Cognition & Reality

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

More Basic Goodness

In yesterday’s post, I discussed the goodness underneath areas of emotional conflict. Because the pain radiating from those spots connects directly to the trauma from which it originates,  unconscious fears and the defenses they foster are  immediately available, ready to brought to consciousness. For that reason, psychotherapy through catharsis need not always involve overt dramatics.

This past weekend, I attended one in a series of quarterly retreats to receive training in Relational Somatic Psychotherapy. In this instance, because one of my dogs was in pain, I chose to commute daily to the retreat, rendering the “retreat” concept partially moot. One of the nights, worried about my dog, I left without saying goodbye to anyone, and had barely reached my car before I regretted not having stepped into the kitchen as the others were lining up for dinner to announce my departure. Nevertheless, I drove down the hill, building up guilt the entire way.

Burning with upset when I got home, I tried to settle into a movie, but couldn’t quite. Late in the evening, I had a brief correspondence with a former member of the group, attempting to persuade him that he was welcome back. In an email to him, most of it a serious appraisal of the situation, I joked that perhaps he wasn’t qualified, after all, because during his absence the rest of us had “become enlightened.” His next email revealed he did not get the joke. That was the cue for me to switch from my guilt and frustration at not having said goodbye when I left the retreat to not having been clear with my correspondent.

I reported all of this to the group the next morning. After I was done, Michael Sieck, the group leader and also my individual psychotherapist, asked others what they had observed. As I watched, the three people in the couch across from where I was sitting began shaking their legs. I wondered why. Then one of them pointed out that I had been shaking my leg during my presentation. I was stunned for a moment, and then it made sense. It was as if the innocent, frightened self inside me had, without my conscious permission, been waving a signal flag.

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