On Wednesday I had my first music therapy session in nearly a month. I told my therapist how stressed I’ve been about moving back in with Mom, including the changes, mess, and decision-making involved in fixing up the house.
Our conversation came to the difference between merging and bonding with another person.
Merging is becoming too emotionally involved, to the point where there aren’t really two people relating to each other any more, but rather a “blob” as I tend to put it. When I’m merged with someone I can’t tell whether what I’m thinking and feeling are my own thoughts and emotions, or the other person’s. I feel pressured, imposed upon, like I’m losing myself and have no control over my actions. I get very angry, but it’s hard to focus that energy into anything other than lashing out.
Bonding is sharing a special connection with someone, but remaining separate and able to relate as a unique human being. When I bond with someone I feel very happy. I’m aware of my own thoughts and emotions and can express them fully. I can appreciate the other person for who ze is, including the things ze does that annoy me.
My therapist, who I’ll call Wakana, asked if I felt merged with her, and I said, “sometimes.”
Wakana: What would help?
Ziya: Just listen.
Wakana: You want to play alone? And I’ll listen to you?
She sat back from the drum she had been playing and watched me. I picked up two mallets and started playing on a cymbal. I love crashing the cymbal, it makes such a sudden, loud, complex sound!
I played different rhythms and volumes. I hit the cymbal several times, then took a mallet and rubbed it gently along the top. One tone emerged from the chaos, which varied in pitch depending on how close to the center I rubbed. I mentioned this to Wakana and she shared in my enjoyment of the discovery.
Then I started playing again, hitting the cymbal very, very hard. It rocked on its stand so hard there were times when it was almost completely vertical! The tip of one of my mallets flew off, but I kept playing. The loud crashing sound filled the whole room, to the point where I yelled something to Wakana and I don’t think she heard at all – I could barely hear my own voice! It felt so wonderful, just to let all that energy flow. I felt like I was in complete control.
When I stopped playing, Wakana observed that I had a lot of anger. She described it as a fire that can burn down the house, or be contained in a fireplace for warmth and light, or be harnessed in an oven to bake pottery. Anger is necessary for setting boundaries. It can be channeled into creativity. It can be an impetus for change. It’s great that I have it.
But my anger, energy, emotions, life force, creative energy, etc. are a dark horse, wild and untamed. The horse rampages around inside the prison where I have suppressed zir, snorting and kicking and crashing into things; trampling and biting and otherwise hurting me. When ze breaks free, ze destroys things and hurts other people.
Wakana said that if I tame the Dark Horse, ze can be a powerful ally. The Dark Horse will fight to defend me, or help me flee from danger. If I can take control of the Dark Horse, I can run free with the wind and go wherever I want.
I’m not crazy about the word “tame” because I think part of taming an animal – especially a horse – is breaking its spirit. I have suppressed the Dark Horse for far too long, and I fear what might happen to me if I try to change any part of hir nature. I can harness the Dark Horse, however – come to understand zir, bond with zir, form an alliance, and eventually take the reins so I can guide zir where we want to go. This is ultimately a part of myself, after all, so I have more to gain from working with it.
I resonate so strongly with this theme, I’m tempted to make it the focus of this blog. I’m considering changing the blog’s title to “Harnessing the Dark Horse,” but I’d want to change the URL to match and I don’t know if that’s something I can do on WordPress. Whether I change anything about the blog or not, I will definitely be writing about this topic again. This is not a process that can be completed overnight, but it is key to my recovery.
I wanted to draw the Dark Horse, but I couldn’t get a firm enough image in my mind’s eye to feel comfortable trying, and there were many distractions. I decided to make a horse in The Sims 3 Pets – who, by the way, is Aggressive, Ornery, and Untrained. This picture of my sim horse will represent the Dark Horse for now, but in time I hope I’ll be able to draw (paint? sculpt? etc) other satisfactory representations.