Welcome to your first session
Of couples’ therapy.
Before we begin conversation,
I would like to share something with you.
New research has found that, in therapy,
A client’s motivation is the most important factor.
Here is one article about it. I have copies for you.
I devised an exercise to increase your motivation.
This is, motivation about what you want to have
…again, as a couple…what you used to have.
Though there are two of you, I will say "her"
in order to keep things flowing
and for other reasons we can discuss.
Please make your selves comfortable.
Relax your muscles, starting with your toes
And working your way up.
(Yes I know it’s funny…but it works)
Focus on your breathing—in and out.
Not big breaths, but calm, even, shallow breaths,
That create stillness. Drive away intruding thoughts
And focus on the present, on being relaxed.
Are you calm? Are you in the moment? Good!
Now…I want you to imagine an ordinary day.
Picture yourself coming home from work, or
Some other place. See the road as you drive.
You don’t judge it but merely notice it.
Look at the buildings and trees as you drive past them.
Is everything the same as always? Good.
It’s an ordinary day. A day in your life.
The sun is in the sky, the grass is green
And all is as it should be. You feel content.
Keep breathing. Relax if you have tensed up.
Now picture yourself arriving home.
What do you do? Where do you enter your house?
What do you say or do inside?
Now, imagine that there is no one answering your “Hello”.
What do you feel? Remember how you feel when
Your wife or husband said, “Hello” or “Hi” back to you,
Even if it was casual or not very loving.
You are home now and it seems there is no one there.
What do you feel? Are you worried? Angry? Suspicious?
What do you do next? Hang up your coat, put down your bags.
Maybe you have groceries and you go to the kitchen.
Take a deep breath and relax. It’s just like any other day,
Now imagine entering the kitchen finding her there
Motionless on the floor. Do you find this bizarre?
What do you feel when you see her?
Imagine that you run to her, heart in your feet,
Maybe your head spinning and adrenaline
Is keeping you conscious.
Imagine reaching down,
Calling her name, shaking her
But she doesn’t move. What do you feel?
Her skin is gray, her lips blue.
You don’t even feel for a pulse because
You know…she is gone. It seems that
Time stretches out like a long road
With a fatal car wreck on it.
Now comes the sick whirling inside,
The lightheaded improbability,
Do you deny what you see, what you know:
She is gone, but you fight against it.
Would you call for help? Perhaps you
Reach out to family, to a daughter or son,
As if they will know more than you
About what to do.
What do you tell them?
They arrive and enter that same world
Of stunned, disbelieving chaos.
When paramedics and maybe police arrive,
They are businesslike, quick: they’ve seen this before.
They are of little help to you
Except to examine “the body”.
Are their questions ones you can’t answer
Without indescribable pain?
Or do you not hear them at all?
Take a moment to imagine what you feel.
And as they take the body away.
You may watch the woman you love
Being zipped up into a bag,
Of perhaps someone had the sense
To put you in a soft chair like a baby,
To guard you from that sight
And speak softly, knowing
That your mind is barely there..
As you sit there, perhaps sipping alcohol,
Or maybe taking a sedative.
Things happen around you.
Are you a paralyzed fish in
A glaucous aquarium?
Or do you rave against the unreality
Of this thing?
Perhaps more relatives or neighbors arrive and hover.
You watch them cry and maybe
You think they have the right to grieve
More than you, for this was their mother
Or daughter and in the chaos,
Your love for her is ignored by all
What are you feeling now?
Do you watch the show
Instead the things you wanted to tell her
But never said,
The places you said you would go
But never went,
Or worse, the hurts you inflicted
But never healed?
Imagine what this would be like.
You might cry yourself to sleep this night,
Or lie there, still numb, saying over and over,
“This isn’t happening.”
Now imagine the funeral;
Are you dressed in black
And do you do what your family does
On these days?
Did you see her again and say good-bye?
Or did you have the casket closed,
So as not to look at her like that?
Perhaps she was cremated
And when you arrive
At the cemetery, there is just
A small, stone box, a pretty one,
Like the one she had for her jewelry.
And it all floods back:
A scene of her, sitting at a mirror,
Putting earrings on and combing her hair.
How does it feel to know that
You will never see her again
In this life?
You know what is next—
The solemn procession
The loved ones weeping
Or standing stone still
And little ones, confused.
The words are read out by
Someone—a religious leader
Or just a funeral director.
Does it matter? Do you listen?
Sometimes the funeral is hardest,
Or for some, the easiest part;
It is scripted and you can walk through
The rituals, the reading of expected prayers.
You are silent on the ride home,
Feeling strange in the comfort
Of a limousine—so foreign yet sterile.
You watch the others’ vacant faces to see
What they feel, hoping for a clue
About what to say.
But nothing comes. Not even after
You are home, looking at the unaccustomed crowd.
Why are they here, chatting, eating, getting drunk
When you just want to be alone?
People say things but you hear vague words
From another language that you've forgot.
Some people even laugh or giggle;
Do you want to slap them?
Or are you grateful for the distraction?
Finally, as the morning wears down into
A cold afternoon, the black-dressed figures
Start to disappear. Some just touch you,
While others wrap you in their arms
And you don’t know why.
Some family members mills around,
Fussing over details big and small.
Some are things that she used to do
And you ignored them. Now
You wish you had watched her
Put food away, or fold things—perhaps
You would even offer to help.
You would do anything now…
And you would give anything
To see her move, smile, even to herself.
You would smile at her and say, “I love you!”
for no reason.
Now listen to your own voice
Saying that you need her.
But that is all done.
Perhaps you spend a night
With someone in the house,
Who stays to watch you.
After all, you have put on a show
So they won’t worry too much.
And on the second day,
Nothing seems real.
You are not the type who talks
About anything deep.
Yet maybe you feel sick
And would talk if you could.
Do you keep thinking she will
Suddenly walk in?
This is very common.
Hours groan past, elongated.
Sometimes, throughout the day
There are shocks to your system,
Electric shocks of reality.
You see her body again,
Or the coffin, the stillness of death
That is incomprehensible.
Sunset comes like an anodyne,
Night will blanket the loss.
But when your loved one or your neighbor
Leaves at last.
You are not glad to be alone,
As you used to be, sometimes,
When the expectations
Of marriage annoyed you.
When to be alone was a relief.
And now that feeling is alien.
You want nothing more
Than to spend the evening with her,
Sitting together on the couch,
Watching a favorite show
Or talking of interesting things.
Yet even those ideas are painful now.
She is not here and never will be again.
Slowly, reality seeps in, like rain
Into the soil around a tree
Or the dirt on her grave…
You sink into the seat, melting
Under the weight of grief.
The house seems to echo with her
Voice and you keep thinking
She calls to you as she used.
And you hear yourself
Snap at her, annoyed,
As you so often were.
Why was that? You don’t know now.
You were selfish, distant…
So many times, but why?
If she were alive now,
What would you say or do,
To show her you love her?
There is a ticking clock somewhere
And you can’t remember its place.
The house echoes again,
Not with her voice,
But with the long, empty sound
This is an experiment, a session of guided imagery rather than a lecture.