After I watched the inspiring, great movie “Spotlight,” I had a moving therapy session.
Here you can watch the trailer of “Spotlight”:
Reminiscent of the movie “Inside Out,” I could connect in a new and deeper way with two of my parts. One of them has dominated my life, especially when I was young. This part called itself “ray of hope:” to find love was her firm and exclusive goal to keep hope alive for me. This part used to dominate me — like joy in the movie “Inside Out” as she tries, forcefully, to control things for Riley, the 11 year old girl in the movie, when sadness comes up after Riley and her family have moved, and she misses her old life.
My part “ray of hope” wanted to prevent that I would die or kill myself in the dark world, where I grew up. This part dreamed of “love,” listened to Chopin’s piano concertos, read books about women who found love — and was determined to build a loving marriage where I would be happy. She would have never left my marriages. She blocked out, or pushed aside, anything problematic or critical, not only about my father, but also about the two men I married. Because the world, where I grew up, was so dark and loveless, to dream of love became for this part, and thus for me and my life, a life-saving “ray of hope” — the ray of light that did shine into this darkness and gave me hope — a reason to continue living. This hope kept me alive. Later, this part has taken endless photos where light was the subject, and still likes to do this.
In my therapy session last week, this part spoke up: at first with sadness about my life; it’s the part that has so often cried and said: “I wanted a different life.” It has been at times painful for this part that I am not married anymore and live by myself now, far away from my country and my origins, also far away from people who are now very important to me and whom I love. Thankfully, I have good friends here, where I live now.
But then, another part spoke up: the incest part; she called herself the “love of truth” part. This part felt incredibly encouraged by the “Spotlight” movie and the search for truth of the four journalists of the spotlight team; their search for the truth is at the center and heart of this movie.
My “love of truth” part said that she has brought a different kind of love into my life: the love of truth. And that it has been, just like in the movie, a very long, arduous journey, where I needed lots of patience and endurance, and where I had to overcome huge obstacles and difficulties, among them the rejection and betrayal of my family and origins. It has also meant to help those parts of me that could not believe the incest and clung to the image of a “good father,” who had loved me. But a good father would not have seduced and violated his 16 year old daughter and plunged her into such a devastating inner turmoil and conflicts, that it took most of my life to get to the truth — to be able to accept it — to realize the terrible consequences for my life — and to create a different life, where the love of truth could unfold and blossom, and where more and more people have entered my life who were, and are, interested in the truth — instead of denying and fighting it.
The incest part said in the session:
“This movie was an incredible encouragement for the truth. And that it is worth to dig it up, to look at it, to deal with it — and not to run away from it, and to not put it under the carpet. These journalists worked very hard and passionately, and also very intelligently, to find the truth. It was wonderful that they were not alone. Even when they were arguing with each other — they still had the same goal of finding the truth and bringing it out in the open. The incest part says: This was encouraging.
And on the other hand, there is a great sadness today because it took such a long time to unbury the truth.
I want to ask the incest part why she is so sad. The incest part says that there have been shadows over my life: the car accident; the war and the consequences of the Nazi tyranny; and another shadow has been the incest.…….
The “ray of hope” part wants love with someone else, while the incest part wants truth.
The incest part says to the other parts that they maybe could only imagine love in certain ways that I was taught, or the environment proclaimed about romantic love. The incest part says: Look, she has lived love for the truth; she has certainly lived love for speaking up; she has taken as much lovingly care of herself as she could. Because staying in an unhappy marriage is not about love; it’s maybe proving to the family, like my mother did, that it’s a wonderful marriage. But it’s not about love. It’s about pretending. It’s not about honesty. So the incest part sees and admires this amazing work that all these people did in the movie to find the truth; to bring it out; to write the story; to give the victims of voice. The scene is so moving: when the article came out, so many victims called the spotlight team because finally they had someone who believed them and to whom they could tell their story, and who would write their story — without being afraid that they would be told: it’s a false memory, or it’s a lie.
The incest part says: Look, how much work it has been. And it started long before I remembered the incest to get to the truth. And this love of the truth is really what this incest part is all about, and it has guided my life and given all the direction to my life. This part could not be very active, when I was young. But it was always there. It’s a part that is not afraid of the truth; I have other parts who are. This part has not; it has a love for the truth; it fights for the truth. I think that’s why it liked the movie so much. And found it also encouraging as a validation of my journey and what I have done with my life. And that love is not just about romantic love and a couple being together. I can, and I do love many people and experiences. I can love my children and their wonderful families; I can love the truth; I can love nature and music. I can love being with friends and people; teaching piano, supporting a client who also searches for the truth……
….. And I ask the hope part: How is it for you to hear the truth part, how does it make you feel? Stunning, the part says. I looked at the world in a very different way. And I tried to keep you alive. The truth part would not have kept you alive where you grew up. The truth would have been a disaster because truth was not welcome. Love was not in that house, for sure; but truth was not welcome either. Of romantic love, you could read. But truth was not even a concept I thought about; I thought my parents were honest; I thought my family was honest. I believed all the things that they told me. I don’t know where the truth part came from and how it happened. But the hope part says to the truth part: you had no chance to do anything for Barbara at this point of her life. Then the truth part says: Maybe, I had could have been there, I would have been brave enough to find out the truth about the first man I married. And the hope part responds: yes, you might have; but this is not how things worked in that family. One could not ask, one could not talk about things. It just was not done. I could not go to people and ask: What did you do in the war? Why did you follow and believe in Hitler? How did you feel when Hitler was gone? You could not ask any real question about anything.
When the incest happened, the confusion must have been overwhelming for this hope-for-love part. And telling anybody about this was not an option. Nobody would have believed me; they may have put me away. Somehow, my parts knew that telling the truth was not an option. So the truth part was not welcome and had no chance to ever be at the control panel, like it is shown so fantastically in “Inside Out.” The truth part had no chance to ever be at, much less lead the control panel of my brain. All the other parts would have screamed: DON’T DO THAT!!! You cannot do that, ask questions, look for the truth. Father is going to be upset; mother is going to be upset. They both are going to be upset. There is something really sinister going on. Truth cannot be there. But longing for love can be there; she is the captain of our ship, we follow her; we trust her. But you, truth of love, cannot be the captain and control the ship, the direction of Barbara’s life; if we follow you, we are going to be in big shit. “Inside Out” is so wonderful in showing this fight over who can be at the control panel of the brain.
There is a lot of respect and understanding between these two parts now, and a gratefulness for this conversation and for getting to know each other. For the truth part to know: OK, you, hope part, kept Barbara alive — and for the hope part to know: OK, you, the truth part put Barbara’s on a life journey that I could not even think about — but that, in the end, has been a good life journey. Yes, it was a difficult and painful — but the love of truth, you are a strong part in Barbara. You have brought a different kind of love into her life that, well, it could not live then, and I could not dream about it. Romantic love was about the only thing that I could dream about as a teenager. (60:32) I did not dream about being a lawyer, or a doctor, or the president of Germany. For my father, I was a stupid woman, and in his opinion, women stayed at home and did the stuff at home. He did not like it when women did their own thing, worked and had their own place in the world. He was fanatic about that, and of that forbidding, constrictive patriarchal mind frame, which believes that women are inferior and stupid and are not meant, nor allowed, to have a place in the world. He put his finger to his temple to make it clear to me that I was stupid, even crazy, had nothing to say; his message was also: you have no right to have a place in this world.
Both parts are very grateful for this conversation and also grateful for the light that it shines on my life in terms of what I felt when I was so young and the direction I then hoped it would go — and the direction my life has actually taken, and how I brought love into my life in a very different way than I could think or even dream about when I was young. Truth was not a value for me. It was all under the carpet. There is an appreciation between these parts now. And I would like to invite the “ray of hope” part if she has something to unburden because I feel that she is still so far out there, in my past — and not with me. So far away, in a different time. What I hear from this part is that she was incredibly lonely. It’s what I said about the desert, where there was no love — and how thirst and hunger for love grew and grew. The hunger for companionship, for talking with someone in a respectful way. In an appreciative way. To be hugged; to be held. To be taken seriously in a caring, nice way. I see this part as a terribly lonely part in a very hostile and dark environment. I need to help her to get out of there. She is still in this room on the island, dreaming about love, reading her romantic books and listening to her romantic music. It is horrible to realize how lonely she was and that there was no one she could connect with. She tried to hard to connect; she fell in love when I was fourteen; she was hungry for a loving connection and to be appreciated. http://www.screamsfromchildhood.com/screams/Jan.html
And I say to this part: If I take you away from here, you will see that life is not about this desperation to find a connection that feels good and that makes you feel like you are valuable and have worth. Maybe together with me, you can discover new things about life than just dealing with this hunger that you had to find a connection. I am here for you. Well, I want to say to her that I am a stable connection that I am not going to go away. That I have been there for all my parts. And I’ve tried to esteem them. I don’t know how else to put it. I see their despair; but I know that behind, or below, is may be something else. When I take this part along: she is really crying. She is a very, very sad part, who could not believe how lonely she was, and how difficult it was to find this connection. And also, when it was there, how confusing it was, even with this first person when I was fourteen. It meant the world to this part; it meant the world to me. But there were very difficult circumstances about the whole thing. This part is sad and she was incredibly confused: what life was all about, what love was all about. I don’t think that this part had any clue what love was; it was just to feel a little bit better about yourself than you do when you are attacked, hurt, yelled at, punished, put down, scorned, and all those horrible things that happened. And she is coming along with me. Her biggest burden is loneliness. It’s being alone — and not being appreciated, not being valued for who she was. And no interest in who she was. That’s her biggest burden.
Therapist: Is she ready to let it go?
Barbara: Seeing where I live now, that there is so much light; the sun is shining and there is a lot of light in there world where I live today. Also in terms of that I have human relationships in my life that are friendly and kind, not hurtful. The light where I live is taking the burden away, has done this for a long time. Light has played a role in my photos for a long, long time. The light helps this part that these burdens can dissolve so that this part can enjoy me and my life, and life in general. In a hopefully different way. And when I ask this part: How would you like to do that? This part is a people part; she likes to be with people in a good and meaningful way where good things can happen, where you can be yourself, where you can do something meaningful together and be active together.
Therapist: So is this something you can help her with?
Barbara: I think that’s what I am doing with my life, what is already part of my life. This part can join me in this. I have wanted to join a pottery group here; that is something this part would like to do. Just be with people and do something together and enjoy it.
Here you can read other IFS therapy sessions