My First Successful Therapy

“Hi, come inside,” Anne-double-barrel-French-surname greeted me with half a wave of her arm, gesturing me inside. The smallish room was bright, yet a candle burned on the book shelf in the corner, incense somewhere, maybe in the window sill. The plynth was made up with white towels and a pillow; in a corner stood a small round table with a chair on either side. From the large posters on the walls I recognized the human muscular system and skeleton from Biology, but the rest looked very strange. Behavioral Barometer?

She let me look around, take it all in first, before she pointed to a chair. A chair very close to the one she herself sat down on, I thought, but said nothing. I was acutely aware of the woman just too close to my own body and sat half-raised, a little suspicious, although her smile was genuine and warm, her face very beautiful.

“What would you like to begin with today?” she opened our session.

“Well, I don’t actually know much about Kinesiology, really only what you told me, but it sounds like something that might be helpful.”

“And what would you like to get out of today?”

I replied as evasively as possible, having decided to leave it to her to figure things out for herself.  “There are things I have to deal with and maybe today will be a start.”

She asked my permission for a few more questions and with each one I started relaxing a little more. She had a strange sense of peacefulness about her, like she had seen and heard everything and couldn’t be shocked or surprised any more. I found it comforting, and then started questioning myself: was it comfort I was looking for? I tried to concentrate on her questions instead of answering my own, even if it meant listening intently to her French accent.

After a good ten minutes Anne asked me to lie face down on the bed, taking only my shoes off. I was worried about my socks being smelly, but it was clearly irrelevant to her as she took my heels in her hands. “I’m going to do a few muscle tests, which have nothing to do with how strong your muscles are. Try not to resist me on purpose, in fact try not to be too aware of me. From time to time I’ll say something, more to myself than to you, so don’t answer if I don’t ask you something directly. It’s nothing weird; I’m not talking to the spirits or anything, ok?”

I thought it all sounded very strange but it was far enough from any other kind of therapy I had ever had, so I decided to give Anne a chance. To be honest, my belly was tickling with curiosity about the procedure.

Anne stood very close to my body, using mostly only her fingertips to apply slight pressure on certain points, more on others, which were a little sensitive. Every now and then she lifted one of my legs, by the ankle, asking me to keep it up, bent at the knee. I ignored her hands with their long, thin fingers I noticed at the table. When she asked me to turn onto my back the lights were too bright in my eyes so she dimmed them just enough so she could still things up in files or on charts, now and then making a quick note in a file. Throughout she kept physical contact with me, very subtly and mostly on my forearm. I was surprised at how she didn’t have any smell; she literally didn’t smell of anything and people always do. I could sometimes feel her gentle breath on my skin, completely neutral of any smell. Her breathing was definitely also very controlled, as were all her movements, like those of a dancer, or at least a very professional physical therapist. When she bent my right arm at the elbow resting two fingers on a specific spot, probably for more muscle testing, I couldn’t keep my curiosity in any longer.

“What’s that? I mean, what sits there, exactly?”

“It’s the brachioradialis we’ll be working with now. I find it to be the easiest, although there are about 41 other muscles that test relatively easily. Are you still ok?”

“Yes, thanks.” I wondered what could possible have made me feel less than ok so far.

“Can you turn around again, please?”

With each turn, Anne made sure my head was comfortable, on the pillow when I was on my back, or with my face in the opening in the bed. It was a small gesture but it made me feel cared for, somehow.

Back down at my feet, after a few mumbled words, Anne asked if something traumatic happened to me in the dark.

“Yes.” She allowed me to leave it at that for the moment.

Next she did age regression and started counting backwards in years from 30, my age at the time, mumbling to herself all the while. I smiled at her pronunciation. At “twelve years old” she stopped counting, stood still looking at me with something I could only describe as undiluted empathy and asked, “Did something happen to you when you were more or less twelve?”

I simply said yes without having to think about what it was. I realized Kinesiology is foolproof; there would have been no way for me to have thrown out the result of that particular test.

“Would you like to tell me what it was?”

“Shit, you don’t waste time!” I tried to joke, to dilute the seriousness of what I had to say next, maybe more for my own protection than for Anne’s benefit. As I started forming the words, I could feel my cheeks burn red and my eyes sting suddenly. I did my very best not to show any emotion when I said, “I was raped”. My heart was pounding hard and loud, like someone was going to catch me out for telling a terrible lie or committing a heinous crime.

Anne laid her cold palm over my forehead. That was her only reaction. Like saying “I feel your pain” but without any words, without looking as if I had just complicated her life irreparably, which was the reaction I was used to. In that small gesture I found my very first real solace. In something so un-intimate lay a very deep, age-old human instinct of caring for another person. I kept my eyes closed for what seemed like ten minutes, but was in fact mere seconds, finding the comfort that would last me for days and days. I wondered whether Anne knew what her touch meant to me but I knew it was somehow unnecessary to try and explain it.

In the minutes that were left of my first hour with Anne, she never mentioned rape again; she didn’t hammer on it by any means. It was as if my statement was accepted for the truth unconditionally, kept safe and confidential between us forever. That room became my safe haven over the next few months, Anne and Kinesiology my only successful therapy ever.

Only a woman could have done that for me.

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