“There is no daughter”, my therapist said. The words shook me to the core and I began to sob uncontrollably.
This daughter was the woman that I had so lovingly created, this gentle loved daughter of my therapist, with straight long brown hair, very healthy (plump, one might say), perhaps a mother herself. This woman who smiled often, and seemed to be very much at ease… I had been so happy for her, for her good fortune to be my therapist’s daughter. Now, I was being told, that she is no more, or rather, that she never was. Struck with grief, I sobbed in pain, my body heaving in staccato, trying to gain relief. Clearly, I felt shame as well, for I remained sobbing with my head hung low, averting my gaze, trying to hide behind my shaking hands that covered my wet, snotty face. I was unable to lock eyes with my therapist, the solemn bearer of the cruel news, the stark bare truth, that I had been forced to breathe in: “My therapist does not have a daughter!”
The first impulse for a therapist, for one with an analytical mind, might be to try to help me, the client, find meaning and gain insight into their inner world – who or what did this daughter represent? Was this fantasy borne out of my longing to be the therapist’s cherished daughter? Did it bring up previous losses, imagined or real? And what was the shame about? Was it shame for having to acknowledge one’s fantasies, especially about the therapist, or simply shame for crying, and so (shamefully) uncontrollably in the presence of another. Words do have the power to cut through layers of unconscious to the depth of one's soul. Why did these words "There is no daughter" bring upon such intense emotions in me? Did it stir up the deep unfulfilled yearning for a daughter of my own? Or was it to do with something lost in my relationship with my own parents?
All of the above (meanings and stories), they matter not for healing to begin. In fact, any attempts by my therapist to help me “understand” the reasons for my emotions, or the possible associations made of "There is no daughter" would only get in the way. Healing occurs as I connect and am fully present with my emotions, as I sit with and experience it in my body, as I feel every physical sensation of this overpowering sense of grief and shame that has suddenly engulfed me.
I continue to sob and sob, my sobs now turning to plaintive wails, as I connect with all the deep pain within me. At the same time, I feel HELD and fully accepted by my empathic and attuned therapist, holding me with unconditional love.
I begin to heal.