For a 40 year old, Anna (name changed for privacy) had some tough life experiences. But as she sat in front of me expecting her third girl on a cold day in late October, she told me all that therapy had done nothing but left her hopeless that anything may change. “The more I take steps to get closer to people the more I find myself and my family bound to commitments that we are not comfortable with.” she told me hastily.
Anna was very energetic, curious and had a strong presence, not exhibiting the qualities of a person one can easily take advantage of. She described in great detail how her life was disrupted by her extracurricular responsibilities and her hypnopompic nightmares. But curiously, she had the best support of her immediate family at home and was open to talking about anything.
Since she would have the added full-time responsibilities of a new baby girl now she was afraid things would get out of control for her.
Could I help?
I asked when the nightmares had started, and Anna told me it had been since she and her brothers moved in with her grandmother after her parents abandoned them pursuing their substance addiction. This was a subject she discussed and was through with. Then I asked more pointedly whether anything else had happened about that time, assuming this must have already been explored. But Anna looked pensive. This was evidently a new line of questioning.
Finally she mentioned the off-hand remarks of her grandmother and her aunt about her mother and how the expectation (that was never mentioned in so many words) was that she would also end up on the streets like her.
First, Anna’s mother, a depressed woman Anna was never able to get the care and support she needed as a little girl ended up completely not showing up at home. Anna had been distraught when it became clear that she was alone with her brothers in the whole world.
Not long after this, the grandmother took them in where they were exposed to continual double messages with words and acts of love and care with non-verbal messages suggesting that her fate was sealed to be like her parents’. Again, the memory of Anna’s interactions with her grandmother, aunt and cousins in her birthdays were still bubbling up strong feelings in her.
Anna certainly had some established patterns even as a confident woman with a healthy happy family she built for herself and a steady income job today. She also seemed troubled by one particular memory. I set to work undoing that memory in that very session.
Here are my simple steps in addressing personal and business relationship issues;
- Recognize that each repeating conflict has roots in unresolved experiences. (Remember an issue your friend feels so strongly about that does not interest you half as much?)
- Trust your intuition to lead you to the emotion that this tension is originated from rather than endless mental self-analyses. (shame, fear, guilt)
- Go over the Undoing Process to approach the core feeling from a calm, present and yet distant space
- Determine an authentic way to address the particular conflict, if still relevant.
By the end of the session, the memory was deconditioned. She could think about them as past, with calm and distance. I was intrigued to discover what, if any, effect this would have. Even I doubted that this would stop her increasing tension. Surely it couldn’t be that simple.
But much to Anna’s surprise and delight, the tensions were lessened. Her husband monitored her closely at first, but eventually she was free of her nightmares!
It seems the nightmares were a usual symptom of unresolved memory. Perhaps a metaphorical enactment of abandonment when she was at the verge of being fully responsible for the care of a new life? Anyway, it didn’t matter – it was gone.
Once the strong feeling was gone, so too was the problematic symptom.