Archive for March 31st, 2012
Debbie called to talk about a problem she was having. She had come a long way in her therapy, but she felt the need for a touch up. She just wanted to talk it out for a few minutes. Her friend, Robin, had died ten months ago, but she was still depressed. Her other friends were falling away from her, too. They were all busy with their own lives. They don’t take the initiative the way Robin used to. She was having ups and downs with her teenage son, her ex-husband, and she was neglecting her gardening. She didn’t have the energy she used to have.
This is the way depressed people talk when they are down. Life is flat, stale and unprofitable. There is no joy or even the hope of joy in the future. After fifteen minutes of rambling, Debbie burst out in tears, “I’m angry at Robin for leaving me! That’s what I am, angry. I didn’t even know it.” We heard her out, we validated her legitimate anger at this loss, this grievance. The wound hadn’t healed yet. It would take a few more months for it to close. As a lifelong pleaser, Debbie had not allowed herself the luxury of experiencing her legitimate anger at this grievance. She had sealed it over, or rather, her attitudes had sealed it over for her. We agreed that sending an anger letter to Robin for dying so young and for abandoning her so unfairly would be an appropriate Homework under the circumstances and said goodbye.
This phenomenon is called Bubbling Up. When we talk about, and relieve the overlay of attitudes and daily concerns that are in the way, we create an atmosphere in which it is possible for a concealed pain to bubble to the surface. We are encouraging it to happen by having real intentions, not good intentions. We are creating a context of mutual respect in which trust and cooperation can flourish. We are being patient. We are enabling Debbie to let go instead of hanging on. We are creating an atmosphere of respect in which it is possible for our client to heal and grow.
Debbie’s relief was palpable. She felt joy in finding the root of her grief. It had gotten away from her. Her anger at this undeserved loss had sunk below the level of conscious awareness. It had to be retrieved and it was. Debbie experienced feelings of relief, accomplishment, control, being alive in the present, identity, maturity, independence and all the other facets of self-respect. She had been taking this loss personally as she had taken similar losses in her childhood. She was a grown up now. She was able to remind herself that she was not an out of control victim of this loss. It was regrettable and unfortunate for Robin and for herself, but she had the power of choice now that she didn’t have as a child. She could finish her grieving now as a worthwhile human being in spite of what happened. The wound will heal cleaner than it would have otherwise.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )