David was a young man in his twenties and grieving his father’s death one and a half years before. He’d been able to grieve over the death of his father and come to a certain peace with it. But today, in his therapy session, he is again feeling sad. This time, however, as he explores his sadness what becomes clearer is his holding on to a sense of being in control. When asked what would happen if he let go of his control, he becomes scared and frightened. He realizes that to let go would mean that he’d just “dissolve away.” There’d be nothing left of him. He’d be completely empty. Nothing would remain of him. He’d be totally helpless and exposed.
As David talked about this, he was already beginning to move through his fears and experience these feelings. He began to sob deeply. He was feeling so empty, alone, helpless and undone.
In his being able to risk going into this scary and painful places, David came to realize that behind his fear lay a deep sense of abandonment. He had been a young boy when his Dad was diagnosed with cancer. As his Dad went through treatment, the attention was naturally on his Dad. There just wasn’t the same kind of time, care and attention available for him. He felt abandoned and scared. To compensate, to get attention, to feel a part of his family, he took control of himself. That is, he put his feelings, his fears and his needs aside. He helped his Dad and his family. In truth, he had a close relationship with his Mom and Dad and siblings but the price he paid was ignoring his own feelings.
For David to compassionately allow himself the experience of letting go of his control, he got in touch with these long held back feelings. His eight year old self could finally experience his own real feelings. The eight year old could finally be seen and heard rather than hidden away behind a mask of control.
Healing takes place when we can be with whatever we are experiencing in a deeply understanding way. David and his eight year old self were healing.
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