* * *
I am essentially a self-primaler but I never pass up the opportunity to feel with a therapist since I learned early on that one's defenses are continually plotting to keep one away from material which particularly needs to be felt. Primalling with a therapist can change the quality of the regressive experience. Such primals often can be:
Over a decade ago, this opportunity presented itself when I learned that Larry King of New York City had been invited to be a "guest" therapist at Dr. Gordon Van Rooy's Primal Center near Conroe, Texas.
- More intense
- Easier to access
The First Session
Earlier that day I had had a two hour session with Larry in which feelings of denial kept presenting themselves as soon as I came out of the primal feeling. While regressed in the feeling I had been able to believe that my mother didn't like me but upon regaining ordinary conscsiousness, I began to doubt this since I had never had had conscious memories of mistreatment or abuse from her. Yet this feeling of rejection by her had always been a large component in my second-line primal feelings.
* * *
The Second Session
The second session that day with Larry began with birth feelings. I pressured my head against the wall while I turned my head so as to re-create the neck torsion pressure of birth. Connection was easy and the action was resolving. I felt much more relaxed afterwards. As I lay on my back the peaceful feeling was soon interrupted by an overwhelming, yet involuntary, need to tear at my face with my hands and then to interfere with my breathing by placing my hands over my nose and mouth. This need to cut-off the source of oxygen to induce a feeling of suffocation was beyond my conscious intent as I intuitively knew what I needed to do and automatically did it. Something other than my ego was in control. During this difficulty in breathing phase of the primal feeling, I began feeling, "I can't breathe" and with my other hand pushed my lower jaw to one side ( duplicating rotation of my head in the birth canal? ) as I pleaded with my mother to "help me."
It was difficult to continue the feeling since the lack of oxygen was becoming very uncomfortable even though I knew that it was exactly what I needed to duplicate the feeling I had experienced during birth. I regretted having come to this therapy session and wanted to return home. When I removed my hands from my nose and mouth the regressive feeling would stop. But I knew that I had to continue the suffocation feeling in order to resolve it. Feelings of fear and of doom were getting worse as I felt, "I want to quit" and "I don't want to quit." The two feelings were vying for supremacy. "Should I abort the primal?" I asked myself. The primal work was becoming too physically painful and emotionally scary.
I had to suffer the anoxia in the present to trigger the feeling of suffocation I had experienced during my birth. There was no getting pass this decision - to abort (pun intended) or not abort the feeling. But quitting breathing was becoming terribly uncomfortable, so I alternated between breathing and suffocating. I bore as much of the discomfort I could tolerate and luckily my determination to feel the feeling prevailed and finally I just surrendered to the feeling wholeheartedly, went through it, in this stop and go manner, and it was soon over. Afterwards, I felt exhiliated, peaceful and energetic. Soon, I had the feeling that I had just been born!
* * *
Feelings As a New-Born Infant
As I lay on the mattress and pillow-covered floor I experienced the feeling that I had just discovered my body in a new way. I wanted to physically feel how I felt and did so by running my hands over my chest, stomach, legs, face, etc. It was as though I was checking out my body to see if the parts I had known inutero were still there! Furthermore, I felt a need to try out various movements to see if all my limbs were there and to find out if I could still move properly. (Years later, I would feel regressions to the "born dead" feeling I experienced immediately after being born - See Perinatal Agonies )
I mentioned to Larry that I felt strong enough to jump over the building we were in, but at the same time felt that I would fall down if I stood up. I felt ten feet tall, but believed that if I'd try to stand up, my legs would not be able to support my body. I mentioned to Larry how his presence had enabled me to feel the feeling I had just completed. I could not have had the feeling alone because I would have become too scared. He asked me how his presence had helped me feel those scary parts. I told him that I felt the need to produce material so that he would not be disappointed in me and that his being with me and encouraging me to continue feeling the discomfort helped to concentrate my mind on the work.
Because my legs were so weak , I mentioned to Larry that I really believed that I could only get from place to place by rolling my body. He suggested that I do so. I rolled around the room; this made be very happy. It was as though I had accomplished a difficult feat!
* * *
Denial Intrudes Once Again
The feeling of happiness continued as I grabbed a pillow and held it close. Then a feeling of not being wanted entered my mind and made me feel very sad. I then interrupted the feeling and told Larry that I feared that I might be making up this part of the primal. Larry wanted to know in what way was I concocting the feeling. I told him that while I was holding the pillow I had a feeling that the holding I was receiving was not being reciprocated.
I did not want to say it but I felt that I was not held back as I held my mother. I felt that perhaps I was play-acting and the feeling I was having might really not be about my mother not holding me back as I held onto her after birth. Feelings of "denial" were intruding and interfering with the feeling as it had during an earlier primal that day.
Larry re-stated my concern by asking if the feeling was that my mother really did not like me. I replied, "Yes." He then asked me to tell my mother that I thought that I was making up the feeling of rejection and accusing her of rejecting me when in reality it is possible that she had not rejected me that she had indeed loved me. I mouthed the words and was immediately thrown into an even more deeper primal feeling of her not liking me and became convinced that she really didn't like me.
I screamed, "It happened!" "Mama, like me!" then, "I need that doubt." Then I told my mother, "I don't want to make you into something you're not." "You're a good mamma." "But yet. . . ." "You bitch!"
* * *
Recounting the Primal Feeling
After the feeling was finally over I told Larry, "Now that was a primal"; "That was the real thing." "Larry," I said, "my denial makes me cry" as I had started baby wailing again. After I quietened down Larry asked: "Do you want to describe what the primal was all about?"
I told him how my hands had begun to rip my face apart, (which I believe had been an effort to recreate the facial pressure I had experienced during birth) and recounted the primal in detail. When I got to the part of my holding the pillow to my body, I began wailing again. But I did not recount my feelings of denial and Larry called me on that omission. Larry asked "What's the truth, John?"
I answered, "If I start crying again, I'll know it happened." "When you held the pillow, you learned something. What did you know?" asked Larry. I replied and kept repeating, "What did I know, or what did I think I know?" Then, I told Larry that I felt angry at him for putting me on the spot since there was really not enough evidence that my mother had rejected me. I told him that I had not one conscious memory of her ever rejecting me, of her ever mistreating me, or of her ever not loving me and that it was only during primals that I believed she did not like me.
"But what do you think really happened, John?" Larry asked. I began deep sobbing again, "It hurts too much," I replied. "I had to deny it to keep living. I would have died if I had known." "I want to go somewhere and hide." "What do you want to hide from, John?" Larry asked. "I want to hide from the truth, or what I think is the truth." "From the truth, or what I think is the truth." I keep repeating these two phrases as I flipped back and forth between those two very definite realities. Then I crawled away and hid under a mattress.
I came out from under the mattress, and laying on my back, began flailing myself, on the chest with my fists, as hard as I could. I asked myself out loud, "Why am I hitting myself?" Larry replied, "Ask your Mom." I asked, "Mom, why?" Oh God, I know why! Because, if I feel this hurt, I can't feel the other hurt!"
At this minute, John, are you denying it?" "No," I replied, "not at this minute, but I will! - I will! - I will be denying it!" "Why not rest for a couple of minutes?" Larry suggested. "You've done a lot. Why not talk about it? - the tape recorder is running." "I don't want to remember it; I want to forget it," I replied.
* * *
An Incident In Germany
"When I was in Germany," Larry recounted, "we worked in a pitched dark room with people who primalled practically naked. Therapists there asked me to work with one specific woman; she was standing up and had her arms on her belly and I stood behind her and I put my hands around her over her hands. I don't know why - it was just instinct, sometimes you do these things. I didn't tell her anything."
"And then she took her nails and scratched my hand and drew blood. I didn't say anything; I went into the bathroom and put something on my hands and washed it off with soap and water and then went into an empty room and lay down and screamed at her and let out my anger, and then I went back and worked with her. I could not have worked with her if I had not let out anger at her."
"Much later on, when the lights came on, she removed the blanket and I saw that her body was covered with bloody scratches."
I asked her, "Why do you do that?"
She replied, "When I hurt myself this much on the outside, it helps me to stop feeling the pain on the inside."
* * *
Back To Larry and John
"So when you were pummeling yourself. . ."
"You knew exactly what I was doing. . . "
". . . I knew what you were doing."
". . . but, I didn't know."
"I couldn't tell you. I had to let it come out of you."