Expanding the Toolbox
The following Unergi session took place in front of a Unergi student audience. Many of these sessions are videotaped with the client's permission. Then students can review them and write their own comments for in-depth learning. These writing assignments indicate how much each student is able to absorb and give us teachers an idea of what kind of supervision is needed.
"Sally" is a very successful businesswoman. At the time of this session she has had a number of private Unergi sessions with me over the previous months and has now joined the Unergi community for the One-year Self-Healing Journey.
Her dream has been to share a deeper part of her journey with the group and have them witness her pain and sadness. She starts out by saying:
Sally: I have tears in my chest that are full.
As her story unfolds, we learn about her stepfather's abusive relationship with her and her ingenious ways to create survival strategies. She tells her story from the perspective of her 4-year-old self who was helpless, violated and disempowered. Next she shows us how her 9-year-old self devised a “toolbox” that helped her discover her inner strength and how she fiercely held on to her essence with keen observation and even, miraculously, a sense of humor.
She is now lying on my bodywork table.
We have spent some time to connect through touch and words. I have noticed that her pelvis is tight, allows hardly any movement, and she tells me she has a knot in her stomach. I sense that she is ready to reveal a deeper part to herself and us. I ask her if she is willing to explore what brings her to this moment, as my hands have slipped under her left shoulder (heart chakra) - pausing - and honoring her body and her process.
Sally: I woke up early this morning and had that dirty feeling that I get in my body - just now I remembered when my stepfather used to sock me in the stomach, and told me that if I didn't hold it in I would have to sleep outside, and that he wouldn't take me anywhere. And those things have been coming up like that, you know.
The heart chakra has gently opened and soft tears begin to flow.
Ute: Feelings that made you feel dirty?
Sally: I don't know what the word is - like I was a misfit because of my body.
Sally is showing us how abusive touch creates feelings of guilt and shame. The victim identifies with the abuser and feels that somehow she deserves to be treated like this. Sally thinks of herself as a misfit and her body internalized the story by contracting and numbing. I begin to reprogram this belief by asking her to place her hands on her stomach so she can reconnect to her body for self-acceptance, while simultaneously remembering what happened. I also put my own hand on top of her hands to reinforce, support and counteract the belief she learned through her dad that her body is bad and dirty.
Ute: Have your hands say something to this area of your stomach.
My voice is very soft and gentle to stay in touch with this vulnerable little child and maybe gain her trust.
Sally: I feel so bad for you. I can't believe that this would happen and I wasn't there to protect you or anything. I never even put my hands over you to stop him. I just let him hit you.
She begins to have compassion for this small child, but then joins her in the belief that there must be a reason she is to blame because she didn't protect herself.
Ute: He was a strong man and I was a little girl.
I say this in a strong voice to encourage her compassionate side to resurface and gain a larger perspective. - Again my hands move under her heart chakra to amplify empathy and move away from guilt and self blame.
Sally: I thought he knew something that I didn't.
Her voice breaks and is tearful.
Sally: I thought he knew how to make me pretty, or how to make me OK looking, physically acceptable. I thought he knew. I thought he was doing that because he loved me.
A story of trust and betrayal surfaces. I proceed by making sure that Sally takes the lead to re-empower herself. And I ask her directly where she wants to go next.
Sally: I want to go into where it is full. I want this one - I want this one opened fully.
Ute: OK, check with your body and sense where that full place is that you want opened up.
Since the body stores the memories as well as the deepest emotional self-support, I guide her to find her direction there. Meanwhile I have gently lifted her leg, cradling it for a moment to give her the sense of additional support from her root and sexual charkas.
Sally: I don't know where that is right now.
I sense her move into a brief confusion, which helps to reorganize habitual responses and instead move toward new choices.
Sally: I really want to be able, like, spit out all those mistreatments, the hitting and the stabbing and the smiling and all that stuff. I guess talking to him would be a place to do that.
Ute: So start with that. What do you really want to say to this man?
Sally: I think I actually hated him and hate is really tough for me.
She cries, her voice breaks.
I have my hand on her left foot and direct the energy through it into Mother Earth for grounding and comfort. - I sense the Unergi group's deep empathy as they witness this atrocious story, and I continue to check in with my own body to stay expansive, while receiving my own feedback from the endlessly giving support of the Earth.
Ute: Say that again, just the way you said: I think I actually hate you.
I have reframed this sentence to an “I” voice; “I hate you” instead of “I think I actually hated him…”
We are inching toward the confrontation with her step dad. My voice is soft, allowing Sally to deepen her connection with her pain and hatred without becoming overwhelmed. She cries now. I have moved to the right side, (the masculine, active side of the body,) lift the right leg, cradling and encouraging some movement in the pelvis (where family relationships are accessed,) to release the pent up energy of anger stored there since she was four.
Sally: I think I actually hate you.
Ute: And tell him that it's tough for you to say that.
I track her every step now so we won't proceed too fast. This is a pivotal moment that decides whether she is learning to trust in a larger self that has been waiting to express her anger, or whether her younger self is still not ready. - I sense her shuttling between allowing the feelings and stopping them.
Ute: Say it from the place of the hip joint. Give that place a voice.
Sally practices how to stay in touch with her anger for a while. While crying, she tries kicking and feels silly.
Sally: I can't believe what you did to me! All that shit I took from him. It was awful.
I sense her again slipping into some self-blame. I am now on the receiving left side, with one hand on the left hip and the other on the left foot to integrate pelvic energy with earth support.
Ute: Well, a little girl of four-years-old has no choice, Sally. This was a big man and she is just four-years-old. Can you say that to her?
Sally: He was a really big guy and you didn't have any choice but… I think you could have done something. - You know, when I finally stopped him I was nine.
She says this with high-pitched, little girl's voice.
Ute: At nine already!
I acknowledge how courageous she was to confront a large adult as a nine-year-old little girl.
Ute: What does the nine-year-old want to say to the four-year-old?
My hands are both under the left hip joint to widen the support.
Sally: I grabbed his wrist and pushed it away and I think (crying,) I could have done that sooner. I think ….
She stops herself and reverses; dropping her self-blame. She speaks with a stronger nine-year-old voice to the four-year-old.
Sally: ‘You couldn't do anything your hands were too small'. I could hardly do it. It took everything I had and my hands were bigger by then.
Sally proceeds to tell us that at nine-years-old, she got thrown out of the house once. After that she began to prepare for future events like this so she would be able to survive. She tells us in a shaky voice that she “collected information” about people she knew on “how they got by” -
Sally: I had this whole tool chest of stuff that I knew I could use… I had plans of what I could do and where I could go and how I would make money.
I remind her of how little she was and what an incredible job she did to create a whole system, a toolbox to survive. At this moment, I get a little bit triggered, remembering my own toolbox and survival history. I look outside at the trees and call in my dependable ally nature, which grounds me to stay in the here and now with Sally. I encourage Sally to tell us some more stories about what she did to cope and how she did it, so she can learn to shift further from self blame to self appreciation -- at this time I have sat down behind her with my hands under her throat chakra, to amplify her stories and bring her creativity to expressing herself.
Sally: OK - well. When I was nine, I had a friend. Her name was Joy and she taught me dirty songs - not that I understood fully what they meant. Since I had full experiences with penises I did have some sense of what was going on.
She says this in a cheeky voice, I am shocked by the revelation of this last sentence, which makes me wonder, and strongly assume, that Sally not only experienced physical but also sexual abuse. However, I try to mirror her light energy and humor since this is part of her survival toolbox and helps her to continue right now.
Ute: Do you remember one of the songs… could you sing it?
Sally: Put your belly next to mine and drive it on - so I gave her inches one. She said baby this is fun - put your belly next to mine and drive it on. - There were a whole bunch of refrains.
Sally is laughing.
Ute: You sang these little songs so you could cope.
I am affirming her creative coping skills.
Sally: Ya, but the worst of it was that we wrote the songs down and we sent them to …. So he found out and I got beaten and this was the last time I got beaten this way. Really, 'cause what he would do is he would say go into the bedroom and get ready, and I'd have to pull my pants down and wait for a long, long time until he came in with a belt to spank me. And this time I refused to cry and I counted. He hit me 15 times. And the next day was the day he tried to abuse me again, and that's when I stopped him.
Sally starts with an adult voice, then trembles as I sense the emotions of the young child surfacing again. She is clearly regressing to the young place again, gets tearful, serious and finally shaky. - I continue to support her under her throat chakra, while I sense my whole body, whole world and her being included in it.
Ute: Oh my God.
I validate her horrible experience.
Ute: So this little girl did not cry when she was hit 15 times.
Sally: It was like: 'That is it,' you know. He beat me with a belt with those holes in them.
Ute: And then the next day this nine-year-old said: This is enough!
Ute: You are something, aren't you?
Sally: Every time she gets to tell her story about grabbing his arm and pushing it away, I feel very triumphant and it makes me feel good.
My hands are on both of her shoulders now, to remind her of her energy and compassion for this traumatic early beginning of her life, and guide her to reach out for more of her magnificent self, instead of laughing it off.
Sally: I am having trouble holding my legs up though. I was scared.
Her legs are shaking right now, releasing the fear of the past, while at the same time acknowledging how afraid she used to be.
Ute: Speak from those legs that are having trouble staying up right now.
Again I am inviting her body to become her ally, to bridge past with present.
Sally: I'm very wobbly. It took everything we had to stand up through all that.
Her voice is soft, childlike. She is integrating the four and nine-year-old child and all the ages in between.
Ute: …. And I don't want to stand for any stuff anymore - not even in my memories.
I am inviting her to put down her toolbox, let go of her self-defense and armor and eventually not be haunted by this tragic story anymore .
Sally: I want to be able to feel the strength under my own legs…because they are strong enough to stand up to him too.
Ute: Why don't you say that to him?
Here comes the final self-empowered confrontation.
Sally: I'm not going to hold you up anymore.
She says to her legs, “ Sally: You don't have to carry him anymore - just me.
Ute: What do your legs answer?
Sally: We are still learning about that.
Here I imagine that Sally has brought other relationships into her life over the years, who she felt she had to carry, and that this session can begin to teach her to say to any person who leans on her too much in any way, “I am not going to hold you up any longer.” (This seems to be a universal theme, maybe particularly for women in a male dominated society).
Sally: I'm done. My hands are tingling. For the first time I can actually feel my hands.
She has begun to release the grip in her hands that tried to push her abuser away, and with that the guilt and shame.
Sally: The four-year-old says thank you... It was very hard. I don't know that I'm done crying about this at four-years-old, but I feel a little better. It was hard for me to be me… so I'm not done crying about how hard it was to be me.
Ute: So you can give her permission to cry when she needs to?
Sally: My legs are going really wide, or is that my imagination?
She starts to shiver. We give her a blanket.
Sally: Oh, I got a blanket. It was for me! Whoah!!
After a while she says:
Sally: I am very nice and warm now.
Ute: So just allow yourself to feel that warmth. And let it travel into the life of that little four-year-old and nine-year-old Sally and let them soak in some of that warmth.
….. Pause ….
Sally: She says: Thank you.
Sally has a new toolbox now. She has room in her body and psyche as she reaches for a fuller self. She is learning how she can become her own very best parent to her four and nine-year-old inner children, re-scripting their trauma with a new story .