Coffee At Figaro’s


Recently I received an email from a young woman interested in beginning therapy at the Institute. She explained that she had been given my name by someone who had worked with me several years ago and who believed I might be able to help her. She told me she had been seeing a therapist for the last few years, mainly for depression, but according to her she was at a standstill with her current therapist. She liked her well enough, but at the same time she was feeling the need for what she described as a more authentic therapeutic relationship. She went on to say that she had recently discovered through a friend of a friend that at one point in her life her therapist had also suffered from depression. This was a bombshell of information as far as she was concerned. It was at this point that she began to question whether she could actually move forward with this particular clinician. She reasoned that there had been numerous times when it could have made a tremendous difference had her therapist shared anything at all about her own struggle with depression. In looking back over the years spent in therapy she realized she actually knew nothing at all about this person who knew everything about her. The young woman did make the effort to discuss all this in her next session but the therapist was once again silent. This therapeutic approach was all too familiar to me but at the same time a world apart from my own approach. There is, by the way, a philosophy behind the therapist’s unresponsiveness that goes all the way back to Freud and Psychoanalysis. Briefly the theory was that for the client to fully explore their unconscious the therapist must be a “blank screen” that in no way interfered with the Analysis. As you can imagine this was contrary to everything I ever learned in training at the Institute and frankly conflicted with who I was as a person.  My early training began at the original Primal Institute, which was located in West Hollywood. Down the street was a little restaurant called Cafe Figaro. What does this have to do with training and blank screens? Often while reviewing the tapes we made of our sessions Art or Vivian would say to the new trainee ” It should be as though you are having coffee at Figaro’s”. In some ways it became our mantra; coffee at Figaro’s. There was nothing they hated more than the phoniness of the superior therapist hiding behind their rules about disclosure. They felt our sessions should be conversational and our job was to connect with our patients. The fact that we had all been through the therapy made it easy to relate to what each new person was experiencing – we had been there ourselves. Clearly we always want to keep in mind what is most appropriate for the individual patient. What is useful for one person is not always helpful for another. The skill and experience of the therapist hopefully allows for an understanding of how best to proceed but in Primal we want that to come from the inside and not from the intellect. That being said I personally have found that the boundaries between patient and therapist are, for the most part, increasingly irrelevant, at least for me. Barry said something once that relates to this I think. Of course it is a music analogy, he said to be a good musician you have to know all the fundamentals before you can have the freedom to improvise. The same holds true for therapists in my opinion. You do need an understanding of the basics and possibly it is useful to rely on certain rules when you are a new therapist or your instincts fail you but if you can’t move beyond that to sense what your patient is needing the integrity of the relationship between patient and therapist will always be compromised. The therapist should feel and sense when a boundary is needed or a question should not be answered because it is in the best interest of the individual patient. They should also sense when to be anything less than real and forthright would inhibit and possibly damage the therapeutic process. I have often wondered if there are times when rules and philosophies serve the therapist and not the patient. It allows the therapist a distance or an idea to hide behind, it highlights the therapists need to feel separate and apart and makes clear his deficits, and as a result it can not take in to account the needs of the individual. A psychology teacher I once knew said this about providing effective treatment” When all else fails be silent”. I think when all else fails I’ll just be me.



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137 Responses to Coffee At Figaro’s

  1. Dear Gretchen,
    Well done!!! Again!:> While what you are discussing is easy to read and seems simple, it is anything but. You touch upon principles of “relating to another” that are extremely complex. They are also very difficult to make concrete but you have done so. As a still relatively new clinician it is very reassuring to read that my biggest asset is my ability to attune to my clients not the ability to pontificate or theorize.
    Also, let’s face it, what made us sick in the first place are caregivers who were unable to “sense” what we needed and respond accordingly. Of course, we can only get better in an environment that is truly different.
    P.S. I love the music analogy:>

    • Nadja, I think you are right about that being one of your assets as a therapist. Lucky thing too because I find it can be difficult to avoid intellectualizing if that happened to be your MO coming in to therapy. I think what you brought up about getting better in an environment that is different than the one that made you sick is also true. I still feel lucky to have had that! Gretchen

    • Larry says:

      Like a hug, is simple… but complex.

  2. On a different but related note. Anyone who has not seen the documentary “I am,” I urge you to do so asap. It talks a lot about the things we come to realize in primal and discusses the science to back that up. It made me hopeful about the future of our planet.

  3. Pete Eade says:

    Gretchen, I couldn’t agree with you more. From a patient’s perspective, I deeply appreciate the personal sharing you do and your “Figaro’s” approach because It always relaxes me and builds my confidence in you as my therapist. Thankyou for your openness.


  4. Margaret says:

    [Email link for Margaret]

  5. Margaret says:

    [Poo! Same thing but properly this time]

    • Margaret, Were you trying to post something? G.

      • Fiona says:

        No Gretchen – it is the way I set up the email responses (in Margaret’s name with her email address) so that she gets instant email involvement with the blog. I have to re-do it for each new blog. I just keep forgetting to add a tick in the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” box. When I forget the tick, I have to do it all again! “Oh Poo is way too English for Margaret, surely!

  6. Jack Waddingtonj says:

    Gretchen: In view of the blog on simplicity; this was IMO anything but. I know little or nothing about your lives, Vivian Barry or yourself. I am not sure that it is necessary for me or any other patient to know. I have always known that there is a barrier between patients and therapists. Your deemed necessity for this could be many-fold.

    However, at my other group where there is a psychologist facilitator, she reveals a great deal of herself to the group and accepts our imput at times. This does something for me and I suspect for the rest of the group in that we feel we are talking with a fellow human with her own foibles. I sure seems to offer greater trust between therapist and patients and allows us to see we are talking to a fellow human. So far as I know this does not cause any lack of ability with this facilitator

    This same faculty applies with buddies. I know my buddies foibles he/she knows mine and seemingly does not cause mistrust, quite the opposite. I know about my buddies sadnesses, angers, and fears which gives me, (and seemingly the group) more confidence to express ours.

    There is a recent comment on an another blog where a primal patient voiced suspicion about a therapists motives. I was tempted to reply to that person that the suspicion arose out of her deeper old feelings. I have talked to a lot of old patients that have had similar reserves about therapist. It’s a tricky question, but I got a sense from this comment of yours Gretchen that the woman in question had the very same reserve about her old therapist.

    Just my feeling; that there is this separation. That is fine by me; as my therapy is about MY feeling that go on with ME.


    • Jack Waddington says:

      Primal People: Since sending my last comment, I was admitted into the hospital as I was experiencing some quite sever chest pains over the last weekend. I checked with my cardiologist on Monday and was sent to the emergency room where it was decided I had a blockage in one of the arteries to my heart. It had been suggested in the past that I have an angiogram (floroscopy to check for blockages and if they found one they suggested an angioplasty going in through the groin and placing a stent in the blocked artery. The anticipation was very unpleasant. On Tuesday I was transferred to the Sunset Kaiser Hospital and on that day they did the procedure (which I did not relish) but anyhow went forth with it this time. The procedure was apparently successful and I now have a stent in the lower left coronary artery and I was kept in the hospital over-night for evaluation.

      Jim my friend/lover was there for me and took me home Wednesday afternoon. Not sure what I feel about the whole thing except that I am now getting a psychological re-action to the fact that organs are not what they were. Dunno if this puts me on the ;9th life Gretchen lol. I am not afraid of death and no illusions about afterlives and the rest, but I just hope that when my time comes, I can go without much pain and relatively quickly. On worry is leaving my lovely friend Jim behind.

      I have been crying about this for several hours today and am crying again now. I just know he will miss me a great deal. Wow, it’s been incredible having him these last 30 years.

      Anyhow, have a great retreat to all of you that are attending. I’ll think of you between the 3rd and 8th.


      • Jack, This is really horrible! Are you alright now? Do you need anything? Is your friend with you now? That had to be so scary Jack. Take care of yourself and let me know if I can do anything. The email on this home page is me. Gretchen

      • Larry says:

        Take care Jack. I look forward to visiting you in LA.


      • Jack, So sorry to hear you have been ill. We are all thinking about you and hoping you will have a speedy recovery. Please keep us updated! Barry

        • Jack Waddington says:

          Larry, Gretchen and Barry: Thank you all for your concerns. Yep Larry, looking forward to meeting you, Barry: there’s actually no real recovery. It’s like you mentioned a couple of blogs back, parts of the body deteriorate … and that’s life. Hopefully this procedure will eliminate some/most chest pains. Gretchen: Jim, my friend just walked in as I typed your name. He comes over and we make coffee four days a week and we talk on the phone at least four times a day. He’s not happy about me driving so drives and takes me for appointments, but I still drive. A great companion in the best sense of that word. I feel very lucky. The real horror is knowing the limits of life: so short really. Will Vivian be going to the retreat? Give her my best wishes, or if you read these blogs Vivian, all the best and hope you are well.


          • Vicki says:

            Hey Jack, I hope you get some recovery, at least. And I’m glad Jim is driving you around — I remember your driving years ago, and it was a nightmare waiting to happen! Jim’s right, you should NOT be driving! Take care. Vicki

            • Jack Waddington says:

              What an irony, this very morning I was driving out the trailer park in the main driveway when another tenant backed out of his parking spot right into me. I stooped and beeped, but for his own reasons he kept backing out and dented the side of my car by the front wheel. I am quite sure VickI, it was ALL MY FAULT.

              Don’t ever remember driving you and you having nightmares over it BUT, you are quite right i have no right driving … and it ain’t my favorite pastime.

              Gretchen: this must be my very last life.

              Met Larry and we chatted; least-ways I did. We are going out to eat tonight.


              • Jack – So glad to hear you finally met Larry after all the conversations on the blog ! I think you have several more live’s left Jack. But I am sure this has all been quite traumatic! Feel better soon. Gretchen

                • Jack Waddington says:

                  Gretchen: good to know I have a few more lives left.

                  Trying times, but I wouldn’t call them traumatic.

                  Was good meeting Larry after blogging with a stranger.


              • Anonymous says:

                Yes, most-ways you did Jack 🙂 Kidding aside, I much enjoyed our chat and visit. Thanks for the meal. I’m glad to have finally met you in person.

  7. Larry says:

    Gretchen, you are very good at being you. So much so that I don’t think of you so much as a therapist like I did when I first started Primal Therapy. First and foremost, I think of you as a wise, sensitive, unaffected, very human human being, whose influence on my life I feel very fortunate to have had, and on second thought as a remarkable therapist.

  8. Bernadette says:

    That’s just great, Gretchen! I am laughing my head off at the memory of you walking into the group room on Sunday mornings, XL bag of M&Ms and a bottle of Diet Coke in hand, then rolling on the carpeted floor giggling… that’s really taking “Coffee at Figaro’s” to its ultimate expression! I wouldn’t want you to be anything else but you!!

    But seriously now, you wrote “we always want to keep in mind what is most appropriate for the individual patient” — bearing in mind that the needs of a patient change over time. In my first session with you, I was just grateful to you for listening and taking me seriously. I didn’t need anything from you but your kindness. Over the next few years I struggled with you — what you gave, never seemed enough or the “right” thing. In retrospect, I know now that I struggled to get from you what I never got from my mother. Your job was to point that out so that I could remember and feel it. Then I remember a session where I got so much of your input and thoughts regarding relationships that I left completely overwhelmed and confused, not knowing anymore what was my thought/feeling, what was yours. I wished you had talked less and listened more. But again, it was me that had dictated the outcome because, for some reason, I needed to pretend that I was mature enough to hold a grown-up conversation, rather than to admit that I was really feeling like a little girl needing to “feel the feeling” – I didn’t allow myself to trust you enough to let go.

    I worked with many therapists, the last years with Mark. In the first session he asked me what I expected from him. I distinctly remember telling him that I wanted him to listen, to help me sort out my thoughts and feelings, and help me figure out who I was. I said that I would ask his opinion, if I wanted to know it. In other words, I practically told him to shut up. Well, he did a terrific job, allowing me to work through my childhood sexual abuse at my own pace, at my own time, listening, sometimes with tears in his eyes, often encouraging me to face the horror, but always conscious of the space I needed. It took several years of sessions, until I finally turned to him and asked: so, what do you think?

    What I mean to say is that while I was in so much pain and couldn’t see beyond it, I had no need, nor did I have the mental and emotional capacity, to know my therapist. All I needed him/her was to be there and listen and guide me when I was stuck. Only now that I have a more mature understanding of my pain and have gained a healthy distance to it, I can actually hear what a therapist shares of him/herself.

    Gretchen, the last two conversations I had with you, first the one about the death of a loved one, and the second about the next chapter in my life, both were immensely helpful! At the risk of sounding really corny, but the truth is: there was nobody in the entire world that I would have rather talked to in those moments. I needed your warmth and caring, your personal experiences and professional wisdom. And you gave it all. Thank you for being you!

  9. Bernadette, First of all it was an XXL bag of M&M’s! 😉 Your story about Mark makes me smile culminating with you finally asking him “So what do you think?” I love that! I was NOT trying to say that everyone wants or needs to know their therapist or that it is always appropriate to share. I was really trying to say that for me these arbitrary rules have never worked. As I said we hope to do what is most appropriate at the moment. Being in touch with your feelings and instincts is what allows for that in my view. I have seen people over the years however that I could have never reached without a measure of transparency – I know that for sure. So bottom line is we hope to be open to all possibilities. Whether that might be creating more boundaries or full disclosure. Thanks so much for those final comments as well – So sweet! Let me know what you decided! Gretch

    • Bernadette says:

      Hi Gretchen, I totally agree and understand, not every patient needs the same degree of transparency and disclosure. And thankfully, primal therapists are flexible about responding to the individual needs of their patients, depending on how much in touch with their feelings and instincts they are. Ideally that happens all the time, but realistically I have experienced various degrees of success and failure in this (mostly success, of course, or I wouldn’t be here). One therapist once told me that he could not work with me any longer unless I changed my behavior rather than feeling the same pain, as he couldn’t watch me struggle with that kind of pain anymore. In my eyes, this clearly disclosed too much of him (namely that he couldn’t handle my pain, which I was forced to endure). On another occasion, more honesty and openness from the side of the therapist would have been more productive, rather than hiding behind the primal tag line “it’s a feeling” where it clearly turned out that it was not a feeling but present reality in the end. Obviously, I am eternally grateful for all the help I got over the years. But even primal therapists are not always perfect (not that I would want them to), although, I’m sure they are endlessly more real than conventional therapists.
      Just quickly: I decided to take the job and move back to the U.S. I feel good about the decision. Feeling “I don’t want to leave you mommy” and “don’t leave me mommy” as you suggested, really helped to get grounded in reality and make the right decision. Being honest with myself and with my parents helped them work through their own feelings about me leaving again. I am quite proud of my mom, she moved from smothering me to encouraging me to go live my life. What a change! I believe she really resolved something “big”. Which of course feels great to me. By the way, I will be in LA sometimes next month and hope to see you then. Cheers, Bernadette

      • Bernadette says:

        PS: in my draft I wrote XXL 🙂 for some reason I changed it when I posted 🙂 cheers!

        • Bernadette, I am so happy to hear about your decision and the progress with your mom. I think you are right that your honesty may be the very thing that allowed that to happen. It really is wonderful! Yes I would love to see you when you are here – lets make a plan! As for perfection in therapist’s – you are correct that no one would actually want that and in any case it does not exist. What should happen is an acknowledgement when mistakes are made. See you soon ! Gretchen

  10. Jack, You are very lucky to have Jim in your life and he is equally lucky to have you. Yes, Viv will be there and I will give her your message. Maybe you will join us for the next one! Do keep me posted on how you are. Gretch

    • Jack Waddington says:

      Gretchen: I’ve known for some years how lucky I am to have Jim, but was never sure if he fully appreciated me. What he offered me was tangible, whereas all I could offer him was just to listen and demonstrate that in the final analysis I was one his side. That was easy as I knew enough of his childhood and background to know the raw deal he had. In the old days I tried to encourage him to express his feelings, but that was anathema to his being. It took me some time to get that.

      In your prior response you asked if there was anything I needed; That got me a thinking and I eventually realized that all I needed was the ability to express my feeling, relatively freely, other than having the relationship I have. I feel I have that. I knew before starting therapy that it was up to me to get to feelings and express them. Was that shear luck on my part, due to what my mother gave me. I think so. The expectation that a therapist could do it for me was never how I saw it, and I feel that gave me a certain advantage. I see therapists as catalysts.

      Retreats were nearly always a “treat” for me and my reason for stopping was mainly the walk from the dorm to the dinning room. Also, I felt I had played out my usefulness there. So for now I am content with the memories … BUT who knows.


      • Larry says:

        Jack, if we are lucky, many of us will get to age our way to the final chapter of our life, and if and when that time comes each of us will have to deal with the feelings of knowing the story will end too soon. I am conscious that I have to accept that I am aging. I am interested to hear your comments on your feelings about what you are going through, as much as and whenever you are able to express them. You sometimes write something here that makes me think about who I am. What I’m saying is, I hope you do feel free to express your feeling here, for your benefit and for mine. We all learn from each other.

        • Anonymous says:

          Basically Jack, I hope you are able to keep us informed as to how you are doing.

          • Jack Waddington says:

            I am actually doing very well Anonymous; considering that I’m not very good at looking after myself (which Jim does for me). I sure will keep you informed; … I stopped being shy about 10 years old. Don’t ask me how or why.


            • Jack. I’m glad you’re better and hope you continue to recover. I had an angiogram once and it’s very unpleasant physically and upsetting emotionally.

              • Jack Waddington says:

                Nadja, Yep, not a pleasant experience at all, but I gather you didn’t need the follow-up angioplasty; even worse, specially as in my case I requested no pain killer and when I groaned at the intrusion, then one of the surgeons came round to tell me I was disturbing them in-spite of being quite still and moaning as quietly as I could.

                Seemed that their peace of mind was WAY MORE IMPORTANT than my expression of my feeling .

                What a fucked-up world we live in. Is any wonder that we sloff-off what is going on with babies. The needs of the nursing staff, mid-wives obstetrician et al are what really matter.

                Any chance you might read my book.


          • Jack Waddington says:

            Larry: I will keep you informed. Had a daddy feeling last night and was pissed. Only problem my neighbor actually heard me cursing. I thought I was keeping the volume down. felt good afterwards.

            Take care Larry and have a great retreat, (whatever that means).


  11. Miguel says:

    Understanding all that you are going through I wish you a good recovery and all the best.

    • Jack Waddington says:

      Miguel and Ulrich: Thanks for your concerns. Theoretically the ordeal is over; that was the procedure/operation and hospital stay. I am feeling quite good now and hope this was a remedy that will last for some time (unblocked artery). I will still be on medication and am seeing a Cardiologist a week from tomorrow (Wednesday) and presumably there will be follow-up visits.

      The downside is knowing I am old and things aren’t the same. However, I am still here enjoying California weather (deportation on appeal) and so far the land-owner is not able to get us all out … yet. Meantime, as I said before I have my friend/companion Jim and that means a lot.

      I will continue reading and adding to the blog and hopefully be around for the Christmas group. To all attending the retreat, have a great time in Santa Barbara. I’ll be thinking of you guys.

      Larry: looking forward to meeting you when you arrive here in LA.


  12. Ulrich says:

    All the best, Jack! – ulrich

  13. The Ultimate Guru says:

    I really, really have mixed feelings about Jack and the aging process and how much respect is paid towards the older ones in the world vs. the young people. I might get into this some more later, but for your own sake, Jack, I will give you my best.

    Forgive my diversion from Gretchen’s blog topic, but for now I wanted to ask any blogger a question about a raucous disagreement among parenting circles as to whether it’s okay for a child (or even a fully-grown adult) to call a parent by his/her first name. A solid majority considers calling a parent by his or her first name a sign of disrespect with some of the more vocal traditionalists calling for punishment when it happens, but there are a few families that allow for parental first-name calling.

    I, myself, call my dad by his first name 80%+ of the time and I simply don’t consider it a big deal at all. I’ve done it for many years. Now if I am in the presence of most people outside my family I will call him “dad” in case any staunch traditionalists in family name-calling mores become shocked and offended by it. I don’t do this because I am ASHAMED of calling my dad by his first name, but rather to avoid any unnecessary public relations repair work with non-familial visitors who I would probably view as overly conformist in this regard, anyway. Incidentally, I have a good primal buddy who was totally “blown away” by calling my dad by his first name; it seemed totally alien to him.

    Dad has been used to me calling him by his first name for a long time now, and I tend to look at it as a sign of “comfort and trust among equals” in a family relationship without some weird, stuffy hierarchy taking place. Calling my dad “dad or daddy” all the time anymore would make me begin to feel like a small, obedient little plastic Ken doll in Barbie’s strictly-controlled playhouse. It appears to be very rare to call parents by their first names except perhaps in America and some parts of Germany. Dad has grown more disturbed lately sometimes at my calling him by his first name, though, and I struggle sometimes with whether to sacrifice my own comfort for his. Any thoughts? Should I be hung by shackled wrists on a tree branch and given 20 lashes?

    • Guru, Why was he disturbed? What did he say to you about it? G.

      • The Ultimate Guru says:

        Gretchen – He simply echoed the same sentiments of first-name calling being “disrespect” just like the traditionalists I mentioned in my post. I tried to explain to him that it’s not meant to be a sign of disrespect from me, but rather a “sign of casual comfort and trust among equals”. He never had a problem with this for 25 years or more. Only in the last year or so did he bother to raise this issue. I’ll just talk to him some more about it, I suppose, but I was mostly interested in hearing yours and anyone else’s viewpoints on this.

        • The Ultimate Guru says:

          I mean…like…Most everybody goes around calling Barry “Barry”, right? How often is he addressed as “Dr. Bernfeld” in group?

          • The Ultimate Guru says:

            Without belaboring this point much further…
            I thought about the parental first-name calling a bit more today and it reminds me a bit of being in the military. Do parents need a consistent verbal reminder of their station in life? (eg. “Mother! Father!”). This is always done in the military with: “Sir!”, “General!”, “Colonel!”

            Does this family title-calling (“Mom”, “Dad”) serve and set the tone for family units being a pseudo-military installation on a micro scale? Why not just go ahead and call any siblings, “Brother” or “Sister”…or more distant relatives “Cousin”?

          • UG, Only by me! 😉 Gretch

  14. Guru, So why do you think something he was alright with for so many years is feeling uncomfortable to him now? Any ideas? In other words why now?? As for what I think about calling your parent by their first name – it probably depends but could it mean the parent does not feel like a dad or a mom to us at that moment. Could it make some of us feel vulnerable to even say those words – mom and dad ? Because it is unusual we might tend to think it is an expression of something but of course not always or in all cases. G.

  15. The Ultimate Guru says:


    You and I typed out a post almost at the same time (see above yours). Now maybe you’re right that a parent would no longer feel like a parent when s/he is called on a first-name basis, but then would this mean a sister or brother would no longer feel like a sibling if I didn’t call them “sister” or “brother”? My dad doesn’t call me “son” yet it doesn’t make me feel like I’m not his son. Why does this only apply to parents?

    I’m placing my bets on the “mother” and “father” memetic going way back to the Middle Ages when most families were large farming families that required a bunch of kids working on the farm to survive. In that case, a pseudo-military family setup WAS necessary and it had to be made clear who was the “boss” in the family on a daily basis to help keep the unit structured and disciplined overall.

    It’s a bit like Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn calling gambling “gaming”.

    “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit”
    –Proverbs 18:21

    • The Ultimate Guru says:

      And I forgot to answer Gretchen’s question directly in that I haven’t had a chance to discuss this further with dad yet today.

  16. Vicki says:

    Guru, I’m guessing it has something to do with some change in your dad’s feelings and view of himself, maybe in combination with some age-related changes. Especially if he’s having this reaction out of the blue, after 25 yrs. of not minding it. If I were you, I would ask myself whether he’s entirely well, or maybe find a way to ask him the reason it’s bothering him now. Just to check it out. You would know that best.

    I never felt comfortable calling my dad or mom by their given names, but I don’t see anything wrong with it, if those involved are comfortable with it. Some parents feel when their kids are grown, that it’s more adult, and reflects changing relationships, to use first names. I think it’s fine, either way.

    I migrated from “daddy”, to “dad”, finally to “pop”, which I called him all my adult life, and he was fine with that. Mom was always “mom”, or sometimes “Mother” if we were making a forceful point.

    I’ll be interested to hear what, if anything, you find out about your dad’s reasons. — Vicki

  17. Sunday – About to have the first retreat group – it should be interesting as I have planned a few curveballs as always – We will see many of you there tonight and we will see those who are not able to attend in just a few days, we will be thinking of you as well ! I will keep you all posted ! G.

    • Jack Waddington says:

      Jim my friend asked if I was missing not being at the retreat and I said no. Maybe I am; but not the attempts to get that room, or the walk from the dorm to the dinning room … can only make 100 yards at a time, but I have thought about how you guys are getting on … with all the curve balls … lol.

      Maybe because of it, I have had three big feeling these last four day, crying and going into many sad incidents throughout my life, including early childhood. So here’s me doing my own retreat here in Santa Monica. I come out of them feeling good.

      This morning I went to see the cardiologist as a follow-up from the angioplasty procedure two weeks ago. I got a good report; ( do have a heart apparently) and it is ticking away quite nicely, breathing; the lungs are good also. When Jim left to go home I felt sad and went into a feeling and cried for about 15 minutes.

      Hope things are working out well for you retreaters. Take care all


      • Anonymous says:

        Jack, O.K. We will work at getting you your special room next time. We don’t want you getting anxious about that 😉 ! Good news about the A plus heart report ! Gretch

  18. The Ultimate Guru says:

    Hey Vicki:

    Thanks for sharing your story and your laid-back attitude towards parental first-name calling. I suddenly realized over the weekend that I’ve literally taken up 30% of this blog installment describing a problem that had its roots in my dad simply being uncomfortable with my calling him by name. It suddenly feels like a trivial problem and when I discussed it with dad he blew off his earlier complaints and said “forget about it”.

    I think I became carried away with this small matter as there are much bigger concerns for “pops” and I to worry about. I feel contrite about it now and I will let the matter drop. Thanks for the time spent on reading this, though.

    FINAL SUMMARY: Settled on an 80% first-name, 15% “dad”, and 5% “pops” name-calling distribution over any sample period of time in the future.

    • Vicki says:

      Guru, I chuckled at your statistical distribution on father name-calling choices. I’m glad it worked out so amicably.

      We just got back a bit ago today from the week of retreat, and knowing we have an extra double-dose of Gretchen/Barry group tomorrow, all before returning to the grind of work on Monday, unfortunately. My friends and I had planned to go out to dinner tonight, but by the time we got home, just really felt too tired to bother. The retreat was great, but we need sleep. Talk to y’all, later.

  19. The Ultimate Guru says:


    Sadly I feel like I am a slight bit in Margaret’s shoes at the moment in some ways..What I mean is that my dad is becoming progressively harder to carry on conversations with in some ways. He’s in his mid-70’s now and I try to make all0wances for that.
    Dad’s becoming more crotchety and inflexible when it comes time to discuss and perhaps compromise on tougher life issues that come along. Yeah, it kinda reminds me of Jack and Art in many ways and I’ll just have to attribute much of it to old age frailty.

    I don’t know what else to say right now. It just scares me that I’m having a progressively harder time carrying on a reasonable conversation with him with all the human nuances and compromises involved…Many topics are strictly OFF-LIMITS with him and I have to consistently be cautious as to where I step with him lest he becomes very upset and regresses into a less manageable infantile emotional state. The range of OFF-LIMITS!! topics with him slowly grow in number as the years wear on and I feel scared pondering it..

  20. The Ultimate Guru says:

    Forgot to add…with my dad I am never sure whether he is USING a guise of age-related frailty to win disagreements and to make me concede (ie. If I press him too far it would worsen his emotional health or it would simply shatter him into a million little pieces). Perhaps he knows and understands this fear on my part and he uses it to his advantage when we heatedly disagree on something? I can never be sure of how far to go on disagreements with him like this…and I really, sincerely hate not being sure. It would really piss me off if somewhere along the way he was using age-related frailties as a ploy just to get me off his back when we discuss things if the reality was that arguing further with him would not actually hurt him.
    I always try to err on the side of caution when we heatedly disagree on something and I will usually back down in deference to any possibility of deteriorating his health.
    I almost feel like I’m my dad’s therapist during these crucial decisionmaking times, but dad has never been to therapy (yes, dad is one of Barry’s “civilians” that placidly watches gory movies) and he thinks Janov’s theories are bullshit, so what can I do? Keep treading carefully, I suppose….

  21. Fiona says:

    Get well soon, Jack!

    ug – We only ever have one mum and dad (as you know only too well).To me, the words mum and dad, are more of a connection than a title.

    Home form the Retreat now – so back to reading what you guys have been up to…

    My retreat was more ‘attack’ than retreat! I like to go for it and get into the spirit of the thing. It is such a moving time; and yes, totally unique.

    Had a feeling on the way home about being liked for who I am. It doesn’t matter that I am “not this or that” like when I was a kid. It doesn’t matter that I don’t like pink, or that I DO like girls. No one cares if I make mistakes as long as I own up to it and do better next time. No one cares that I like soccer not barbie. But they do care for, and like me for who I am. It hurts to know what I missed out on when I was young and vulnerable – but so nice to be liked now; for just being me. Knowing that makes it almost easier to cope with knowing that other people DON’T like me! Can’t win ’em all!

    • Fiona, Go for it you did ! Being liked for who you are – so true! It would be nice to have a lifetime of that . Missing you and IK already ! 🙂 G.

    • Jack Waddington says:

      Fiona: After the procedure I WAS well, but thanks anyways for the wishes. My retreat here in Santa Monica seems to have settled and had some good and high days, thanks to my lovely Jimbo. You seemed to have gotten quite a bit outta the retreat; Great.

      Take care; Jack

      • Fiona says:

        Yeah! Jack – your own retreat type feeling frenzy! Go you! I usually benefit LOADS from retreats. Maybe because I am relatively new to therapy (4 1/2 years or so). Also, as Barry laughingly pointed out; I am an open book with regards to therapy. Nothing hard or hidden. It is all simple and out there. No complex histories or neurosis – just normal and predictable. As usual I have managed to be average. A talent under estimated in my opinion. I would have been a great patient for a rookie therapist. Simple.

        You take care, too Jack! :0)

  22. Larry says:

    Flew back in to Saskatoon at midnight Thursday night/Friday morning. The wide open space, the clear, colourful, alive prairie skies and the clean fragrant air that I particularly notice now after returning from LA, make me feel glad to be home. But I already miss all the friends I was with in California. Saskatooninans don’t even know that they each live in a bubble that keeps them apart from one another. Whereas the disarming friendly openness and warmth of all of you in California who allowed me the privilege to spend time with you, helped me appreciate in a deeper way who I am and my fears of not being accepted. I cried for Noreen last night, for the bond that we had, and let sink in some of the nightmare that for the foreseeable future, at my core I am alone in what was in my childhood an inhumanly cold dark universe, one that threatens to envelope my present too if I let it. I need to stay in touch with you guys, and try to find people like you here, and nourish my friendships. I think I’m starting to love you guys. If you and some of LA winters moved here, I’d be in paradise.

  23. Fiona says:

    Larry, There is no one anywhere quite like me, Jack or Ug! Maybe that’s a good thing?! Glad you got home safely, but feel sad for you that you are feeling the reality of your youth, exacerbated by the death of your Noreen. It must be so bleak to return home. A stark reality.
    Today, I sent the email that I spoke about writing in Gretchen’s group last Sunday. I still feel so vulnerable because of writing it. I came here after, as you do, for some tiny glimpse of the support we get at the retreats. I know I just need to feel small and vulnerable; scared at being humiliated over again. But saying (writing) it frees me up somehow. Writing that email brought up the feelings over and over again. I got so hurt.

    Today it seems to be winter in England…. welcome home!

    • Vicki says:

      And good on you for writing it, and not waiting any longer. Not easy, I know.

      • Fiona says:

        Thanks, Vicki! She already replied – nice reply too. I felt HUGE relief after her response. Now to move on without unprovoked bad feelings!

  24. Fiona says:

    Bit low. Slipping back into non-feeling-mundane-psycho-living. No buddy home yet. No phone session possible right now. Too many tasks looking, that are daunting and overwhelming at times,

    No one here

    Bit lower now

    • I’m here Fiona ! G. 🙂

      • Fiona says:

        D’you know, Gretchen, that made me feel better and worse all at once! Thanks though, it is reassuring to know you are there.

    • Fiona says:

      Typo = looking should read LOOMING

      • Fiona, I do know it could make you feel somewhat better but a hell of a lot worse all at the same time. I am sure you know why that happens. Remember there are more people on the blog than you might think. Some just choose not to write but they are hearing what you have to say. Gretchen

    • Anonymous says:

      I know a version of the feeling Fiona. It’s scary sometimes when I realize that what happens to me here is all up to me now, and there are no wonderful people of the primal community to help me along. That retreat was so special for all the support I felt from people there. I’m determined this time to stay in touch with more of those people, and to let in whatever support I can find here. I wish I could give you a hug.

      • Anonymous says:

        I don’t know why my computer represented me as anonymous.


        • Jack Waddington says:

          As far as i know Larry,, unless fill in your email address and your name below this comment box the site doesn’t know who your are. Maybe Vicki or Atty know about this than me.


        • vickib5 says:

          Jack got it right, Larry. When you write a comment, check whether your email address & name are filled in (the first & 2nd fields below the comment, as you enter it). Browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, etc.) typically save and redisplay that field info, each time you return to the page. But some people lose it when they change computers, or have settings to clear their browser “cache” regularly. You don’t have to login to a WordPress acct., just fill in the fields.

  25. I have to periodically log back in to the site ( every couple months) for it to know who I am. Do you see a log in link for WordPress near the reply box? Gretch

  26. Larry says:

    So even by inanimate WordPress, I’m readily overlooked, forgotten. 🙂

  27. Anonymous says:

    I see you put a smiley face at the end of your comment. But as we all know…well….we all know that you really meant that you felt like that was the reality. That you feel/felt overlooked and forgotten. Well as far as I am concerned, that was definitely a feeling from your past. And you probably need to feel it to continue your emotional growth, but as far as present reality goes, I never overlook your comments and I think of you often and I am not a Primal ….client …. But I do read the Blog and to quote G : ” Remember there are more people on the blog than you might think. Some just choose not to write but they are hearing what you have to say.” Larry, I value what you write. Your comments are not overlooked my me in the present.

  28. Fiona says:

    Larry….. Do I know you? …. lol! lol!

    Hug thought gratefully received thanks! I am happy to hear you are planning on staying in touch with more people from the retreat. Will you plan to buddy with anyone on a regular basis? I think for me, I miss the sessions the most at the moment. I am just getting used to the freedom of speech in my sessions [my own reservations inhibiting me]. I think I need to feel safe with whatever I say, even if it is wrong in the long run. I live with too much fear. It is constant and unwelcome. At least being aware of that is interesting.

    Do you have trust issues at all Larry? Can you always buddy (for example) and feel free to say whatever you need? I don’t think I am making much sense – I will think and maybe write later.

    By the way, Larry….. you seem to have an anonymous fan!

    • Anonymous says:

      Fiona, the intent of your first sentence, ending in lol! lol!, flew right over my cuckoo’s nest, if I can borrow a Jackism.

      I think it would help me to buddy on a regular basis. I never have. Probably I’m scared to find out that no one has the time or inclination. I’ll check whether my buddy from the retreat is interested.

      Fiona, I only buddied a handful of times when I was in LA in the early 80’s. Subsequent to that, I’ve only buddied at the last four retreats that were held and that I was at. So I don’t have much experience with buddying. Buddying is scary for me when it is with a person who I’ve never met before, when me and the stranger across from me are opening our heart and soul to each other for the first time and trying to understand and whether to trust each other in a way we rarely do in our lives. Maybe it works best with strangers because we don’t know each other enough to be able to avoid touching each other’s pain. Of course touching on their pain too much is a sure way to get rejected too. I feel I have to earn the trust of my buddy, and I have to decide how much I trust them. I also have to learn to trust myself. I have to follow my intuition about what to say, and it always feels like I need to take a bit of a risk in what I say. The list of questions provided is a handy backup strategy when things can’t get going naturally. What I say and how much depends partly on the buddy I’m with and partly on what I need. I don’t say everything with everybuddy, but I’ve been able to say things that I’ve needed to and more depending on the circumstances and who i’m with, and cryinjg has always risen from talking with my buddy, and at the time I’m touched by the compassion of the human being sitting with me, listening and caring despite being warped by our childhoods. Buddying at the retreats gives me a growing feeling of what our human relations should always have been in our families. I agree with you that having a session feels safer, because a therapist understands me better than a buddy and isn’t likely to not be able to hear my pain or reject me like a buddy might.

      I hope you do write more on this Fiona.


      • Anonymous says:

        Holy smokes! I’m anonymous again.


      • Fiona says:

        Larry, I think what you just wrote was great. I was glad that you,too, have reservations and that each individual is ‘assessed’ in some way.

        I am curious that you find it so easy to be so open; and cry with your buddies. I do not find it easy to cry freely in sessions or with a buddy at all. I ‘feel’ and cry more ‘fully’ when I am alone, I believe you said you do too (previous conversation!). If anyone is present, I feel a pressure to ‘perform’ and talk, and I can’t just ‘let go’! ‘Time’ becomes an issue for me. The noises, the snot, and the vulnerability are too much of a concern, so I stifle it. The thought of being free enough to cry properly when in company is un-attainable – I can’t even think I COULD do it one day! It makes me sad, really. It is a trust thing, obviously. or more precisely, a lack of trust thing!

        The most I ever ‘let out publicly’, is in group – where I feel broken and already out of control…. so feeling and crying, is un-stoppable, but controlled. I can never see how people lie down and go for it where they are! Besides; I am way too nosey, and I would be listening to what the next person is saying… and if a joke is cracked, I would be laughing in an instant!

        I am not divulging anything new or compelling here… but I am exploring these HUGE trust problems that I have. I just was never able to trust at home. But that is a whole other ‘comment’ for later!
        I have never done it – not complete trust in one person. I thought I did. I thought I had that with my Wonderful. I trust her more than anyone ever before… but …. and there is always the ‘but’ somehow.

        Have a good week end everyone!

        • Larry says:

          I could never cry in the presence of someone else, Fiona. That started to change when my wife was dying. Then after she died, I was too alone to always cry alone, and I wanted and needed someone beside me sometime. At my first retreat in Nov. 2009, a feeling arose in group and I expressed my need to go to a side room and cry, and my need to have someone with me. A compassionate individual volunteered to leave the group session and sit with me while I cried. I needed that human companionship while having my feeling, because I was feeling soo alone without Noreen. Since then, I’ve been surprised that I sometimes cry, briefly, in group. It’s the buddying at the retreats that has really helped me to open up to another person, to trust them and feel trusted in return, and I find my feelings erupting in the presence of that person whose understanding and caring I can feel. I think it comes from sharing vulnerabilites and fears and feeling the humantiy in each other. It took decades for me to get there, or maybe one retreat after my wife died.


          • Fiona says:

            This is quite moving, Larry. I can really understand well, how you would need and benefit from having someone with you to feel your feeling at that group you described. Trauma, or grief as it would be categorised in this case, is one way to force us to behave in new ways. Do you think that you were suddenly ‘forced’ (for want of a better word) to trust in other people? The bond and trust you had with Noreen was taken away, and you had NO ONE else even vaguely close by the sounds of what you say.

            My current concerns with ‘trust’ are confusing to me. I am lucky enough to still have my Partner, who I believe I trust more than any other person I know. I just realise lately, that ‘trust’ seems to be an issue like ‘jealousy’ with many different feelings lurking underneath; under that general heading of ‘trust’. There is fear and exposure as two examples. Anger is another feeling that is tugging at my ‘feeling brain’ right at this moment.

            I was not allowed to express what I wanted as a child. I was chastised and humiliated for trivia to some, but vital for me. It is funny to hear this story, until I explain just how much it hurt and humiliated me. I was once punished by being forced to wear a dress for one whole week. I hated dresses, for many reasons. Mostly as an identity issue, I think, but there were other reasons, like exposure; when the bloody thing flies up and people see your legs and underwear. It was too much for me. Trousers and shorts covered me and helped me feel safe.

            Now when my parents punished me and humiliated me at the same time like this, it broke my trust in them. They OBVIOUSLY knew that wearing trousers was important to me; otherwise the punishment was futile! But it hurt that they knew a truth of mine that felt secret even then. My secret was that I was not a ‘normal’ little girl who liked barbie and pink dresses. I knew I was not the same, but I was punished for my secret, I was MADE to feel ashamed of what I was. Maybe if I had not objected to dresses, and kept my secret to myself, and not trusted my parents?? Maybe I would be safer. I trusted them and they hurt me. I am so distressed, and not writing clearly. I think I was four years old.

            • Margaret says:

              that really sounds terrible, that is the only word that comes to my mind.
              I feel shocked, imagining how it might have felt,as I can relate just a little bit to your feelings .

              • Fiona says:

                Thanks Margaret. I remember talking about this stuff with you before; and I remember what you said about it. It feels much more significant to me today with regards to the trust issue of mine.

                I have noticed that in the same way that famous artists are noted as “going through their ‘blue’ phase; Fiona, too, goes through her Primal phases! Right now it is my ‘Trust’ phase. At the retreat, my ‘Scary Men’ phase [yet again!]. Before the retreat, my ‘fear of rejection/rejecting’ phase.

                This current phase is quite big, in terms of the wreckage it has/is causing me in my current life. Choices are hard. Sound choices come from trust in ones self as well as others.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I’m flattered. Thank you. I desire attention like everyone else, but when I get it and am in the spotlight, I want to slink back into the shadows. But more than that, I’m curious. Who are you?


  30. Margaret says:

    very well written as usual, very honest and open.

    Hi folks, I am back home in gloomy Belgium. My cat is happy to be in her house again and is very affectionate now.
    Contrary to the last couple of years, she didn’t attack me this time. I think it was because I ignored her and left her alone,and when she finally decided to approach me, I just talked to ther softly and didn’t reach out to her, and that seemed to make it easier for her to skip the anger and to express her feelings directly.
    She gave me a whole set of modulated and loud meows that pierced my heart. They all sounded slightly differently, but their meaning was very clear.
    It was: You hurt me! I was hurting! Why was that, I didn’t do anything to deserve that! Youhurt me!I am offended! It hurts! Why? Hurt! I am pissed! Hurt hurt hurt!
    She had let herself fall down on the floor meanwhile, but then she got up and walked away. Later on when i approached her gently, she didn’t groan or scratch, just gave me another pitiful meow and a few halfhearted hits without claws and a little leftover hiss, but she was approachable much more quickly and soon started to show affection again.

    I really think the fact she could so explicitly express it all without interruption helped her, even though for me it really rubbed it in and was painful to listen to, that pure distress and hurt.
    I am glad I allowed her to do it though and we are on purring terms again, and for two nights in a row she slept on the bed which she usually doesn’t do in summer.
    Oh I am just writing about my cat, I wish I could write a more interesting bed story here, Big Sigh!!

  31. Margaret says:

    Hi everyone,
    wake up folks, I miss all your company!
    Today I did something out of loneliness I hadn’t done in a long time. I went out on my own to have coffee on a terrace nearby. I feel good about having made myself do it, even though I just sat there on my own at a table and of course in my case nothing to really look at. So I just daydreamed mostly about my visit in L.A. and had some nice memories about someone special I met there, no not a primal patient.
    It was half pleasant and half melancholic as I might not hear from him anymore,even though he promised to stay in touch. But the memory was nice, and just me being able to risk venturing out of my safe home felt good.

    It will always remain scary for me to go out by myself with my poor eyesight, but it is better to do so than to end up feeling isolated and hopeless. I can still feel pretty isolated on my own having coffee, but at least I am in the midst of people so there is always some possibility some contact will be made. Sometimes it does, often it doesn’t, but at least it is not completely hopeless, as remaining at home too much will unavoidably make me feel

    I went to a small grocery shop where I had a chat with the friendly keeper, and then met my neighbour on the way home and had another chat, and these litle things can make a big difference.

    I guess I am back from the fun and mostly easy time I had in L.A. to my ‘working’ life back home.
    How is the post retreat for the rest of you?
    Margaret .

    • Fiona says:

      That is good to hear that you ventured out for your coffee today, Margaret. Even if it isn’t far, it is still a brave thing to do. Unless people have experienced sensory loss; they can never really appreciate just how hard it is. We have all encountered a power cut, and have been sitting miserably in the dark with the puny light from a feeble candle. We, however, are blessed with the knowledge that it is going to end and some point. The permanence of your situation is so different. It is so hard to strike up a conversation with someone without eye contact. It is so hard to know if anyone is even THERE in the first place. Any way. Well done for going. Any reason that you don’t make it a regular thing to do?

      I know that I write on here constantly about my feelings. But at times like this, my feelings are just too personal for display and dissection by…. well I don’t KNOW who. Even those I know and call my friends do not feel safe to me.

      Isn’t that funny – considering all the personal history and subjects that I have written about as openly as I choose to here. I can’t do it now! I know I don’t HAVE to!

      As far as I can tell, Margaret, everyone else is otherwise occupied, and not writing their souls out for us to read. In my opinion:
      – Jack has fallen off his trailer again
      – Larry has a BAD cold and is recuperating
      – Ug is compiling data somewhere
      – Vicki is watching Harry Potter
      – Bernadette is packing
      – Gretchen is reading my numerous emails
      – Miguel is at English practice class
      – Nadja is writing her blog whilst playing tennis
      – Sabine is reading car magazines
      – Peter E is cycling across Peru on his way to Trader Joe’s
      – Yo-yo is looking for his cajones

    • Larry says:

      Hi Margaret and Fiona,

      Where’d you ever get the idea Fiona that I had a bad cold? 🙂

      Before the retreat I bottomed into a lackadaisical, self-defeating, isolating slump. I arrived in LA 5 days before the retreat, feeling lost. Those few days before the retreat I visited Primal people who had some free time for me, begining with Jack. Enjoying their company and the friends I was staying with rejeuventated me. At the retreat the rejuevenation intensified, thanks to my buddy, thanks to the people I spent time with there, and thanks to the whole retreat atmosphere and process that the therapists create for us. The rejeuvenation continued the four days that I was in LA after the retreat as I made every attempt to visit Primal friends. Being with you all was sooooo good for me. Thank you. I want to stay in touch with you all somehow. It made me appreciate how quality of life comes from being with good human beings, and how I self-limit myself from risking and enjoying human contact.

      After the retreat, when I arrived back home to aloneness and colder, more defended, less conscious people, I vowed to try to keep the momentum from the retreat going, to not self-limit myself but to try to keep risking human contact. I enjoyed the tennis outing I had last week with near strangers. I’ve registered with an internet dating site and have made cyberspace contact with a couple of interested ladies from the site. Last weekend my sister drove 700 miles to my home, and then together we drove 400 miles to another city for my nephew’s wedding. I met strangers at the wedding and had satisfying meaningful discussions with them. With one married, late 20’s, perceptive young lady I was startled with how easy and deep the conversation became, and how she suggested we exchange email addresses to continue the discussion. I didn’t. Altogether my sister and I spent three days together, a duration of time together, of talking, trusting, sharing and bonding like we had never known. I wondered why it couldn’t have been this easy and connected while we were growing up, instead of each of the eight of us separated from each other by need and fear and unconsciousness. At the end of the weekend when we said goodbye, it was the first time in my life that I told my sister that I loved her.

      The summer retreat and the time in LA changed me. I seem a little surer of myself. It seems easier to connect with people. I trust myself more. I want more to be with people. I don’t want to be alone. I seem to be following a groove that has me embarking on a different life than the one I shared with my departed wife. I want her, I want to cry for her as I move on alone to a new life. I accept more that she is a memory and my life with her is past.

  32. Margaret says:

    Wow Larry,
    that sounds great. For me it is as different as you can imagine, so I feel a little jealous but happy for you.
    I seem to have fallen in a deep lonely hole out here at the moment.

    Fiona, your comment both made me almost cry with its sensitivity and empathy, and then smile as it was so very funny.

    Look forward to talk with you in a few hours,it is about five in the morning here now, I woke up from a dream in which i almost fired a gun at Barry, out of fear really, then changed my mind as I knew he was stronger and would kill me with his own gun so I backed away closing the door so he would know I didn’t want to fight really.
    Strange dream, left me feeling scared and hopeless, but that’s no news.

    No singing class in summer, not much dancing either, or at places I am not familiar with that are not nearby so hard to get home if it is too much.

    I feel isolated and scared, very sad and hopeless, where is all that energy and optimism I felt so recently?

    I am so scared to be disappointed and thrown back on myself once more, my dance teahers split up, my dance partner has a girlfriend, so my little bit of social life is cracking at the seams and threatens to fall apart completely.

    I might join some dating site but the one close girlfriend I’d like to help me with that, is almost always out of town and very busy.

    I contacted a few othes too but they seem out of town too.

    I can go dancing on sunday but in my current state of mind feel so low it seems like a terible threatening challenge.

    Shit shit shit! F…f…f..!

    I am tense, have daily headaches and a hard time sleeping.

    It is cold and rainy, so hey, maybe it can’t get much worse? Yeah, sure, I know, it can always get worse, i know!

    Mmmm, I needed that bit of complaining!
    I’ll keep on fighting, in some way or another, but I sure hope things change for the better soon.
    Margaret and kittycat.

    • Larry says:

      Margaret, I just want to add that last night I cried for my wife and screamed because I am alone. The little child in me screamed too, in terror that I was and am alone. As a child, when they wouldn’t meet my needs, there was nothing I could do about it but shut down from consciousness of the terror of it, and shut down myself and my needs. Now as an adult I am relearning to meet my needs. Because of your visual handicap, it is so much more difficult for you to meet your needs in the present. I don’t know if I could do it in your place. I hope you keep trying.

      Give kittycat a pat for me.


  33. Fiona says:

    Hi Larry,
    I have felt unable to write about my current feelings on the blog. I am too ashamed, and the feelings too personal. Below is an altered and refined exert from an email I sent to Gretchen. Nothing is new, just going over old hurts that I have mentioned here before. New must be more interesting for everyone, but I am so messed up because of my past, and I need to add it here again. I will never be rid of this.

    “Just had big feeling about being a monster. My brother made me a monster by molesting me. He was a monster, and INFECTED me with the virus. He changed how my brain worked, changed me because of what he did. Perverted my natural brain function. I can never be a normal little me, and grow up with normal a healthy brain. Who was I? He broke me.”

    I always seem to end up this plethora of feelings with “He broke me”.

    • Larry says:

      I don’t know about other people reading this, but just saying what you’re feeling and are going through is interesting to me Fiona. I’m glad you found a way to share a little bit. I hear your torment.

  34. Margaret says:

    again it is the mddle of the night when I am reading your coment.
    You are finding a fine way to share what you need to share and keeping for yourself what you need to remain more private. That is great.

    I woke up not so long ago from a very interesting dream.
    It starrted off in a beautiful snowy setting where I was hving fun together with someone, throwing snowballs over some deep cliff aiming at things and then at people working on the other side in some construction building. It was funny to see them jump up and quite innocent really even though some of them got angry.

    Then me and my partner/brother got separated goung down and to the other side, and the scenery changed into a confusing huge and complex set of elevators, stairways and electric stairs.

    I knew i was supposed to meet again in the central area of an enormous antique railway station, but when i finally made it there, couldn’t find my brother/partner.

    I got very distressed and started to look around, but the place was crowded and incredibly vast and complicated, with different levels, passages,archways and shops and different enormous domes that were connected in numerous ways. I became desperate about ever finding the one I was looking for, who was as often a mixture between my brother and my late husband, and when I finally saw no other way I let go of all shame and embarassment towards the surrounding crowd, and just started to call out my brothers name, “Jan”, at the top of my lungs, repeatedly.

    As the station was so cathedrallike enormous, in a beautiful Art Nouveau style, lots of marble and incredibly high domes, my voice echoed and resonated far over the quiet sound of the moving crowds.

    And then a wonderful thing happened. Some voices started taking over my call, helped me to call out “Jan!” so the echoing searching sound spread more widely, until something even more wonderful occurred.

    On top of my spreading shared searching call started coming a shared reply, from a group of people calling my name in return.

    I immediately understood my call must have,through the people spreading it, have reached my brother/partner, who in return had started to raise his voice and had inspired other people to give him a hand and raise their voices as well.

    So all that was left to do for me is to keep going towards the sound of my own name being called in reply to my own call.

    The feeling of the dream was surrender and acknowledment of my own despair, letting go of thepretence to be reassured and strong, showing my fear and desperation regardless of what anyone might think, just raising my coice and calling out to be heard.

    I can’t describe how it felt to unexpectedly receive that support of those anonymous people here and there spread over the crowd, who dicided to vive me a hand and then to give the one I was looking for a hand in our search to find each other.

    I also wish i coud describe the fascinating beauty of that place, scary to get lost in but beautiful in its details and vastness.

    I realize myself there still is so much shame I need to let go of, I need to start accepting myself and my feelings into still a deeper level, and drop all the masks and just be my own distressed desperate frightened me.

  35. Fiona says:

    Interesting, Margaret. You have such vivid, detailed and usually colourful dreams. It always amazes me. I am glad to hear when you have had another and I love it when you relish in “seeing” in your dream state. The sad thing is when you have those, oh so common nightmares of yours!

    Do you think that this one is connected with your being brave, and going out to the coffee shop the other day? Hearing the young boy protecting you, and calling to his friends as he did? Help and support can come from the weirdest places when we ask for it, right?

    Larry – thanks for your support! I like it a lot.

  36. Larry says:

    This evening I went to a street festival with a lady friend. Like me she is bereaved. We’ve developed a trust and can talk about what we are feeling and what we are going through. Not nearly as connectedly as I can with Primal people though. Sometimes she and I do stuff together to have each other’s company and get out of our homes. She has a lot of other friends here. I don’t. She is in the early stages of a relationship with another man. We talk about that too. She is a good lady. I’m not attracted to her any more than the friendship. She is the only lady friend I have here that I can spend occasional time with one on one.

    She talks so much though, all the time, as she did this evening, that I don’t have a chance to be spontaneous. It is as if she wants to be always in control, or is afraid of give and take sponatneous interaction, or is afraid of silences. As we walked through the street festival, I was surprised how closely I followed her, almost in lock step. I realized that when I took the lead, I was afraid she wouldn’t follow. As we were walking, we physically drifted somewhat apart from each other, and with distress I felt she would let me keep on walking away on my own and I suddenly felt disturbingly very utterly alone amongst all those people on the street, and my enjoyment of the festival abruptly turned into dreadful chilling bleak emptiness, so I quickly took steps to return to her side. I remember currents of those same bleak feelings when in public with my wife, but my warm rapport with her drowned out the emptiness lurking deep inside me. Being with other good friends, primal or not, drowns out that emptiness too. But though it was good to get out this evening, being with my lady friend barley kept at bay the stark ashen emptiness little more than an arm’s length away. Scared empty person that I am, which I hide under a thin veneer or by being with good friends, I wonder how will I possibly ever find someone to share life with here where I mostly feel alone and inadequate.

    The good news is that through an online dating service I’ve made an early connection with an attractive divorced lady who lives in a small town 250 miles away. Apart from the distance, the downside is that she probably thinks I am more than I am. ….. (there I go self-limiting myself again, as if unerringly committing myself forever to the emptiness soldered into baby me). Was the euphoric connection with people in LA and at the retreat real?! Must keep trying to meet and have fun with people.

    The other downside is that she is Roman Catholic whereas my faith is in people.

  37. Margaret says:

    I liked your comment a lot.
    I know what you mean when you ask yourself whether the experience in L.A. was real. I have the same feeling, it sometimes seems like a dream and now I am thrown back in reality where I and my world are inadeuate as you say, and empty and bleak.

    About my dream, to me it seems more connected with my hopes and attempts to find a partner and the support I received in that area.

    It also seems connected in general with me trying to find my way and some company, and looking for and receiving unexpected and very welcome help.

    So you could include the coffee on the terrace, but my hope to connect with that special person seems to be more important.

    Some fine friends gave me so much support in that area when I was in L.A.

    I feel ill and down right now, weather still cold and cloudy, but I’ll take care of myself as well as possible and even though I’ll have to cancel the dancing tomorrow, there will be other opportunities.

    Part of it might be I dread that empty feeling Larry mentioned and that is all too familiar for me when I socialize. I already knew it when I could still see well, so now things aren’t much easier really.

    Oh Larry, we’ll get over this dip, you seem to be doing quite well overall.

    I don’t feel I am right now, but things keep changing, don’t they?

    • Larry says:

      We need reprieve from it, but Margaret I don’t see it as a dip to get over. I see it as unchanging, permanent, unless we can work through it. The retreat showed me how life can be if I make the attempt to fill the emptiness. Much harder to do here where I feel it is more likely I will never be rewarded. There is probably a deep huge feeling under that for me, from when I was a very vulnerable toddler and not rewarded in my reaching out. That makes it difficult to reach out now, with that expectation of being unfulfilled. We just have to gather around us whatever support we can to help keep us going and trying, don’t we, and feel/primal that inner emptiness and inadequacy whenever we feel strong enough. This precious therapy gives me that only life affirming choice. It is hard work though that we shouldn’t have to do.

  38. Fiona says:

    Larry, do you really feel like the religious difference between you and the ‘internet date’ lady is an issue for either of you?

  39. Larry says:

    The religious difference is not an issue for her Fiona, but it signals to me that there is a limit to how far a relationship with her might go. For now it’s more the physical distance between us that hinders the growing of a possible friendship, but it seems like at this point there is sufficient attraction, and sufficient need that we are willing to put in the energy to get to know each other better. I have good, close friends who are religious in a gentle way. But I feel like religion, or ‘God’, is a third person in the room interfering with me being able to connect as deeply as I’d want to with an eventual soul mate. If I am ever to be blessed to share my life again with such a person, I need her to be relying not on God or religion for her values and her decisions in life, but on herself, her feelings and her intuition. I’ll be open minded about it for now, and put the time and effort into getting to know her better, hopefully meeting her some day relatively soon. I’m glad you asked Fiona. Do you think religious differences shouldn’t be an issue. Can you imagine having a lifetime partner who is religious?

  40. Fiona says:

    Good question, Larry. I first asked you the question only thinking about YOU in your situation. Unfortunately, this is yet another one of those times where it all depends on the person and the situation. You have the best attitude about it right now; that you will be open minded is reassuring to me.

    I have huge difficulties in imagining my world without my Wonderful with me. I can not picture another person in my life, so I am finding it hard to answer this question. Seriously thinking now….. …… ……. ……. …… ……. ….. Oh!…… the more I ponder it…. the worse it gets!…. I begin to see your reasons for the hesitation, Larry! …. so in answer, Larry; I wouldn’t like it at all! I was brought up as a strict Roman Catholic; I even have the guilt scars to prove it.

    Is there an “UN-post your comment” box anywhere? I am ashamed I asked the question.

  41. Anonymous says:

    Not really related to this blog, but thought you might enjoy this vid. Seems like such a healthy response from a mother who’s son just told her, “…I don’t like you all the time.”

  42. Larry says:

    I miss you, all you who often comment here but aren’t now. There’s such a refreshing search for sanity that comes through here in trying to understand ourselves in these blogs, compared to the unseeing quiet desperation and craziness in the world out there. I hope you’re all enjoying summer, like I am, and will be back soon. 🙂


  43. Miguel says:

    Hi Larry, and everybody. Good you are having a good summer: it is nice to share our feelings, understand and being understood. I read somewhere that being really listen to is the best aphrodisiac.

  44. Larry says:

    Because it helps me cry:

    A poignant song, sung by a person who has passed away, soliciting her lover to remember her.

  45. Margaret says:

    I just woke up out of an amazing dream.
    It was a long elablorate dream and I’ll only mention a few highlights.
    I had to work out a complicated scenario to overcome some problems and be able to bring backthis cute little girl to her family. She was in one of these carrying seats with wheels, I don’t know the name, and playing with a huge balloon. I remember being worried the balloon might burst and she would be frightened but then I saw it was a strong balloon, and not inflated up too much. The girl had silky blond curls and I could imagine how fascinating and fun playing with the red balloon was for her.

    The scenery changed and we were in a Kathmandu-like village, and a young guy appooached us and asked softly if it was possible he had seen a flyier once of this girl as a baby, being lost?
    I said yes, and softly added we were getting in touch with her family later on trying to bring them back together.

    He kneeled down by the girl, feeling sorry for her having been teken away as a baby, and said that I should know that even if bad things happen, there always is some good too.
    I said I knew what he meant, as I had lost most of my eyesight, and you couldn’t possibly refer to that as something positive, but that I had also learnt a lot by it. I felt tears coming up and my throat choking as I said it, but there also was this deep and nice understanding between me and that guy.

    Then I looked up over the pretty old houses and saw this wild mountain river with a foaming waterfall.
    And all that foam was so sparkling white white white, I gazed at it in awe, and the knitted hat of the guy was also pretty and white.

    I walked on and saw, not an unusual thing in my nice dreams, a market with a huge display of nice pastry and cookies, and I remember feeling very relaxed and safe about knowing I would still have time and opportunity later on to buy what I needed.The feeling was to be in control and safe.

    Another scene was me taking care of a cold and wet seagull, feeding it and keeping it warm and dry.

    in another scene I was together with the old lady director of the orphanage where my mother grew up and where I stayed occasionally, growing up, and I saw she was old so I made her sit down started helping her to set the chairs and table, letting her give me directions and making her smile and keeping up a nice conversation with her.
    It felt good, it was me being nice to her, appreciating her for the good things she has done, and taking care of her.

    Recently I have had three or four dreams in which I also saw my dad, and him being old and frail and vulnerable, and him accepting my help with relief and appreciation.

    I must have been coming to terms with some things, it feels reassuring to have dreeams like that too, apart from the scary ones I still have .

    I dreamed about barry twice, once almost getting into a gunfight with him, the other dream offering him flowers he didn’t really need, and in both dreams I ended up feeling insecure and confused.
    I am still trying to make up pmy mind whether to have a session about this and with whom.
    Margaret and cat.

  46. Margaret says:

    I just ran into an interesting comment from someone in one of my e-mails, which I would like to quote here:

    Some people confuse integrity with honesty
    Raw honesty can be used as a weapon. Integrity makes allowance for this and doesn’t condone annything that would or could cause more harm than good.

    Integrity looks for the wisdom of Solomon evaluating the saying that “honesty is always the best policy”.
    “Honesty is always the best policy” should be refrased as honesty is always the best policy when it doesn’t injure or hurt.

    Integrity requires to take a stand and to pay the price for itTo say or do the right thing at the right moment and to accept the consequences..

    This subject has been mentioned before on this blog, and I still find it an interesting topic.
    I am strugling a little myself with a matter in which the question is more or less whether to say something to someone which I think might be beneficial for that person, but which might not be appreciated. I do care about that person, so I think the only right thing might be to just say it, which would be the caring thing to do, and hope for the best.
    The easiest thing would of course be not to say anything, but that doesn’t seem right.

    If I would be the receiving part, I would like to hear what I refer to, even if it would be painful to start with.

    So in my example, I would actually choose to express a painful thing to someone I care about, risking to be disliked for it, at least for a while.
    That seems another aspect of integrity, making a conscious and hopefully balanced choice seems to be what matters, and genuine caring.

    I am sorry I can’t be more specific, but I do hope to get some feedback, Margaret.

    • Jack Waddington says:

      Margaret: My take on your comment is that both the word ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ are just words. The problem with words is we can make them mean whatever we like to suit our opinion. A therapist might be honest with you and it could hurt OR, we might have the integrity to withhold the truth in order not to hurt, but that may not be doing them a favor

      My take would be to use your feeling of discretion under each of the circumstances … then take the consequences of your response. Most of us do this most of the time BUT to rely on the general meaning of words can sometimes be counter-productive. Hope this makes sense.


    • Larry says:

      I agree with you Margaret. If doing nothing seems easy but wrong, and doing something seems right but difficult and risky, then you have to weigh which choice would be easier for you to live with in the long run, and only one choice gives you a chance outcome of being helpful to someone and feeling good about it.

      An acquaintance got E. coli poisoning and was given massive doses of antibiotics. After the E. coli was cleared out she was OK for a while. I worried it wasn’t my place to meddle, but hoped there was enough bond between us that she would consider my suggestion to her that she needed to take probiotics, which her doctors didn’t seem to know anything about, to replace the good bacteria in her body that had been killed off by the antibiotics. She listened politely but ignored me. I almost brought her some probiotics to take, but am glad I didn’t because she got sick again and might have blamed it on me and the probiotics. Her doctors gave her another round of antibiotics and she was OK for a while. She still ignored my advice about probiotics, and got sick a third time. This time they did surgery, after which she hoped she’d finally stay healthy. I gave her the names of some naturopathic doctors and convinced her to give them a try and get their advice about probiotics. But upon visiting the office and finding out there is a fee not covered by medicare, she cancelled the appointment with one. She’s been in and out of hospital a few more times, and is a very sick and weak lady now. She has C.dificile, an antibiotic resistant bacteria that can infect people with weakened immune systems. People die from it. I think she will. I’m glad I tried to advise her. Massive doses of antibiotics that kill off all the good bacteria in a person’s body can wreak havoc on a person’s immune system. I really think the probiotics and a focus on strengthening her immune system would have saved her. I feel awful that the outcome that I feared seems to be unfolding for her. I would feel even worse and have a hard time living with myself if I had said nothing to her. I did what I could. I wish she would have been a little more open minded and sought the advice of a naturopathic doctor.

    • Anonymous says:

      I think the answer lies in the delivery of the message. Some people are honest to a fault – honest in situations when it may be inappropriate. These people are generally delivering ‘truths’ to relieve their own anxieties, and end up coming off coarse, and hurtful. So I think the question is are you being honest for your sake, or for your friend’s sake. If it’s for your friend, you should be able to deliver the message in a manner which carries with it understanding and compassion, which will help counter the hurtful feelings your friend may feel as a result.

  47. Margaret says:

    I know what you mean and agree with it, but if you keep that in the back of your mind, talking about stuff like this still gives an opening to interesting exchanges, doesn’t it,
    Larry’s story is a perfect example, thanks Larry.
    Jack, I know words and language are not a perfect tool, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be useful isn’t it?
    Larry perfectly got the idea of which question I was talking about.

    Maybe it is always better in your case that I talk about specific examples? Would that work better?

  48. Margaret says:

    just a litlle bit of remarkable news.
    I just heard a publicity spot on the Dutch television, and to my surprise it was an advice not to cooperate with the dreadful way chicken are raised there, and not to buy cheap chicken meat in the supermarkets.
    It refers to a sad reality, but it is a glimpse of hope there is a start of a mentality change in a larger group of people. This ad was really in prime time as well.

  49. Fiona says:

    Been having feelings about “not being worthwhile”, “not being valued as a friend/lover”. Maybe the worm hasn’t ‘turned’ exactly; but she has had a good look back, and she isn’t going to put up with it any more. Only I can stick up for myself and say, “don’t ever speak to me that way again!” (for example) I am adamant that I mean it! I have changed. I will be saying, “that is MY opinion, it is not wrong just because you don’t agree with it”. I AM worth more than that. I am not shit on any one’s shoe. I have value. I have a right to be, and I have a right to be respected for it.

  50. Larry says:

    Fiona, I am wondering….How Are You? Particularly, I am wondering what is behind your Aug. 16 1:47 pm comment. But I don’t want to pry, because I know you are hesitant to write personal stuff here. But just so you know, I do wonder.

    And I wonder how you are Jack, and UG, and look forward to giving you a call to find out.

    Summer is too short here in Canada, and what there is is sometimes cold and rainy. This summer though is beautiful and I am doing the most I can to enjoy it with friends, doing photography, playing tennis, camping, and just meeting for coffee and talk. I’m getting better at it, but socializing doesn’t come easy for me. I need to make myself do those things to overcome in me a deep reservoir of feeling that I am worthless and will always be alone. In another step to work against that outcome, I registered with an online dating service to try to bring female companionship into my life, and it is amazing how much hope it brings me that I might be wanted and not always be alone. But it also pulls me into the future and further away from my life with Noreen, my departed wife. When I look back over our life together, I see and feel how much fear and aloneness we each had within ourselves that worked to keep us from life, and how the love and support we had for each other helped us to risk and build a life together despite our fragility. So many things could have gone wrong and overwhelmed us in our life together, but we had trust and confidence in each other to give life a try together, a life that I wouldn’t have tried on my own. Yesterday I cried and screamed for her that I want and need her but can never have her now, and it feels like the feeling is also beginning to verge on crying/screaming for my mother when I was small and helpless and needed her but she was never there and I knew but couldn’t let myself know that she never could be there ever. Yesterday I could only primal some of the feeling, and today the lingering charge of it weighed me down and left me feeling alone and hopeless and empty. After work I just wanted to stay home and read a book and hide. But tonight was tennis night and I made myself go out to play. And I had fun and moved into an emotionally much healthier place with more energy and confidence in the present. Primalling our way through life is like a chess game we have to play, moving our life in the present in a way that goes against what feelings from the past want us to do but leaves us better poised to feel that pain from the past, and feeling our pain from the past to free us to make better moves in the present and into the future.

  51. Margaret says:

    I already told you but just felt like saying again I am impressed with the jumps forwards you make, you have a real talent for bringing your insights in practice and then to keep moving on working with all that is triggered.

    I also had a productive day as finally I managed to inscribe myself on a contact site with a little help.
    It is complicated with my software but with some help and some experimenting I manage to explore a little and already got some responses, imediately really.
    I don’t expect too much of it but simply widening my horizons feels great and keeps me from feeling stuck and hopeless.
    I will definitely have to search more help so I already contacted a few girlfriends here to help me check out the ‘options’, haha!
    Might be a fun thing to do with my girlfriends too.

  52. Fiona says:

    Thanks Margaret.
    You were a great help the other day. I still find it hard to put down the phone to ‘let the feeling out’. I suppose it is a natural response to try to keep the feelings in – well, it is what I have done for the past 40 odd years!! That was a BIG intense feeling, and I am so glad to be rid of that bit of it.

    I don’t think I have kept that much to myself, here on the blog. I have been very expressive about my molestation, my mother’s death etc etc. Relationship issues are another matter, I am sure you agree. I want to respect my partner’s rights to privacy. I also feel it is important to respect friendships in the same way, especially where those friends may choose to have access here on the blog too. It could make someone feel …. any manner of hurtful feelings to read about an issue that has resulted in such strong reactions from within me.

    It would probably be better for me to write a private diary (or journal), so that I could log all the feelings and reactions I have to the world and its inhabitants. I choose to use this blog – it forces me to think carefully. In effect you guys and the blog are my conscience and my support; not available from a journal.

    I sounded really angry the other day, huh! I had a childhood full of not being important. The youngest three in our family were called “the little ones” and I was the youngest of “the little ones”. No one seemed to ask my opinion on anything. If they did – they would also ask someone else…. so what would it matter what I said – when someone else’s opinion mattered more. I had no influence on my environment. I was there to serve rather than to be valued as an active decision maker or leader. There was adult manipulation and coercion – so I was twisted to believe ‘truths’ not originally my own. As an odd example: “but you KNOW we love you!” when I did not FEEL loved. I was TOLD, so I was manipulated into believing something I did not feel. I can remember feeling ‘uncomfortable’ when being asked the ‘question/statement’. I did not like to answer. So now I understand that my discomfort was this nagging sensation in the back of my mind that I did not feel the love I was told I should trust in. Deception!

    Two issues here it seems. _________

    Your feeling, yesterday, Larry, sounded terrible and so lonely. When people have such hard feelings to tolerate – I am still amazed that they (you) can struggle on and on with its endlessness. I was glad to read that you enjoyed tennis afterwards.
    [Bishop to E5]

  53. Larry says:

    Yes I see, Fiona. Thanks for your reply. Please keep writing here whatever you can that helps you. Deft move on your part. 🙂

  54. Fiona says:

    Feel bad that I want to write about something other than ‘group’ so I will write here rather than on the current blog.
    Just so mad at my parent for forcing me to be a carer! I am sick to the extreme of being a care-taker for my entire life. First for one parent – now for the next. The feeling is “it’s NOT MY job!” I am the child here. I should be cared for.
    I even chose a carers profession as that was my ‘training’ from babyhood. Serve others; especially your family. Put other people first. Give. Give. Give and then give some more, so that NOW if anyone needs anything you are just empty! I feel that I have given everything I have already. I have nothing left. I am empty – leave me alone!

  55. Larry says:

    Just want to let you know Fiona, that though thousands of miles away I feel more connected to you following your honest outpouring of feeling in your comment, than I do to people around me here who talk outside themselves as if hypnotized.

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