Today's session started with a question: 1-10, how connected do you feel?
Zero. Same answer from both of us.
Needless to say, the counselor was shocked. Completely showed in her face. She asked the obvious follow-up of "Why?"
So, she got the story from 6 weeks ago or so of my wife asking me why I didn't tell her about a ticket I got 9 months prior. Actually, it wasn't so much asking as it was a lecture on why it was irresponsible of me to not tell her, especially after she had gotten one.
From her telling of the events, she was loving, kind and felt compassion towards me because she understood why I would keep it hidden.
When it came time for my rendition, I expressed my feelings of being judged and rejected during her lecture. I also presented the events of the following day when I brought up those feelings, only to have them dismissed because she "reflected on it and hadn't done anything to be judging or rejecting". Yep, total invalidating.
After the "presentations", the counselor asked me why I had a wall up, why I felt that I couldn't share my real self. I simply said that it was because it wasn't safe, that my real self had been rejected so many times for so many years, that I simply was in protect mode. It wasn't safe because in being "known", the same old Mrs. Cap came out to lecture and humiliate, just like she had done for so many years.
The counselor looked at me and said "There is a lot of pain that you're holding back, isn't there?"
"Pain from all the years of being treated that way?"
"And all the rejection..."
"Especially the more recent past."
Then she gave me a question to think about. She asked "If Mrs. Cap could just do one or two things to make it safer, what would those be? Don't answer, just think."
She then told my wife something that I had never heard a counselor say, but it made 100% perfect sense. She said "It's perfectly fine to go knock on the wall and ask if he's ready to come out to play. Do not beat on the wall. Do not try to demolish the wall. Just knock. And if the answer is 'no' then sit down against the wall and wait.
And above all else, defend his wall."
My wife was a bit stunned at the statement and asked what it meant.
"If somebody comes along and tells him that he needs to tear it down, that he needs to get out there and do XYZ with his wife, you tell them that it's perfectly alright with you that he is back there because Cap is protecting himself. And when he's ready, he will come out. But nobody gets to force him out."
First, I think my wife was shocked that the counselor didn't scold me for having the wall. And on top of that, I think she was more shocked that she was told to PROTECT my wall.
The counselor finished up by saying "true compassion is seeing someone who is hurt, knowing that they are protecting themselves from more hurt, and defending their right to do that...even though you are the one who hurt them."
Then she said "When Cap is ready to tell you what those 1 or 2 things are that would help him feel safe...do them. No excuses. Just do them.
Feet...meet the fire.