Art: Necrotic Ooze by James Ryman – more info and images here.


    • I’m trying to talk to the gunk but I haven’t found the right words yet. It doesn’t respond to reason. But I am making the coquitos soon–perhaps a little alcohol, music, and the people I love will convince it to let up a bit.

      Warm holiday wishes to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I find I tend to try to smother it in a pile of the Seven Major Food Groups (Chocolate, Cookies, Cake, Cheese, Coffee, Chips, and ice Cream). Not the healthiest strategy, but it hides the slime for a while!

        I had to look up “coquitos” and I found that it is either eggnog-type drink with rum, or else some delicious-looking cookies. What are you making?


      • Puerto Rican eggnog – way yummier than regular eggnog, in my opinion.And my son and his girlfriend have already arrived and bring young love into the house, which is always beautiful.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Being able to feel the muck, describe it, even allow yourself to acknowledge it exists, is such an important and necessary first step. Maybe even the hardest step, because you can’t heal something you’re not willing to see and feel. I hope you had a really nice evening with your family. And that you can see how strong you are for facing all of this muck.


  2. […] cleansing ritual for this wounded woman, and I said, maybe we can’t clean it up, because that muck, the horrible stuff, that just keeps bubbling up from the inside. And you said no, it’s not her; it’s external. But that image resonated and stayed with […]


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