Client Journal: New Strings

At the end of every group session, the facilitator always ask us to name one thing we are going to do to take care of ourselves for the week. On Tuesday I said that this week I am actually going to try really receive compliments instead of just brushing them off or think “they’re wrong”.

Yesterday I was at my violin lesson and the previous assignment my teacher gave me was to write my own song. I brought the song that I’m working on, and throughout the lesson he was teaching me different techniques and how to add different textures to it to have it sound more dynamic. Midway through he says, “You know, you have a real beautiful arrangement of notes there!” I got teary-eyed! I felt warm and I said thank you.

At the end of the lesson he also told me, “You need new strings. The strings you have are too timid for who you really are. You need strings that will really just let you sing out and go for it.” I feel like that was also a life comment as well. I thought about how I make myself smaller than who I am. I do this by isolating, acting cold, withholding, not trusting, not receiving and not nurturing myself. But I feel warm because today was the first time I was able to see playing the violin as something I potentially have actual talent for, and not just a hobby. I was able to receive what he was saying, and not just the compliments, but the technique stuff as well. I am proud of myself that I was able to give that to myself.

Client Journal: First Group Experience

Tonight was my first session at group. I was anxious and nervous when I got there, but I was also feeling excited to taking the next step in my process. We went around the room, introduced ourselves, created rules and boundaries. No one told their story tonight, but what came up a lot during group was that all of the women (there are 5 of us) minimized their trauma, all of us experienced or experience some sort of disconnected and cold response when we told our mothers what happened and all of us come from some sort of hush hush don’t express yourself family dynamic. There is one woman in the group who I resonated with, because while another woman was speaking, she had a flashback and then started shutting down, she started leaving her body. The facilitator noticed, and called her out on it. She started crying and said she felt scared because she could feel herself shut down. I spoke up and shared that I have a problem with shutting down and detaching, and that when I do it, I feel like someone is choking me, I can’t feel my body, I just feel my head. Just pressure and conversation in my head. And when I do that, its usually because I feel scared, unsafe, or don’t want to receive a feeling that I am feeling. It felt good to say that out loud. Another woman spoke up and said that with her, she gets a metallic taste in her mouth. It was validating to see that other women have physical sensations with their trauma. It helps me to receive what happened to me, to continue to have compassion for my inner girl.

Feeling, Expressing, Receiving, Time, Touch and Attention

Marta Luzim trained in an intimacy process with Doug and Naomi Moseley: The Moseley Method…read their book The Shadow Side of Intimate Relationships, available through Amazon.

Feelings are a tricky deal. Many times we THINK we are feeling but we are in a story or description outside of our own true experience. Clients I’ve work with protest, “But I have been feeling my sadness and anger all my life, it won’t go away.” My reply is, “You have been repressing your feelings and sadness and that is why they are stuck.” When we go into our bodies, the connection to feelings are more intense and direct: anger, grief, sadness, joy, excitement, hurt, love, fear, terror. Emotions are energy. They need to move. These direct feelings, primal feelings, are felt in the body and have a primal energy of movement. When we talk about our feelings, give descriptions we are usually not in our bodies, but in our heads. It is a difficult journey to identify, locate and access a true emotion in our bodies. Most times we are reacting with feelings to another’s behavior, not directly feeling our own emotions in response to ourselves and what we feel and need. Communicating a feeling in a healthy way does not come from blame, judgment, attack or manipulation. It is clean and direct. Our feelings heal us when we stop trying to make them go away, dump them on another or fix them.

Intimate expression comes from our hearts and souls. Inside our bellies are feelings that tell us what we want and need. Most are afraid to directly say, I feel, I need….they are afraid of rejection or criticism. So they disguise their emotions and needs and try to manipulate the other to be heard and seen. When we trust ourselves we able to directly feel and ask others for support and love; or express our hurt, anger, sadness and all feelings in ways that do not attack others or collapse us into a depression. Movement of emotions helps prevent stress, illness and chaos in our lives.

Receiving goes beyond listening with our ears. It is the opening of our heart, soul and every cell to allow ourselves to fully open to the other. When we stop, breathe and take in what another is saying and feeling without judgment we then can respond from our truth back to them. Receiving also is a practice in order to have self-love and self-acceptance. When we receive ourselves we are fueling our body and soul with the life force energy. If we shut down,and say NO to life then we cannot grow or be guided in life. Receiving is surrender, not a giving up or submission, but an allowing of each moment to be exactly as it is so we can learn and grow. It is a lifetime practice to receive and stay present. Daily meditation can help us learn to receive.

Endless number of stars can add up to the infinite number of souls that live in timeless space. Time is limited in our human existence, but endless in our spiritual existence. If we pay attention to the moment, then our whole life can reveal itself to us. So many people take time for granted. Then one day they look back and have regret. Why didn’t I enjoy that vacation? Why didn’t I enjoy my children? Why didn’t I enjoy my youth? Why didn’t I go after that career? Why didn’t I put more time into my marriage or relationship? Why didn’t I have more patience? Why didn’t I take better care of myself and slow down and just be thankful I am alive? Time is precious. Time is the container for intimacy, creativity and joy. How you will spend your time today?

My first Psychology class in my undergraduate work the professor showed a film of monkeys who were “touch deprived.” They separated the mothers from their babies at birth. The infant monkeys were aggressive, depressed and self-mutilating. It stunned me. I had never realized that touch deprivation was so prevalent in our society. So many clients I work with remember that they were rarely touched as a child. Touch is as important as air and water. Affection, stroking, holding, hugging and other intimate ways to show love, not just sexual, are part of the emotional food that we need in order to thrive and feel joy. It is also important to touch ourselves with inspiration, spiritual juice and simple ways of self-care; massage, yoga and meditation. How do you allow for touch in your lives?

It is human to need to be seen and heard. But how much do we listen to our own inner voice, feel what our bodies are telling us, embrace our needs? If we don’t follow our intuitions, believe in our heart’s guidance and follow through on our desire, then we will hunger for constant unhealthy attention from others. Healthy attention is mutual compassionate and passionate communication. However, we need to first locate what we feel and need, then we can know what form of attention we need from others. Stop, listen and breathe. What type of attention do you need? Physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual? It takes time to allow ourselves to feel we deserve attention. It is only human to feel we exist and have value.

Client Journal: Saving vs. Receiving

Receiving in an intimate relationship is an act of surrender. What would it be like to just fall into another without fear or judgment?

Client: What is the balance between helping and just receiving someone else? I don’t want to be a “saver”. I want to be on the receiving end too, which is so hard. I am trained and paid to solve problems. Through the long-term relationships I have, it is so much easier to have the flow, the balance is easier to find, than when I am in the women’s group. Thank you..

Marta: When you’re receiving, that is all your doing, just receiving. Receiving is a practice. To merely take in another person without jumping out to save them is being able to have emotional boundaries that hold you, like water in a bottle. If you want to help, you ask, “Is there anything you need from me?”  If not, then you can feel your compassion, but you do not have to do anything else. You can just say I understand how painful that is for you. And that’s all. Sometimes people just want to vent, and nothing else. If you don’t want them to vent to you, draw a boundary. Ask them a question that gives them responsibility to solve their own problem: “What are you going to do about it?” or,  “I don’t feel I am able to do much but listen, right now,” or whatever you feel is the truth for you in the moment. Most times when a person is expressing a feeling, if you give them advice, try to fix the problem or distract them from their thoughts or feelings, they might resent you and close down; ie: helping someone across the street who doesn’t want to go across the street. They’ll hit you with an umbrella. One time I told a friend I was feeling sad. The person answered, “Why don’t you write down everything you’re grateful for and the sadness will go away.”  I answered, “What makes you think I am not grateful because I feel sad?”

In terms of being received, you need to be able to ask the person for what you need. You cannot assume that others know what you need.  Many times we need recognition, attention or to just be hugged.  It is OK to ask for recognition and acknowledgement. We need to be vulnerable to receive and ask for what we want. We need to trust ourselves and others.

The balance is to know what you need, what you want, and what you are willing to give.  In truth, none of us can save anyone…. all we can do ask, “What do you need?  Inquire into yourself: what is the healthiest thing for you emotionally that you can give or not?  Or just give your empathy, by sharing something personal that you went through to connect to them….not give advice, just share that you have gone through a similar situation. If the person wants to know how you did it, it is up to them to ask you. This way you are not giving yourself away, you are sharing, connecting and giving yourself validation without seeking it out or saving anyone.

Receiving: Receiving is when a person is in the moment, fully engaged, alive and simply allows the expression of another to come into their bodies like a drink of water. We allow it to drop in and then we feel how the other feels to us, without judgment or the need to change them.  Receiving is a surrender to the other. Not a giving up, or passivity, but an openness to truly feel who the other is and what they are saying. You don’t have to agree or feel as they do, you are just there to hold the energy. In receiving both you and the other are fully connected and seen. Most of us just want to be seen and heard. If you are receiving another you will feel warmth, energy and an aliveness that will then turn into a feeling in your body. Once you receive you can simply express with a feeling, I feel________. If you want to share why you feel that then you can, if not then you can just wait until the other person tells you what they need.

Caretaking-Saving: When you want validation to get another person’s love. There is a fear of loss that the other will leave unless you give them an answer or take care of them. There also a control and unworthiness in this act of saving. Unless a person is falling off a mountain, about to be hit by a car, or going to drink a poisonous drink, then saving a person is interference in their ability to take care of themselves.