“Part of the task of depth psychology is to enable the individual to become capable of living in
this world by acquiring the moral courage not to want to be either WORSE or BETTER than
he actually is.”
Neumann, Erich. Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, C.G. Jung Foundation for Analytical Psychology, 1969.
Still seeing Dr. C. privately, I became a regular of DBD, and was in his group there once a week.
Since Jess was not my official therapist our daily discussions appeared to just “happen.” I talked about some experiences, and my feelings about them, for the first time in my life.
Sitting barefoot in the orchard, he heard how my father had volunteered for the army when I was not quite four and been killed when I was five.
“I still have such a distinct memory of seeing that black coupe between the buildings before it pulled up into our yard. My paternal grandfather and another man got out and started towards the front door. My brother, sister, and I ran into the house to see who was there. We sat quietly on the couch as I noticed the yellow paper my grandfather had in his hand. He told my mother to sit down so she sat down in her wooden rocker against the west wall. The last thing I remember is seeing the yellow paper going into my mother’s hand. I have like a blip of a memory of many people being there – the couch lined up with kids sitting very erect on the edge of the seat. I was sitting on the right end – I can still feel the arm of that couch. Looking back I know what I felt was – alone. As I sat there I knew I was different somehow from all those kids sitting there. I have no other memories of those days. I only know what happened because I heard it talked about later, time after time. When Mama stood up, she passed out; she laid at home unconscious for three days before she came to. I would be told my grandparents from Texas had been there.” (Three days before the telegram arrived, my mother had dreamed it. I remember her telling the neighbor about her dream.)
Sitting on the steps to the porch I told him about filing for divorce the year before,”…but I left it ‘pending.’ I had a year to go through with it my attorney told me. When I finally wrote my mother about it she wrote back to read somewhere in the Bible where it says, ‘Wives, submit to your husbands.’ I just about blew a gasket! That’s what the problem is; I’ve been ‘submitting’ for 14 years! Here it is, her husband’s been dead since she was 26 years old! She knows nothing about ‘submitting!'”
By the summer of ’71 I could push a switch in my head, turn my mind off, go blank, to allow my husband to ‘make love’ to me. It had always been a minimum of five nights a week whether I wanted to or not. He had even used force a few times. Once he had felt tears on my face but that didn’t make him stop. I had stifled my impulse to scream; I had been stifling it for years! And my mother tells me to read, ‘Wives, submit unto your husbands!!!'”
When I told him about my feeling off and on that there was something I was supposed to do in my life he very casually remarked, “I feel like there’s something special I’m supposed to do in my life.”
For a few weeks in May ’75 I kept a journal for dramatic things were happening that I knew I would want to remember. From that record:
Jack moved back into the house from an outbuilding where he’d stayed a few months in spite of me telling him “Don’t move back in!” After I went to bed upstairs with my youngest daughter, I started thinking. One thing seemed to lead to another. I began realizing I hated Jack. Not disliked – HATED. It began to grow and grow. The feeling was all down in my intestines and stomach, twisting and churning and contracting and growing.
I didn’t bother trying to stop it or give all the reasons why he did the things he did, or that I wasn’t supposed to hate people. I felt – and understood what the feelings meant, and that they were REAL. I wanted to KILL him. I knew I would kill him. If I stayed under the same roof with him, I knew he would push me to the wall one too many times and I would kill him. I realized that was what I had wanted to do when I had attacked him during an argument after he moved back in. Rushing him with no weapons, I had pushed him across the room up against the stove, hitting and pinching and tearing with my hands, losing control of my bladder in the meantime. It was suddenly clear as a bell, and I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I was not going to allow myself to become psychotic to have an excuse for killing him. I didn’t know if it would happen the very next time he pushed or if it would take two times or three times or what but it would happen. And it would not be a neat killing. It would be very messy. If I hit him, like with my iron skillet, I would hit and hit and hit till I could hit no more. If I stabbed, I would stab and stab and stab till I could stab no more. What I really wanted to do was pick the flesh off him with my bare hands, piece by piece and totally, ultimately DESTROY! Yes, I thought, “My God, this is ME!” And I thought, “YES, THIS IS ME, THIS IS HOW I FEEL!” To my intellectual astonishment, I realized that down in my insides was the potential for violence like I never knew was really possible in any human! For a couple of hours I allowed the feelings to flow.
As Jess and I were sitting on the couch I told him some of my memories of my father:
“We were riding on a wagon seat headed east toward a little mound covered with oak trees, just him and me. I remember being on the wagon seat, him picking corn, throwing it into the wagon. And riding in front of him on his horse when he was taking me to Granny Walls’ place when either my brother or sister was being born. I still have so many more blips of memories.”
Jess was simply looking at me, saying nothing.
“And I don’t remember it, but Mama used to tell about the time I threw Daddy’s pocketknife behind the dresser. I have a vague memory of feeling I had a ‘right’ to throw it because he was unfairly teasing me. He decided I was going to pick it up; I decided I wasn’t. I couldn’t have been more than three. Mama said he spanked me with his hand. He took off his belt and used that on me. She said he wore himself out trying to make me pick up that knife. Finally, he put his hand over mine and by manipulation, made me pick it up. And she used to tell about the day he took me out plowing with him and came in with a sore back because he sat hunched over me to keep me from being sunburned.”
Jess still hadn’t said anything. I finally asked, “What are you thinking about?”
“Oh, I was just trying to get into the feeling you would have had being with him, someone big, and warm, and taking care of you, the FEELING of sitting beside him.” I was silenced when he added something I’d never heard before.
“It would take quite a man to live up to the image you have of your father.”
I found out there had never been a restraining order though the attorney had talked about it. The woman I talked to at Legal Aid said it would take a couple of weeks for a court date to get one. When I got home I started trying to call Dr. C. Every time I dialed Jack pushed the button down, disconnecting me. My 15 year old daughter picked up a pair of scissors, faced him with them raised threateningly and ordered him to stop. He made a face at her and mocked her, like a little kid. I stopped dialing. Maybe it was not only me that was capable of violence…
I woke up the next morning and couldn’t go back to sleep for the first time in a year! I started feeling that I had to get up and DO. I could not lie in bed any longer. The only way I could see out was for my kids and me to move into the 2 room shack on the property – with no heat, no plumbing and that leaked like a sieve. We were surviving. I didn’t tell anyone but the man from the welfare office, who came out to see for himself, how bad the situation was, not even Jess.
Went to Jess’ upstairs group for the second time. He had us do an exercise that got me off on a tangent about being in the “now,” being “aware,” being totally involved.
“I’ve never tried to explain it, maybe never thought about it before, but sometimes, I get so involved in say, what we’re talking about that I am NOT aware of anything else – if my dress is down on my legs far enough – or if my hair needs patting right there. I forget about everything like that. There seems to be some kind of, oh, like less definite boundaries between me and the room I’m in. I’m not as aware of being IN a room. I come back to it, but there are moments it’s like I’m so involved with the idea that there’s some kind of diffusion. It’s not scary at all; it’s beautiful, and at those times I think I’m more me – pure me – than any other time,” I said, my excitement gathering momentum as I talked.
I felt so good I was totally unprepared for what happened next. Though all that mess with my intestines had stopped, I became aware there was still a knot in the general area of my stomach.
“What feeling do you have?” Jess asked.
“It’s like ‘Look, world, what you did to me,” I said quietly.
“That sounds very resigned,” he commented after a few seconds.
“I don’t know if that’s the way I feel or not…Do you think that might be what it is?” I asked.
“I don’t know…What do you think?”
“Well, I feel sad for one thing.”
After a moment he said, “I’ve noticed you do a lot of checking out with other people about your feelings and thinking…kind of like you want to validate it.” Pause…”Let’s try something. Close your eyes, keep them closed, uncross your legs and arms, keep them uncrossed…now just think about the knot…Is it concentrated in just that one area? Or can you feel it in any other place? …How strong does it feel?”
For a few seconds I had difficulty keeping my eyes closed and not crossing my arms or legs but listening to his quiet, gentle voice made it easier and I began to go with it.
“It’s a very strong feeling, so strong it could wipe out the whole world…the whole universe,”
I said as I made a sweeping gesture with my hands.
“Are you aware of what you did with your hands?…Why did you do that out in front of you like that…away from you?”
“Well, I didn’t consciously think about it but it’s like I could wipe out the whole world..the whole universe…and leave me standing in a void… all by myself.”
In that same gentle voice he asked, “What color would you associate with the feeling?”
“I don’t have a feeling about a color…no…the color is black…”
“You know, it seems like a little of it is up here now,” I said as I indicated my chest.
“Kind of like it might be rising and trying to come out?”
“Yah…when you put it that way. You don’t know how much good it does me to hear somebody talk like that!” I said, my eyes still shut.
“You mean – somebody else?” Pause…”I want you to think about what has happened. Don’t drop it but after you go home tonight think about it for yourself. Now, I’m going to leave you and go to someone else in the group if that’s all right with you.”
“That’s all right with me. Just one thing though, you can’t believe how I feel about you sitting there and acting like this is all real and that it’s all right to talk like this. You aren’t telling me it’s all my imagination,” at which point, quite unexpectedly to me, I started to cry. “It seems I’ve been told all my life everything was just my imagination…Maybe I was just imagined…”
That night I tried to recall the conversation leading up to the feeling so I could reconstruct it and proceed from there but was unable to remember it. I couldn’t figure out what any of it meant.
I had no problem getting to sleep but woke abruptly in the middle of the night after two dreams, immediately going into a state of panic. I became afraid for my life. Jack was in the main house only a few yards away and I became afraid of his presence. Every sound outside on that lonely farm terrified me. To maintain control, I started talking to myself mentally. When I’d think about the last dream, about having forgotten something, being told to remember and my saying it would hurt too much to remember, I wondered, “What if there is something I’ve repressed, or blocked?” Every time I started following my memories back through the years, wondering and the panic started to rise, I’d have to stop. I don’t know if the reason I didn’t go back to sleep was that I couldn’t – or was afraid to.
At evening group I hesitantly told Jess and the co-therapist about the dreams, the same feelings of panic starting to rise as I read my record of the dreams, panic that was obvious to them.
The first dream involved two female friends attacking me “homosexually” (in reality not appropriate for female homosexuality) but at the first sign of attack, the initial sensation of stimulation, which I feel as happening TO me, not that I am standing on the sidelines watching, I lapse into unconsciousness. There proceeds a period of drifting from almost conscious to unconsciousness while all manner of things are done to me but I’m never aware of them. My body starts reacting by trying to die, the two friends try to save my life…Finally, I can’t breathe and someone is performing a tracheotomy on me, end of dream.
The next one seemed to start immediately. I see myself in present form descending stairs in a long, simple, light colored dress carrying a single lit candle. A non-entity man servant in a dark suit is behind me carrying a huge, beautiful all crystal candelabra with many candles but only one is lit. Not an identifiable face, there is no fear attached to his presence; it’s as if he is there to wait on me. The word “queen” comes to mind to fit the mood and serenity. I get the feeling of an historical novel setting. As we reach the bottom of the stairs (at this point I’m no longer watching. I’m IN it) we become aware of danger outside of where we are. The man hands me the candelabra and goes to see about the danger. I set the candelabra down on a dark surface where the candle goes out. It’s like candles are the only source of light. I fumble with a book of matches trying to relight the candle but I can’t; spend some time with this. I find myself and the man in a tight enclosure, like the eave of a house might be; there are structural 2×4’s (Critical early childhood developmental stage?) around and we’re hiding from the danger. The danger has been diffuse up to this point but it starts to be that I’m in danger because I know something I don’t know I know. The man is out of the dream then and a lot of confusion goes on about the idea that I know something about someone, or I’ve seen something and was unaware of what it meant; like I’ve seen a diary or a book or written plans but it’s never definite. A long time of confusion about me having information I’m unaware of and being in danger because of it.
I hear a voice say, “It’s in the house where you live,” and find myself in the upstairs of a house, at first not recognizing it as the upstairs of the house Jack and I had before we tore the roof off to build the new upstairs. There’s a structure in the center that turns out to be a fireplace that has been covered over with sheetrock and painted white. Underneath the sheetrock, the fireplace is dusty and very cold. I see a wisp of a vision, something written, in the fireplace. The fireplace is not ugly or grossly filthy. It hasn’t had a fire in it for a very long time. I have a strong final vision of a book lying in the cold fireplace and I know the book has to be taken out to build a fire in it. I approach closer and closer to the present until Sally H., a psychiatric social worker I’ve casually talked to a few times, mainly about love, is there. She’s standing beside me as I’m lying face down on the ground, beating the ground with my fists, kicking the ground with my feet – in anguish. Sally says, “Hazel, you have to remember.”
“No, I can’t remember,” I say, “it hurts too much!” at which point I woke and went into the panic.
“Have you ever been hypnotized?” the co-therapist asked.
“No, never have.”
“Are you willing? I’d like to do it if you want,” she said as Jess sat quietly by.
“But, what if I have blocked something out? It would have to be very bad cause I know what I remember, and some of it I wish I didn’t. I don’t know if I can handle remembering something so bad my mind had to block it out.”
“If by any chance you have blocked something out, which you may not have, but if you did, you can CHOOSE to remember it or not. Just recalling it to the level necessary in hypnosis would be a way of dealing with it,” she reassured me. (We never got around to doing it. With what I’ve seen in the media about the controversy regarding repressed memories, I may be lucky we didn’t. During altered state, fall ’76, I suddenly became afraid my daughter might have “recalled” experiences under hypnosis, not as they happened in reality, but as they FELT to her. I wondered if the mind might “interpret” the feelings.)
Started taking Stelazine today, by night had taken 12 mgs. Much of the morning I fought delusions. A feeling would hit me, my reasoning would attach words to the feeling, then I’d think, “That’s delusional thinking – but the FEELING is REAL! What is the real basis for the feeling?” I think it was because of my knowledge of the conceptual element in sign language for the deaf that I began to wonder about the conceptual idea in relation to my delusions. For example, a feeling followed by the thought, “I’m the savior of the world. OK, what else can the feeling mean, what OTHER words can fit that FEELING? Words that are not so big, bring it down, maybe it means I’m the savior of MY world.” I fought against feeling paranoid toward Jack. “What other words fit that FEELING?…OK, I feel threatened, my very existence feels threatened by his presence – not being able to be MYSELF – repression, stifling, destruction of SELF…so the words fit the feeling and the words say, ‘Aha, he’s going to kill me.’ In reality there is a part of me, granted you can’t see it or touch it, that has been being tortured and destroyed for years.”
I went from one feeling to the next. I must have felt satisfied for I didn’t get hung up on any of it. The FEELINGS are so STRONG that my reasoning says they have to be words that affect THE WORLD; are blood and life and death to fit the intensity. Maybe the feelings ARE about life and death – MY life and death!
Stelazine is supposed to keep my thinking “organized” I was told. How come the feelings come first, then the thinking? Why shouldn’t I be taking something to control the feelings, since they come first? The feelings should be what are considered delusional. If you allow the possibility they are real, then the thinking needs to be altered to get to the real basis of the feelings. Maybe something is going on that should be; maybe it’s not all just “crazy;” maybe it shouldn’t all be written off and forgotten.
On second thought, Stelazine DOES control the feelings! The lack of FEELINGS is what made me a robot! I could “think” just fine but I KNEW I WAS SUPPOSED TO FEEL…!
That afternoon I had an appointment for my 13 year old son with a psychologist because of behavior problems. She didn’t think he needed any help. I went straight to DBD from there specifically to talk to Jess.
After I told him about what I’d been doing that morning I said, “Is it possible to stay on the periphery? That’s where I feel I want to be, but it’s so scary. I’ve been walking a tightrope all morning. One false step and I’m over, and once you’ve been there, there’s always the fear of going back.
“You know, if you accept the theory of a microcosm, that’s another possible explanation for the intensity of the feelings. There’s the world out there but there’s my own world – inside. Maybe when I feel this feeling and my reasoning says, ‘I’m going to make a breakthrough in medical science’ maybe it means I’m going to make a breakthrough in my OWN world – my INNER world, which in reality is just as important and just as big an event as anything in the outer world. Perhaps maybe more so, since the world as I know it is based on my existence and my ability to perceive it. If I don’t have any perceptions, the world no longer exists as far as I am concerned. I keep getting a feeling my words interpret as ‘I’m supposed to do something special.’ The word angel comes to mind, or a star, that shines just a little brighter. But, Jess, I’ve had that feeling other times when I’m not psychotic, especially when I do what I call meditate or ‘pray.’ The feeling is so intense that sometimes, and especially today, all I can feel is that I don’t want it; it scares me. Whatever it is, it’s too much special,” I said as I fought back tears.
As I rested a moment Jess said, “Did you ever stop to think that maybe simply because you have been through schizophrenia that you might be special? There are some people who think so…” Pause…”You have an awful lot of information…”
“I feel agitated today, that’s the word that seems to fit. And the feeling I talked about Monday is no longer just in the area of my stomach. It seems to be up in my chest now,” I said as I made a gesture indicating where.
“Think about the feeling, does it seem to be anywhere else?”
“Mainly just in my chest and stomach…”
“Would you say the feeling is in the area of your heart?”
“Yes, and…my heart hurts,” I remarked quietly.
Though I was sleepy after I went to bed, I started fighting sleep. Lying there in total blackness, I became aware of minute flashes of light that seemed to be coming out from around my eyes, kind of like you see sheet lightening at the horizon. I kept thinking, “My brain is short circuiting!” It started bothering me so I turned the light on and could no longer see the flashes. I was scared, scared to go to sleep where I might dream something I didn’t want to dream – scared of the semi-conscious state just before sleep, when anything might happen. I read most of Creative Divorce. Again, I was glad to see daylight.
10 mgs. of Stelazine.
Ran into Jess at DBD and said, “That feeling is up in my throat now.”
Went to Dr. C’s group as usual. “Apparently Jess pushed a button Monday morning,” he said, then added, “I don’t think you should try to analyze your dreams, and I’m very hesitant about the use of hypnosis. I’m not sure you need to probe around in the past.”…I was disappointed and started feeling some conflict about the difference of opinions.
Somewhat uneventful day relatively speaking, more “in consensual reality,” didn’t have to work at it so hard. Slept good that night.
8 mgs. Stelazine.
I had gone to the main house early in the morning and as I was walking back to the shop, thoughts started coming to me about what my dreams had meant. I recalled an event I had seen when I was perhaps 5 that had what could be interpreted as homosexual overtones, that I had not blocked out or forgotten but I had never told anyone. Recalling it, I felt a lot of pain. At that time I had felt it shouldn’t have been going on. I had felt disgust at that age. I didn’t know what the fireplace in the dream represented or why it bothered me that there was no fire in it or what the book was doing lying in the long cold fireplace.
Two of my kids missed the bus so I had to take them to school. Driving down the country road, it was as if somebody suddenly turned a light on! Like with the flip of a switch, there was more light! I could see better. The colors became so vivid! I was suddenly aware of peripheral vision and it went from one edge of my peripheral vision around to the other side as far as my peripheral vision allowed; it wasn’t flat out in front of me! Yellows so yellow; reds so red; acute distinction in shape; so in focus, no blurring or blending, no fuzzy edges. I couldn’t imagine that it had been different to my perception before, but in that moment I was acutely aware that I saw it – NEW NOW!
I managed to take the kids on to school while reveling in the sensation of seeing like that. Then – some fright. Maybe this was a psychotic experience. As soon as I got home I tried to call Jess but he wasn’t there so I talked to Dr. C. I probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense between the crying and talking since I didn’t have a vocabulary for describing the experience. Dr. C. said, “Come in immediately.”
As I started the 45 minute drive, I became acutely aware that the trees and things I passed were still around behind me. I did not have to turn around and look to know they were still there! And such depth perception! What had happened? It was as if a part of me had been dead and it suddenly came to life! I was so sensitively aware of being IN something; it was all around, in front, on the sides and in back. I wasn’t on the outside looking in – it wasn’t a flat picture out in front of me!
I tried to explain to Dr. C., “Somehow, the feelings come and my words say, ‘This is where my feet stop; this is where my hands stop; this is where my head stops, right here. I’m here, all of me is here, right here, not over there. I’m five feet one inch tall, weigh 125 pounds and that takes up so many cubic inches of space and it’s all tied together right here in one neat package. Somehow, I know that thing is over there and I’m over here and I have to get up and walk over to it. I don’t know what is going on but all of a sudden…it’s like… I was diffused out there in the environment and, whoosh, it’s all come together right here inside me in one spot. I really don’t understand what I’m saying or if it means anything but it’s how I FEEL. The day I told Jess about feeling like maybe I was just imagined – and you know, I found so little reflection from the time I was three years old. It was like I had to always ‘be me’ in spite of…”
“Things fit. It’s like I couldn’t make sense out of all those years, but it’s coming altogether for me, all those years are not just a jumble, and it seems incredible! If you tell me I need to go to the hospital, well, that’s that, but at least I’ll know where I am!”
“I’m not sure what’s going on but you’re not psychotic. It sounds like you’re becoming adult.”
“It’s as if in some way I was fighting everything I saw for my very existence, as if in some way it impinged on my space. And now, I’m not fighting that part of the building I see out there. It’s just a building; it has nothing to do with me. Somehow it’s no longer a threat. I’m sitting in this chair. I can feel the chair and I know where I am, where my body stops and the chair begins. It’s a thing; I sit in it and I know where I am. And I don’t know where I was before. I feel like I want to say that I gathered up all the pieces of me scattered out in front of me in the things I saw but the word ‘pieces’ doesn’t fit. It’s more like the part of me that wasn’t here was in something like a fluid would be, or a gas, not in chunks.”
I related the incident I had recalled that morning. “This is the first time I ever told anyone.”
“We’ve talked about your ambivalent feelings toward your mother before. How did that incident make you feel?”
“Disgust, repulsion…Dr. C., I had to work so hard to respect my mother,” I said slowly, as tears started to run down my cheeks.
“I know you did,” he said softly.
I told him about how the interpretations to the dream had started coming out, how feelings about my father had started coming out – beautiful feelings, feelings I had no memory of, feelings never encouraged by my mother – never – for she only talked about the negative things.
(I was only beginning to remember.)
“She always told us I was just like my dad – stubborn, hardheaded and hard to get along with. My brother had my father’s good qualities, and my sister was just like her – easy going, easy to get along with – all the good stuff.”
Going home I was no longer worrying about being psychotic. I stopped at the confluence of the North Fork of Eagle Creek with the main stream, a primeval Eden, and walked down to the water. My sensory perception still in the heightened state of awareness, everything was so vivid, so in depth – gigantic old fir, alder and cedar trees overhanging crystal water singing its way over aboriginal stones with unfettered bird songs adding to the symphony – the fresh, clean odors and I soaked it up – like a sponge. It didn’t matter if it was my father’s spirit or what he gave me in the beginning was still with me – I knew my father was there, looking at it with me. He saw it like I did.
(I had no memory of experiencing ANY good feelings about or towards my father.)
How can I suddenly have such intense, joyous feelings about my father – 32 years later? KNOWING that there was at least a short time I was loved simply because I was me. Sometimes the feeling is so much it nearly keeps me from breathing…
Over the next few days the acute awareness gradually dimmed though I could recall it for a few days. I took Stelazine for six days by which time I was feeling the side effects so stopped.
I had told Dr. C. as I left that day, “It’s like there is this me inside me; it’s like a rock.”
The past few weeks I have known such joy; the depression is gone. I think my mother would probably interpret the feeling as “I’ve been saved.” Maybe that’s what it is – a salvation. But I don’t limit it to Jesus. It encompasses that but it’s universal. And it’s not for the purpose of going to heaven when I die. I’m not really too concerned about that, or even if there is a heaven. But is it not heaven to suddenly discover that inner rock, that I KNOW I AM! I’ve always felt aware of the presence of “God” but I don’t recall having felt so strongly that I was drawing strength from an outside force and I feel so humble. Maybe I really was doing something valid when”trying to plug my brain in on an outside energy
After feeling conflict between the therapists’ opinions I stopped seeing Dr. C.; Jess became my only therapist and Jess’ group became the only one in which I was involved.