Text and photo by: Darya Berezovskaya
Strategies aimed at self-protection are formed during childhood and puberty. These strategies result in a type of behavior that allows a child to feel safe when facing emotional stress at difficult situations. Protection schemes are many and part of them are listed in “Come closer”, a very thin paperback printed at “Alpina Publisher”. Ilse Sand uses common language that is also concise-a fact that makes the book easy to understand by general audience, even a high-school student.
This is a book for those who are going through the same grief in their relationships, again and again, who is only attracted by one and the same type of partners who offer the same painful experiences. The book also addresses people who, by contrast, are always trying to rescue their partners fr om “their pain”. A book for those who cannot stop talking and/or shows only one side of their personality, for those who are always asking themselves “Do I deserve this?” and are repeatedly disappointed in other people.
Self-protection. Anger and annoyance. Sorrow and pain. Love and affection. Me.
Imagine these things as if they were circles wh ere “Me” is in the center. To get to it, you need to realize your self-protecting strategies, recognize your anger and annoyance, let yourself be sad and feel pain. After that, you will find it easier to welcome love and develop sound affection. After all, being vulnerable, angry or sad is as natural as being happy, being in love, being motivated, etc.
By letting yourself feel and live your emotions on three levels-your body, our impulse and your brain-you get closer to yourself.
‘For many years I had been unable to fall asleep with a man lying in bed next to me. I found it impossible to get complete relaxation, my face muscles remained tense during the whole night. Afterwards, at my therapy sessions, I realized the thing I had been afraid of. My fear was that he could suddenly wake up and see me sleeping. My usual smile would have been certainly vanished from my face. At such a situation, I would lose control over my face, it would get unattractive and the man would leave me’, the author cites one of her patients.
Throughout the book, the story of this girl is told. It describes the experience she had after discovering her ongoing self-protecting strategy. In her case, it was her ever-smiling face. And anger caused by realizing the presence of this strategy.
Did she feel annoyed with her psychotherapist who had led her to understanding that she was wearing a “social mask”?
And after her anger subsided, did she feel compassion for herself-a little girl who had learnt to defend herself with her persistent smile as a weapon?
Was she able to release that sorrow and pain experienced in her childhood when she repeatedly felt unsafe dealing with her parents?
Going through these stages, says Ilse Sand, a Dutch psychotherapist, we achieve love and need for affection, we learn to get closer with people.
This book contributes to healing. However, reading it can be a painful experience for some people. People who could identify themselves with the following statements: “Relationships, if sincere and honest, never develop in a certain pattern. There is no room for intended goals or expected benefit. Relationships are born at the moment of present, their development is totally unpredictable and usually includes surprise meetings and twists of fate”.
Certainly, some people are likely to show resistance and keep the book for later, if ever, reading. It is rather difficult to imagine a good day for discovering self-protecting mechanisms, for making a revision of relations with parents, partners or ourselves. This transformation lies beyond a couple of therapy sessions or one day of reading a book. This process will take us to extremes making us analyze how we feel as our perception changes. It will take time before we find some balance. And how much time is needed-that no one knows for sure.