Breakingdown, Breakingthrough

- by Margaret Coyne -


My parter's name was Helen. I decided it would be better if I "breathed" in the afternoon, that way I would be in a fitter state to help my "breather" in the morning if necessary. As it turned out, Helen did need a little assistance from Grainne and I too was allowed to lend a hand. Following the session I had some rice cakes and Camomile tea. Again, some people went out to lunch, while the remainder of us stayed in our little room, chatting and eating.

The afternoon session began as usual around 2.00pm. Again I felt the combination of nervousness and excitement, only this time it was a little different. I had an idea of the feelings to expect when entering my altered state. Although I find these feelings a bit unsettling, I also find them reassuring, in that I feel I'm heading in the right direction. Following the relaxation exercise, I was ready to begin my journey:-

"After about fifteen minutes of breathing I feel a heavy weight between my upper thighs, lower tummy and vagina. It isn't unpleasant. Later my fingers begin to develop pins and needles, my hands beginning to close into fists and move upwards towards my chest. Every so often I shiver and shake even though I'm finding the breathing quite easy. Both my hands are now on my chest. They slowly move together, my fingers trying to grasp each other in a very uncoordinated fashion.

As my breathing becomes deeper and more rapid I can feel the distress rising within me.

The now familiar long drawn-out crying begins, followed immediately by a gut-wrenching scream which seems to last forever. This process continues for a long time, until eventually my eyes fill with tears. I am overcome by such a tremendous sadness, that I feel I will soon die if someone doesn't hear my pain. I need to be held, loved. Sobbing really hard, my outstretched arms are pleading with someone to lift me. Several times I choke on my tears. I am once more a young infant, abandoned.

The images which are emerging are, when I was separated from my natural mother at birth and again for the final time five weeks later. Being taken from my foster mother at two and a half years of age for adoption, and last of all, being separated from my adoptive mother at five years when I had to go into hospital for a tonsillectomy. The terrible feelings of abandonment continue.

I crawl up onto my knees and bury my face in the cushion. My heartbreaking sobs are deafening. I feel so totally isolated and missing my mother so much. I turn onto my back and calm down for a few moments. The pain is unrelenting, so the screaming begins all over again. Time does not exist. Suddenly I am very nauseated. I crawl back up onto all fours and move towards the end of the mattress. My "sitter", Helen, is wonderful and supports my forehead while I vomit. Grainne is also there to comfort me. After I finish being sick, I decide to remain at the foot of the mattress. I lie down again and curl up as if trying to protect myself from this constant onslaught of damned despair.

Having recovered a little I go back into the breathing. The feelings are so close to the surface. Once again I am drawn back into the agony of my isolation and begin to cry. I can see myself as being very young, perhaps when I was five, in hospital. I desperately need my adoptive mother, but she's not there. The separation from her becomes physically painfully. (Perhaps that's why I developed an infection following the tonsillectomy).

Towards the end of the session Grainne holds me while I sob really hard for the people who have gone from my life, again including my brother-in-law.

Somebody covers me with a duvet and I begin to feel warm and secure. Helen strokes my hair and holds my hand. As the soothing music comes to an end I am feeling a lot better. I rest for a short while before returning with Helen to our little room for some refreshments. It is almost 5.15pm".

I had a tremendous feeling of having got rid of a lot of painful shit but not quite all of it. Maybe next time. After I'd eaten, I set about drawing my Mandala. It was a bit unusual. I depicted my experience of separation in three small match-stick sketches. All three showed a woman and child, each with arms outstretched towards each other, but not quite touching. The child remains the same child in all three (new-born, two and a half years old and five years old), while the woman is actually three different mothers. I used only the colour blue.

At around 6.00pm we went back into the "session" room with Grainne. As usual, we all sat in a circle on the floor. Each one of us described our experience and explained our Mandalas. Although I was fairly eager to talk about the day's events, there was an underlying sadness which prevented me from really getting involved in the conversations.

After getting my things together I kissed and hugged Helen and Grainne then headed off to catch my bus. On the journey home, while I felt physically much better this time, there was a definite sense of sadness which wasn't present immediately following the last session. As a result when I arrived home I wasn't very talkative. The boys were having a good time. All I really wanted was to be left alone. I had a cup of herb tea around 10.00pm then went to bed.

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