At work, in my office

This is a creation of fiction based on some of the experiences I have had with patients in various settings over the years. I am not sure I will post this as it seems to be a bit off base from where I intended this blog to go. Then again I am searching form my blogging voice, and I am leaning heavily on putting this (and others) out there, so who knows. There are no real people or actual, verbatim patient materials in this piece. It is a fabrication of my unconscious which I am compelled for some as of yet unknown reason to document.

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“So you’re saying it’s my fault?” she more demanded than asked. I could see I had struck a nerve.

“No, that is not what I am saying. What happened to you was an absolute tragedy and should never have occurred, but it did occur, didn’t it?” I ask patiently.

She responds only with a slight forward shake of her head. A subtle movement almost barely there but sufficient to cause the tear in her eye to quickly roll down and off her nose, ending it’s journey on the floor.

I continued.

“You are not to blame for what happened to you. Again it happened to you, not because of you, but you do have a responsibility to yourself. To heal and to grow. To understand what this event in your life has caused you to become and to decide if you still want to be that person. You have a responsibility to face how that event, how those events, have effected you.”

Sitting back in my chair and adjusting my hands, I folded them gently across my stomach. I pause a moment before I complete my thought. I want her to feel the truth of my words more than I want her to believe the truth in my words.

There is a difference between thinking and feeling. Both are important functions of the human experience. They are in fact the only two functions, that is pathways, for information to get into the system which is the self.

Most people, like my patient today, are feeling types. That means essentially they experience their reality through feelings mostly, and not through thoughts. She, like most, is not a pure feeling type as those people (like pure thinking types) are extraordinarily rare.

My patient today is a predominantly feeling type which means she tends to gather information, that is she processes her lived experience, through her feelings. Her thinking function works just fine it is just not the primary methodology she uses to understand and accept her reality. Like most feeling types she has spent much of her life convincing herself she is not a feeling type but is in fact a thinking type person.

“I really like to think about things before I react, you know?” she stated boldly in session one day, “If anything I’m an over thinker. I analyze everything to death.”

A common desire, if not actual wish, of the feeling type person is that they are, or could become, a thinking type. The reason for this, as any one of us feeling types will tell you, is because emotions, that is feelings, hurt. Feelings are messing and rarely if ever come one at a time. And they hurt.

Feelings hurt and that is why feeling function dominant people will attempt with every ounce of energy they have (and when that energy is exhausted with assistance, such as by using drugs and alcohol) to avoid experiencing them. Many of my patients, including this one, actually came for help with what they labeled as anxiety. The problem is the emotional experience they were having, which for the record is very much anxiety, is the result of trying to employ their thinking function to a feeling situation.

There are two functions for a reason. Sometimes you need one, at other times you need the other. You cannot feel your way through a math test any more than you can think your way through falling in love, or being afraid, or as in the present case, the emotional wreckage caused by early childhood trauma.

There is a fundamental difference between thinking something to be true and feeling something to be true. Most of my patients, maybe most people, have little difficulty thinking something is true. Two things placed on top of a pile of two other things results in four total things in a pile. No problem.

As with my present patient, knowing you were abused by a family friend is not the issue. The thinking part is simple enough. It happened, period. The feeling part, now that is where things often get real difficult. The feeling part hurts, the betrayal of trust and loss, often permanent, of safety, of innocence, of living in a world which makes some sort of sense to your young self, that is not an issue to be resolved with the thinking function.

No, such situations as this require the feeling function to not only be fully engaged in the process but to accept the need to be. More important perhaps, the feeling function must believe it is needed in this dire task.

I sensed my patient was regaining more of her composure. The tears hadn’t stopped, but the silent shaking, the vibration of overwhelming emotions being released, appeared to have settled a bit.

I spoke as she grabbed another tissue from the box and wiped first at her eyes, then at her nose.

Gently I said, “You are not to blame or at fault for the things that happened to you. Period. Full Stop,” I spoke a bit more sternly and jabbed my finger my at my knee to emphasize each of these last words. The same finger I now lifted and gently pointed at her chest hoping to make her heart fully aware I expected her feeling function to accept this last part.

“but you have a responsibility to your self to heal from it. To move through the emotions which have and are coming up as a result of those experiences you have lived through.”

Softening my body and voice completely I finished, “No one and nothing else can do this for you. You have to do it for yourself.”

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