Animals and Snuggles
He sought me out because he wanted to spice things up in his marriage. Between kids, work, projects on the house, and weekly dinners with other couples, he and his wife had forgotten how to find their passion. We started the first session by sitting in front of each other with our eyes closed. I asked him to mirror my breathing and seek to clear his mind of any distractions. We were on the floor, seated in front of each other and then I asked him to come onto all fours and I led this visualization. “Pretend you’re an animal. Any animal. Feel in your body what it’s like to be you. Move a little. Sway back and forth, arch your spine, wiggle or shake. Make faces. Make a sound. Now start moving around on the floor a little, and I’ll be near you but doing my animal. Then we suddenly notice that there’s another animal in the room. Stay on all fours and come towards this animal, if you’re willing. It’s ok if you’re not ready yet or today. If you find me, you’re welcome to check me out, with your body. Keep your hands on the floor but use your head, your side, your neck, your face to feel this animal who is near you.”
As we move around each other, I feel his head butt into mine hesitantly. He comes forward but then pulls away before he comes back. I inhale deeply as if smelling him. He seems to like it, like I’m taking him in. He comes closer and we continue to play, to explore like puppies, like children. I barrel into him, knocking him to the floor, on his back. I can hear him laugh. The wall has come down. It wasn’t until several sessions later that he talked about his parents. His mom died when he was young and his father raised him. His father was a great provider, but he was not emotional, connected, or physically affectionate. He admitted that he’s had a hard time with physical intimacy when it’s not for the purpose of sex. I asked him if he’d like a hug. He just sat there for a while and looked at me but it was clear that he was deep in thought. Then he told me that he’d never put the two together that the lack of intimacy from his parents was directly connected to his fear of being intimate that way with a partner. He said it’s scary to think of letting go that way for fear that it will be short-lived or that he will be rejected for looking soft. We leaned into each other for the hug. I must have held him for ten minutes. Then he laid his head on my lap and cried. He didn’t say much for the rest of the session. He just went out the door, looked back once, smiled and nodded.