As he purges intense fear, a writer comes closer to facing some deep abuse issues, and he prepares to face the “monsters in the closet”.
In early March 2008, the message that my Grandmother had implanted in me — “writing will make you crazy and they’ll lock you up” — came up again, and more feelings began to release. Apparently my commitment to move forward toward publication had forced something closer to the surface. I drove by my Grandmother’s former house, trying to envision what it was like inside, something I hadn’t felt the need to do for a while.
I came home and drew up a floor plan of the house, spending quite a bit of time remembering the layout and how the rooms fit together. I could almost feel myself being inside that house; my breathing got rapid and I could feel my pulse escalate. I wondered if the fears currently releasing were from being an eight-year-old boy, left alone in the back bedroom of an unsafe house with the windows open, late at night in the dangerous city.
I did a couple of acupuncture sessions because doing that always broke things free for me, which happened over the next week — I lay on the bed shaking with fear a lot. I could tell the fear was releasing from a very deep place. I was working out with a trainer, and I believe doing deep abdominal core work released some energy as well.
The week of April 14th, I was in the deepest and most all-consuming fear I had ever felt on my healing journey. I would lay on the bed and shake for several hours at a time. It was conspicuous that I couldn’t look at the floor plan I had drawn of Grandma’s house, nor could I read the synopsis I had written for the book about her.
As I released feelings that week, I began to connect again to the sense that Grandma had either locked me in the closet to show me what an asylum would feel like, or that she had threatened me with it. I couldn’t tell which, but it was a deeply felt intuition. It heightened what Karen had felt last summer, that I was a little boy and that there were “monsters in the closet”. It always came back to the closet in the back bedroom in Grandma’s house on Hazeline Street in East Fort Worth.
I thought about the History Channel show I had run across about the underground world beneath Edinburgh, Scotland. The new town had been built on top of the old, leaving a maze of streets and passageways below. One scene described kidnapping women off the streets to force them into prostitution and white slavery. The slavers would put the kidnapped woman into a small box about the size of an outhouse for several days, in total darkness, to subdue her. After that period of isolation, the woman would be completely tamed and obedient. After remembering how my Grandmother had threatened me with a scary dark place called an asylum, I knew what that experience would feel like, and it horrified me.
I rereead the inner child exercises I had written to remember what had happened with my Grandma. At the end of the one where she took me to Sycamore Park and told me “I can have you committed to an asylum,” I was struck by the fact that Little Danny had concluded with, “We went back to her house. And after that, I don’t remember. It really didn’t matter anyway.” It sure sounded like “I don’t want to remember.”
I began to mentally dialogue with Danny, letting him know that we really needed to release whatever was going on underneath for him right now, and that I wanted him to consider telling me what else had happened. I didn’t want to force him, but we needed to get this resolved or it would stop the publication process for sure. I told him that if we released whatever else he remembered, it would lead to great joy and the ability for him to write more freely.
The logical part of me said I needed to go back to work in the oil industry, but I had arranged things so that I was not in immediate need of doing so. Now I knew why I had been slow about seeking a new contract job. There was no way I could work while shaking with fear until 4 AM, unable to predict when it might happen. Also, had I refocused on work, I likely would not have had the release, and whatever else happened with Grandma would have still been poisoning my system, ready to sabotage my efforts to publish my book and live out my calling.
I started preparing emotionally to go to the library — the safe place — to write a Gestalt dialogue with Danny, to see if he would tell me what he was still so fearful about. I was clear, though, that I couldn’t rush the process and force Little Danny to open up to me, but that I needed to respect him and let him get ready in his own time. Gentleness was the key at this point.
Wednesday night I met with my friend Mike for dinner, and we talked about what had been coming up for me with the Grandma stuff. I couldn’t tell if she had locked me in the closet or just threatened to, but Mike and I agreed — it didn’t matter. If the seed of the abuse was planted, I was left carrying the fear, subconsciously embedded, that I would be locked up if I became a successful author.
Mike helped me see a number of things. First, he commented that my Dad, and now at a much deeper level my grandmother, had attacked my writing – it was a specific point of their abuse. My Dad was a writer and Grandma may have attacked him on his dream also, because he kept his writing secret and our family never knew about it for many years. So I got a double dose of being attacked over my writing.
Mike said I had used the exact words “locked up” a number of times with respect to my writing; he found it terribly profound, as if my subconscious were trying to tell me something. Then he noted that if I was in that bedroom late at night looking at the closet door, which apparently wasn’t safe; the door to the rest of the house where Grandma was, which wasn’t safe; the door to the back porch, which wasn’t safe — how could I feel at all safe in that situation? It was like I was locked up anyway.
More and more I began to connect the dots. I began to see that it was odd that Grandma had asked me “what do you want to be?” question almost as soon as I got off the bus to visit. I wondered if maybe Dad had mentioned something about how bright and gifted I was, maybe said something about writing, and had given her the ammunition she needed. I would never know for sure.
My nightmares started when I was eight years old, and I wondered if it was connected to this incident. Talking with Mike opened my eyes to a number of aspects of the Grandma incidents that I hadn’t seen before. I felt ready — it was time to do another inner child exercise and find out what else had happened.
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