Dialogue on the Couch.

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*** preface: this is a flash of my last therapy session, hence the “on the couch” reference.  yes, there is dialogue left out, but I realize this still came out sounding choppy. There was a lot of silence during the session, which is unusual because normally I’m talking a lot; however, this tactic was interesting, different, and also productive for me.***

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“Let’s do something different today,” B says, after I fly into his office seven minutes late and flop onto his sofa, scattering my stuff everywhere. Cell phone. Sunglasses. Keys. Cup of ice water from home.

“Close your eyes {if you want} and tell me what you feel in your body,” he says.

Whaaaaat the efff? I don’t know how to do this kind of horse shit. I don’t understand what B wants me to say. My shoulders clench as I shrink to fit. I feel stiff and like I want to disappear. I feel dumb. I don’t know what to do with my arms, my limbs, my body parts. So I just clasp my hands together on my lap and sit. Lame.

It’s quiet, dark. I don’t move anything except my eyes underneath my lids. This is such a foreign thing, this…self-imposed stillness.

photo creditScreen Shot 2013-08-10 at 10.28.23 PM

In my body?” I ask, squishing my eyes closed even harder.

I inhale and exhale slowly. B hears and acknowledges this, then repeats his question: “How do you feel in your body?”

“I feel…calm?” and snort because I can’t recall the last time I felt that way. Maybe I should do this more often. I ask B if this is meditation, and he says kinda sorta, eh, not really.

Then he asks me to try and notice other parts of my body and how they feel. I think as hard as I can and then stuff just starts bubbling up from nowhere, somewhere.

I guess I feel angry. And sad,” I say as tears start to slide down my cheeks, drip onto my chest, and slide down into my bra. The quivering chin begins.

And what does that feel like?” he prods, gently.

Red. Hot. Tight,” I say.

“Where?” B asks. “In my shoulders,” I blurt, “because that’s always where I carry things, my stress.”

What else?‘ He asks.

Well, I am starting to think about the other day when–”

He cuts me off. “Don’t attach a story to it. Let the story just come, and then let it go. Ride the wave.”

More tears. Kleenex is required.

By the end of the hour with B, I feel wrung out like a washcloth. Empty, but with a side of relief. And I hadn’t delved into anything (verbally), any “stories;” I hadn’t run my mouth, I hadn’t sat there blabbering about this and that.

It was something different indeed. I wonder if I can teach myself to do this when I need to. I’m guessing that’s B’s goal. To get me to let go of all my stories and just ride the wave, rather than getting stuck in the ragged edges, the pitfalls, climbing straight uphill only to fall down in an avalanche…

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Obviously this post wasn’t recreated verbatim, but from bits of what I remember.

Do you find yourself getting lost in your stories? What are your stories? B says he almost doesn’t remember his anymore. I can’t imagine how that can be. Do you think we’re capable of forgetting things that stick in our minds, things that make camp and won’t leave?

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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  • http://www.misselaineouslife.com Elaine A.

    I have some stories that will never leave. They are just too ingrained. Others are already gone. I think it is simply the impression they leave. Good or bad.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Elaine,

      I wonder, too, about some being too ingrained. And now you’ve got me thinking on the impressions vs. the actual memories. Interesting. And then I guess I’d also say the impressions may NEVER leave….

  • http://writingwishing.com/ Alison

    I have many stories. MANY. That I can’t get out. I think they’re maybe just meant to stay in.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Alison,
      I know, me too. But when they stay in? What consequences do we suffer? What are we supposed to do, and how can we heal?

  • http://hellocheney.com/ Cheney Giordano

    I would LOVE to get my stories out and leave them behind, but haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Good to know I’m not alone in that!

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Cheney,

      You are most definitely NOT ALONE in this. And I wish I had the magic solution. My therapist indicated while it is possible to forget “stuff,” that it takes time, and it’s a process one has to learn. I’m not sure I’ll be successful, but I’m willing to try anything twice. So there’s that. ;-)

  • http://www.imnotinfectious.com/ Michael Lombardi

    I confess to not really understanding, but I’m glad it sounds like you were able to get some release. Being able to incorporate that when you’re not in his office has the opportunity to be very beneficial.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Michael,

      Thanks for coming by!
      I know it sounds totally odd.
      What I likened it to most was a type of meditation/relaxation exercise. Not that I’m someone who meditates, b/c I’m terrible at sitting still. And therein lies my problem, perhaps. I stay so busy that I don’t have time to be still, force myself to sit still, to actually let myself feel things….and instead of just letting myself FEEL, I think try to figure out what happened that CAUSED the whole feeling in the first place, etc…which then only causes more anxiety and whatnot. My therapist is encouraging me to try and just let the feelings be and exist and pass, rolling over me like waves—-and to let the rest GO. Not ruminate on the “stories,” or other things that won’t leave my brain….

      • http://www.imnotinfectious.com/ Michael Lombardi

        I can’t do that either. Except, mine isn’t physical at all. Physically I can stay in one spot (though often jittering) to relax or meditate, but mentally I cannot. I am everywhere. I don’t think it’s to the point where it’s medically abnormal, I just always have something to think about. Is being in your head all the time “cerebral” or “introspective”? I don’t know what you call it, but my mind is always going, going, going.

        Somewhat related, I can’t be someplace quiet. I always have to have background noise. A fan, music, television, something. If it’s just the dead quiet I go “insane”. I’m pretty frightened of anechoic chambers and once read no human has ever stayed in one longer than 20 minutes before breaking. I’ve never been in one closed, but I have been in a few.

  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    I love that you shared this – my husband and I were talking about FEELING feelings earlier this morning. I love this idea of sitting with yourself, and feeling the feelings in your body. That is a powerful moment (something I should probably try). There is this one spot right next to my right shoulder blade where I hold my stress, and I could feel it throbbing even as I read this.

    I have no idea how to release those stories and ride the wave. But I think I could do it – maybe not the forgetting, but the releasing. Releasing would be good.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Tracie,

      Exactly. I don’t know that I can forget, either. But I hold my pain and stress in my shoulders and they ACHE nearly every day. I am trying to learn to just stop and even take a few really slow, deep breaths. It’s so hard for me, though….to sit still, force myself to focus, give myself even that full 60 seconds to—SLOW IT DOWN. When so many things are rushing through my head.

  • http://unintentionallybrilliant.blogspot.com Roxanne Piskel

    I am intrigued by this sort of therapy. I spend my sessions just rambling and not always feeling a sense of relief. I wonder if doing something like this – even on my own – might be helpful. I get caught up in the STORIES too.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Roxanne,

      Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of days I go in there and ramble. But I think he picked up on that and wanted to do something different to jolt me out of my regular stuff. And it totally worked. Since that session, I have thought back to it several times. Trying to still myself. I really need to work on that—-for me, for my family, for everyone who has to deal with/interact with me. Otherwise I get too frantic and intense…??

  • Stevie

    Fascinating. I can only imagine what stories would come out if I tried this technique. I do remember my yoga teacher telling us that we carry emotions in our bodies, and in particular out hips. During a hip release sequence I inexplicably started crying.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Stevie,

      Thanks so much for stopping by!
      I haven’t done yoga since before I had children, but I remember something similar happening to me. I think it’s the same sort of idea—the practice of silence, of focusing on the body and its movements, emptying your brain and doing poses…and yes, then the release comes.

      Love what you said!

  • daune obrien

    isn’t it amazing how we want to attach the pain and anger to a story? It hurts so much just to sit with it. To just be with it and FEEL it all the way through. When we attach the pain to a story, I think we try to deny it a little. It takes a special kind of brave to own it. I’m not sure I could do it. Not right now, anyway. Lead the way, my friend.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Daune,

      Lead the way? WTF? I’m not leading this one. Maybe we can be co-pilots? As we FLY? xoxo

  • Ally

    Wow, powerful stuff. And I really do hope that we can forget some of the things that stick in our minds. Those stories that I’m working so hard to let go of and not tether to the negative feelings.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Ally,

      Agreed. If I can’t (eventually) forget, I don’t know what I’ll do. Which is obviously why I need to be in therapy and learning how to do these exercises, etc…

  • RobinFarr

    My first thought was to say, “No way!” That the story matters and that I would need to talk through it. But then I paused, because I’ve been trying to do this except in a different way. And what I’ve discovered is that unless the story REALLY MATTERS it doesn’t really matter, you know? Essentially, if I acknowledge it and then choose to let it go, it usually goes. And it saves me a bunch of stress and shoulder pain in the process.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Robin,

      I know. And I love the line you wrote about that “unless the story REALLY MATTERS, it doesn’t really matter.” Which is so true. But then I sometimes have trouble deciding which stories fall under which categories??

  • http://www.jenniferpwilliams.com/ Jennifer P. Williams

    This sounds kind of scary. I don’t think I want to “listen” to my body, and that probably says a lot right there.

    • http://www.erinmargolin.com/ Erin Margolin

      Jennifer,

      It was scary in a way. I kept saying, “I don’t know what I’m supposed to DO,” or say, or feel. I felt like there was a right/wrong answer/response. And of course there wasn’t. But yes, it was scary, but I think it’s something I need to do more of, either in or outside of therapy.