I dreaded the discussion I was going to have with my supervisor about the therapy with Irene. I knew all too well I had lost all control. This was a huge gamble and maybe I should have played it safe. There was no going back now, however, and i couldn't afford to pussyfoot around these issues anymore. I might as well go all the way now. Even though I realized that in most likelihood Irene would abandon therapy with me after this session. My only hope was that she would contemplate my words at some point, and some day in the future let their truth transform her.
Irene was aghast. I went on.
"Yes, Irene, you are not a woman yet. And therefore not ready for a man yet. To be a woman and to be ready for a satisfying relationship you have to be able to open up and be vulnerable. It takes real strength to do that. And you have that within you, Irene. But you have to access that strength and use it! Do you think it is a coincidence your boyfriend lives in another country? No, Irene, it is not. It is your running away from intimacy and vulnerability. You complain about your mother, her lack of spine, her lack of strength in standing up to your father, her lack of ability to build a strong and harmonious relationship with him and a stable and nurturing home for you and your little sister. You also speak of how you feel that you do not belong here in this country, in your workplace, unable to find a partner here. And you want to be different from your mother. You know what, Irene? So far you are not at all different. You are running away, just like her. You are running away from your workplace, from the men here and from this country. Want to be be truly different, Irene? Why don't you then stand your ground? Go deep down in yourself and find the ancestral strength that your mother never found, but that was always there within her too. Go deep down and find the roots of true intimacy and vulnerability - these roots are found in strength. The strength to be open despite being wounded. The strength to fall and rise again. The strength to dare life and to dare your family history, the strength to decide that you are done running, Irene, no matter what life brings your way! The strength to be truly different, Irene, be different from your mother! Have the courage to face life, have a spine and let the woman in you come up to the surface and truly bloom!"
Alea acta est. There was no turning back. I had witnessed my own monologue like having been possessed. For some reason some overwhelming force had silenced all my therapist alarm bells about the adequacy of content and timing of my intervention and I witnessed myself blowing Irene out of the water.
She was dumbfounded, completely stunned. I felt a deep silence and peace befall me, as if the spirit that had possessed me had been satisfied and now lifted out of me, my mission completed. I leaned back in my chair as I gave Irene time to take it all in.
"Oh my God..." she managed to utter.
"Different... you have completely blown my mind...", her voice having turned into a hoarse whisper from bewilderment.
"Oh my... different from my mother... I am going to have to chew on that."
I was trying to ascertain the damage. To my surprise, she had not gotten defensive about my cutting her into pieces. She was genuinely taking it all in. Most unexpected! I felt relieved. This was going to be one of the most important turning points in her life, if she let this session truly touch her deeply. I felt humble about the mechanisms that had brought about all this. I felt like I myself had been reduced to an actor or a puppet on a grander theater stage, where an unseen puppeteer had orchestrated all this beyond my control and against my reasoning. Of course this was not a new phenomenon, in Gestalt terms it was known as "the field", and the ability to attune to it and sense and act upon unexpressed needs of the patient was the goal for and art of experienced therapists. Nevertheless, I once more couldn't escape the feeling of deep humility, for it had not truly been me doing the therapy, but a doctor far greater than me whose unfaltering determination and precision had led Irene towards what she needed, and that was beyond my rational appraisal of her needs. My only merit had been to get out of his way and let him work his magic.
Two weeks later I saw Irene again. She was smiling from ear to ear!
"I was so eager to come and tell you what happened!"
"So what happened?" I replied, eager to bask in her glow.
"Well, don't you see anything differently when you look at me?"
"Ahm... there are various things I see changed, but I don't know which one you are referring to."
"I am wearing flowers on my shirt!" she said.
"Oh, and... what does that mean?" I asked slightly confused.
"I have never worn flowers! I always thought this was for pussies. But now I feel more feminine, and I actually like them very much! And also I have changed my attitude at work, I have kind of scared people there, I have started having a voice! My own voice. You should have seen their faces! And another thing happened - during the last two weeks whilst you were gone I did my blood tests again. Guess what? My testosterone levels are way down, they have normalized. And guess what?"
"My God, Irene, there's still more? Wow!"
"Yes, Octavian! My period came. It was finally... a normal period, with enough blood, as there should be, and I even had PMS, my breasts hurt, I really enjoyed it! I truly, for the first time, felt like a woman!"