When Shyla started weeping in the session Ezra froze. The more Ezra froze the more she wept. She had just recalled a painful childhood memory of her parents fighting. Shyla remembered her father slamming the newly renovated kitchen cabinet doors while her mother dramatically yelled and cried.
The intensity of Shyla’s memory lay not in the act itself but in her feelings about her experience of overload and disassociation, feelings that she had found herself repeating regularly throughout her adult life. Shyla remembered how her mother used to come to her for comfort and how worrying this was. At such times Shyla formed a habit of over-riding her own experience and emotionally caring for her mother. During these moments, Shyla and her mother would align with each other to make Shyla’s father the enemy.
Ezra was looking at his wife the whole time she was sobbing, as she recalled her painful childhood memories and confessed that she could feel that it was an opportunity for healing.
When Ezra innocently said, ‘This feels like it’s an opportunity to forgive,’ Shyla had a strong and surprising reaction.
She looked at him directly and almost shouted, ‘You always do this! You always need to know it all! Why can’t you just ask me what I think? Why can’t you ever just be curious?’
Shyla began sobbing again, this time louder. In between her tears she said to Ezra, ‘What part of you is not able to just put a hand over my shoulder and comfort me? That’s all I really want’
Ezra answered, ‘The part that is afraid of you, the part that knows that what ever I do, it will be wrong”.
Shyla stopped crying. She looked at Ezra as if seeing him for the first time. ‘
‘I’m so sorry,’ she said, ‘I’m doing just what my mother used to do to my father. I’m creating the same scenario that will prove to me that you’re not there for me. I’m attacking you and pushing you away and then blaming you for not being there. I’m so sorry for doing that!’
This was a complete revelation for Shyla.
‘It’s okay,’ Ezra said, with sheer relief in his voice.
Surprised by the turning of event, their eyes met. There was a humble appreciation and gratitude coming from Shyla’s new self-awareness. It was the beginning of restoring Ezra’s trust in his ability to feel safe to reach out to comfort Shyla. His hand reached out to hers. While tears were running down her cheeks, a slight smile was there as well. She received his comfort without needing to direct and control it. She was in an open position, appearing to be willing to receive grace, in whatever form it came.