The Small Details
Have you ever wondered how even couples who obviously love each other can stumble over the same small details in their lives, year after year? And why, try as they may, they never seem to be able to completely navigate past these rough spots, the "you know I hate it when you do that to me" stuff? This story is about one of these couples and about one of their "small details"; "giving directions."
In fact, despite the obvious fact that Lisa and Robert both loved each other, they had been fighting about Lisa's inability to remember directions for more than twenty years. Worse yet, both of them worked in careers in which they frequently had to travel and so, despite their ongoing difficulty, Lisa often found herself asking Robert yet again for directions. And again. And again. Unfortunately though, no matter how hard they tried, Lisa never seemed to be able to get what Robert was saying when it came to directions. And Robert never seemed to be able to feel compassionate towards Lisa for her obviously painful BLock.
Needless to say, by the time they came to me, they both were feeling thoroughly frustrated and angry. More so, they were blaming each other.
"How can Lisa be so stupid?; Why does she act so dumb?; She knows how this upsets me and she does it anyway. She must be doing this to me on purpose!"
"How can Robert be so insensitive!; He's so mean; He knows I have a problem with directions; Why isn't he more understanding?; He's so tolerant with everyone else. Why is he so hard on me?"
Now, have you ever asked yourself, what makes people like Lisa and Robert repeatedly fight about the same thing, over and over, year after year? What prevents them from just avoiding these rough spots? For instance, why didn't Lisa simply avoid asking Robert for directions and go ask to someone else?
In the answer to this question lies one of the most important facts to know about all intimate relationships; albeit, one we can not explore here: Why do we get drawn to these people in the first place?
The answer: we all get drawn to people who "direct us" to where we have BLocks. In other words, we all get attracted to the people who can show us where we need love the most. In my language, I say, we all end up with people who hold our "keys" and visa versa. ("Keys" are what unlock our BLocks; our "being locks.")
These ideas aside, though, when I get these cases, where do I begin?
Unraveling the Mystery: the Allergy Test
When I see couples, I usually spend most of my time seeing them individually and then occasionally, together. In the case of Lisa's BLock with directions, I began by working with Lisa first. After all, I already knew the conceptual answer to this mystery; somewhere in the process of her asking for directions, Lisa was going into shock. But where? And what was the "key" that was triggering her shock?
We began by doing what I call, "the allergy test"; I asked Lisa to help me simulate the situation. My goal, here, was and is always the same; I ask people to teach me to imitate their partner's behavior to the point wherein they react to me the same way they react to their partner.
Now, if there is a single event which convinces people emergence is real, the allergy test is it. In fact, most people are stunned when they first experience it, because they are so convinced it will not work. Many even try to protect my feelings, warning me, don't be hurt when it does not work. Most then add, "But I will know it is you and will not react."
I can even understand why people would say this; after all, we have all been taught that if you use your head, you can pretty much overcome anything, that is, as long as you can see it coming. Admittedly, this belief does seem logical, even if it is not true.
Often, then, because people put such effort into preparing me for a disappointment, I preface a person's first allergy tests with some reassurances. In Lisa's case, though, we had already used allergy tests many times. Thus, we both knew the process and began straight away.
I started by asking Lisa to give me directions and began with the simple instruction: "Tell me how to get from your seat in my office to your car in the lot." I also asked her to include every change in direction; every left and every right. Since she was, at the time, sitting facing me and since the door was to her left, she began by telling me she would stand, then turn to the... ; Oh, my God, she was stuck already!
At this point, I still had no idea what her key was and so, we simply needed to repeat the process. Inadvertently, though, I must have helped her past her BLock temporarily, when I told her what I would have said. I told her this because I thought perhaps Lisa simply did not understand my request, and that if I gave her an example, that she would be able to do it.
"I would stand up, turn to the left, walk a few feet, turn to the right, go through the door and turn to the right, and so on ...
When I was done, we both looked at each other and nodded our heads in agreement. We both felt we knew what I was asking her to do and so, we tried again. In fact, this time, Lisa was actually able to get quite a ways into the directions. Again, though, when she got to a left turn, she went blank and got stuck.
What was going on? Lisa could not even tell me how to go from her seat in my office to her car! And I know her to be a very smart woman!
We tried again. This time, I paid closer attention to her eyes, trying to see at which point Lisa was going into shock. Sure enough, even though she was able to tell me to make the first left turn, as she was telling me, her eyes momentarily glazed over, a sure sign she was going into shock. Moreover, she was clearly present and conscious while telling me the rest of the details; turn right, stand up, walk forward, etc.
I should mention here that up to this point, my assumption had been that Lisa had been wounded in an incident in which someone had been giving or getting directions. Momentarily, then, we changed our approach and explored this idea for a while. We also explored her fight scenes with Robert. Even so, we were still unable to identify what was causing Lisa to go into shock.
At this point, I decided to switch roles with Lisa and that I would try giving her directions while she monitored her internal reactions. Moments later, Lisa flashed on a scene, not surprisingly, one from her early childhood. In fact, this scene was one we had already explored in a previous session and so, I knew the story line pretty well.
Exploring the Scene: Looking for the "Key"
The scene took place when Lisa was about eight or nine. In this scene, Lisa had been told by her mother that Lisa might have to let herself in after school, as her mother might not make it home on time; further, that she would leave a key for Lisa under the side door mat. Unfortunately, however, Lisa's mother forgot to leave the key and so, when Lisa got home, and when she could not find the key, she panicked.
Since, by this time in my career, I had repeatedly experienced how the seemingly unrelated scenes that emerge are exactly the scenes in which the wounding occurs, I knew we now needed to explore this scene. I had, after all, even named my discoveries, "emergence," precisely because of this phenomena. With certainty, then, I knew that this scene was somehow connected to Lisa's problem with hearing directions, and that I simply needed to look for the point at which Lisa went into shock. But in the childhood scene, no one was giving directions. Where was the connection? I was stumped.
We began to explore the scene, which Lisa could, at this point, see vividly. She could easily picture herself walking the several blocks from school to home. She could also picture herself walking up the driveway and stepping onto the stoop by the right side door. She could even picture the wooden side door and the brown jute mat in front of the door. And she could see herself bending down to lift up the mat where the key was to have been left.
But as she pictured herself bending down to lift the mat up, she immediately went blank. More so, at this point, Lisa could not even fabricate an imaginary next event. I knew, then, we had definitely found her BLock. Still, I had no idea how this scene was connected to her present day problem with hearing directions.
In order to try to help Lisa past this BLock, I asked her to do something I call, "rewinding the tape"; I asked her to start again at a point at which she could still picture the scene, starting from when she turned into her driveway. Doing this is kind of like helping the person to get a running start and often, this running start helps propel the person over the hurdle. Sure enough, less than a minute later, previously hidden details began to emerge.
"I can see the brass door handle. It has a trigger type latch. I can see the neighbor's house across the way. I can see the green siding and they have a car in the driveway."
I then asked her to again try to imagine she was lifting the mat up and to try and see what was underneath it. Sure enough, this time, she was able to picture a little more. This time, she could see the hair which had fallen out of the mat onto the porch. And she could see the dust which had collected under the mat. But that was it. This was all she could see before she again went blank.
We then tried to "fast forward the tape"; meaning, we tried to skip ahead to a point in time past when Lisa had lifted the mat. Here, Lisa was easily able to see her mother arrive home, even to the point of being able to hear her mother's voice as she asked Lisa to help her to carry packages into the house.
We continued, then, first working forwards from before the dreaded mat lifting, then backwards from the scene that followed. Steadily, Lisa was able to reclaim more and more details.
Finally, as Lisa once again pictured herself lifting the mat, she began to well up with sadness. And with tears in her eyes, she recalled the thought that had originally gone through her head in that painful moment; "she left... !
The moment she heard this thought, Lisa was able to move forward in the scene. Finally, she could consciously picture what she had seen under the mat; no key! "She left me no key!"
At last, we had found it, the event which had caused Lisa and Robert to fight repeatedly for over twenty years; whenever Lisa heard the word "left," no matter what context she heard it in, even if she heard it inside her own head, she would immediately go blank when she went into shock.
The key? The last word Lisa had thought just prior to the point at which her fuse had blown. In that instant, when Lisa had turned that mat over, and when she had realized that her mother had not left her a key, she had voiced her painful realization in her head. But she had never consciously heard this thought finish though because, before she could hear it all, her internal fuse had blown.
This, then, is the true nature of shock. It is a fuse which the Universe mercifully installs in us to prevent us from consciously experiencing more than we can handle. And what was it that had actually caused Lisa's fuse to blow? Her own thought; "she left!"
Obviously, one of the things which interests me most about this story is that fact that the meaning of the word "left" had absolutely nothing to do with how Lisa had been reacting. Thus, regardless of whether she heard the word as a reference to a direction or to a condition, as a reference to making "a left" turn, or to being "left," Lisa had been having the same reaction. And like all people when they respond to a key; whenever Lisa re-experienced this word, she would immediately respond like a hypnotist's subject to a post hypnotic suggestion; in her case, Lisa would immediately return to this painful childhood scene, the one in which she had been "left."
More over, each time Lisa re-experienced this scene, she would feel the same helplessness and terror she had felt the first time, because being keyed by this word would cause her to lose most of her adult life skills. In effect, she would re-experience this scene through the eyes of an eight year old AND with the life skills of an eight year old. No wonder her husband had been telling her she was acting like a child! For all intents and purposes, Lisa had been becoming an eight year old each time she heard the word "left." More so, she was not just becoming an eight year old, she was becoming an eight year old in shock. And it was this shock which had prevented her from ever changing this problem, despite her years of attempts.
Thus, even with her many years of personal growth, each time Lisa experienced this word, she would once again experience life as the helpless eight year old she had been when her mother had forgotten to leave her a house key more than forty years prior. Further, she would experience this pain despite the fact that, in the original scene, Lisa had, in effect, experienced no real physical harm.
Nonetheless, each time Lisa relived this scene, without fail, she would respond in exactly the same manner as she had the first time the event occurred; she would freeze like a little deer caught in a car's headlights; she would stand there in shock, frozen with fear.
Did this emergence stop Lisa and Robert's fights about directions. Actually, no. Why? Because Robert had also been injured in his childhood and had what I call a "reciprocal key"; Lisa's key and Robert's key fit together in such a way as to bring both keys to the surface no matter which of them got "keyed" first. So, no matter how they got into it, whenever Lisa asked Robert for directions, they both got keyed and they both went into shock. What was Robert's key? Lisa's blank reaction.
If they still struggled, then, what exactly had Lisa healed? She had healed her BLock to hearing the word "left." Thus, from that session on, Lisa was able to give me directions with no noticeable difficulty or effort whatsoever. As for the fights she and Robert had been having; well, since she could hear the word "left" without going into shock, Lisa now had the ability to step away from these fights with little or no effort.
And what about Robert's half of the fights? His key and his childhood scene are another story entirely, one I'm sure I'll be telling you at a later date.