Monday, September 23, 2013


I went straight to the most beautiful woman in the room, a blonde in her twenties, not unlike my mother at that age. She was taller than me and as I stood in front of her, Z brought a cushion and placed it under my feet. I laid my head on her chest and stayed like that for a while, my heart pounding like a hammer. Z then asked people to lift the two of us up and lay us down gently on the floor. He and the whole group formed a silent, protective circle around us. 

Lying on top of my 'mother' I lost all sense of who or where I was. She stayed motionless, cool. At some point I lifted her shirt and put my face against her bare breast. It was then I began to cry. The sobbing came from somewhere so deep and powerful that I felt as if I was being torn apart and the more I cried, the deeper it went. I must have been returning to a moment in time of which I have no conscious memory, one which had so profoundly affected me that I had buried it beyond reach. But there were no thoughts, no words for what was happening, there was only this soul-shaking sobbing. I was the crying, nothing else.
How long it lasted I have no idea but suddenly the crying stopped and I was invaded by the most extraordinary peace and lightness. It seemed as if something really momentous had taken place, a kind of miracle. 

Everyone in the group had felt it too but ordinary life was now restored and the Regression Weekend was over. In high spirits we all trooped out and headed for the Indian restaurant which had been booked for a farewell dinner. Z picked me up, put me on his shoulders, and carried me piggy-back down the street.

My life took a new turn from that day. 

Part Five will follow soon.



Tom said...

I am uncertain how much higher my agogging level can rise. Resolution please, dear friend. :)

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Tom,I'm not sure whether resolution can be encapsulated in a few blog posts, or even in book-length prose. But I'll write a bit more about the follow-up to this episode, trying not to get carried away! Thank you for being here.

Roderick Robinson said...

Commenting on Showing Off presents a problem. Since it's autobiographical and comparatively intimate, any observations will seem as if they are directed at you the person. I don't feel entitled or inclined to do this. If on the other hand I treated it as a piece of potentially editable prose you might well react to this as (a) a cop-out, or (b) ask yourself: why the cop-out?

I stand like Ruth in a field of alien corn. Displaced, you might say. You must remember I am not only English but - despite powerful attempts at renunciation - I was brought up in the West Riding at a time, in and soon after WW2, when introspection was something only la-di-da people did. Yes, I've grown up since then but I'd be a fool to pretend I've rid myself of all those tendencies.

Thus if we take your Part One I could no more respond to (let alone initiate) a WLTM than admit I admired George W. Bush (either of them) as a man or as a president. Add to this I regard the definition of the verb "love" to be so complex as to render the word useless outside philosophical discourse. Not that I'm accusing you on this score, only offering it as a for-instance and a source of misunderstanding when I become involved in transatlantic dialogue.

Moving right along, you won't be at all suprised to know, given my background, that I wouldn't willingly submit myself - standing, sitting or lying down - to any form of group analysis. Not from any sense of superiority, simply because it doesn't fit the way of life, and the profession, I opted for.

So my ability to say anything useful about Parts one and two can be euphemistically rated at zero.

As to lust and coups de foudre, let's say I'm in favour. I'm glad they happened to you and many happy returns. Were I to describe my own experiences in this field my choice of language would be different but this is irrelevant. I favour indirectness and understatement (to the point where many people of US origin might be puzzled as to what exactly happened). But then this is a well-known failing with Brits.

In short, I've responded to certain of your posts and I hope entertained you. Others I have left alone because I am simply not qualified to bring cogency to the party. As my grannie might have said: reciprocity is as reciprocity does.

Hattie said...

Interesting comment by Above. He sounds familiar. (;
What strikes me is how open people were to this kind of self-exposure, once upon a time. I think we are warier these days.
I'm fascinated, of course.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Roderick, thanks for this honest and instructive response. It's useful for me to be reminded that my way of experiencing life and expressing those experiences might be strange, or even alien, to some. I often forget this. Although I've lived longer in the UK than anywhere else, I've never really understood the Brit model of understatement and indirectness. Well, I can appreciate it but not imitate it. My French/Russian polyglot background, and never having had the feeling of belonging to any one country or culture, gives me a kind of DIY approach to most things - you make it up as you go along and hope it will last.
You haven't copped out at all and I welcome any thoughts you may have to these posts (or any others), even as potentially editable prose.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hattie, I think that the kind of self-exposure which was encouraged by encounter groups and other popular alternatives to one-to-one psychotherapy about 30 years ago (which is what I'm talking about) was certainly influential and remains so today. But maybe we are not so wide-eyed naive about it and have learned to see its failings.

Roderick Robinson said...

Hattie is joking. She knows me well enough. The fact that she accords "above" an initial capital letter is proof enough: I have in her eyes become a brand name like As (as in Oakland As), Cheers or Chiclets. A sort of fame but inevitably linked to the markets. See what I mean about indirectness?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

RR, 'Above' is a very good name to be called - maybe it could be your next alias for a blog. Above Suspicion? Above Average? See Above? The possibilities are endless.