(As this session was by phone, the words of the therapist were not recorded.)
Barbara: Did you have a good trip? You were in California. What did you accomplish at this conference. How was that? Yes. Yes. I am sure that was fascinating. Yes. Yes. It sounds good. (Richard Schwartz had guided a conference attended by Jews and Palastinians, who discovered and worked with their parts -- the legacies of the beliefs they grew up with and internalized.)
Barbara: I have had a difficult time. I am really very sad. I manage to live, I have written therapy and cried a lot, and I think what is really behind this -- the great pain -- is from the beginning of my life, this enormous rejection of my mother, really from the beginning. And I can feel the tears coming when I just tell you about it. So maybe we can work with the part that feels so rejected.
And I am working on my response; I am on my second going through, when I correct, take stuff out and move stuff around. But it's there, the response stands. Maybe next week or two weeks I will send you the text in an email. I have so much to do, during the week I cannot put as much time into it as I would like to. When I am done, I will send it to you. Two other people will also read it, too. I just wanted you to know that it's coming along; it's getting clear, and I know what I want to say.
Now to the part who feels rejected really. It's an incredible sadness, and it also comes along with hunger; I eat too much when I am in this place... Now the tears come. (Sighing)
Therapist: "Where do you feel this part in your body?"
Barbara: I feel it in my body as a sadness and like heavy weight. My body does not feel like my body; it feels like something very heavy and sad that I have to drag along.
Therapist: "How do you feel towards this part?"
Barbara: "I know that this part is there, so I try to feel understanding towards this part, but I feel that I wish it would go away. I think that the part -- the part that wishes it would go away -- knows how much pain is in this hopeless part. I think, it just wants to protect me. I tell this part: 'Thank you, but I can listen, I can feel the pain, I am not afraid, I am there. You can step aside; I can handle this part; you don't have to worry about it.'
So the sadness -- it's sadness, it's a hopelessness. It's a hopelessness also that makes me not want to live. It's about: (Crying) What am I doing here? What am I there for?
I remember one night, a few days ago, I just wrote one scream after the other: Why am I here? (Crying continues) What am I doing? Why did you bring me into this world? What am I doing here? (Deep sobbing) And I know that these are all screams for my mother because she just had absolutely no use for me. I know that. She never had use for me. But it started way back, and I think this is a very early part; these are very early -- I know some people would call them primal -- screams.
This is really about: What am I doing here?
And the feeling of this part is also: (deep sobbing) 'If you don't want me, I don't want to live, I don't know what I am doing here. I don't understand what I am here for.'
This is really how this part feels. It's all very true. I remember very early in my work with Allen Siegel, I sat on his couch and I started to cry and to say: "Why was I ever born?" And I remember he said: "These are very early feelings; they take years to come up. " But this has always been there this question: "Why was I ever born?"
You know this woman had NO USE whatsoever for me -- except for yelling at me, beating me and wanting me to be perfect. I mean it was ALL CRAP. (with indignation) NOTHING of what I experienced with this woman who called herself my "mother" had anything to do with life, or preparing me for life, or making me welcome in the world, or anything. It was all about getting rid of me -- I had three nannies in the first year -- and then Hotto came -- it was about getting rid of me, it was about teaching me to be a "good girl." Every four hours I was fed; at night, I was not fed and just lying there, abandoned, alone; and then I was already beaten in my first year so that I would not wet my pants anymore. It was madness. It was UTTER, TOTAL MADNESS. It had nothing to do with love and life.
So I want to ask the part -- I want to ask her how she feels towards my mother.
There are tow parts now because there is a very angry part that says: I HATE YOUR MOTHER. I REALLY, REALLY HATE THIS WOMAN (sobbing) because she is so evil, she did terrible things to you and I really really HATE this woman. The part says that she has never -- except when she nursed me and had to hold me in her arms for how many minutes -- she nursed me she says for nine months. During this time, she did not beat me, I had peaceful moments with her. But the part says other than these moments, and maybe for other people who were in my life -- my father was there somehow, and there were three other nannies who took care of me when my mother did not want to be with me and had better things to do -- so the part says, except for these moments there was no human interaction with that woman that had anything to do with what a child needs. A child needs to be (crying) held and comforted, not to be afraid, not to be left crying alone...
The part says there was nothing in the relationship between this woman and me that had anything to with love and what a child needs. A child needs to be held, comforted, (crying) not to be left crying alone; a child needs to be talked to, smiled to. A child needs a mother and father who are joyful about her existence. And this woman, she just wasn't. Every time, when my mother was pregnant with all her six children, she had a severe allergy. Every time.
Yes, it is very telling.
She really did not want to have children. And the only way in which she interacted with us was harshness or getting from us what she needed. You know, understanding, and the older I got, she more I could give her what she wanted, listening and understanding, and she could have long talks with me because she was a very lonely woman and had nobody. My father was hardly at home anymore.
The part goes back and forth between anger and hatred on the one hand -- and then it goes back to the sadness on the other hand. And the part says it felt there was nothing to hold on to. I had a dream once, after my work with allen Siegel. And in this dream, I was on a boat in a fjord with my father, and somebody took the boat very quickly out of the fjord; that was Allen Siegel and the work that we did then. But then I found myself in the open sea, and wave after wave was going over me, and there was a storm; and then men came with a boat, and they said we will rescue you from the water. But there was a child who was also in the water, close to me, but drifting away. And I said: I will only get out of the water if you save the child first. And they did, they saved the child -- and they saved me in my dream.
And this feeling of being in the sea in a storm when wave after wave after wave goes over me -- this is my body's and my soul's metaphor for what being with my mother meant.
What the the part is now saying is that -- there wasn't even a life-line. The reason why my father became MY LIFE-LINE is because there was no life-line with my mother. The part says, there was NOTHING. NOTHING. There was no life-line with my mother; there was just hatred coming from her and cruelty, misunderstanding. I mean you could say whatever you wanted, it was always turned around. You LOST YOUR MIND with this woman. It was a crazy woman.
The part says it needs to hear from you what you think about this woman.
Barbara: Yes. (Crying) The part says that's true, she was crazy, she was destructive and she was totally unfit to be a mother. That's all true.
I want to ask the part if the way she feels, I think, if she has always felt this way. And the part says: YES. The part says that she has felt this way even when she was inside of my mother because even then she could feel the rejection and hatred. The part cannot tell me how it felt, but it didn't feel like HOME. The part says: my mother's body DID NOT FEEL LIKE HOME! (long sobbing)
Then my question to her is: what did it feel like? And the part says it felt like a place where you FEEL you are not welcome. I mean, I can be somewhere and walk into a place, a house, into a room, and I can feel that I am not welcome. And the part says: that's how you felt inside your mother. You always felt -- I AM NOT WELCOME.
And I ask the part -- tell me more about what that felt like. The part says it frightened and it confused her because she couldn't understand why she WAS THERE. Why do you go anywhere if you are NOT WELCOME? I mean, who brings you into their house or into your body, and then says: You are not welcome?
This is obviously totally intuitive knowledge that did not yet go through the brain. But it is still a schizophrenic situation. Let's say I tell you -- come to Mexico, I have a bedroom for you, I will give you food, I will welcome you in my house. And then you come to my house and then you realize that I don't want you here. Although you are in my house and you live here for a week and take a vacation -- and all you feel the whole time is that I don't want you to be here. The part says that's what it felt like. It was schizophrenic. And I mean you might say after a day or two, Barbara, this does not feel so good; or you might not say anything and just go home and you leave.
But I was in this woman's body, so I was with her -- and there is nowhere to go. There was nowhere to go as a child. So the part says that it felt the whole time as if someone said: 'come and be with me" -- and then made you feel and treated you -- well, it's not even about being unwelcome. The part says it felt like I was an intruder. It was not just about being unwelcome, I was INTRUDING her body and into her life. The time that she wanted to have for herself or the life.
I really think that my mother wanted her life for herself (sobbing) -- she did not want to share her life with anybody. (long sobbing)
I want to tell the part that I believe her everything that she says because i know it's all true. I know it is true. I know every feeling that she describes and I understand where they come from. And I tell her that I how really (crying) sorry I feel (crying) that her life started in this horrible way. (crying) And I want to tell her that she deserved a mother who LOVED her (crying) and I want to tell her that it had nothing to do with her -- but it had to do with this insane woman who just hated life, hated relationships; that was just a mad woman.
I want to ask the part if she thinks that SHE had the problem, that it was her fault that all this happened. The part says that this wasn't there in the beginning; that came later when she would beat me and scream at me and had all this expectations. But in the beginning the part says it was just confusion and fear because I was somewhere where I felt I was not supposed to be. So the part says it felt like: I can't figure this out. I don't understand this.
I want to ask the part again how she felt towards her mother. I don't know why I have this question again. And the part says that the hatred came later. But in the beginning, when I was in her body and it was not a home, and being there did not make her feel right -- but there was this enormous longing for things to feel right. There was this longing that I would be welcome and the part says that is the reason why you, for example, tried so hard like in the relationship with E (my second husband) or with AM.
It is hard for me to understand this part right now. But what this part is trying to do in relationships is to create what she thinks is love and an accepting and welcoming and kind atmosphere. Even if it becomes obvious that I am being used. (sighing) This part cannot see when I am being used. She cannot see that because she is blind for that. She is so FILLED with the longing to feel welcome that she will do ANYTHING to create a kind and loving atmosphere. That is the best that I can describe it. It's difficult for me to describe -- it's kind of something that she (crying) always longed for and she tried to create (sobbing) -- but with the wrong people, with people who didn't want to do the same. If I had maybe had picked people who also felt this way it would have been different -- but I have picked people who USED ME for certain purposes. I mean it's clear that E. used me to take care of his children and get them back somehow.
It's very, very interesting, because I was together with E. four months, and this anxiety came and I could not sleep anymore; that's when called Allen Siegel and entered therapy again. The anxiety came when we, E. and I, had lunch with his son; and I think my body and my soul were trying to warn me: there is a problem here. And maybe if I had seen the problem clearly from the beginning, I would not have been so deeply drawn into this as I was then later.
But this part, she will work very, very hard, even in a hopeless relationship, to create a kind and warm atmosphere. And now I begin to understand her because then she does NOT feel unwelcome. Now I begin to understand her. I didn't understand her at first. But she will work VERY HARD to create this -- so that she does not have to realize what I just told you about E. that she is being used, that she is not welcome, that this is not about two people creating together harmony or love or whatever. But that somebody is using her to do something that has nothing to do with her but is just for their own purposes. Does that make sense?
I want to say to the part: the way I understand you now is that because you did not feel welcome and because that was so painful for you, and particularly because you did not understand what was going on and did not hate your mother, you did not even feel anger, you were just full of this longing -- this is why you later, in order not feel this longing, in order to calm this longing and to keep it in check -- that's what is it about -- you tried to create relationships where you felt welcome, where you... ...
I am really far away now. I can't tell you; I don't know if if there is a fear now that I am stuck in. I will just say: Who has stepped in, who is there now? What has happened?
I don't know; it's very strange; it's like everybody has left and what I sense a little bit is a part that is angry at my mother. So I want to ask: why did you come now? What is going on. All I hear is that the part says she doesn't want me to long for my mother. She says that my mother does not deserve it. She is very, very angry at my mother. She says that my mother is just such a LOVELESS person, such a terrible, loveless person. This part even says that she is physically repulsed by my mother; she didn't like how my mother smelled. The part says she smelled like a dead person; she always smelled foul and bitter. Just so bad, so bad. And this part says that she cannot STAND my mother. This part says that it is very hard for her to be confronted with a part that so LONGED for my mother.
And I want to tell the part: 'I understand you because I know your feelings, too. I know that's how you felt. But I REALLY want to help the other part today because I think it is very, very important and I will listen to you, too. So can you please wait until Dick and I have time to hear you, and let me just be with the part who really needed a mother when she was a baby, particularly.'
The part says, yes, she can, she just wants me to acknowledge her, to know that she is there, to understand that she has trouble with this and that she wants to be heard, too. And I promise her that you and I will listen to her when she will get a chance to speak too.
I try to ask the sad part again what the longing for a mother created in her and made her do. It says that she worked really hard to make things nice between people -- to not realize what was really going on in relationships. She says she just was so -- I mean, my brothers and sisters used to call me "Omi" which is grandmother (long sobbing) because I told them stories and I did homework with them. I am sure I was also a horrible, precocious older sister. But I don't think that I was mean. This part has the need (crying) to make things NICE between people and to help people, and to not see how people treated ME. She did not consider this. If I called it an obsession, it would be judgmental, but it was an obsession. It was like an obsession to be nice, to make other people feel welcome, to create any kind of harmony in the madness where I was a child child so that the realization -- the feeling was always there that my mother did not welcome me and didn't want me -- but that I didn't have to DEAL with it, that I didn't have to REALLY feel it and REALIZE the feeling, and REALIZE what the feeling really MEANT.
And so I was in relationships, like with E and AM and certainly with my first husband, where people were busy with their own agendas and particularly with their agenda of craving for recognition, you know: I want to be somebody. They all three were very busy with that. This part cannot realize that I am nothing but a tool, that I am being used as a tool to further this agenda. You know, like with AM. Of course I was excited to answer readers' letters on her website, and it was an interesting job. And because I had her on a pedestal, I thought she was giving me something. Even now the thought that I was being used is very hard to even contemplate because I want to say: we wanted to do good things together. We wanted to work together; we wanted to inform people who are in therapy and who suffer from their childhood to help them see things. And we certainly did. But what I see more and more, also I write this response, is that I had a lot of therapeutic experience that she did not have, Dick. So in the way I answered people, there is something that she does not have, Dick. And that is also something that I cannot even contemplate. It's like my brain, the moment this thought comes, I turn me head away and say: 'Don't bug me.'
And now comes another thought. You know I cried so hard when I said that my sisters called me 'Omi" and I cry again (sobbing) when it comes because I feel that I have been very kind to them; and I have helped many of them. You know my brothers and sisters would come to me when they were depressed, they would come to me when they wanted to kill themselves. In my family horrible things happened -- and they came to me. And when I WAS IN PAIN -- they did abandon me. (Crying)
One of my sisters once told me -- this was early in my therapy when my sisters still talked to me, or I still talked to them, too -- and the memory that at night, you know, when we were put to bed, god, when they wanted to get rid of us. It was all about getting rid of these children. So you put them to bed at 6, turn off the light, and then they lie in the dark. And they are not tired. We were not allowed to read; we were not allowed to talk. But obviously we were brave and did it anyway. My sisters would give me a word, or two words, house and dog, and I would make up a story. And when Hotto of my mother overheard us and found out, we were beaten. One of my sisters who remembers these scenes told me that I was always beaten first, then the youngest, and that she, the one in the middle would beg: 'please, please Hotto, don't' -- and then she would be beaten only once. And then she said: 'And you would always lie in the dark sobbing.' Like: "you always made such a fuss about things.' You know, this tells you something about my sister.
The third sister once told me, I visited her in a hospital, and somehow we talked about this memory because the other sister had told us. And this sister said: 'you brought warmth into my life. I don't know how I would have survived my childhood without it.' That's what my sister said about me.
I don't know where this warmth comes from. Maybe one of the nannies during the first year was a warm person, or maybe even two of the three, and maybe they were very different from my mother. I don't know, but I have always felt that I have something that my family does not have, and I felt like a stranger among them.
The part that we are working with, the part that says that she is so busy creating a good and loving atmosphere, or an accepting atmosphere -- good moments together, not the yelling -- just understanding, some form of understanding, of a kind being-together -- that is all that she really wants. And the reason why she does it when she is really being misused is because she doesn't want to see that the other person doesn't even have this same interest, too. She is so busy doing HER thing that she cannot see that the other person has a different agenda. I think, now it is getting clear in my head.
I want to ask her how it makes her feel to realize that people have an agenda and make use of me; and when I say at a certain point, you know, I am sick, I am tired, I am stressed, I cannot do this anymore and there is something wrong here; we need to look at this relationship. And then the person basically says: 'Fuck you, Barbara, you are just a worthless shit.' And this is really what my siblings did, except for my youngest brother, and what E and what AM and my first husband did; it just took him a little longer. But the moment when my body was exhausted and I had a physical illness -- with AM it was a sore throat; I had a terrible sore throat and could not travel to see her and I wrote to her what this sore throat said. It said: 'You hurt me and there is something wrong here.' But the answer was not: 'Let's change it; tell me what you really need and what is wrong here.' The answer was: 'Fuck you, Barbara.' And the same was true with E: 'Fuck you!' My siblings: 'Fuck you!' They didn't care ONE BIT when I needed some kind of kindness back. That is something that I think all my parts don't understand; it gives me almost a headache to think about it.
But I want to ask the part: how did it make you feel when you saw that there was an agenda and it wasn't about creating a relationship -- but that it was that these people had agendas which they pursued. The part says that she could not see that because then she would have felt so lonely, then she would have been back inside of my mother, feeling: this is not home. She says she worked REALLY HARD to have a home, no matter what. That was her life's work. And I know this feeling because it's a feeling inside of me that I know very well, and that's the feeling like: I want to belong to someone. So no matter who this is: Wherever this part thinks she has a chance, she feels: I BELONG. Like I felt about the little house by the airport with E., which was where E. needed to live. And by moving there, and by living there with him, E. took a lot of advantage of me. But at the moment when the relationship needed to change towards me and my needs, he said: 'good bye and fuck you, Barbara.' But he certainly could use me there, during the time in that little house. And I liked this little house, and I loved to live there with E. because I would come into the door and I would feel: 'I BELONG. I BELONG somewhere.'
I will ask the part again because it is hard for me to really understand this part, but I will ask the feeling: 'TO BELONG' -- in order to satisfy this feeling -- and do you satisfy or create this feeling -- in order to avoid the feeling that you never had a home with, even when you were in your mother.
The part says, it's true. That's really true.
Now I have another question: How does the eating come in here.
The part says, when I don't belong, when I don't feel I have a home, when I feel so empty and lost -- then I need to eat. The part says it's like when I have a home, I have a life-line. That goes back to being on the water, in the storm, that's how it was with my mother, so my father became my life-line. When I don't have a life-line, be it a father or another person, or another relationship, the part says then food becomes the life-line. Then food is like the only real thing that she has to calm down her despair and her confusion and the incredible pain that she feels.
Now we only have a few minutes left. I would like to go with her in the healing light, and I can feel that she wants to go, too. I have one more question: what the pain feels like that she must feel if there is no life-line.
And then the part says: that's what I told you in the beginning: these are the screams that I have been writing since you and I last talked two weeks ago. Since our last session, at least two or three times I have written at night, just screams to my mother: WHY WAS I EVER BORN? WHY DID YOU BRING ME INTO THIS WORLD? WHY DID YOU WANT ME -- and then you DON'T WANT ME? All these screams, the part says, you have told Dick about them, you have written them -- YOU KNOW MY PAIN. That is the pain that come out when I have a life-line in some form.
Now I am taking the part in the healing light. And I see my mother pregnant, and I see her with the little baby that was born, and then she either yelled at or beat this baby or left her alone or gave her to other people. I see a mother that cannot smile at this baby. I don't see any warmth and love and joy from this mother towards this baby. I see her sitting there, very cold, very rigid, very angry that this child is even there. The child is just all alone on a chair next to my mother, this abandoned, lonely baby, and then other people come and take care of this baby, and sometimes the mother nurses it. But otherwise, she is just ANGRY, just ANGRY; whatever reason she can find to be angry with this child she just let's out her anger towards this child.
I am taking the baby into my arms, I tell her that she has a home with me, I have been there for her to listen to her, today and many times before, and tell her that she never has to go back to this woman, and she never ever again has to be with this woman. I say that this woman never could be a mother to you.
And I bring her, this baby, to my home.
But I still have the baby, the pregnant mother. I don't know how to help the baby. I have not left yet because I want to help this baby, too. The healing light surrounds this baby, it goes kind of like inside of my mother and it just opens my mother and gives me this baby, too. The healing light says, she is not a mother, and this baby is going to be with you, too. The light just puts this baby inside of me and says: 'You have a home with Barbara, you can live with Barbara, and you are safe with Barbara.' I leave my mother, I just leave her behind, I just really don't even care anymore.
I am with these two babies here in my home. In the healing light, they can grow and come alive and they feel welcome and they can write and draw and sing and dance and do whatever they want. And they have a home where they belong and where they are welcome. And the light let's my mother disappear; it pushes her away and away and away until she is gone. The light says that this woman had an excruciatingly difficult and painful impact on my life, and the light says that I do not need any contact, any awareness, any dealing with that woman -- I just need to be free from her.
Here you can read other IFS therapy sessions