Client Journal: Pieces of the Heart

Today I did an exercise that you had me do a while ago. When we first started working together, I remember you had me draw a silhouette of my body and write in the different emotions and where they were stored. I did the same thing, but with just my heart. (I will mail you the picture).

Looking at  the picture, I feel a lot of different things. The first area I colored on the  outside of my heart I called shutdown. It’s where I withhold, it’s where I don’t trust, it’s where I don’t want to let anyone in or near me. Underneath that layer I have anxiety, which is when my awkwardness comes out. Under anxiety I  have fear. I feel scared because I don’t want people to see what’s underneath, what’s in my heart.

I have my heart sectioned off. There is a piece that is rage. FUCK YOU!! I HATE YOU!! I DONT WANT TO DO THIS ON MY OWN WHY DON’T YOU VALIDATE ME?! I have a piece (a large piece) that is hurt/pain. Where I hold being molested, not being believed for being molested, for being ignored, not being supported or validated, for witnessing and experiencing emotional abuse, for being scared a lot of the time. It is also where my “why me?” lives. I have a piece that says frozen. Numb. I don’t feel anything and I don’t want to feel anything.

I have a piece that says “no love”. Where I feel worthless that I don’t love myself. Here I wrote that I people please, act perfect, I don’t set  boundaries because I don’t think I deserve them. I don’t honor myself from this place. I try to conform and be like “everybody else”. There is a piece where I have strength and passion. From here I give myself the “you can do it” pep talk.  I have a piece of compassion and empathy. But it is easier for me to give compassion or empathy than it is to receive it or give to myself, which I don’t like, and I think that is part of my “no love” piece.

Then I have a piece that has a ? mark. Because I don’t what to call it. I don’t know what it is. When I picture it, it’s a bright white light. Spirituality? Courage? Love? I  don’t know. All I know is I feel drawn to it and calm. But it’s a small piece in  comparison to all the other parts.

I feel sad when I look at the picture.  That I have so much pain. But I also feel a weird sense of calmness, like I am looking at a map that tells me who I am. Some I like, some I don’t like, some I want to change completely (like the “no love” part), some I want to modify and some I want to learn to accept and love no matter what (like the hurt and the pain parts). And there are parts I want to draw from more. Like from my strengths and passions.

Client Poem: Broken Mirrors and Hearts

I reach for you
In my sleep and
When I’m awake
It doesn’t matter how I try
To be with you
And have you be with me
The way I need
I can’t have it.

We come from the material, the same fibers
You gave birth to my pain and my spirit
My trauma and creation
My ugly thoughts and my beautiful eyes
My fear and my fire

I dread the day you’ll float away
Into the abyss

Because in this life
We have fought
And I have wailed and wailed
On the cold floor
And you have ignored
And tortured me
The day you disappear
I will still break.

Because you are frail and helpless to me
Though you have hit
And raged at me.
That day,
I will still fall to that cold floor
And wail.

Client Poem: Untitled

I am the wild child kicking your insides awake.
Pounding to the rhythm of your hearts longing.
A mischievous smile that hides pain like candy.
I am alive with fire
dancing under a star filled sky
searching for my love in the darkness between.

Client Poem: Refugee

I’m a refugee
From my land
My body
My mother’s warmth
My father’s attention

I’ve seen the obscene
With my child eyes
My heart slain
My fingers searching in vain
For anything, something to
Hold me

Resident Alien said my card
My country watched me go
My heart is lost somewhere over the ocean
Sinking to the floor, lost

And you mother, dear, threw it into that violent surf
Watched it drown
I gave it you to hold
For safekeeping

Father, where was your net? Your hands?
You turned your back
And I sat on my tiny legs
Waiting for the protection that never came

I believed, in the end, that my heart wasn’t worth it
I wasn’t worth it
I’m a refugee from my own heart
It still sits, among the coral reefs and fish
That look confused at the sight of it
It’s afraid I’ll never come back for it.

But I’m making my own net now
From the broken pieces of my soul
The weeds of people who left me
The twigs of those I believed above me
It’s not a perfect net, but it’ll do.

Client Poem: The Saddest Truths

When I look at my face in pictures
I don’t see the makeup
The hair
The earrings
The smile

I see the eyes.
The big, luminous eyes.
Pained, unsure, glassy, innocent, questioning eyes.
They speak the saddest truths.
The truths I cannot say
And my heart cannot hold.
The truths that make me break

That I loved you with every fiber of my being
But we lacked passion
Because you never pushed back, never fought for yourself, for me.

That I envied your own brother for your attention
That sometimes when you spoke, it was like you didn’t see me.
That your words were so careless, it was like the world could have ended, I would have gone with it,
And you would have shrugged.
That you will never make me happy, because you hold nothing dear
That I find happiness so fragile and precious
And you live in a black void that smiles its oily smiles.

That as much as I hate my mother
Her cruelty, her ignorance and irresponsibility
I feel her pain. I know her pain.
I understand it. Even acknowledge its rightness.
It runs in my veins.
And as much I love you father dear, for your guilt-stricken machinations
And good intentions,
My mother and I are much more alike than you and I, I’m afraid.
She’s my mirror. And no matter how far I run, I turn around and see her, see me.

That for all my romantic notions, and perseverance of love
It has hid from me, run from me, rejected me
And so I learned the harder side of human emotions
The softer ones just out of my reach
My need has grown, and with it, love’s appearance has gone from sporadic to never.

That for all my need to save the world.
It’s a selfish, self-aggrandizing notion that I have done nothing to act upon.
Save the world?
Maybe I should save myself first.

Client Poem – Little Black Dress by Sonam Hajela

Client Poem: Little Black Dress – by Sonam Hajela

You want me to zip it up
Blend me in
And close me out
All those straight lines
And perfect seams
You see numbers,
Fake smiles and handshakes
Status quos and authority
All I see is a disappeared spirit
I want fire
Orange, red
Painted against the sky
Like the sun leaking
Pouring out its heart
Dripping in flames
Too hot to the touch
I want to be ablaze
Not the tepid little doll
That holds true to the mold
You don’t understand the burn
Of an artist, the hunger of a creation
I want a revolution, not a following
I want gasps, the trees to bend
The sky to tilt
And the grass to turn blue
The chaos painting me divine
In all my humanity
The Gods smiling down at me
Knowing I’m just that much closer.
I wish
just once
You had said
Go set the world on fire
And leave the rest in black.

Videos: Trauma, Brain and Relationship | Client Poems

Trauma, Brain and Relationship: Helping Children Heal
Videos from the Santa Barbara Graduate Institute


The Very First Relationship:

Read Article: Attachment and Adult Relationships: How the attachment bond shapes adult relationships

Client Poems:


Walk into the void
Lean into the words
Run towards them – reckless, fearless
What bad can come of this?
Monsters created and released to come back again and again
Tortured by my own creations, my children.
I dare not speak, form the words from my mouth, from my heart.
Then you will know
more importantly, I will know
And I don’t want to know



Small black pouch
filled with your most sacred possessions
rosaries, scapular, prayer cards.
a remembrance of a life well lived
Well, a partial life well lived.
A very small part of you who prayed every day
I don’t think that god heard you
This is all I have left of you.
Priest, father, teacher…devil
Who are you really?
Should have left behind empty beer bottles, crushed out cigarette butts, remnants of your rage.
Somthing deep inside that I cannot go to
Some emotion – my rage?
I can’t feel it yet.
I froze it here and thought I would take it out later, when it was a safe time to look at it.
Too late now.
Rage for the dead goes nowhere.
No one to express it to
You’re gone and I’m here and I’m still pissed off.
I burn with it and hate myself for feeling so sad.
for missing such an abuser.

Client Journal: Letter to Dad

Dear Dad,

It’s me, Evelyn. Can you see my face? I can barely see yours. It hurts too much. To see your crinkly crow’s feet. Crooked front tooth. Pinky twitching on the steering wheel when you’re upset. That’s what I remember. I am frozen in those moments. I am frozen inside, Dad.

I have a rage inside of me that could sear mountain ranges, slice them in half. So I’ve build glaciers on top of it, frozen frosted blue lips. I have grown up now, Dad. Grown up too hard, and too soft. And not at all.

I have not let a single man close to my heart. No fucking way. I am still reeling from your betrayal, from your choices. And mine. But you’ve been betraying me since as far back as I can remember. All those nights you worked late. You worked on numbing your soul with Johnny Walker. You couldn’t bear to watch Mom bruise our tender flesh. The day you told me, the first glacier began to grow. I couldn’t bear my hate. That’s when I tried my first drugs, Dad. I wanted to feel nothing, just like you. I did whatever I could get my hands on. Smoked it, snorted it, ate it, swallowed it. I would have fucked too, if I had the balls.

My first sexual experience? So ignorant. So unaware. The only thing I knew about men then was that they lied. They lied, they couldn’t protect me, they ran away when things got hard. He fingered me while I was sleeping. I was too high to feel anything. He died anyway, Dad.

I could never grab onto you. I could never know you, understand you. Your body was there but you were already living on some alien planet. I’ve grown up to believe that no man will ever have my back. That he won’t want to hold my hand through my pain. That I will forever be too much. That I’ll have to practically kill and main to make myself heard, to be important. That he’ll disappear into the night. That long, philosophical conversations will be the only way to connect, unless I just give him my body. That he doesn’t feel anything, doesn’t want to feel anything, that I will always make him feel what he doesn’t want to.

Just like you, Dad. Just like you. Just like you.

Client Journal: My Parent’s Daughter

I see all of my patterning in them. I am definitely my parents’ daughter. I disappear from people I care about like my father when I feel overwhelmed by something. I don’t think I pick fights like he does, but I do a lot of mental yelling at people over small/stupid things that usually end up not being the real reason for why I feel so angry.

I shutdown and just go mute like my mother, and I try to blame and rationalize my behavior and my feelings before taking ownership. When someone asks me a question that brings up a lot of emotions for me, I change the subject and/or give vague or short answers.

I am finally accepting that I act like they do. I was too much in my ‘fuck you’ to be honest with myself and own up to my behavior. I am cold like my mom and dad and I have my own addiction with baby powder that I used to eat when I really wanted to escape myself and escape from feeling and even from being responsible (I still haven’t eaten any but I definitely still have the cravings). For example, a couple years ago when I was fired from my job, there was a solid 3 weeks where instead of look for another job or talk to anyone, all I did was eat baby powder and sleep.

When my mom was venting, I felt angry and frustrated. Not necessarily angry at what she was saying, but because when I was trying to connect with her and find out more about the situation she is going through and how it affects her, she kept shutting me out! But I realize I can’t judge her for it, because I do the same damn thing. It was just eye opening really start being aware of my behavior and have it mirrored back to me.

Client Journal: The Pain of Loneliness and Perfection

For so long my loneliness was and is a secret and a place of shame. When I was young, it started and grew out of keeping secrets. I felt scared and ashamed and like it was my fault for what was happening to me, and I thought if I didn’t say anything, the pain didn’t exist and I wasn’t really getting molested. But I always felt scared, anxious, edgy and really sad. Feeling lonely meant I was hiding something, that no one could understand or know what was happening to me. Feeling lonely meant that no one could help me. That no one was there for me. Because no one was there for me. I didn’t want to feel that, so I acted “perfect”. Smiles all the time, pretty good grades and I was super polite as a child, always saying “please” and “thank you” with my excellent table manners. Because being perfect meant I wasn’t lonely. Being perfect meant that everything was fine. Being perfect meant that I was happy.

When I was a teenager my loneliness was secret romanticized tragic thing that made me “different”. I wore it as a huge FUCK YOU badge to hide my insecurities. So what I’m the only black person in my honors classes? Fuck you! I’m going to do it all by myself, no one knows how I feel, what it’s like to be called a sellout, Oreo, whitewashed, a wannabe, to defend my ethnic pride on the regular, fuck you! Fuck you, no one knows what it’s like to go out in public with my parents praying that my dad wouldn’t rage out at my mom, hoping that everything would be ok, hoping that everything would be perfect. That we could just for a couple of hours pretend that we loved each other, enjoyed each other and that we were perfect. But being perfect had a price. It meant that I couldn’t talk to my friends about my parents, that I feel like I’m fat, that I don’t like myself or my body, that I actually hate myself and that I feel like a loser pretty much all the time. Those were the things that made up my loneliness and the isolation that I put myself in, by never talking about it. Because I didn’t want to face it. I didn’t want to accept my pain, my rejection, my sadness, my fear, my hatred. So I listened to heavy metal on full blast, wore Doc Martens under my pom pom uniform (pom pom girls were like the equivalent of a Lakers Girl or a Knicks Dancer at my high school) and black sparkly lipstick, renamed my loneliness and called it “depth” and “angst”. FUCK YOU.

As an adult, my loneliness is still part of those things I felt as a child and a teenager, but it’s also my coldness and fear. Fear of being rejected and abandoned. Because I was rejected and abandoned. I don’t think I have felt the full force of that pain yet, and to be honest, I’m scared to feel that amount of pain on my own without [Marta] on the phone, because I don’t think I could handle feeling it by myself. But to hide my loneliness I still try to be perfect sometimes, with the fake smile. Or I get defensive and attack or blame or make excuses, so I look like the “good one”, so I look perfect . Or I just shut down and go numb and cold as ice. My loneliness became my fake security to keep me from letting people in, so I won’t have to experience hurt or pain if they reject me, and all my flaws, sadness, pain and craziness.