Johanna Tabin's request for some less compressed material gives me a chance to show you a closer view of some of the other clues Kathy dropped for me. I hope this illustration will be useful.
In the second session, Kathy asked me to help her focus on her goal of learning to be comfortable in the spotlight. Then throughout the first 6 months of treatment, she kept forgetting the focus. That was a big clue to me that she was not allowed to keep such a goal even in mind, much less pursue it actively. Of course, I frequently asked Kathy why she continually forgot her goals and needed me to remind her of them. Kathy was able to explore some important reasons which centered on her parents' discomfort with Kathy's achievements, especially when Kathy was an adolescent and had two glorious years in High School. Kathy briefly described her winning awards and how threatened her parent had been. Father was always competitive and mother always felt inferior when Kathy won any awards. But soon, in the treatment, Kathy's explorations on this topic came to a standstill and she was having even greater difficulty remembering what we were talking about from session to session. I assumed that something was blocking her from being able to focus and, of course, talked to Kathy about this. Kathy seemed interested in it but couldn't really go further with it.
Instead, she enacted it in the treatment. What she did is briefly described in Part II of my presentation, but I can describe it more fully here to show you how big those crumbs were that Kathy left me. So here we are talking about her wishes to be recognized, acknowledged, admired, known and also about her immense discomfort in even thinking about receiving that kind of attention. She mentions, kind of under her breath, that she had always wanted to be a writer, but that her teachers always discouraged her. Then a few sessions later, she casually mentions an argument she had with her father. She goes into detail about the argument and her father and what he said and she said. But in the course of all this, it turns out that this argument was all about his lack of response to some short stories she had written. So, when she finally stops talking about all the details around the discussion with her father, and at the end of the session, I ask her if I could read these stories. She brought me the stories to the next sesssion and I eagerly read them before meeting with her once again.
These stories were absolutely amazing! I was moved to tears by one of them. They were all about her youngest son, who was always getting lost ...and then found. Apparently, the stories were all true, and the way Kathy wrote these stories was so moving and beautiful. Reading these stories showed me how much Kathy was hiding her talent. A few sessions later, Kathy once again forgot her goals. I challenged her very directly and asked why it was so difficult for her to focus on her growth and her achievements. Kathy started arguing with me that she had more achievements and attention than most people in the world and that she should not need any more. She argued that she was being greedy and selfish and began to cite world politics and poverty to prove her points. At this point in the treatment I told Kathy how deeply moved I had been reading her stories and how impressed I was with her ability to communicate her outstanding talent as a writer, storyteller, and communicator of intense emotions. I argued quite aggressively that she had been hiding her talents even in the therapy and that she must have somehow been afraid that I might be threatened in some way like her parents had always been. I told her she had a duty to herself to develop her writing or whatever talents she had. Kathy looked absolutely stunned at my stance and was quiet for a few moments before she confessed that she had indeed been afraid I might be threatened by her talents. She feared I would view her as boastful, as her parents had, and that I might retaliate or feel uncomfortable in some way as they had. She was greatly relieved to see how seriously I took her talent and her writing. She then confessed that when she had told me (2 months earlier) of her awards in adolescense, that she had censored the list to avoid hurting me in some way. She then went on to elaborate a long list of awards she had received. This time she spoke of these awards with great pride and I continued to ask questions and show my interest in each and everyone of them. When she left the session that day, she said, "Thank you for your aggressive stance." This enactment was very important for Kathy and it was a BIG CLUE for me to see the incredible depth of fear she had of hurting people with her achievements.