Arlayne: An Interview

I want to point out that interviews printed in the journal are not intended to be representative or characteristic of 'common' experience in primal therapy. Many people's progress through the primal process is much less dramatic than Marie's (in the first issue of the journal) or Arlayne's.
-- The editors - The Denver Primal Journal

MICHAEL: Why did you come into therapy? What was happening in your life?

ARLAYNE: I'd been to four psychiatrists. I'd spent my life trying really hard to be normal. I guess my greatest fear was that I was insane. I could never face that prospect. I'd read books, you know, 'how to do things right,' so that nobody would know. If anybody else sees me, I have to see; I couldn't take that chance.

Basically I felt like I had tried everything to help me be normal, and I didn't want to try any more. I was just tired. I was taking a tranquilizer to go to sleep at night, and kept the bottle by the bed for when I woke up in the morning. I had tranquilizers planted all over the house so I'd never had to go too far. I carried them in my pockets, I had them in the kitchen, in the bathroom, beside the bed, they were all over. . . .I was just tired.

I'd been married 18 years - 3 children, it just wasn't fun any more. When I looked at The Primal Scream, I just had to read the first 10 pages and there was some hope again. I thought if I can't have this, there's no point in living. I never thought in terms of killing myself, I just wanted to stop breathing. That was the way I tried to commit suicide -- the intent was to stop breathing, not to hurt myself, just die.

MICHAEL: How about the psychiatric therapy you had had before?

ARLAYNE: When I first went to a psychiatrist -- and my husband didn't know about this --- I had just given birth to my second child, and I got pregnant like three or four weeks after she was born. I had to get rid of it, that's all I knew. I couldn't talk to anybody because only crazy people or tramps or people like that get abortions. So I had to do it myself. I started reading a lot of books, going to the library, just trying to figure out a way I could do it to myself. And then I became terrified. This is not normal. I'm crazy, there's something wrong with me.

So I went to this psychiatrist (he was really a nice Freudian Jewish-type doctor -- smoked cigars!). He asked me to tell him about my life. I was set on being totally honest, that there was the only way to help myself, I couldn't hide anything. He said 'I insist on seeing your husband.' I said I couldn't tell him, so he said all right, I'll call him. . He called my husband in for an appointment alone and I guess the main thing he said to him was 'why do you think your wife is lying?' And that just blew me, I never went back. Here I had just bared my soul with things I had never told anybody about my past, and he just turned on me it seemed. .

It took me almost a year to go back to a psychiatrist. . . I went ahead and figured out how to abort myself, I did it myself. I thought you've got to take care, so I called the doctor and said 'I'm spotting,' you know, and other things that might happen when you're about to miscarry. So then I felt safe. . I could call him up at a moment's notice. My biggest fear was of getting an infection, so I had to be ready to rush to the hospital. It took me a couple of months actually to complete the abortion. It was so hard to do with just. . kitchen tools, and it was . . . really traumatic. I got through that then I got pregnant again.

MICHAEL: Why no contraception?

ARLAYNE: He's a devout Catholic, and he needed to have sex every night. That was his sleeping pill. He would work so hard and that was a tension-breaker. That was his main concern, and I felt that there was no support for me.

But then I had to complete the second abortion myself. After doing it, I started going crazy; because I hadn't gotten rid of the fetus I was just hemorrhaging. I was going to a catholic doctor who wouldn't do anything for 8 weeks. . . to make sure that the fetus was dead. And I was living with that; 'It's dead, it's inside of me and it's decaying, it's rotting' and I was bleeding, bleeding; and I thought 'I'm going, I'm really losing it.' So I went to this other psychiatrist, a woman and a Jungian.

I found a lot out about myself, made a lot of head connections. I understood that I'd married my mother, a very dynamic powerful person. But then a similar thing happened, and the psychiatrist ended up saying 'it feels almost like you've been lying to me for the past year.' I couldn't face that. This was the second psychiatrist who told me I had been lying. Of course I know what a big thing that is for me now; Living a lie, that's what I had been doing all my life. I'd lied and said 'I'm o.k.' Even when I had children, the girls would say to me 'Hey Mummy, what was it like when you were little?' So I would say 'oh, we used to do this and that, my sister would do so and so.' What I did was feed in and make real for myself all the things I'd heard other people say that they had done as children cause I couldn't remember any of it. . . I lied every day of my life. I was just all lies, so to be confronted with that, when that's all I had to protect me from the truth, I couldn't face it.

So I didn't go to another psychiatrist till I started getting these terrible chest cramps that would just debilitate me. I would start getting like a band of steel about 4 inches wide around my rib cage, and it would just get tighter and tighter. I feeling is you can't breathe. I would get nauseated and sweat and have to go lie down. I was really terrified and so I went to a psychiatrist, and he said 'no problem, that's a common form of tension.'

He gave me tranquilizers and that did help. I realized that I would only get those pains if I hadn't taken one for some time, and that was one of the things that encouraged me to keep a tranquilizer in my system at all times. Also I found I was able to function -- really start functioning well. That hadn't been possible before.

One of my complaints to the psychiatrist was always, 'I just feel dead, I'm not alive, I'm really numb, I can't react, I can't laugh and I can't cry.' The only life that I had had for years was in daydreams. I could never as a adult remember where I went to school as a child or the people I lived with -- I was shunted around to different relatives -- but I could remember the daydreams I would have then -- so vivid, so colorful. I'd go to sleep at night, then wake in the morning, and my first thought would be 'where was I' In my soap opera, so I could start it out again.

Then I broke myself of that habit; I read Lady Chatterly's Lover and discovered that I was totally frigid; and I thought 'oh my god, that's because I'm dead all the time, and I've got to learn how to live in the present.' I was already married with 2 children at that stage. I started experimenting, started for the first time masturbating. It took a long time, but when I got over the fear I worked on building a track for the feeling to come out so I could have orgasms.

Then, when I felt I was ready, I decided to have an affair to see if it would work with someone else. Also to keep myself out of the daydreams, I went around all the time talking to myself, saying 'Now, I'm going to live now. I'm going to be aware of what's happening now. I'm looking at the dishes in the cupboard. This is my kitchen. I'm now making a bed, feel it. I'm here now.' And it broke that defense of daydreaming. . . . It wasn't much longer before I started having chest cramps. my fingers started going numb, and I was having tremendous migraine headaches. For about two years in there between when I forced myself to stop daydreaming and when I started taking tranquilizers, I having all these ghastly physical symptoms.

MICHAEL: It sounds like the daydreaming and tranquilizers plugged up the same hole in your defenses.

ARLAYNE: Yes, except I could feel alive on the tranquilizers. It used to deaden the pain that was pushing so I didn't have the need to break off and numb out. It deadened the pain enough so that what was left of me could live.

MICHAEL: How come that came to an end?

ARLAYNE: I had no desire to go on living on pills for the rest of my life . . . just, why bother at all? . . . I'd been around the world, lived in other countries. I'd been married 18 years, had a nice house in the suburbs, had beautiful kids. I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to do.

* * * *

What happened to me during my three week intensive was a really fantastic experience. When I went in I was sure I wouldn't be able to cry -- I'd never been able to cry, or feel like I was crying. The first day, Shelly, my therapist, just sat there and didn't say anything when I came in. I became kind of resentful, you know, I'm paying for something to happen. . . . I said 'I need help because I don't know what to say, because I can't remember anything,' and as I said that the tears just came out, and I was just amazed and overwhelmed. I said, 'I've never cried like this before' and I thought 'Oh my gosh, this is going to work, I'm real.'

Afterwards, I spent a whole week kind of struggling, trying to say things I knew about myself. Then on the Friday something really queer happened. I had started out saying something -- then Shelly started pushing for the first time saying, 'What about your grandmother?' and I was saying, 'I can't remember my grandmother. 'Didn't you say she raised you from about six months to 5 or 6 years of age?' 'Yeah, but I can't remember it.' Then I said: 'I can't remember but it's like she was always screaming' -- 'What was she screaming?' and I just kept saying, 'I don't know, I don't know anything.'

Then I said 'well there's a car.' 'What kind of car?' -- 'I don't know, I don't know what I'm saying -- There was a soldier.' 'In the car?' 'I don't know.' So a little at a time along with the 'I don't knows' a story started unfolding that I had never heard before. I didn't know what I was saying. And it turned out it was a rape, when I was five . . Shelly just forced me a step at a time. He wouldn't let me make a jump. He'd back me up and say 'Now where was his left hand?' and I'd say 'It was there and then he started moving it down my back, and then I screamed and ran away' -- 'Where was his right hand?' 'Well it was on my belly and then he started moving it, and then I screamed and ran away.' Where was his left hand when his right hand was on your belly?' and so on. It took forever, just a second at a time. And .. it was like I was making the whole thing up.

And then when I went home to the motel that night, I started watching the television -- I knew I wasn't supposed to do that, 'it's against the rules.' I was feeling really frazzled, a lot of raw nerves . . . then a weather map came on the television with a map of California, where I was supposedly born and spent the first six years of my life.

And I looked at it, and it was crystal clear; I had never been in California in my life -- it was such a relief! It was all I knew but I knew it with such clarity. I was just overjoyed. It was beautiful -- I had never been in California in my life -- it was such a relief! It started coming to me. I thought 'I have spent the whole of the first week of my therapy lying to Shelly.' The reality was totally reversed but everything was clear.

What I had done in going through that rape scene -- I had opened up a mental block and then I had to close it down in some way. You see, the end of that scene was that I did run away finally I ran to where my grandmother was in the flower garden -- all I had on were my brown oxfords and my socks, I was just crying and crying and ran to her, she turned and looked at me and she screamed.

And Shelly asked: 'What did she scream?' He was really pushing. But I said, 'she just screamed, she just screamed,' and that is what I was left with: Shelly's voice saying: 'What did she scream, what did she scream?' So I created another mental block that night, blanking out the first seven years of my life; and it was so beautiful . . . that's all I knew, that I'd never been in California!

The climax of the block I had been opening up, which I didn't want to face, was what my grandmother screamed. The only way to wipe out what she screamed was to wipe out my first 7 years. When I went in the next morning, I was really crazy. I knew I couldn't face Shelly - - I felt really angry, cold and distant. I felt it was stupid to continue. I'd been lying to him all week and I didn't know why.

When I saw him I said, 'Shelly I can't make it this morning, I'm not going in this morning, this therapy isn't working.' He said, 'Come on it and tell me about it.' I said 'No, I won't go in!' -- 'Come in and tell me about it!' This panic started coming over my body, and I said, 'I can't. I won't go in there.' He took me by the arm and said, 'You're going in there or I will never see you again.'

I had no choice; It's like all at once Shelly was my only hope to live. I told him that I felt crazy, that I had made it all up, that I'd never been in California in my life, And he said, 'Where is Fickle Hill?' And it sort of started to shatter everything for me. I said, 'I don't know Shelly, and I don't want to talk about it.' I became aware that something really had happened in my mind, and I was able to see that somehow I had gone insane for a while and blanked everything. The next day I went and lay down at the center a while all numb and cold on the outside but on the inside there was this voice screaming, 'What did your grandmother say?' 'What did your grandmother say?'

I drove back into the parking lot in front of the motel, and the words came to me like I heard her voice screaming: 'What did you do?' I ran to the telephone and called Shelly and told him what the words were, and at that moment when the words came out of me the whole picture came to me; I could see how my grandmother had fainted and then was taken away in an ambulance. As I spoke the words, it was like bolt of lighting stuck me in the forehead. My legs crumpled under me and I went down like a sort of epileptic fit.

The (motel) manager helped me to my room. Shelly came eventually and carried me to his car, then took me to the center. The moment my feet touched the floor, a scream came from me. I don't know where it came from -- just from my toenails. I just screamed and screamed and screamed until I was exhausted. I felt so euphoric, so beautiful. Then all of a sudden it would come back again.

That meat-axe came back in my chest again and I screamed and screamed. About the tenth time it came back I said to Shelly: 'This time I can't help it at all. It's just going to have to do it itself.' It was the most beautiful experience. And when it was all over, I thought 'this is me' and that thought was so beautiful, like the first contact I ever had with myself. I was so clear. . . . I knew I'd never live with my husband again -- I'd never questioned living with him in 18 years.

Later, I started remembering those nightmares I used to have as a child. I would wake up from them and the walls would still be moving and the floor as well, along with this sound, this unbelievable roar. I would have to stand there by my bed and touch the wall until it stopped moving. This woman I lived with then understood me somehow -- she would carry me around the house and let me touch things until I felt safe.

Then one night in my intensive I started having that feeling come up, and I was terrified but also excited, like 'Oh, I can finally find out what this is.' Then I started writing down what I was feeling, and described these huge rubber rollers coming at me -- there's only two of them and they're fairly small, about 12 feet long and 2 feet in diameter; and they're coming over me, they're very gentle. I wrote kind of with amazement, 'I'm not afraid, it's supposed to happen, but it feels like I should be terrified.' Then after a while 'there's four of them now, and they go forward three and backwards 2 7/8, and forward three and back 2 7/8.'

The next thing I wrote and I've read this several times because it was such an experience, 'I can sense now why I should be terrified, somewhere there's a big roller. The 12 foot ones are the small ones -- there's a big one and it's just the other side of highway I-25, and it must be 200 yards by about 50 feet in diameter.' And I had this understanding that it's the other side of I-25 but it's coming and that's what's starting to make the noise. And the closer it gets with forward 3 and back 2 and 7/8 the louder the noise is.' This was about five in the morning. I think, as I wrote in my book, "My God, I'm going to be born!"

That was the last thing I wrote. I lay there for a long time with my head knowing exactly what was happening. And then I finally said, 'I've got to call Shelly.' I figured out the pace I was going, I knew somehow, and said to myself 'by 9:35 I'm going to be born. I can't wait till 10:00 when he's supposed to be coming.' I couldn't move to start with, but eventually I got out to the telephone and managed to call him.

When he answered the phone I realized I couldn't talk. He said 'Arlayne' and that did it. It was like someone recognized me. I dropped the phone and fell on the floor, and I heard him say, 'I'll be right there.' It wasn't till months later that I sent in for a horoscope and had to dig out my birth certificate for it. I was born at 9:35 in the morning. I hadn't known that before -- just amazing!

MICHAEL: What happened that you were so much in early pain so long after the beginning of your therapy?

ARLAYNE: Well, the way I went was the way I really had to go. The pain was just so overwhelming, of everything that had ever happened, almost including conception. I'm almost embarrassed to say this: I was artificially conceived. My father was incapable of intercourse. It was one of those early experiments in artificial insemination. So like right from the beginning, I have a lot of feelings of things going wrong.

First, my father's body didn't work. Then my mother's body went to pieces; she was in bed almost all of the pregnancy. One kidney failed and the other didn't work well, so I . . . lived in a sewer-system for quite a while. Then I was born without my digestive system being completed. But they didn't find out about that until I was too weak to operate on. So I was in an incubator for 8 weeks, just starving to death. During that time they touched me as little as possible for fear I would die of excitement.

MICHAEL: What did they do?

ARLAYNE: There was only a tiny opening out of my stomach into my intestines. Oh, wow, this is hard to tell. They eventually put tube down my throat and gave me a little milk. Then they filled me full of tranquilizers and then pumped me full of adrenalin. So instead of the stomach having just a weak fluttering contraction, I lay there until the adrenalin built up to such an explosive point that when there was a contraction it was enormous -- literally blasted a hole from my stomach into my intestine which had been mainly blocked. . . I've spent a lot of time in that feeling!. . . .

When I was six months old my father was killed. My mother accidentally shot him; then I was given to my grandmother to raise, and I was sent around to relatives and boarding houses and what have you . . . So much of the pain I've had to feel has been infancy and intra-uterine stuff; all in a category I call insanity, nightmare stuff. There's nothing in the real world as an adult to hang on to when you get into those kind of feelings. I would lose reality so much early on in my therapy -- just really relive those experiences.

MICHAEL: How much did that carry over into your life -- off the floor, out of feelings?

ARLAYNE: Oh, a lot. I was just listing all the things yesterday which used to happen. One was, I guess you'd call it hysterical blindness. Sometimes on the highway, I suddenly couldn't see. It was just blank. It wasn't black, I just couldn't see. I'd start talking to myself, 'O.K., I can remember there's no one behind me, so I'll put on my blinkers, slowly put on the brakes, slowly creep over to the right and keep going on the brake and it'll pass, it'll pass.' Probably I could see enough, the inside of me could see it wasn't dangerous to pull over -- I wouldn't crash.

Another thing was when I was really hungry, I could stand for half-an-hour with a soup-can in one hand and a sauce pan in the other, and there was no way to get the soup into the pan because it's sealed and how can I use a can-opener if both my hands are full? . . . and finally I'd just collapse on the floor and wait until someone could come in and open the can for me. I wish I could have gotten some knowledge then from you therapists that would have helped me connect to my present life; anything to go into my head to have helped me to get on when I was on the floor. I think some background, some knowledge of what those early traumas are about is crucial in this therapy.

MICHAEL: Yes, that is really important. . . What started changing that allowed you to become more functional?

ARLAYNE: I guess the biggest thing was that I had released enough of the insanity that was there inside. But there was something else too which I relied on during that time; that was something Shelly said to me: 'Your body'll take care of you.' I was able to keep going somehow on that knowledge, on that trust, that instinctively, I would do what I needed to, to take care of myself and the children. There was constant outside pressure -- my husband trying to prove that I was not a fit mother; having to sell the house in Boulder and move to Denver which somehow I just did -- I did what was there. Now there isn't anything that I have to do. What I have to do is what I want to do. It's become incredibly easy, really. . . .

For me there was an incredible gap between living today and my feelings. They seemed to have nothing to do with each other. You know how you hear people saying, 'I can tell I'm doing such-and-such because of anger at my father or at something.' Well for me there wasn't that kind of connection between what I was feeling in the first line (intra-uterine and infantile feelings -- ed.) and what was happening in my life.

But when I knew that I had had a heart-attack being born, when I had that knowledge, I was able to tie somethings together in my life. I could see that I was feeling pressure in my chest in response to pressure that would build up in my life, and I could also see how I managed to bring the pressure onto myself. So for me that kind of 'head connection' was really important in putting my life together. That's where there wasn't enough support for me at the center -- in giving me some of those pieces of information.

For me, it's like the working tool to be able to see how I set things up for myself, how I live out the stuff pushing instead of feeling it. I think I covered in the first year, year and a half enough of the major life-inhibiting pushes from my pain to be able to start having those kind of head connections, and working things out so that I could start changing the habits of a lifetime -- all those patterns of avoidance, patterns of being invisible so no one could see what was wrong with me. I can't think there's any other way to deal with those things than to relive them.

MICHAEL: How have you been able to put your life together in the present?

ARLAYNE: I decided to go back to school. I'm moving towards getting a career oriented degree, which I realize I'm doing for my mother in a sense . . . but that doesn't bother me much now. I'm becoming an 'expert' in gerontology and administration! And I'm setting the wheels in motion now to get into my own sewing business making sports equipment, and I think that's really going to feed in and help me . . . and that's just the way I want to go. Sometimes I sit back in amazement and watch myself and think how can I not be panic-stricken at not having any money after the end of May, when the maintenance is cut off, but I just know clearly that I . . . at least won't starve . . . like, 'I will provide.'

MICHAEL: How do you feel about the ways you're beginning to express your creativity -- like the newspaper article you wrote and the money seminar you're running?

ARLAYNE: I guess I've never thought about it like that. I've never been creative, never done anything creative. I just wrote the article . . . The program I'm in at school at the moment; my project this term is to fund the agency we're working with and to write a paper about that attempt. It's an incredible way to build up confidence, to actually do something like that. You get the grade when you fund the agency! To me it's not a very big deal to get A's in ordinary school work. I would do that to be a 'good person.' I really need to be a 'good person,' and I know how to do that. But getting an article published is really something. Being able to do that and run the seminars are like 'Hey, I'm really able to do something in the world.'

ARLAYNE: I find it hard to be close to people who aren't really 'feeling.'. . . One of the fantastic results for me is to be able to have sex, to have a sexual orgasm. That only came as a result of feeling that incredible fantastic total orgasmic feeling I got into sometimes as a tiny fetus in the womb. Being able to re-experience that is like the connecting link to being able to have it again. It opened a little pathway in my brain. It made an open pipeline for that feeling. I know for me that's the only way it could happen . . . That's my reward for being a good primal patient!

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