Barbara to therapist (whose responses were not recorded while I taped this session over the phone):
Barbara: These days, I don't know how I am. I wake up almost every morning at 4 or 5 and then I have to write; I continue to work on this response to AM. And I write it in new ways and different ways, and I add new thoughts, and sometimes I can go back to sleep and sometimes I can't. And then I just get up and type stuff into my computer. It's like a creative high, a creative surge; it's a very weird state. Three days ago, after I had written again pages and pages with new and different thoughts, I fell asleep again and had a dream. In this dream I talked with AM in the way we used to talk, a friendly conversation, and suddenly she says: "You are history." And I say: "That's not true; I am working on a response to you. And I now KNOW that you have parts that you don't even account for." And then I say "good bye," and hang up the telephone in my dream. (laughing)
Yes, that's a good dream, I think. Yes. So I am working hard.
I had a terrible day on Sunday; I thought I was going crazy on Sunday. Maybe that's the part we need to work with today. I think it's the same that we did when we worked with my father and the incest. You know, when my anger always said: "Your father committed incest and your father is a terrible man." But the child would cry and say: "My father loves me. My father would never do that." We did this work for weeks.
I think that there is a similar part of me that is certainly more related to my mother; it believes that I will die if I see her clearly. I think from the writing that I did on Sunday, that there were moments when I saw that my mother lied and was not honest. Well, I think we probably all have moments when we see certain things about our parents. But this part says that she had to push it away. Mmh, I can't recall more right now, but I am sure it will come back when we work with this part. She says that she felt she could not survive, she felt she would fall into an abyss and die if she saw my mother truthfully. Or, in this case, AM. This part comes at first with accusations: 'Who do you think you are? You cannot be right; you are so wrong; you don't know the truth.' But really, it's just total despair.
But despite of this part, I am doing good work and my letter is growing, and there are people on my side who support me and ask how my response is doing. They are waiting. The forum is growing. AM still has the link on her website; she is a gutsy woman.
Therapist: "She is a gutsy woman!"
Barbara: Well, my response is coming along and it's so fascinating. Also my work with my clients also is going well. Sometimes, they are really ready to work with a part when it is haunting them; and I am stunned by the memories that come up and by what sometimes happens in the healing light. I see that my clients' processes are different from mine; it's so creative what happens in terms of the unique inner workings of each human being. It's just fascinating.
Working on this response to AM is a weird place to be. I am very tired most of the time because I sleep so little, and I work so hard. But it seems that this is what my body, soul and mind are totally focused on. It seems to be very important to me. It's good work...
...OK, I will just ask the part who feels that she will go crazy if she sees AM or my mother truthfully what going crazy means to her.
She says that going crazy means that there is no ground to stand on; that's like somebody is pulling the floor out from under your feet and you just fall. And what comes to my mind is a session with my first therapist, the psychoanalyst, that I never forgot. We started to argue about if he had said something. It was as if you had said in the beginning: "Hello, Barbara, how are you?" And later I said: "Well, why did you ask me: 'How are you?'" And then you said: "I did not say that." OK? Does it make sense? Then it did not become an aggressive argument, but an argument when the psychoanalyst said: "I did not say that." And I REALLY FELL into that abyss because that' s what my mother would do. You would confront her with something that she said, or you would tell her something that she said or did -- and she just denied it. I mean, she just flat out said: "I did not say this." or: "This never happened." Look at the incest. In the beginning, she believed me, that she knows how truthful I am. But then she said it was a lie. Did I ever tell you that she talked with my younger son? They went for a walk, and he asked her about the incest, and she cried and told him that it's true because she saw symptoms in my sister and me. Can you believe that she can talk to my son -- and with me she called it a lie. My son is a gutsy person, too. So he just asked her point-blank. And she cried and told him that. So she could open a part of hers that can exists with him, but that she can't show with me.
And this feeling when somebody says: "I did not say this," -- I am convinced that I have heard that person says this -- that is the feeling. It's the feeling of: "I will not survive this discrepancy."
So my question to the part is: 'I understand that it happened that my mother lied and said that she did not say things that she said and said she did not do things that she did. And I understand that it makes you feel as if the floor is being pulled out from under your feet. So what did you do when this happened?' And the part says: 'What I did is, I just pushed it aside. In order for me not to fall -- there came another part that said: 'OK, she is your mother and what she says is true. You just step aside. We are not gong to fall into the abyss; we are not going to go there because then Barbara WILL GO CRAZY.'
It was not the beatings that gave me this feeling. The incest, yes, also gave me the feeling of going crazy. But seeing my mother lie and not being allowed to see that -- the part says 'that's what going crazy means.' Well, then I want to know more: 'If going crazy means to see that somebody lies but you may not see it, why are you going crazy when you see that she lies? You could just see it and acknowledge it. Why did it make you feel that you were falling?'
The part says: 'Don't you know how afraid you are when you stand on a high building and look down?'
Immediately, I can feel my whole stomach and tummy area in an enormous tension and fear. And the part says: 'That's the fear of falling; that's the fear of heights.'
I ask the part what falling means. And the part says that the relationship with my mother -- as much as I admired my father and needed him -- but my mother was the most important relationship of my childhood. And it became even more important when my nanny Hotto left -- I was seven -- and when my brother was born and my father turned away from me -- I was five. My mother was the one who paid ENORMOUS attention to me -- for whatever reasons; I don't want to analyze or understand them right now. When I did well, and when I was "PERFECT" -- quote in quote -- in my mother's eyes -- and this brings tears to my eyes -- I felt she loved me.
(I begin to cry and continue to cry deeply during the following insights.)
Barbara: I felt that I was a GOOD PERSON, and that my life had WORTH and MEANING. I felt that there was a reason that I existed. I worked really VERY HARD to be perfect in her eyes. Other people called me audacious or wise beyond my age because I was so PERFECT. I was unbearably perfect. I did everything that she expected me to do. To please her and to keep THIS BOND -- it was like the only bridge that I had to find myself valued and worthwhile. My father turned away and only had eyes for his sons. He showed me when I was five years old that a girl is just garbage, stupid garbage. Well, if you play the piano well, then I can use you for something: I can show you off to other people or you accompany me when I play the violin. But he had absolutely no interest in me. All his focus was on both of his sons. And Hotto left when I was seven and did not even come back to visit me. You and I have worked before with the feelings of worthlessness which this caused. Her going away and not coming to visit -- she did not even come to see me -- it was like -- whoop -- dumped -- six years that I lived with Barbara -- over in a second.
I cannot even imagine abandoning a child that I have lived with like that. I still call and see and send gifts to my ex-husband's grandson. I have kept contact with him. I cannot imagine living with a child, only to dump her. I have no words for that.
The part says: ground under my feet means that I am a worthwhile, good human being and I have a right to exist, to live, and to even be myself -- when I feel this ground under my feet.
I want to thank the part for telling me all this because I know this is really, really really important. The tears and the crying show me HOW important. Because if I understand the part right, it's really that my relationship with my mother and to be perfect in her eyes was the foundation for me to survive and exist.
And the part says: 'Yes. That's exactly what it is. So if you stand on a tall building and look down, and you are afraid to fall -- that is because when something questioned this bond with your mother -- this ground that you stood on: I am perfect so I deserve to live and I am a good human being -- then you FELL! You fell into such feelings of worthlessness -- they would have driven you crazy. It had to be stopped. We couldn't let you go there.'
Other parts say: 'We could not let you see what she REALLY was like.'
Well, that makes total sense to me. I want to tell the part how very, very sorry I am that this is how she had to live and that this was the foundation for her existence, or for my existence. That it was such -- I don't even have a word for this -- this is NOT a foundation. It's like a fragile balancing board. It's like balancing on a tight high rope; you have to watch out all the time that you don't fall. So that's not really an existence; this is just like trying to survive, fighting to survive, and preventing this human being Barbara from going crazy. So I want to tell the part that I feel sorry that she believed, and had to believe, that this is all that life is all about. And I tell her that already this was a terrible LIE. It was a total lie because normally a father cares and a nanny cares; and a mother does not care that you are perfect but that you can be yourself and have feelings and needs and not just cater to her every whim and expectation.
So, I'm asking the part what else she has to tell me.
She says that she was frightened. She says that falling into an abyss comes a long with enormous fear. It's not just that falling comes along with disorientation and not knowing what to make of what suddenly is happening to you, but certainly, when you hit the bottom, you are dead. You are going to be dead. You are not going to survive this. Like when you fall of a high building, when you think of 9/11 and the people that fell off these skyscrapers, I don't know how many yards and stories they fell to their certain deaths. It is a certain death that you fall to, and the part says that falling felt like death; that everything was over. So it was not just that there was no reason for my life anymore, and no value and worth to my existence. It was an enormous fear of just vanishing, of being dead.
Then my question is: to see my mother for who she was: what was the fear about that?
And the part says that my self-worth was built on my relationship with her, and we could not risk endangering this relationship in any way. Then there was no other relationship except for two of my grandparents. But I didn't see them enough, and I could not be with them when I wanted and needed it. So in the house and with the family that I lived with, there was nobody to turn to. My brothers and sisters often could turn to me. I had no one. I could not turn to them. I had nobody else to turn to. My father was gone, unavailable and not interested; Hotto was gone. So the part says that my mother was the only person where I even had a CHANCE to build a relationship. Where I felt that somebody was interested in me -- even if it was for all the wrong reasons. But she WAS interested in me, the part says; and this part needed this feeling to keep her equilibrium, her balance, well, the only sense of self that I had as a child.
The part says that this is also about how to learn to build relationships; that the most important relationship of my childhood was about having to be perfect in order to please my mother and to keep this relationship going.
I want to ask this part if she thinks that I am and my life is about being perfect and keeping relationships where I have to be perfect.
The part says NO, she KNOWS that I'm not at all about that, and that's why it's very hard for her that she is so stuck where she is stuck because it's like she is one of the most burdensome and debilitating remnants of my childhood. I mean this fear of going crazy -- and I felt it all Sunday -- it's not a nice feeling. What is so scary about it is that you feel that you loose control of your mind. You know, it felt like that I cannot continue with this response to AM because if I do, I will go crazy; I will not survive it; my mind will not make it through it. That's what it felt like on Sunday. And the part says: 'That's how you felt as a child. Exactly like you felt in the session with your psychoanalyst: 'I will go crazy, I will loose the ground under my feet if I see you for who you are.'
And I want to tell the part that I understand her; that I also understand very well where she is stuck because I certainly know that I was the "perfect eldest daughter." In the wedding magazine for my first wedding, my father wrote a lot of poems about me, and one of them said: "The eldest in word and image are the honor of the family crest." I mean that's a STRONG expectation that came my way and that I tried to live up to. And I did. I was my parents pride, I was the eldest daughter of whom they were always proud. So I ask the part if she still wants to be that, and she says NO, NO, NO. (laughing) She says that she is tired; that she wants to be with me; she believes in what I do; she sees the world really as I do -- but she says that she still is like a prisoner in chains, tied to having to be perfect. I ask her if she wants to go into the healing light or if she has to share something else.
She wants to go into the healing light. She is ready.
In the healing light, I see a photo of my whole family with my grandmother. They all sit on a bench in the garden in front of my parents' house; maybe some of my younger brothers and sisters are also standing. But on the left side of the bench, my mother is sitting, and I am squatting next to her, and she has her arm on my back. The photo says, and I have often seen it this way: You are my good eldest daughter -- and you ARE MINE!
There is a possessiveness that comes with this gesture. And there is also in the way that I am in this photo -- I am not on my knees, yet I am in a submissive position, down, below, in a lowly position, below her. I don't think I am looking up to her. I am looking into the camera. But to me this photo has always spoken to me about this relationship -- also because I am completely isolated from the rest of the family. I am on the left outside, then there is my mother -- and then to the right there is the rest of my family, together. It is as if I don't belong to the others -- but ONLY TO HER. So the part says there was an ENORMOUS possessiveness in my mother. Which also became visible after my relationship with her ended, and I heard that when my brother went to see her, that the first thing that she would ask was: "How is Barbara? How is Barbara doing?" Now that she is old and confused, he is relieved because she does not ask about "Barbara" anymore. It was like a mental illness where I had become -- I don't know? -- the focus, the center of her life, the center of her validation -- like the person who validated her and her existence by being the daughter that she wanted and expected. And when I could not be that anymore, she could not understand me -- but still all her thinking circled around me in a really mad way.
So I see this photo, this image in the healing light, and the part says this is really like an expression of that relationship where I belong to my mother, where I submitted to her and of course tried to be perfect for her to keep this important relationship alive that gave me a sense of worth and my life a sense of meaning because my mother paid attention to me. These are all the thing that belong there.
So in the healing light, I go to this girl (I begin to sob); she is already a teenager, she is not a child, I was maybe twelve or thirteen years old on that photo (sobbing) and I take her AWAY from her mother and this family (sobbing) and I say: "You belong with me. You don't have to be there anymore." (Sobbing) And I tell her that it was a terrible place to be and that it was very unfair and very cruel to burden her with these INSANE expectations. And to only offer her this one relationship as her only ticket to life. I mean it's just like -- I say to her: It's a CRIME what was done to you, and it was WRONG how you had to serve and submit and admire this woman who was really a deceitful, mendacious liar who filled all the holes from her childhood by abusing you and by abusing your perfectness to make herself feel good about herself.
So I hold this young teenager; she is in my arms, and she cries. and the healing light absorbs the family and says: "Forget about them. No one of them was ever, ever there for you (sobbing) when you needed them. No one. ( Sobbing. And I also cry and cry as I type this.) The healing light says: "It was a horrible family to have (crying); there was no chance for you to be yourself and to value what you SAW and what you OBSERVED and what you FELT and when you SAW lies that you would have wanted to speak up about the -- the healing light says there was NO ROOM AT ALL to do that." I hold the girl in my arms, and we are already in Mexico.
And the burden which this girl has is like, (deep sighing) the word GUILT comes now; she is CRUSHED BY GUILT if she steps out of this role. She feels so guilty then for abandoning her mother; for being different than her mother; for not fulfilling her mother's expectations. And this guilt is in this girl like madness. Sigh. I don't know how to describe it. I will just be with her for a moment.
The image that I get is that there has been a mother that has hammered on her head with a hammer: "Be the perfect daughter!" (raising my voice and with sharpness) "BE my perfect eldest daughter!" And it's like the whole BRAIN -- the whole brain of that girl is like in disarray. And that is a mild word. I mean can you imagine what your brain and head would feel like if someone banged them with a hammer? And along with this all the time said: "BE the perfect eldest daughter! BE the perfect eldest daughter! BE the perfect eldest daughter!" So any time that you have any thought that does not go along with this command, it just is DROWNED in the MADNESS that is produced by the expectation and the cruelty of it; the aggressiveness of it that comes along with the image of hammering on her brain. Her brain is chaotic. Her brain is not capable of being clear, of trusting herself, her thoughts, her feelings, her observations. It's just CHAOS, the chaos that somebody else produced and left behind in that brain.
So I hold this girl and I tell her again that I am not only sorry but OUTRAGED that this was done to her. Because I know (sobbing) that this is a very bright girl (deep sobbing) and a very brave girl too. I know that I am brave (crying, also as I type this) and for somebody NOT to see this and to abuse anything good that was in me to make a mess out of my brain -- that is just such a CRIME to me. Sighing. That is just a CRIME to me, a horrible, horrible CRIME. And the girl cries in my arms, she just cries. (Deep sobbing)
It feels like, it's as if you would take someone imprisoned in a mad-house, you know treated by idiotic psychiatrists who tell you you are schizophrenic and psychotic and all this -- and then somebody comes along and says: "Well, this was a horrible way to live." That is how it feels for her. As if somebody liberated her from having to live in a maddening environment. She says being with this mother and in this house was like being in a mad-house. And that was the only way that she saw and that she had in order to survive. And in order to get the feeling of worth that she needed to survive. She still still is just crying and sobbing. I think she is sobbing from feeling compassion for herself and from receiving my compassion, and also from relief that it's over.
The healing light kind of goes into her brain, I mean not in an aggressive way but in a gentle way -- until the whole brain, every cell, every neuron in this brain, all the connections are calmed and can vibrate or function or BE in a natural way, in a way that they are meant to be. So the brain comes to a calmer place and to relief. And the healing light says to this girl that what was programmed into her, and what was done to her brain, was not only a crime -- but that it took away from her the natural abilities that she had. For example I was sometimes a really good student; I was never a bad student, but I was never an excellent student. And I remember times in school when I knew I could do it -- and I could not do it. I knew the answer to a math problem; I wanted to write an essay for my German class, and I knew the answer -- and I could not answer it. I couldn't write. It was like -- I mean, talk about occupying Iraq -- it was as if somebody occupied my mind. And it wasn't my mind; and this person made a mess out of my mind. And what was REALLY in this mind couldn't live, couldn't unfold, couldn't develop. I couldn't use it because it wasn't mine to use. Somebody else had made a mess and a chaos out of it.
So the healing light tells her: 'What REALLY was and is in your brain: the intelligence, the curiosity, sigh, the clarity when I observe things to actually see them for what they are... these are special qualities.'
The healing light says that they are very strong in me, particularly also the last one. That was particularly threatening to my mother because I do have this ability. And I know that for example my brothers and sisters and other people that I know don't have it. They are also not as -- I hate the word obsessed -- but you know me, you know how I am: I look and I look and I look until I find the truth. I observe things. I observe your therapy; I observe what AM thinks about therapy. I observe things; I work with things; and I have an ability to -- not just to observe -- but to not be afraid to do that. It's really a curiosity also, but also the desire to learn and know more.
The healing light says: "This is what is really precious about your brain."
That's what the healing light says to this girl.
"This is what is precious and special and unique about your brain, and it is horrible and sad that your mother could control this for so many years. And you are free now. You are free to be with Barbara; you are free to use your brain; you will not go crazy if you see the truth. I promise you that."
And I promise this to this girl too. We will not go crazy, on the contrary, we will find clarity and more truth, and we will be even more strongly connected with my true self.
I see this girl now less in my arms but kind of more independently next to me, in my arm, but sitting next to me, already freer. She definitely wants to help me with my response to AM. I mean it feels again that she has been waiting in a jail to come out and to be with me because all that the healing light sees in that girl -- this has been waiting in this girl to come out. If you have the image of a prisoner who is in jail, and you have the sunlight outside, and you want out and out because you know that there is something out there that you want to live- -- but you cannot. That's how she felt. She KNEW because sometimes there were these moments when she SAW things; she knew that she had an ability that she could not use. And it's like as if she is coming out of jail now and can live in the sunlight and can be who she really is.
Therapist says: "That's fantastic."
Barbara: Yes, I think that it's fantastic, too; and it's also very moving to me and very important work that we did today.
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