Case #179 - 0% present = zero intimacy

As Chanelle sat down, she commented on being distracted by something in the room which was out of place. She talked about how her attention often wandered; it was hard for her to stay focused on something. She said she was often not fully present, or not for very long. I shared with her my own ‘fog’, especially when I woke up, but also at other times during the day, when I would drift off a little.

I asked how present she felt right now, with me, and commented that for me, it was about 85% - and told her about the 15% which was going on in the back of my mind. She said she was about 80% present.

I told her that some mornings I was only 30% present, and asked about her. She said, with her husband, she was often 0% present. I asked her feelings - sadness. I commented that to have intimacy required one to be present, so it seemed there was a lack of intimacy in her relationship. Chanelle was a little surprised - she had equated intimacy with what you do in relationship, not how you are.

I pointed out that to be present required a sense of being in ones body, and senses…so this could be a good place to start. To give an example, I told her some of the things I saw when I looked at her - without evaluation, simply reporting to her. This engages the senses, what we call the ‘outer zone’ in Gestalt. It is present-centred, moving away from projections into the future or past. I invited her to tell me what she saw. She talked about my socks, which were colourful and had a flag on them. I told her something of my personal context, related to that. I checked in with her feelings. She sad she felt numb, with some pain in her shoulders. Staying with this, breathing more deeply, she started to feel some pain in her heart - a sense of contraction. As she told me this, she showed me by making a fist. I got her to stay with the fist, and she talked about feeling angry; as she squeezed her fist, she felt it more deeply.

I asked her to look at me, and show me how angry she felt. She did that, and then reported that she couldn’t focus on me anymore - a sign she had reached a limit. She sighed…as I brought this to her attention, she got in touch with her sadness…she had an image of a white boot. Then this was replaced by an image she had of thorns.

She reported feeling much more peaceful. These thorns clearly indicated that there was more anger to be processed, but this was enough for now. Not all things can be solved, all at once! Finally we spoke about intimacy, with her husband, and the ways in which that could increase the intimacy without ‘doing' anything different, but just being fully present with herself, and then the other person. She had an experiential understanding of this now, as well as a clear path to the unfinished business of anger and sadness which was absorbing her attention away from being present.

Posted by Steve Vinay Gunther