Excerpts from The Hours Between Us
“Sometimes a person’s strength is not determined by how hard they hold on, but how freely they let go.”
“Can you imagine memory without the scald of pain?”
“We had never even said the word leukemia. I had taken no history; hadn’t heard but one thing about her childhood and adolescence. But we had accomplished a supportive framework for our work together. The beginning itself is often an indicator of how a therapy will proceed. Who was this young, beautiful Joan of Arc, clad in her Nike armor, gathering an army to do battle with leukemia? Why did I sense so strongly a fragile little girl being asked to face her terrors in the dark?”
“But, seriously,” Stephanie continued, “do patients ever lie down on couches anymore?”
“A few Freudian relics are still around for that kind of analysis. I’m afraid that modern psychotherapy requires sitting up. You could lie on the floor if you wish.”
“On your lovely oriental rug? I think I will.” Stephanie angled down in a roll from the loveseat and settled on her back. Her long legs stretched almost to the desk.
“I replayed that moment of emotional release repeatedly in the days that followed. I have shared these kinds of cathartic moments with so many patients over the years, when some deeply buried memory is safely brought back up through the layers of covering to be cleansed with understanding; energy lost to the repression is retrieved and freed to be used creatively in life.
I have been asked by many people why it is necessary to deal with these locked away traumatic memories. The answer is always the same: not only are they thieves of our energy, they also fester and eventually leak through as anxieties, phobias and obsessions. They chain us to wounds as surely as Atlas, the Greek hero, was bound to shoulder the world forever as his penance.”
“I didn’t have far to go. Stephanie was crumpled in a heap in a small clearing ringed by towering pines. An outdoor chapel of tears, grief and sorrow. She was on her side drawn up into a fetal position, nestled on the pine straw. I sat down beside her, but didn’t try to talk. There is some sorrow too deep for words. I simply held vigil, watching over her as she lay with her profound human grief, weeping it out. Garbed in nature to cloister us, the divine waited.”