I drafted this post back in mid-November. Then life took over, and I haven’t even looked at this blog for a month. So as you read this, just know that 1) These emotions are no longer current; 2) Plenty more has happened since then; 3) I’m doing well; and 4) I miss my blog and especially interacting with readers, so I hope I’ll soon be showing up more often.
At the start of my next session with Elaine, she asks me, “What should we work on today? What is up?”
“We have to go back to see the little girl,” I say. “We promised her. I promised, and you promised, too.” I wonder how she can even ask what we should work on.
“Okay, then,” she says. “I just like to check.”
I sit up in the corner of the couch. I am not a person who sits properly on furniture. It’s so uncomfortable to me. So I kick off my shoes and sit cross-legged in the corner, with my back is supported on two sides. I take off my shawl and use it like a blanket over my knees. Is that a metaphoric protection from Elaine? Maybe. She probably thinks so.
She tells me to close my eyes and imagine that internal house where my parts live. Transportation is no problem today, so zoom, there I am, in the hallway outside the girl’s bedroom.
“The door is open today,” I tell Elaine, “not like last week.”
She asks if I can go in the room, but I don’t feel immediately ready. I tell her I need a minute to settle down first. So we breathe together, slowly, until I can feel my body calming down a bit. Only then do I step in the room.
Elaine asks me what is happening.
The girl is still in the rocker, held by a version of the caring, maternal part of myself. I find I”m able to slip my current self, like a ghost, into the woman rocking the girl, so we merge into one. Then I’m the one holding the girl.
Elaine lets me just do that for a while, to notice how it feels. It feels good, like it did when my boys were small and I would rock them. The girl holds the blanket and sucks her thumb a little.
Elaine asks, “Does she want to show you something?”
I wait a while, but there doesn’t seem to be anything.
Elaine says, “Tell her it’s okay if she wants to tell.”
The girl becomes uncomfortable. She hides her face against me.
“I think she’s afraid she is going to get in trouble,” I say.
It feels like there is something about being bad, getting in trouble, not being loved, but it’s confused and not really attached to anything specific that I can tease out. “She’s just worried that I’ll think she is bad.”
Elaine says, “You’re a mother. Can you remember your boys when they were her age? Was there anything they could have told you that would have made you think they were bad?”
“No,” I say, without hesitation.
“Exactly,” she says. “Can you bring that same confidence to her?”
I want to, I do. Something is off though. I mean, I can be confident that she isn’t bad. I can be confident I will protect her from anyone who says she shouldn’t tell.
“Something still doesn’t feel right,” I tell Elaine.
She continues to appeal to my mothering instincts, and that helps. But still…
“Okay, I know what it is,” I say. “It’s Doubt. I can’t be confident that I can defend the girl against her. I want to, but it’s like I don’t trust myself to be stronger than Doubt. I have a lot of experience with Doubt dominating. I don’t want to tell her that I totally believe everything and know she isn’t bad, and then have Doubt change my mind.”
“Okay then,” she says. “So today maybe it’s enough to just let her know that you want to defend her. We are going to run out of time to go further anyway. And there is no rush. We can leave her well cared for and come back again next week…”
My last image is of the girl crawling down from my lap, taking my hand and leading me over to the low table for some coloring. I split myself from the caring mother who is staying with her, walk out the door, and open my eyes into Elaine’s office.
She says when clients are mothers, she finds it helpful to draw on that in sessions. I can see how that works. I feel no reluctance to defend a small child, to yell from the rooftops that she is not bad.
“It’s just that I don’t want to say I will defend her against Doubt, and then be overwhelmed by Doubt later. I don’t want to lie to her.” I don’t know if I’m explaining it well. It’s about wanting to do right by this little girl. I don’t want to make her a promise I can’t keep. Right now I feel like I can believe her, but what if Doubt completely swamps me later?