Going second

In London in the 80’s, it was impossible to afford both a flat and an office, so I worked from a spare bedroom the entire time. Eight different addresses in as many years – Maida Vale, Regent’s Park Road, Marlborough Place, Leicester Close, Antrim Mansions, Lancaster Gate, Belsize Park, and finally Croftdown Road.

Early on in these years, a young man showed up – handsome, alert, intelligent – but even with all these attributes, it was clear he would never be a leader.  I wondered why. He was a runner, but you just knew he would never win a race – if he were out front, he would be looking back to see if he was doing the right thing.

When we got to the head session – the intraoral work can often bring stuff up – he got agitated, and then started screaming, which quickly dissolved into laughing hysterically – nay, maniacally.  I was worried that such a strange noise in a residential block of flats would bring the p’licemen, but thankfully no one called them on this weekday afternoon.  Such are the risks of integrative practice, but it was my strong intuition that he simply but definitely needed to play this out without interruption.  I sat with my hand on his belly and waited it out.

This uncontrollable laughing (bordering on shrieking) continued for some 20 minutes, until he finally calmed down and fell into a deep sleep-like state.  When he came round, I asked what had happened.  He said, “I am a twin.  When we were born we were both distressed, and my sister went out first.  I learned that if I want to survive, I need to go last.”

It’s funny how the mind works – when we are threatened, when the adrenalin’s running, our tape recorder memory carves the memories deeper – this has been established by research.  And when we are again threatened in any similar way, we pull out the whole tape recording and run it, regardless of which elements of our response were the relevant ones.  In this case, it didn’t matter to his survival whether he went first or second, but in his mind, it does.

Such memories are not verbal – he had no words at that point – and pre-verbal memories lodge more deeply in the kinesthetic self.

And even a singular event like that can hold less power over the individual if it is indeed singular.  In this young man’s case, his ‘secondary’ status was confirmed by his family over the years – his sister was first in many things, and got the best for some reason.  When he was laughing hysterically, he said, “I saw a picture of my family before my mind’s eye, and the more I laughed, the smaller it got.  I had to keep going until it was entirely disappeared.

Once he had hold of this patterning within himself, he went on to head an IBM office in London.


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