Not pregnant yet? You bet!

Бесплатный фрагмент - Not pregnant yet? You bet!

Объем: 309 бумажных стр.

Формат: epub, fb2, pdfRead, mobi


If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you don’t bring forth what is within you, what you don’t bring forth will destroy you.

Gospel of Thomas

Table on contents

There are many reasons why people can’t have children. According to the dominant in our society materialistic point of view on childbirth the issue is of purely technical nature and can be fixed like fixing a car. However, cases described in this book show that these issues have psychological reasons. And they can be fixed if we see the meaning of what is going on and understand it. Usually, if we do, any medical interventions become unnecessary.

I own a whole collection of babies’ photos born by “infertile” women as a result of our both individual and group psychotherapy meetings. I’m really proud of my collection. Besides, it is a piece of “evidence” proving that psychotherapy works. “Impartial” doctors diagnosed these women with fertility issues. The diagnosis included infertility, missed miscarriage, repeated miscarriage. These were numerous sad stories from very different women of childbearing age. And all of them had a happy ending.

It’s not such a wonder after all, when you know how to work with psychosomatic health issues. The main thing here is to listen attentively to their stories. I listen to a woman telling me about her symptoms, I watch for non-verbal cues, I observe if what she says matches what she does, and look for mismatches, inconsistency, incongruence. These are signs of internal conflict that is represented on the physical level in the form of blockage in the body. Catharsis is what happens when we find blocking mindset and replace it with activating mindset. Grateful for this, the body starts working as Nature and God intended it to. When I say God here, I don’t imply religious, but metaphorical meaning of this word — the Creator. If God made humans in his image and likeness, in this case everyone can be a creator. Any woman is a creator, because she can create people in the image and likeness of herself.

In this book I tell more than thirty stories of my clients. At times I quote my colleagues’ cases and observations, works of fiction, as well as women’s discussions of these issues on the Internet to illustrate my interpretation of a particular case. What I would like to show with the help of these stories is how holistic approach — which says we are whole mentally, emotionally and physically — works in childbirth.

I did not mean to dedicate this book to childbirth alone, because it is just one aspect of psychosomatic health issues. However, subconsciously I knew it was going to be a book, otherwise why would I write down by memory all these psychotherapy sessions each time I came back from my workshops? And now I opened my folder titled “Infertility” and read through the stories I had collected over 15 years of psychotherapy practice. Most of the woman became mothers and gave birth. It’s time my child — this very book — saw the light.

As I was writing this book there were numerous synchronous events that helped me ponder over the subject I was writing about. For example, the beginning and the end of the first draft coincided with the beginning of pregnancy and the due date of out five-year-old Siamese cat Kate. Very much to everyone surprise it gave birth to three black kittens. Although their father was a white blue-eyed cat named Deposit. I guess this can be interpreted as “man plans, God laughs” and regardless of what my initial plan for the book had been it turned out to be not quite as “white” as I thought it would.

Another synchronicity blast came from the women whose stories comprise this book: they reappeared in my life after being absent for several years, so I could discuss their stories and ask for permission to publish their cases with their names changed. Most of them were very enthusiastic about my idea of the book, and I’m very grateful for that. My sincere gratitude goes to all of you — for your courage to share your story with me and the readers of my book. This book would not exist if it wasn’t for you, you are its part and parcel!”

I couldn’t help but try to have fun and include humorous Internet memes as epigraphs, because they convey the meaning in a creative humorous way. Besides, I singled out blocking and activating mindsets and put it at the end of each story, as they sum up the essence of each session. They are easy to understand even if you have no special training in psychology and they are useful just as they are.

Chapter 1

Becoming a mother: psychological initiation experience

“It’s hard to get through”

Give a hungry man a rod — not a fish!


I received an email from Marina who was my client for three years:

— Rimma, I’m pregnant! I’m so grateful to you every day of my life!

I rejoiced when I read this: yay-yay-yay! At last! I knew it would happen! But then I remembered that Marina left her husband two weeks ago. I tapped on the keyboard excitedly:

— Marina, but who is the father? — and then I remembered I had forgotten to congratulate her, I wrote hurriedly: — I’m so happy for you anyway, congratulations!

— Thanks. It’s my husband. I try to keep it a secret. I had stopped myself from writing to you three times, but then I did it anyway.

Of course one wants to share their joy. I also feel tempted to boast that I was part of this miracle. My bad, I know this is not the right thing to do. We, psychotherapists, create conditions so that the client could increase the level of their consciousness, but nothing is guaranteed. It’s their work, their choice, their life, not ours. However, when my clients have breakthroughs like this — this is my reward for the contribution I made. I rejoice together with Marina and I recall what happened three years ago.

It was the first day of personal-growth workshop. Participants introduce themselves and told whatever they thought fit about themselves to the group. Marina was thirty-four, styled, red-headed, she told about her achievements and then she stopped abruptly when she came to the issue of being a mom, her face turned red. Her husband and her had been married for more than ten years, but couldn’t have a baby. To my question: “What stands in the way?” Marina snaped at me with her brown eyes wide open:

— Why? Should I go into medical stuff?!

I’m not surprised by this kind of reaction, it’s rather typical. Our people go in therapy when all traditional ways of solving the problem didn’t work. They wasted a lot of their time, felt a lot of pain and suffered a lot, spent a lot of money. My question takes them back to square one where they started, so it is viewed as being arrogant and they feel irritated and even angry.

Difference between patient and client

People are so dependent on doctors, medical research, vaccines, and their faith in pharmaceuticals; and so afraid to take responsibility for their own lives.

Tatyana Demidova

Why do I think the medical approach doesn’t always work? For starters, when dealing with doctors, a woman is called a patient. The word patient comes from Latin (patiens — one who has to be patient, to suffer) meaning a person undergoing medical observation or some kind of treatment because of some disease. Apart from the emotional component (suffering) the word patient has another one, and this is a person being passive, treated like an object. This way a person is supposed to wait while someone does something to change the situation.

Psychologists prefer calling the people they work with clients, not patients. In Ancient Rome a client (comes from Latin cliens, pl. clients) was a free citizen protected by their patron. Client is a general word for a person using some kind of service.

People have been taught by our mass-culture that someone will do something for their wellbeing. They expect that someone will solve their problems, give advice, sympathize with them, write a prescription or judge their offenders. However, if we agree that a person subconsciously created the situation they are in, there should be other ways to help them deal with the consequences of this situation. What would be helpful is activating their internal resources, so that they could deal with the situation all by themselves. This means giving them a rod, not a fish — that’s the way they can become mature, independent and self-sufficient.

When I ask my client a question on what the doctors said, I would like to hear her version of the story, so that I understand how she interacts with people. There is one and the same strategy underlying her interactions with people and interactions with her own body. If this strategy is not efficient, she could change it, and then — and only then — do both her interactions with people and her symptoms change.

“Don’t see any obstacles”

Take responsibility for the things that are coming to you from fate. You can find the principle and learn something, and you can do this in every aspect of your life.

Ruediger Dahlke

I explained this to Marina and the rest of the group as well as I could, and she agreed to investigate her symptom. I asked her to tell about it in her own words, not medical terms, or — still better — show. Marina told that an egg won’t come out of the ovary, that is why it cannot be fertilized and go down to the uterus. Marina asked all members of the group to stand in a circle representing an ovary, and she was an egg inside this circle. She easily broke through latched hands of the group members and came out. Then I asked her to show the rest. She just “jumped” to the uterus. I was surprised at how that was even possible. Then she remembered that she had to go through the tube first, so she arranged the people and went through. She took some group members to make a uterus, chose a midwife and “was born”. Nothing about that was difficult. I was surprised and told her:

— I don’t see any reasons why you cannot get pregnant. Look for yourself: the egg came out of the ovary, no problem after this either…

— Well, yes…

— Let’s play this again, what if we missed something?

We played the scene again — no problems this time either. Then I asked her to choose a stand-in for herself and watch the scene from outside. Marina, one hand on her hip and the other touching her chin, frowned at the scene as her stand-in broke through the vicious circle.

— Marina, what part of your life does this scene remind you of?

She pondered a while and then answered:

— This reminds me of my relationships with my mom. She overprotects me. It is difficult for me to get through my mother’s restrictions.

— Chose someone to play the role of your mother and tell her this.

We played a scene where Marina talks to her mother that she feels fear and anger, when she controls her grownup daughter, but her feelings weren’t expressed as eagerly as one might have expected. Obviously, this wasn’t anger. To intensify her feelings I offered to play a fantasy scene and chose someone to play the role of her own child. This was just it: her eyes watered immediately. Marina felt overwhelming bitterness when she projected her relationships with her mother to her future relationships with her unborn child. Marina said that the baby was a girl, so both scenes — her dialogue with her mother and with her daughter were the same.

Without even realizing it, the first thing Marina told her daughter that she would take care and protect her, so that she wouldn’t get hurt. The group laughed at this — it was amazing how the mother’s pattern of behavior that made Marina suffer was precisely mirrored in her relationships with her daughter, I suggested exchanging roles. When Marina felt like a little girl overprotected by her mother, she felt like protesting and rebelling: “I don’t want this!” — “And what do you want?” — “I just want to be loved!”

Marina barely moved when she was watching stands-in playing this same scene from outside. I asked her if she wanted to change something in the scene. She answered that she wanted mother and daughter to give each other a hug. Stands-in were relieved to do so, later they said that this was exactly what they wanted to do themselves.

— And now try on the roles of the mother and of the baby and experience how close they are.

At the end of the session Marina took all the roles off the group members. When she came back the next day, she shared a story. She was staying at some friends of hers who had a two-year-old daughter. Once, when the girl fell down, Marias startled so abruptly that she actually scared the girl whose parents were more relaxed about her falling down. So the girl avoided Marina. However, when Marina stayed at her friends after our psychodrama session, the girl suddenly changed her attitude towards her: she sat in her lap for the whole evening playing with her. I joked about it:

— See, if you can tempt other people’s children into coming to you now, one day you will “tempt” your own baby into coming to you!

“It’s hard to get through”: commentary

— Hi, mom, I’m coming home. Should I buy anything?

— Yes, buy your own apartment and move the hell away from my house!

Internet meme

So, what happened during marina’s session? I believe that subconsciously a person interacts both with people and inanimate things according to a pattern. This means that if Marina’s mother controlled her daughter, Marina learned that this was the way to interact with people, this is why she controls her close ones. And she does the same to her own body. If we take her phrase “An egg won’t come out of the ovary”, and replace the word egg with Marina’s name, we’ll get that Marina herself won’t come out of the boundaries once set by her mother.

Now, when the reason the interaction fails is clear, it’s time to do the hard thing — to change one’s behavior. In Marina’s case it is necessary for her to grow up, and cross the boundaries, cross the metaphorical threshold, and let her future children cross the threshold as well. There are several such “thresholds” in our lives: egg comes out of the ovary, embryo comes out of the uterus, child comes out of their parents’ care and out of their home, soul comes out of the body… These are the great transitions, and it is really difficult and scary to go beyond into the unknown. We will get back to that.

“It is hard to get through”: post scriptum

The disease represents your unfulfilled longing. So, above all else, use your illness to set yourself free to do what you have always wanted to do.

Barbara Ann Brennan

We had this session when Marina was thirty four. Now she is thirty-seven, and many things changed over the years. When I wrote this down it’s was just as if I knew that I would need these notes for this book. Now it’s funny to read the words about crossing the threshold. Step by step Marina came to be independent. A year ago she made her own workshop for participants of a psychotherapy retreat and when she came back she started her own business — her beloved brainchild.

Finally, her third bold step was to question her own marriage that lasted more than ten years, but still had not resulted in having children. Marina decided to leave — she rented an apartment and moved away from her husband — literary crossed the threshold! She said she wanted to live alone for a while and try to understand who she was, what it was that she wanted, what she could do. She found the apartment for just a penny after one phone call — some friends of hers were going away for a long period of time and asked her to watch over their two-bedroom fully furnished place. All of it was very easy to do. It is in the quiet emptiness of her friends’ apartment that she understood that she wanted to live with her husband and with her husband only. She chose him unconsciously back then, but now she knew: he was the one she chose all by herself.

One week after she came back to her husband, she found out she was six weeks pregnant. It seems like the decision to be independent was already there, so, when it happened, the woman was able to be fully creative.

When the first emotions went away, I asked her a question:

— So, now what?

— What do you mean “what” — I came back. I understood that people do to me exactly what I was doing to people. I did not value my husband, the efforts he made trying to keep our relationships together. When I moved, we talked for two hours on the phone per day. When I realized I did not value him, I cried all day, and then all this happened… It’s amazing how things turned out, I’m shocked both with what happened and with myself.

— Does your husband know?

— Of course! He COULDN’T be happier, he asks what he should do to take care of me and to support me.

— Marina, I think it’s great!

— Rimma, it’s a MIRACLE, I cry when I think about it. I tried like 154 times and nothing. And now it happened just like this, it’s wonderful! My business, my pregnancy! I wanted to share this news with you. I thought you will be happy too.

— I am! But I don’t agree that it all happened just like that. You made it happened, you pushed your limits — you changed the way you think!!!

— I believe I should change it more in the future, but this is the whole other story. Thank you for helping me.

By the way, try and guess the sex of the baby Marina is expecting. Of course it’s a girl!

Infertility reasons: psychological and medical points of view

The obstetricians say that menstruation is the weeping of a disappointed uterus.

Eric Bern

As mentioned above, psychologists and health professionals view the reasons for infertility differently. Health professionals imply a more materialistic approach approaching conception as a result of biochemical factors and seeing uterus as a lab with good conditions for the fetus to live in. They take childbearing under control (and preferably, the conception as well) as soon as possible to prevent any malfunctions in baby-making process.

Those malfunctions are accounted and pigeonholed just as well. Medically speaking, there are seven physiological reasons why women could be infertile: blockage in or lack of both fallopian tubes, adhesion process in the pelvis, endocrine disorders, pathology or lack of uterus, endometriosis, antibodies to sperm, chromosomal abnormality. This is the text I took from Wikipedia shortened by the factor of one hundred.

However, I copied the eighth reason carefully: “Psychological reasons for infertility could include both conscious and subconscious wish not to have a baby. Sometimes it’s fear of pregnancy and giving birth, sometimes it’s the man the woman does not want to see as the father of her children, sometimes it’s resistance to bodily changes pregnancy could lead to, etc.” I’m glad that they do not discount the eighth — psychological — reason, although they make it sound overly simplistic and thus nonessential. However, if there was no this psychological component in creating new live, women could long be relieved of pregnancy and its side-effects and replaced by mechanical uteruses.

I had a lot of thoughts in this regard that strived to be written down for a long time. I noticed that even though health professionals are aware of psychological reasons for infertility, generally they do not account for them, still treating it in medical and not psychological ways. For instance, even if a woman is healthy, but does not get pregnant within a year or two, health professionals prescribe pharmacological treatment or a surgery. It is not entirely fair, because they take the bread out of our mouths. I’m not offended, however, because women who have some of the seven reasons mentioned above do get pregnant and do give birth after psychological sessions. And sometimes even after huge medical interventions, which I would personally put as a whole separate reason for infertility: medical control on its own might make conception and childbearing problematic.

This same Marina I mentioned above is a great example. When she came to one of the groups twenty weeks pregnant, the members of the group were excited to hear her story, Marina told her “medical history” in her own words:

— I always had troubles with my periods. Ever since I was nineteen I took hormones to keep them going. However, as soon as I started my own business it magically came about all on its own!

I smiled as I was listening to Marina. This is so obvious that now Marina is the mistress of her own business and her own life. She does not work for an employee as she used to, she creates according to her life task.

Speaking about the hormones, to be honest I’m really concerned about hormonal therapy. The word “hormone” itself kind of sounds like the word “harmony”. I know that etymologically they are different, however, the right hemisphere of our brain does not think logically, it uses images and associations: so, hormones regulate certain processes in different organs of our body to sustain the homeostasis, i.e. harmony. When a woman stops counting on her own system in sustaining homeostasis and turns to external ways to sustain the homeostasis, she gives up her responsibility for her own harmony and becomes dependable. I believe that the healing process should be about taking back the responsibility for one’s own body and environment. Organizing her own business was for Marina her way of sustaining homeostasis — it was her brainchild causing her a number of feelings, both negative (anxiety, fear, anger, sadness) and positive (joy, pride, believing in herself).

When Marina came to my psychological retreat this summer, her periods stopped again. She was shocked, but it did not occur to her that this could be pregnancy. The group was amazed at this:

— But why? This is so natural: no periods, you go buy a pregnancy test!

— Well, yeah… It is natural for you. When I don’t get my period for me this means my hormones are failing me yet again, and this means hospitals, doctors, yet again. I cannot tell you how frustrated I was. I tried everything for the 14 years! I even had laparoscopic ovarian surgery, but it didn’t do me much good.

— Having perfectly healthy ovaries cut?

— They say, it helps some women to get pregnant.

I have to say I am suspicious about messing with nature’s way with the help of surgery as well as about hormonal therapy. Today’s medicine enabled people to live dozens of years longer and surgeries saved many, let’s be thankful for that. However, in Marina’s case it was not live-or-die situation. How strongly a woman must want to have a baby to go into surgery with anesthesia which, if successful, will give a chance to have a baby, if unsuccessful, however, will severely damage her health!

Here is the list of side effects for laparoscopic ovarian wedge resection (and any other surgery for that matter): anesthesia side effects; internal injuries due to trocars being inserted; blood vessel injuries; influence of gas; complications due to infections; hematoma and seroma; transitory fever; pelvic adhesions; incisional hernia.

Still, women just go for it. On the one hand, their belief in traditional methods is so strong they refuse acknowledging the damaging consequences and ineffectiveness, and do not look for other ways to overcome the issue. On the other hand, women do not believe in themselves, do not believe that getting their mind in order is a reliable and effective way to do this! Sometimes women spend years trying this and that until they finally find what works.

Marina wrote to me, among other things: “I remembered your word during the session ‘I don’t see why you cannot get pregnant’. That’s because the problem was in my head. I clung for those words when trying to get through!”

Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom

We learn to see our female bodies as sacred vessels for the journey of our souls, our health improves on all levels.

Christiane Northrup

Woman’s body is wise in its own way and it acts in spite of any beliefs or conscious control. Its wisdom consists in listening to its nature and do as it says. Here are the views of midwifery and gynecology professionals who adopted holistic approach to childbirth.

Harry van der Zee cites Chamberlain and draws a conclusion that pregnancy and birth are controlled by the unborn child. It is he who produces hormones that change mother’s body. He takes care of keeping the pregnancy, defines how long it will be, decides on the time to start labor and signals to start it with the help of hormones.

Robert Mendelsohn, US health professional, the author of the controversial Confessions of a Medical Heretic points out that when many a woman come to hospital their otherwise active contractions become weak and cease altogether. According to him, even if they had to break the speed limit to reach the hospital, because contractions were strong and frequent, the contractions slow down and even cease as soon as the woman steps into the hospital. This reaction is so common they have a name for it — powerless labor. Those who studied the question think its main reason is fear.

I’m not surprised, because i also gave birth in this medical system and I felt like a victim of this heartless and callous medical machine. I guess it is not by chance that I chose psychology, because for me it was a painless, human, and, mainly, effective way of helping myself and others. Instead of invasive surgical procedures, non-medical psychotherapy encourages us to study nature’s ways, understand it, see what this or that symptom is to say to us. Infertility does not happen for no reason — it is always a state of mind. And the problem with medical interventions is that this is the way to devalue the discrepancy between a symptom and a person’s inner state.

Medical professionals refer to 17—20% of women who do have babies as a result of medical interventions. I agree that we can force a woman to give birth as a result of hormonal therapy, then what? We are not able tell what would be psychological consequences of such birth yet. However, we can guess that these women will still have to match their external and external state. The success of each intervention depends on how it is taken from the point of view of the soul.

Milton Erikson tells a story of his sister who desperately tried to get pregnant for thirteen years. She nursed newborns who lost their parents until someone adopted them. At last, she asked her brother whom she did not take seriously as a professional for advice. And his advice was: “You have been to get pregnant for a long time. It doesn’t work for you. Once you adopt a child and feel that he/she is all yours, belongs to you in some special way, I mean physically, spiritually — I don’t know how to express it — you will get pregnant in three months”. She followed her brother’s advice and adopted a child in March and got pregnant in June. She gave birth to several children after that. This story is a perfect example of what was said above. Psychotherapists understand the symbolic meaning of these actions.

Something from the outside should be literary taken in by the body. Childbirth is a lifelong act of taking in and letting go. I call these kind of act transitions or initiations.

Childbirth as initiation

If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Initiations (lat. initiato — sacrament) are rituals that come along and consolidate changes in status as well as the transitions from one state to another. Psychologically speaking, initiation happens when a person lets go of his habit of living unconsciously and finds a way of living consciously.

Initiation is not about knowledge, it’s about mystery. Initiation ritual is always a “mysteria”, a “sacrament”. By the end of its rituals neophyte’s existence changes drastically, he becomes a part of both human society and the world of spiritual, sacred.

There are many initiations-transitions during people’s lives, both small and big — from childhood to adolescence, from adolescence to youth, from youth to maturity, from maturity to senility.

As for female initiations, the first one comes when a girl has her first period and, thus, enters childbearing age, which creates many problems for her parents. What is the problem? The problem is that she has a mature body and a childish mind, that’s why the girl becomes prey to adult morally bankrupt men.

Clarissa Pinkola Estes, the author of women’s “Bible” Women Who Run With The Wolves says that when she works with older teenage girls who are convinced that the world is good if they only work it right, compares herself with an old gray-haired dog: “I want to put my paws over my eyes and groan, for I see what they do not see, and I know, especially if they’re willful and feisty, that they’re going to insist on becoming involved with the predator at least once before they are shocked awake. At the beginning of our lives our feminine viewpoint is very naive, meaning that emotional understanding of the covert is very faint. But this is where we all begin as females. We are naive and we talk ourselves into some very confusing situations. To be uninitiated in the ways of these matters means that we are in a time of our life when we are vulnerable to seeing only the overt”.

However, there is no way one could become conscious and grown-up except to have one’s own experience and make mistakes. The ability to use one’s woman power and chose suitable partners will reward all the hardships of the way.

Another important female initiation is making a union with a man, which opens up new horizons for her. At first this relationship is immature, and the woman is forced to live as if two lives — inner hidden life and outer apparent life. This is very similar to the life of Tsarevna The Frog from Russian fairy-tale who is forced to appear in the form of a frog by day, and shed her frog skin by night to become Vasilisa the Beautiful who could do magic: bake bread, weave carpets and mesmerize by her perfection. It takes power and courage to be true to oneself whenever and wherever possible. To make this happen your male partner should not be ashamed to reveal you to others and go to get you on a magic steed far-far away to defeat Koschei The Deathless himself. In the fairy tale this man is Ivan Tsarevich, but psychologically speaking, it is not about a man, it is about animus archetype. To put it simply, from the very beginning of her life a woman should accept her masculine side — bravery, courage, vigor, strength, self-sufficiency and independence of authorities to become whole.

Childbirth is the third big initiation for a woman. It means discovering her creative power to make, produce, and I don’t mean just literally, but also figuratively. Everything we make: things, ideas, projects, books, children, even ourselves, our life-story are products of our creativity. If we can’t find our purpose in life at this point, we risk becoming infertile, because for our body this means betraying oneself. Infertility is a message that a woman lost her way in life, lost her purpose, cannot hear the voice of her soul.

Finally, the third big initiation is going from childbearing age to late maturity. Milton Erickson said that with the first period a girl becomes a mother — it’s joy; with the last period she becomes a grandmother — it’s happiness. Now the goal is to cultivate powerful qualities valued by people in the young generation. Now she is the person who initiates others, she has the power to punish and pardon depending on whether they succeed or not. In fairy-tales such a person is the one who gives the gifts — Old Mother Frost, Baba Yaga — they reward the hero and punish the anti-hero. In real life this is a wise mentor who feels “like an old grey dog” when looking at cocky young people. The main challenge of this stage for a woman is to leave the territory where she felt valued, respected and in demand by our unconscious society when she was young.

Unfortunately, we as a culture are not any more mature and conscious than teenages. Carl Young noted in despair that for the most part our old people try to compete with the young. In the United States it is almost an ideal for the father to be the brother of his sons, and for the mother if possible to be the younger sister of her daughter. Clinging to one’s youth as well as an adolescent clings to his childhood could become the main issue at this stage. This means a person is unable to leave the previous stage. The aging Queen from Pushkin’s fairy-tale of The Dead Princess And Seven Knights asked her magic mirror if she was the prettiest woman in the kingdom jealousy comparing herself to her step-daughter. And this is the question every woman asks herself when the time for this initiation comes.

Women experience each transition as internal and external transformation. Internal transformation is a near-death experience when old non-adaptive patterns of behaviormust die-away to give place to new ones. This “destruction-transformation-reconstruction” cycle causes suffering, pain, a range of negative feelings, nightmares on the subject of death. Externally these transitions were accompanied by different cultural rituals. Finally, as a result of each initiations a person become more and more conscious.

Initiation in fairy-tales

Fairytales teach us so many great things: don’t take apples from strangers, best men look like beasts, and a girl needs to sleep around to find her true love.

Internet meme

Fairy-tales reflect at least two thousand years of initiations experience. However, it is important to keep in mind that fairy-tales were not made to entertain, their true purpose was to pass on important philosophical, spiritual and psychological notions in such a form that even a baby could get it. For example, the most common fairy-tales tell a story of transition from childhood to adulthood. It is at this stage that a person causes many problems to society. This is why the society made special rituals for them to go through the crisis and become independent, i.e. stop being a burden on others.

Sometimes it happens, sometimes it does not. In fairy-tales hero and false-heroes show examples of successful and unsuccessful initiations. For example, in Russian fairy-tale Old Father Frost there are both a hero — the step-daughter, and a false-hero — her step-sister. The step-mother forces her step-daughter out of the house to the winter forest where she would die, and she sits in the snow under a tree waiting for anything to happen.

This is typical for fairy-tale heroes — go somewhere unknown, bring something unknown. Psychologically speaking, a person should experience adult life to become self-confident and self-sufficient as a result. They blindly move into the unknown and the only thing they can rely upon is believing in miracles. Eric Erikson brilliantly defined the uncertainty of initiation process when he said that, just like a trapeze artist, a young man should in one powerful move let go of his childhood, jump and seize his maturity. He should make all this in a short period of time, while counting on those of whom he should let go of, and on those who are to catch him on the other side. This way E. Ericson states that this transition is both unreal, impossible and necessary.

When Old Father Frost meets half-frozen girl in the midst of winter forest, he asks her: “Are you warm enough, beautiful?” — the step-daughter says the only right thing to say: “I am warm, Father”. Although, trivially speaking, she tells a lie, still her answer is correct. It is correct, because in this way she says she agrees to go through with the challenge. Mind you, that she asks for no guarantees in return, she agrees with either outcome, otherwise it wouldn’t have been a challenge. This is what we call a near-death experience, and this kind of experience is necessary to be initiated. Old Father Frost rewards the girl for this by giving her rich dowry, as well as a decent fiancé. When she returns home, her step-mother feels disgraced and jealous that her own daughter did not receive any gifts from Old Father Frost.

Old Farther Frost plays a role of gift-giver in this fairy-tale. Baba Yaga, Old Mother Frost are also gift-givers from other fairy-tales. There was a time when this function was performed by shamans, the elderly of the a tribe, witch-men. Nowadays it is not defined, but it was, is and will be there as long as the mankind exists. Presently, this role was adopted by non-medical psychotherapists who work to “bring to order” the minds of their clients. As mentioned above, cultivating humane values among the youth is the main task of the older generation, one of these values being psychological separation of grown-up children from their parents and their ability to live their own lives.

Old Farther Frost fairy-tale does not end with the initiation of the heroine. It shows yet another pattern of behavior inherent in people, not a few people for that matter. Those characters who demonstrate non-adaptive strategies of behavior are usually called false-heroes. In this fairytale it is the step-mother’s own daughter who follows her step-sister. This is already wrong as it is, because going by well-trodden road is not the same as going to terra incognita. But the girl makes another mistake — she mistreats Old Farther Frost by demanding to give her a fiancé and dowry. The forthcoming punishment is that she dies in one version of the fairy-tale, and in the other she goes back disgraced and she stays unnoticed by potential suitors, because she is still a girl, not a grown-up woman.

All grown-ups were once children, so we all know this and other similar fairy-tales, so we all have both ways — right and wrong — imprinted in our minds. However, it does not guarantee that we chose to be heroes when it comes to making existential choices. When it comes to motherhood initiation we are scared to death, because even today, despite all medical advances, there is a risk of dying in labor. And if there is a risk of death, there are feeling accompanying the near-death experience: fear, panic, frustration, anger towards the “guilty”, bitterness, self-pity, desperation. We do not really have much choice, it’s either be scared and do it, or be scared and not to do it. In the first case we are heroes, in the second one we are false-heroes.

Chapter 2

Male factor

Male infertility

I wanna fly

As a free bird in the sky.

And go back to my love

Only to hatch a baby-dove.

Gleb Starodubtsev

Now let us talk about male infertility — a man’s inability to fertilize a woman. In this case Wikipedia suggests one more reason than it does for women. They are: 1) ejaculation disorders, 2) sexual disorders, 3) changes in genital anatomy, 4) endocrine disorders, 5) seminoferous (sperm-producing) epithelium damage, 6) genetic, chromosome damages, 7) inflammation, 8) immunological factor.

Again, I abridged the text a lot, but this time i did it, because I have nothing to write about men — no man ever came to me with an infertility problem. Nevertheless, women are the reason of infertility only in 60 per cent of the cases, it leaves men 40 per cent out of 100. My version is this: firstly, many (Russian) men have no idea that a psychologist could help; secondly, that psychologists could help with infertility; thirdly, that I could help as a psychologist.

Actually, when I was writing this book, one man did find out that it was about infertility. He said that in his family both he and his wife were infertile and they had been trying to conceive for five years, and he would come to my forthcoming seminar. He didn’t, he sent his wife instead.

When speaking about the reasons for male infertility, I would like to share an observation: Wikipedia points out that infertility in women has psychological reasons, it does not point out such a reason for men. Does this mean they don’t have a psychological level? However, Wikipedia profoundly describes various sperm pathologies (if you’ll excuse me, I will skip this, as it is not relevant).

I have noticed that in a childless couple the biggest contribution a man does into dealing with infertility is making a sperm deposit for analysis (semen analysis). The rest is for the woman to deal with, even if she is utterly healthy and it’s her partner who is the reason they are childless. I cannot explain this paradox by biological reasons (woman’s ability for childbearing), but rather social and psychological reasons. Many of my healthy women-clients went through with harmful IVF procedure, because they were scared to discuss other options with their infertile husbands.

Ruediger Dahlke brilliantly voiced one of the reasons for this, by stating that a man’s inability to have children could be tied to the fact that on subconscious level he does not want to undertake any obligations and responsibility for a child. I agree with this statement, still, I think there are other reasons, but I haven’t got a chance to exercise my knowledge — as I have mentioned, no man ever addressed me as a psychotherapist with an infertility problem. But women do address me on the subject of MALE infertility.

I will unfold the underlying reasons using examples from my practice below. One of them is lack of a better choice. It is well-known that a person always chooses the best of currently available options. I would like to show other options and may be people would like to change their behaviors and their lives.

Women who love too much

I love humans

I love animals

I love neighbors

I love hobos

I love doing laundry

I love vacuuming

Give me more of those pills.

Internet meme

Here is a typical dialogue from babyblog.ru Internet forum:

Olunja: Hi! I’m perfectly healthy, our problem is male factor… I had two inseminations… Didn’t work… I didn’t take ANYTHING prior to the insemination, but 36 hours before hand they gave me a shot of PREGNIL. Ouch! It hurt so much!!!!! Then the inseminations… A week later ONE MORE TRY: a shot of PREGNIL to get things going and no more shots after this. Just UTROGESTAL in the form of suppositories daily for a long-long time. Then I lost all hope… Was depressed… I’m bit better now and here we are — doing IVF… Do you make the shots all by yourself? Does it hurt?

Katisha: My mother-in-law does. Did you think the shot hurt? I don’t feel any pain from the shot itself, but my breasts hurt. I do hope AI [artificial insemination] helps, otherwise I’ll have to have laparo, and then pills, shots… waiting… I don’t want IVF so much. Cheer up, Olunja, our IVF girls go around so happy. You will be fine and it will work for sure!

Olunja: I wish somebody gave me the shots… I have to do this myself. I make them at 9 p.m…. I live in the countryside… Before the first insemination one woman-doctor prescribed 5 pills of something (I don’t remember what it was) which caused OVERstimulation. We had to wait for the first insemination for two more months. I changed my doctor and I’m happy now. And before the insemination the nurse gave me THAT hurtful shot. My hip burnt…

I didn’t want hysterosalpingography either — but I had to…

And I didn’t want laparo — but I had to…

And in BOTH cases EVERYTHING WAS FINE! No problems!.. But still no kids. So my last hope is IVF.

Katisha: Oh, Olunja, I get you. My tests are fine, except for hormones (hystero, HSG, but no lapro), got my ovul [ovulation] induced, I have O for two months now, but no P. That’s why I had AI, so that the spermies got there for sure. So you are having IFV with ICSI?

The women of this society have their own slang: ovul, spermies, laparo, hystero. Some words were reduced to one letter: O (ovulation), P (pregnancy), MM (missed miscarriage) — they have to use them so often, one letter is enough to understand what they mean. It’s all fine, a typical conversation, but one thing caught my attention and bothers me from the very beginning: “I’m perfectly healthy, our problem is male factor”. So, does this mean Olunja deals with all these interventions — both surgical and hormonal (and, as it turns out, futile) — for the sake of her husband? And do all the forum readers perceive this so-to-say “treatment” of a healthy person as a norm?

I am shocked. I re-read the contradictions for medical procedures for infertility mentioned above. They include mental disorders, congenital development issues, tumors, acute inflammatory diseases, malignancies. However, I did not find only one contradiction — the woman being healthy. Is it not contradictory to offer damaging procedures to a healthy woman? Isn’t this the man who should be treated if he has problems preventing him from becoming a farther?

Medical specialist would object that today’s medicine does not have any effective ways of treating infertile men. Why do you think this is? Maybe because men are not so dependable and controllable as women are to be experimented on in such a way? Maybe the world-wide-spread discrimination of women reveals itself on this level as well? And maybe it’s high time women came to think of this: if it does not work with this partner, maybe their relationships are the reason? And this is the subject of relationships psychology, where medicine treating people as soulless bodies is powerless. This is why, Olunja, neither insemination, nor hysterosalpingography, nor laparoscopy bring any results.

But let’s go back to the “male factor”. I repeatedly spoke to healthy women whose husbands were incapable of fertilizing. One of my psychotherapy group members liked to sigh over the fact how she just loved children, but when I asked her directly why didn’t she have any, she got embarrassed and didn’t say a word. She came to me during a brake and whispered to my ear: “My husband just can’t…” I knew that she was filthy rich, but she didn’t not work. So I suggested that she is kept by his side not only by emotional, but also by financial ties and fear to step outside her comfort zone.

The other participant of my psychosomatic workshop, whose hair fell out after IVF procedure, said bitterly that she did not to go through with it for the fifth time, because after the forthcoming procedure there was a greater risk of cancer. I asked her why she even discusses the possibility of yet another try, she said that otherwise she would have a conflict with her husband who cannot fertilize her in an ordinary way because of his low sperm motility. Her husband insisted on having a baby, and she was afraid that if she refused to go through the dangerous and damaging procedure, he would leave her.

Bert Hellinger thinks that if one partner is physically unable to have children he does not have a right to keep their partner at their side. If they do stay, the other one should treat this decision exceptionally respectfully. This is very important. It is only in this case that everything is clear and consolidated between them. I fully agree with him. Respect instead of threats, willing consent instead of fear — do you feel the difference?

Unfortunately, women often do not realize they fear their husbands, because they mistake their fear for love. But love lives where there is order, and to make this happen partners should discuss the details of the situation they are in, share their feelings. Women more often obey the decisions their husbands take on an ex parte basis. Psychologists call this widely spread fear of one’s husband “love addiction”. It is easily mistaken for love, and that’s sad, because instead of treating the love addiction with psychotherapy, women treat the supposed infertility with surgery.

There is a story of a woman who was afraid to say no to her husband below.


I will take you to the North,

Sparkling snow back and forth

Gigantic stars — a wonder each.

And I will go to the beach.

Internet meme by Alex Dedyaev

When she came to women’s psychotherapy group, all the other participants had been in for several months and had established trustful relationships. Yana sat with a face of stone, she did not smile, did not laugh at jokes. Her voice did not match her appearance. Despite of the fact she looked her 38 years old, her voice was baby-doll-like with hurt intonations.

The group members were offered to do “advertisement” exercise as a warm-up — they should have taken several items from the box of small toys and come up with an advertisement. Yana chose for her advertisement three little kittens. There also was their mother-cat in the box, but Yana did not notice it. Then, according to instructions, they should have voiced the characters. Yana and the director had the following conversation:

— Now voice the characters in the first person.

— “We are pretty little kittens. Someone, please take us!”

— How does this reminds you of your life.

— I have no idea.

— Maybe it’s not all of your life, just a small aspect of it.

— I don’t know… are you saying that I’m like these kittens? Someone should adopt me? But no! I don’t see any connection.

— Now try to say the same, but using affirmative language form.

— I lose connection…

— The kittens also lost someone with whom they had a connection, whom they were connected to. Who was it?

— I don’t know.

— There is their mother-cat in the box, they were sold together as a set.

— I didn’t see it.

— Maybe they lost HER.

— I don’t know. I would like to finish this exercise.

The director did not insist that she continued, although it was obvious that this dialogue caused strong feelings in Yana, but she, as it was her habit, preferred suppressing them to remain calm at least on the outside. The director reminded her of free-will rule that applied to all group members. This meant, that the participant should decide for themselves whether to continue or not. But if she stopped an exercise, she took the responsibility for the consequences of her choice — i.e. possible psychosomatic issues like headache, for example.

Then it was time for sharing, during which Yana again began saying that it was difficult for her to communicate with others, as she did not understand what they wanted, she took it as an offence and closed up like a spoiled child. The director said to this:

— I would like to point that little girls do not give birth, only grown up women do.

After these words Yana stopped suppressing her feelings and started crying, and then said to the group that she had a dream that she had a baby, but it was strange, it was not clear whether this was a boy or a girl. She had mixed feelings about it: she both loved it and was disgusted with it.

The director told her that a dream is the royal road to the unconscious. She suggested using a method by Fritz Perls, founder of gestalt school, according to which all parts of a dream represent dispersed fragments of one’s personality, so each part of a dream is one aspect of the dreamer’s personality. To integrate each part and become whole it is suggested to voice it in the first person in present tense and end with: “And this is the essence of my existence”.

— Voice this baby from your dream.

— “I’m a newborn, I’m neither a girl or a boy. My mother both loves me and is disgusted by me”.

— How does this remind you of your situation?

Yana pondered for a bit and told that this reminded her of her childhood. Her single mother raised her and her brother all by herself. The brother died when he was young, mother began drinking after his death. Yana lived with her mother and when she was drunk, she was really embarrassed of her in front of her friends and boy-friends. According to her, it was her husband who “saved” her from this unbearable life. Yana talked about this very enthusiastically and underlined her great gratitude and love for her husband. But at the same time she called sex with him her conjugal duty, unpleasant, but mandatory. Going back to her point, Yana said:

— When my brother died, my mother told me at his funeral “I wish he was alive and you were dead instead!”

— So subconsciously you decided to become a boy to win the love of your mother? But boys cannot get pregnant either, only woman can.

Yana cried bitterly at those words out of self-pity:

— I wanted to be a girl and alive. I wanted my mother to love me…

— Imagine talking to your mother, tell her these words.

— Mother, I want you to love me, I want to live!

— What would you answer if you were her?

— “I love, but I’m angry at you at the same time!”

— Why are you angry?

— “You move so much, you bother me all the time, you are so restless!”

— Do you mean — alive?

— Yes! Alive! Dead daughter would have been more convenient.

This being said, Yana realized that her mother’s pattern of behavior towards her as a child did not let her to grow into an adult self-sufficient woman who would have her own children. Instead she encouraged her to “stop dead” to be convenient. And this is how she lived acting in her relationships with her husband as a convenient “dead” woman. And when she tried to get pregnant she did the same towards her future children.

In fine font

We have decided everything

No need to worry “bout a thing.

Just don’t read the bottom line

It’s in fine font and it’s fine.

Internet meme

You would think that after realizing this, the right and logical thing to do is to change your life strategy. However, our psyche has its own unfathomable logic. Clients do change their lives instantly, but only if they are ready for these changes or they have or acquired resources to do so. In Yana’s case her resource was her way of staying alive — stop dead and stand still, not to show her own feelings by any face movements. It was not until she had a different experience that resource would be the only one.

Despite the fact that Yana attended the women’s group for a year, and she understood the nature of her infertility there, she went through with IVF. Just before the procedure she called and asked if it was safe for her to go to the group, because it was not good to get nervous before IVF, otherwise it wouldn’t work. The director told her that it was up to her to decide. She did come. When she was talking about her purpose for this meeting she laughed a lot and told repeatedly that everything was fine. It looked more like hysteria, than like joy and happiness, so the director asked to sober her up:

— Yana, if everything is fine, why have you come, to ruin it?

Yana was still defensive and repeated that everything was fine. More than fine, “awfully wonderful”.

— What are you in awe of?

Confusing conversation, where the role of the director was to find out what feelings the client had and the client tried to put on a brave face, revealed that Yana had read the fine font at the bottom of the medical agreement. There was information about possible complications of IVF and it was said that in case of her death she wouldn’t be able to make any claims. And this happened, mind you, after many a discussion during the group about the harm of IVF.

— Well, yes, I told you several times that I had read about that on the internet, — the director reminded.

But Yana did not read any of this “for some reason”. She had to admit that the real reason for her “inattentiveness” was fear of IVF that was to happen in a week. And her goal was to work with the fear.

— But your fear is fairly logical, you can in fact die.

When said out loud, these words caused an outburst of Yana’s suppressed feelings. She once again remembered her mother’s words at her brother’s funeral, again she cried out of self-pity, and about the fact that she couldn’t say openly about her feelings. To whom? This time to her husband about the fact that she was scared to undergo a life-threatening procedure, and that she was afraid not to go, and felt guilty, because if her husband had spent a load of money for this, it was necessary to finish the deal.

— Who is it necessary for?

— For my husband.

— And what is necessary for you?

Yana did not give an answer. Then she disappeared after telling to the group beforehand that she probably won’t come to the meetings, because her husband was concerned about her getting nervous during psychotherapy sessions. This was an excuse that allowed her to pass the responsibility for her choice to the another person and not to get in touch with anxiety from deciding what to do and making her own choices.

Yana’s life has not changed. IVF has not brought the expected results, her plans have not not come to life, her story is not over.

“Kittens”: commentary

Take a pond of salt, pour it into you wound.

When you call me again, I feel nothing, but doomed

Internet meme

Yana’s story is a story of a codependent woman. To cure her of infertility is to cure her of codependence. There are many definitions of a codependent person. I like Marilyn Murrey’s, because it’s both short and simple. She says that a codependent person is a person who gives up his or her dignity, abiding to another person and taking responsibility for another person, thus encouraging his or her destructive behavior. A codependent person, as rule, is a product of the culture of restrictions and prohibitions, which preaches that to have one’s personal boundaries is egoistic and evil.

Any woman who grew up in our fallocratic culture is damaged in a way, as she constantly suppresses her own needs. When growing up, each of us was told time and again that a woman should be obedient, sacrifice herself and care about others. For many it is as natural as breathing.

Fortunately, now there are books on codependency and love addiction which openly state that this is a disease and teach how to deal with them. The book by Robin Norwood Women Who Love Too Much is one of them. It’s not just a book, I don’t get tired of saying that it should be a guide for every Russian woman, despite the fact that it was written by an American. What is it about this book that makes me “prescribe” it to practically each of my clients? It’s about each one of us. In order not to make any allegations, here is a short fragment of the text:

— We love too much if to love means to suffer.

— We love too much, if we justify his bad temper, insensitivity and rudeness by the fact that he had difficult childhood and try to take on a role of his therapist.

— We love too much if we don’t like a lot about his character, his values and deeds, but we make our peace with them and think: I should be more attractive and loving and he will change for me.

— We love too much, if love threatens our wellbeing and, possibly, even our health and security.

The feelings that many women fascinated by men mistake for love and passion are, if fact, fear. If love boarders on obsession, this means fear of either being alone, or being unloved, or being unworthy, or losing support (emotional, financial, etc.).

The “love too much” phenomenon (psychologists call it love addiction) is a peculiar combination of thoughts, feelings and behaviour that unconsciously recreate the atmosphere of the parents’ family. I insist on the word “unconsciously”, because many people tend to answer the question about how their childhood was by “happy”. People say this, because this is where their psychological defense mechanisms step in, their task being to guard us from traumatic memories, they are displacement, suppression, denial, etc. But if one goes emotionally to this child sate in the course of a psychotherapy sessions, one will discover logical recurrent dynamics which is called in psychology “Karpman-Burn’s drama triangle”:

The Victim — The Rescuer — The Persecutor

The essence of the model is in the following example: if one lives with a father who is an alcoholic, one regularly participates in a drama with three roles — the victim, the rescuer, the persecutor. The drunk father acts like a persecutor towards the mother, she starts acting like a victim, so, to survive the horror, humiliation, desperation, indignation, shame the child start rescuing the situation, the mother and himself/herself. Next morning, when the father is hung over and, thus, becomes a victim, the mother acts like a persecutor, and the child feels pity towards the father. The child constantly feels humiliated and ashamed of his parents’ unworthy behavior, so he/she starts rescuing his family’s reputation. He does not invite his/her friends to prevent them from seeing the ugly scenes. Over the years a girl gets used to putting a good face on, gets used to hiding their feelings both from other and from herself. This is why she is convinced she had a “happy” childhood.

How many times did we feel this way as children? How many times did we swear that it won’t be this way when it comes to us. We search for a partner who in no way reminds us of our aggressive and unjust father. We find a soft nice guy, even a bit silly, who needs just a little push in the right direction. Why, he does not drink! He is our hero! So we drag on this immature, dependent, but grown-up person, who is angry as we tell him how to live. He is not an alcoholic (although he can become one), it turns out it does not matter. He can have other both chemical and non-chemical addictions — drugs, work, risky sports, gambling, computers or credits, etc. But even that is not the sad part, the sad part is that you tied your life with an immature person who needs to be controlled and revolts against it.

And here we are, in our own family, running circles, “victim — rescuer — persecutor” triangles to be more precise. Undertaking the role of a rescuer gives a woman suffering of a victim she is used to, and superiority of a persecutor she needs. It is clear, that both need help, but it is so tempting to wait for a partner to make the first step!

The majority of my clients do not finish the book, saying it’s not about them. Those who do agree with their love addiction “diagnosis” lose interest in the book as they approach Chapter 10 which describes the way to healing, 10-steps program for helping oneself.

It’s easy for me to understand why my client drop this book before finishing it. Let’s compare this work of spirit and work of body: every one of us knows that to be in a good shape one needs to exercise every day. Does each of us really do it? This requires “investing” in one’s health that will pay off later. But we want to see the results immediately! The same happens with investing in one’s spiritual growth. This is hard work and you won’t see the results for a long time, if ever. Is it possible to see the connection between infertility and depending on your husband? The connection is metaphorical: if you don’t invest in your own productivity you become infertile.

What should women “who love too much” do? Essentially, stop saving their husbands and use the energy for being creative and productive. Here are the ten steps:

— Ask for help.

— Make healing yourself your number one job.

— Find a supporting group of peers who understand you.

— Dedicate time to your spiritual growth on a daily basis.

— Stop controlling your partner and manipulating him.

— Learnt not to be involved in games.

— Boldly look at your problems and shortcomings.

— Develop the qualities you need.

— Become selfish in a healthy way.

— Share your story and your knowledge with others.

I would like to end this commentary with Marilyn Murray’s characteristic of a true marriage;. According to her, it is a partnership that gives both partners an opportunity to become what God intended them to be, not the kind where one “becomes” and the other rots.

“Receive the package earlier”

The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of its parents.

Carl Young

A pretty woman of twenty-nine sighed after another participant’s session on the subject of IVF and told that she was no stranger to IVF. She had done it three times — still no results, i.e. she got pregnant twice, but the labor started as early as half term, even the ring did not prevent this from happening. Kseniya lost her baby twice at 20 week of pregnancy.

Kseniya had been married for ten years, and her husband wanted her to give birth as soon as possible. He said his mother needed a grandchild, so he hurried his wife to become a mother. I was not surprised that the interested person in the baby being born, the customer so to say, was the mother-in-law; I had already got used to such misperceptions in my customers. I was more surprised, however, that Kseniya got married so early. Why, nowadays young people are not in a hurry to tie themselves in marriage when they are twenty, they study, make careers, get experience. Kseniya explained that her father thought the only way to have sex was to married. Otherwise, others would have thought that his daughter was a tramp.

I was outraged by this answer. In my imagination I saw two puppet-masters ruling over the life of the young family. On the one hand, there was the mother-in-law trying to fill her own empty life using the young people, on the other hand, there was the father and his ambitions his daughter had to satisfy by giving up her own life experience.

The night before Kseniya saw a dream about two monkeys:

My husband and I are in an exotic country. He surprised me with renting to chimpanzees of the opposite sex.

He went away with the female, and I was alone in my room with the male who was making sexual advances towards me. I was shocked and disgusted at the monkey for sexual harassment, at my husband who rented the monkeys, at the tourists who use this kind of services, at animal trainers for teaching monkeys to do this. I was wondering if my husband knew what he bought into.

Besides being disgusted I was ashamed to be a part of this. Then my disgust gave way to acute pity towards the monkey. I understood that it is but a mindless victim who was taught to entertain tourists.

I was amazed by Kseniya’s dreams. The symbols were so clear that you couldn’t but envy the way her subconscious giving its messages to her in such a way. I asked Kseniya to voice the monkey in the first person to realize what aspect of her life was encoded in the image of the chimpanzee. Here is what she said: “I am a monkey, a mindless victim of people who taught me to satisfy their carnal needs. And this is how I live, and this is the essence of my existence”. When I asked what this was about, Kseniya honestly told that being a mother was not her choice, it was a wish of her family.

We met at a different workshop in two months. The night between the first day of the three-days workshop and the second one Kseniya dreamt another dream. She told about it in the group:

I’m queuing at the post office, everybody crowds and shoves their notices at the post-officer. And I need to pick up a package. At this point, the officer whispers quietly into my ear: “I’ll tell you a secret: you must have received this package earlier. But I was not the one to tell you this!” I stood there lost and surprised and thought: “So, what am I supposed to do? File a complaint?”

— Kseniya, how does this dream remind you of your life? Who lied to you and what this was about?

— I remembered my first man. I met him when I was seventeen, he was older than me. In a month he told me he was married and he had a child. He was just leaving his wife when he met me. My parents forbade me from seeing him, they told it would end badly. So it did in three months — we ran a woman down.

— You? Who was driving?

— He was. But I was sitting right next to him.

— So why did you say we instead of he.

— Because it sort of happened because of me.

— How was that?

— He was not himself. The day before he insisted I packed my stuff and moved out of my parents’. I got scared and came without my stuff. He got angry and said he would drive me back if I was not able decide; he got me into the car and drove. He was going over the speed limit and ran down a woman who was crossing the street.

Kseniya hid her face and cried.

— What is going on with you?

— It pains me! I didn’t know she was dead at first, I was hoping she was alive… That his wife taught me what I should say as a witness. I lied that I didn’t know him, because if I told I was his girlfriend, I wouldn’t be able to witness and it that case he wouldn’t have had any witnesses at all.

— What were you supposed to say?

— That the woman threw herself under the car! But that was not true, I saw her, I cried to him, but he drove so fast!

— So, you lied?

— Yes. And it haunts me. I remember his wife saying: “It’s a good thing she did not have kids!” Maybe my infertility is the way I pay for that lie?

— What are you most concerned with in this story?

— That this woman could have lived.

— What does this mean to you?

— That she could have had kids!

— Tell her about this.

Kseniya chooses one of the members of the group for the role of the woman who died, stands in front of her and says:

— I have wronged you. If it wasn’t for you, my man would have driven me to my parents’ and broke up with me “forever” yet another time. I was sitting in the car thinking about the pain I would feel as I go out, close the door and be alone. But this way he needed me, we communicated for six more months…

— And then?

— And then, when the case was closed, we still broke up. I got tired of him not being able to make a choice, got tired of being jealous, in pain and waiting for something. My father said: “I told you so!” So I married a different man, so that my father stopped bothering me with his reproaches.

— Exchange places with the dead woman and tell something to Kseniya on her behalf.

Kseniya, on behalf of the dead woman:

— I don’t care. This fuss has nothing to do with me anymore.

When Kseniya returned to her place, she confessed she felt better as she shared this secret.

— I couldn’t talk to anybody about this. My husband got mad when my previous relationship with a man came up. He hears only that I was not a virgin when he married me.

— Tell him about it.

Kseniya, talking to her “husband”:

— I’m angry at you pretending I didn’t have another man before you. I did, and he is a whole part of my life. Yes, I’m not a saint and I’m glad I’m not. I wish I dated me before getting married!

— Why didn’t you?

— Because of my father! I was fed up with his reproaches! He is the one to talk — he was a real dog when he was young, but I must be perfect so that he is able to say he is a good father.

— Tell him about it.

Kseniya tells all this to her “father”. When she exchanges places with him, she says on his behalf:

— I feel respect towards you for saying this.

“Receive the package earlier”: commentary

Oxana walks into a room escorted by police,

Un-plugged detector shows her conscience is in grease.

Internet meme by Karim-Abdul

At first glance, Kseniya’s question about conceiving, bearing a child and giving birth has nothing to do with the session she had. But this only seems so. The inability to become a mother shows that a woman has a problem in her relationships. In Kseniya’s case there were several problems, and during her session we solved them all one by one.

Firstly, from the very beginning it was clear that she is pressured by her husband, who, in his turn, was the prisoner of his mother’s influence. In Kseniya’s first dream such treatment on the young couple was metaphorically shown like two chimpanzees — male and female — being used to entertain tourists.

Then the story that haunted Kseniya for ten years came up. It was her first love that ended in her being used by her lover and his wife. One can only feel sympathy towards a seventeen year old girl who practically still was a child and who was involved in this ambiguous situation where she gained no support.

The third conflict the girl had was with her father. A man of loose morals, he had double standards: a woman cannot do what a man can. Her husband behaved the same way — he couldn’t even stand the thought that Kseniya had been involved with another man before marriage.

It is worth noting that all the three “deceptions” come from men in Kseniya’s life: her father, her first man, her husband. And it is the father who set the primary pattern for all the following misrepresentations.

All these misinterpretations in the mind of the client were revealed during the session and this allowed Kseniya to change the way she saw herself. The message of her second dream, where a post-officer tells her she could have received this package earlier if she hadn’t been lied to, also became clear. If receiving a package means having a baby, then, yes, it could have happened earlier, if it weren’t for the “deception”. Now that the deception is revealed, there is hope that the next pregnancy will make Kseniya a happy mother.

“Rice on the inside of a pot”

My destiny forced me down the wrong path again. I’m looking forward to the journey. I like traveling.

Internet meme

Here is yet another story of infertility with the bright metaphor for codependent relationships with one’s father. Nastya is my student, she is thirty. She heard during one of my lectures that some incurable diseases could be treated by psychosomatic therapy and decided to give a try to this method. I invited her to my psychosomatic group, but she refused, as it was hard for her to share the intimate details of her family life with strangers.

I agreed to work individually. I don’t think it’s a good idea, as healing the soul in solitude encourages isolation. I often witness how members of a group share their stories about similar problems and are relieved when they hear they are not alone. Nevertheless, after sharing their problem with one person (therapist) some women agree to go to the group.

Nastya said nervously:

— I have been married for two years and I cannot get pregnant. I have a rare condition — polycystic ovaries.

— It will be more clear for me if you tell about the disease in your own words. Polycystic ovaries — how is that?

Although, I do have medical training (when I was in Teacher-Training Institute, I studied medicine, was an intern at several hospitals, passed exams and got a nurses certificate, as it was required by law back then). However, I prefer listening to my clients when they describe their disease. I guess, the medic in me was beaten by philologist, I can diagnose a person’s strategies in relationships with other people by what he/she is saying. So I was prepared to listed to Nastya:

— Polycystic ovaries prevent the eggs from maturing. They stay in the ovaries and grow into the walls. It’s like when you cook rice and it burns and sticks to the inside of the pot and you can’t tear it away.

— Let’s go on with this metaphor. I have Tefal pot, nothing sticks to the inside. What do you do with your pot?

— I pour some water in, the rice becomes soft and it’s easier to get it out.

— How does this remind you of your life? Who are you so “stuck” with that it is necessary “soak” to become “soft”.

— My father, I guess. But its him who is stuck with me and won’t get away.

— Tell me more about your relationships.

— My mother and he have been separated for a long time, and I’m his favorite daughter. He drinks, I feel pity for him, I either visit him or call him every day, I cannot do this anymore, I have a job, I have my own family…

— What will happen if you stop visiting him and get down to your own business?

— In this case he comes to the firm I work for and sits in the hall until I come out. I’m ashamed of him for doing this, and I’m mad at him.

— Here is a chair. Imagine your father sits on it and tell him these words.

— I can’t tell him!

— Start with these very words: “I can’t tell you….”

Nastya gathers her strength, looks at the chair imagining her father and says agitated:

— I can’t tell you that I’m ashamed of you, because you are my father and I feel pity for you…

— You are crying. What is going on with you?

— What do I do? I’m desperate… Should I live with him all my life?

— Tell this to your father?

— Father, I’m desperate! I’m thirty, I want to have kids, I want to live my own life with my husband. I can’t be your nurse, I have my own life! I can’t give you so much of my time…

— What would he answer to these words? Sit on his chair and listen to yourself.

Nastay sits on the other chair, putting on the role of her father and answers:

— You are right. I feel awkward for using you like this. But I have nothing else in my life… I drink, I missed out on my own family. I don’t know what i live for, I wish God took me…

— Sit on your own chair, be Nastya again. What do you feel when you hear these words from your father? Tell him.

— I feel so much pity for you! I will do anything to make you feel good!

— Do you see now how strongly the metaphor of pot and rice reminds of your relationships with your father?

— So what do I do?

— I have already asked you what you did when the rice burns and sticks to the pot. You said you needed to soften it and it will go away. Now I see that you have softened, you heard your father’s feelings and you feel pity for him. Now it’s time to go away.

— How?

— I don’t know. It’s your life, you are the one to change it if it doesn’t suit you.

— Of course, it doesn’t suit me.

— Change it. What would you like to change?

— I would like to visit my father form time to time, when he really needs help.

— How much time are you ready to dedicate to your father?

— Actually — visit him once a week.

— Tell him about it.

— Father, I will meet with you once a week. The rest of the time it’s my life.

— Change places with your father and answer.

— Then I will die.

— What will you answer to this?

— I’m scared, but I’m outraged that you use such unfair methods. I love you and I want you to live.

— How can you make him live longer?

— I can’t! Should I watch him all the time? I guess I should stick to him again like rice to the pot. I’m tired of this!

— Want would you like to do?

Suddenly, Nastya changes, from a little scared girl she turns into a woman of her own age and says calmly.

— Father, I’m sorry to hear that you do not want to live, but I’m powerless to do anything with it. I can only live my own life, not yours. You can threaten me, but this doesn’t work with me anymore.

— Answer something form the role of your father.

— Yes, I believe you.

— What would you like to answer.

— I would like to finish. I have understood what my symptom was about.

“Rice on the inside of a pot”: commentary

It’s Monday! Hello diet, exercise, zen buddism and perfectionism. Hello for the two hundred and thirty third time.

Internet meme

Usually, the metaphor the symptom is described with mirrors the relationships between client and some significant person in his life. This client “stuck” to her father as her egg sticks to the inside of ovaries’ or rice to the inside of a pot. It happens if the pot left on the stove for too long, until the water boils out. In this case it symbolized that the daughter did not separate from her father at due time.

Nastya’s story is a typical story of a codependent woman, as well as the two stories before. And shame is typical for codependent wives, mistresses, daughters in their relationships with dependent husbands, lovers, fathers. Practically all their energy goes to creating an image of well-being in the eyes of others. As you remember, Nastya refused to work in a group, because she saw it as treachery. She was taught not to wash her dirty laundry in public!

Children of alcoholics are a topic of a whole other book. I do recommend to the readers with a similar childhood story to read R. Norwood, E. McAvoy and S. Israelson and others. The process of healing in this case is the process of finding oneself, and the books mentioned above extensively instruct one on how to do that. It is worth mentioning that it is hard, but necessary for the women to know the truth: in their case healing is not a single session, it’s their life’s job. Their goal is not to make the pain go away, but to learn how to live with it — this is what healing means for them.

I would still like to share an interesting observation. I worked with Nastya nearly ten years ago, when the internet just began to enter our lives. All these years the protocol of her session was in my computer. When I began writing the commentary for her session, I googled my client’s diagnosis and read the following: “Polycystic ovaries is a rare medical condition, according to different sources of information, from 4 to 8 per cent of women have it, beginning form adolescent years). However, it is serious as it causes infertility. The ultrasound scan shows that a woman’s ovary looks as if it is ‘stuffed’ with many bubbles 8—10mm in diameter, filled with fluid. Polycystic ovaries is caused by hyperandrogenia — excessive male hormones (androgens) production. The main task of treatment is to limit the excess of androgens.

I was amused by this metaphor — it’s funny how our subconscious chooses a symptom to convey its message! In the course of Nastya’s session we did find out that her job was to separate psychologically from her father (“limit the excess of male hormones”).

A little bit later I found out that Nastya got pregnant and had baby.

“Rice on the inside of a pot”: post scriptum

It’s not until recently that I found Nastya through mutual acquaintances and found out that she was a mother of two girls. I sent her a piece of text with the description of her session and got an answer, which I quote here with her permission:


You just live your life and… bang! — you are in a book! You won’t believe it, but I don’t remember this session at al! I remembered it just when I read the text. This means all this is 100% in the past for me. I guess, it kind of is.

My father died a year ago. I felt bitter at the loss, I was hurt, but I didn’t feel guilty. I don’t feel it now. I think that I should have felt guilty. Because he warned me: “I will die”. And he did. And I didn’t do anything to avoid it! But I don’t feel guilty!

Now, thanks to you and this text passage, I have understood that I began this separation more than ten years ago. I’m so glad I did!!! Thank you!

I have two daughters, the girls are mirror reflections of each other. My first pregnancy was unexpected the doctors called it “diamond” pregnancy. According to all tests’ results I was told I would be treated for at least three years before I can even begin preparing for IVF — the doctors were not even hoping I could conceive naturally.

This is why I did not expect it — I started the treatment with this drug that had severe side-effects, including collapsing. I felt terrible, but I thought it was due to the side-effects. My husband suspected something and suggested taking a pregnancy test. It was negative.

I went on a business trip abroad, came back, and I felt even worse!!! So I drink the drugs, lie down flat and my husband suggests taking the test again. I was against it — why? Before the business trip it was negative, I didn’t have sex during the trip and after it — WHERE would it come from? To make him stop grumping I bought one.

I still remember how surprised I was when I saw it was positive! It turned out I was 10 weeks pregnant! And I felt bad because of toxemia!

I am very happy for Nastya, I looked at the picture of her two girls born almost ten years apart. Nastay is a happy mother — what else can I say?

“Motionless sperm”

An old man goes fishing. But the net is down. No fish is on-line.

Internet meme

In the beginning of the chapter I said that in our society it’s usually women who undertake “saving” men. His is how they were brought up, the thought that a man can take care of himself does not even enter their minds. I gave three typical examples and there are hundreds more! In the first case, it’s a story of Yana who tries to get pregnant while it’s her husband who has “infertility” diagnosis. In the second case, it’s the story of Kseniya whose reproductive function is blocked, because she tries to meet the expectations of the meaningful men in her life, but does not listen to her heart. Finally, it’s a story of Nastya who feels obliged to fill the life of her drunkard father with meaning, ignoring her own human needs. Healing for women with similar patterns of behavior means discovering that their close ones can take care of themselves and becomong selfish in a good way.

To sum up, I would like to finish this chapter “Male factor” with what I began it — men with infertility diagnosis. While I was writing the book, I’ve got an example of psychological work with male infertility. Recently I shared with a male colleague that I was writing a book on female infertility. He was surprised:

— Why just female?

— It’s sad, I don’t have any cases of male infertility.

— I have, and plenty.

We discussed, theoretically, why men could have issues fertilizing. I suggested that one should analyze symbolic meanings of adjectives used to describe the sperm of a man. If they have “low motility”, one should try to find out where the man stays motionless, or, to put it in psychological terms, where he is rigid in his beliefs? If there are little alive sperm, one should find out what is dead and left unburied in the life of the man? As they say, we chatted and went our separate ways.

In two weeks after we had the talk, my colleague called me and told that his forty-three year old client who had had low motility sperm just had his sperm tested and it turned out that his sperm was like a young man’s. It happened after our conversation: while working with the client my colleague said that the sperm mirrored his behavior. And here is the result!

I want my readers to know: man can change and do change the characteristics of their sperm through psychotherapy.

While he was a boy, this man fell victim to sexual harassment attempt form his older teenaged peers. Nothing actually happened, but it caused an uprising of strong feelings in the client, and he kept this “skeleton in the closet” for almost forty years. He told his therapist about this childhood memory and expressed the long-suppressed feeling of being humiliated due to which he didn’t feel fully manly. The client was able to change the way he saw himself, which was –depreciated just because of the experience.

A more mature way to look at this is to understand that a man can’t be strong all the time. He loses in some situations, but he does not stop being a man because of this. Unfortunately, our society shares and even encourages the immature belief that a man should be on top of his game all the time. More often than not it is impossible for them to accept and take in the vulnerable side of their personality. This is why they put on a mask of “the strong one”, exercising their bodies, putting of the airs of an alpha-male (this is how my colleague described the client). And the weakness was expressed in a less apparent way — behavior of his sperm.

As soon as the client saw the connection between the “message” his body was trying to send him and his own behavior the symptom disappeared. Why wouldn’t it, if the “message” was read? Now nothing prevents the man from naturally becoming a father. And — remember the statistics? — there are forty such man in a hundred of infertile couples. Well, now it’s thirty-nine!

Chapter 3

Mal (e) practice

Cosmos means order

Recently, I bought iPhone.

No idea how to turn it on.

No buttons and flat screen —

Is that supposed to ring?

It’s frustrating, but I’ve got no clue.

Someone’s calling. What do I do?

Internet meme

It is impossible to skip the topic of IVF in a book like this, IVF being the most cutting-edge and the most expensive way of having a baby in case of infertility. IVF is a proof of the mankind being able to do the things that were only God’s work before. This brings forward different ethical, moral, and psychological issues.

IVF stands for in vitro fertilization, “in vitro” meaning “in glass”. It is an ancillary reproductive procedure used in case of infertility. Another ways to say this would be “artificial insemination”, “having test-tube babies”, etc. In the course of the procedure, the egg is removed from the woman’s body and artificially fertilize in vitro (in a test-tube). After the fertilized egg undergoes embryo culture for 2–5 days, it is transferred into the uterus for further development.

First, this technology was successfully applied in the United Kingdom in 1977. As a result, Louise Brown was the first test-tube child born in 1978. The first child (a girl) in the Soviet Union conceived as a result of IVF was born in February, 1986. If in 1990 the number of test-tube babies was more than 20 thousands, in 2010 it came up to about 4 millions.

It’s been not so many years after this, just one generation grew up, and we still know little about this method and its consequences. There are lots of questions, because mankind have made a number of discoveries and didn’t know how to “cover them back” afterwards. We can see mothers who receive huge amounts of hormones. What will happen to them? If the main criterion for using any method is set in the course of time, how do we know what will happen to test-tube babies? What will happen to test-tube babies’ babies?

It is known that there should be some spare embryos for IVF, they somehow “help” each other and there is a greater chance of pregnancy. But where should others go in case of pregnancy? They are either destroyed, or frozen for another procedure in case of failure, or used for scientific purposes if their “owners” donate them. Will humankind get away with treating human beings like this?

In March of 2013 ELLE magazine published in interview with Victoria Zaletova — the head of Moscow clinic called “Mama”. Victoria told that they had a married couple who gave birth to twins and for whom they froze two more embryos. So, the couple gave birth to another pair of twins six years later. “It looks like a miracle. But for us it’s what we see every day, just one of the methods we use. — The doctor comments. — One can argue if it’s good or bad. Reproduction specialists have a more down to earth position: there is a couple, their goal is to have a baby, there are certain options. Cosmos, universe — we don’t care much about this stuff”.

But we, psychologists, do. I would like to remind you that “cosmos” is translated from Greek as “order”. In practical psychology and psychotherapy order is very important. Essentially, this whole book is about how infertile women restored the distorted order in their minds, and only after this did they receive their ability to conceive, bear and give birth. When I hear someone saying that a man put himself beyond the laws of the universe, moreover above them, I feel the fear crippling down my spine. This means for me that people don’t know what they are doing.

What order is violated by reproduction specialists? They neglect a huge area of knowledge they are not aware of. They interfere with material stuff, as if forgetting that a man is not only a material object. There are oh so many things that are impossible to be described from a material point of view. For example, doctors believe that a personality develops only after birth. Psychologists view this differently — an individual enters this world determined by his/her prior experience: conception, pregnancy, birth — and the life goes along with this state.

Another issue is that IVF costs a lot. Money means business, how can you be sure that you are treated and not being used? It’s a mistake to call IVF a treatment method. It’s a trick, one more experiment curious humankind does on the nature: “What happens, if?..” And who will pay for this childish curiosity and what is really the price for it?

But the main question for me is the following: if women agreed to IVF, this means they had some reason for infertility? And the reason did not go away as the result of the procedure. Roman Nikolaevich Getmanov, obstetrician of Central City Hospital #70, shares: “We often have women who come to give birth after IVF. In my experience, they have more issues giving birth that those who conceived naturally. I think it’s due to the fact, that these women force their body to do something it probably does not need”.

I agree with this and I will add from my own experience as a therapist; isn’t it more logical to try and find the reason and give the body what it wants from psychological point of view? People exist as a whole — body changes as mind changes. If mankind accepts this point of view, the medicine will do exactly what it was meant to do — help people using holistic approach.

Eggs on credit

I asked Vasiliy to pay me back.

He spoke of liquidity and what the heck…

His obscure monologue was wrapped up

With loud and clear “I am f***ed up”

Internet meme by Bluher

As I was writing the chapter on IVF, I was also asked to give an interview on credit addiction for women’s online magazine “She”. I gave the interview, but, as I was busy thinking about the book on infertility, it occurred to me that these two things were very much alike — freely giving credits to people and broadly using IVF.

The similarity is obvious: IVF is like a credit you take from yourself and pay interest later. I’ll explain: bank clients have their paying capacity evaluated, a woman undergoes full thorough medical examination to find out if she is able to take the procedure. It is a serious examination and it has tons of side-effects: developmental issues, mental illness, etc. Infertile woman can’t do what a healthy woman can. Some side effects are both sad and ridiculous, because no one controls a woman’s health when she goes in bed with a man: does she have a history of mental illness? Crazy part is that the nature ALREADY deprived the woman going through with IVF of health necessary to have a baby in a natural way. If she was healthy, why would she pay hundreds of thousands for what happens in bedrooms every night, if one is up to it?!

It’s the same with credits: save the money and buy, don’t ask money from a bank, don’t make yourself a slave for twenty years! But now, it’s those people who can’t afford are the ones who borrow. Can’t afford it, but want to buy a house. Cant’ afford it, but want to have a baby. What if either lived their life according to their means, or tried and became a person of means? May our wishes coincide with our options.

Step two: a woman’s ovary is stimulated to have several eggs. Doctors say it is harmless or try to avoid this topic. For example, Vladislav Korsak CEO of International center of reproductive medicine in St.-Petersburg gave a rather vague answer to a direct question if IVF was dangerous: “Living is dangerous altogether”. And women online share dreadful details of their experience. Whom should we believe?

One of my persistent acquaintances went through IVF for eleven times. In Israel. She almost went blind, but she gave birth to twins. But again, after going in psychotherapy. She did this not to be dumped by her (ve-e-e-ry high-ranking!) husband. After the therapy she was the one to leave him and take the children. How is a woman to pay for having her pituitary bombarded with hormones in such a way? At the very least, her climax comes several years earlier. Even if she does not become a mother, she will still have to pay. But afterwards. How does a bank customer pay for having the whole sum at once now? He takes one sum of money, but he gives back a different one — with interest. As they say: you take other people’s money, but you pay back your own. And he pays the interest in the first place. If he decides to terminate the contract, he still has to pay the interest.

Step three: one has to wait and hope the embryos survive. The more embryos there are, the higher the chances for conception are. Then several of them are put into the uterus, the rest are frozen for the next time, and some of those that are already in the uterus, will be terminated to prevent multiple pregnancy. Church people think it’s murder, but there is no other way — no one will pay hundreds of thousands for lowering the chance of successful pregnancy, because of some moral requirements. There is a bank analogy again: when you pay off a loan, you’ll have to give up all the other projects in case you are not able to pay the interest — then what?

Step four: bear the baby. Not all people bear the child until the end of the term, as well as not all people pay the credit. 20% of the cases — that is how often the pregnancy happens after introducing “un-frozen” embryos (it’s mean number in Europe). I don’t know the number of successful pregnancies, as well as the paid credits.

Step five: giving birth. The Head of pediatrics in our country states, that 75% of IVF babies are disabled and calls to the government to stop supporting this dead-end project. It is worth saying about the women as well. They shall require medical help to cure the consequences of artificial insemination for a long time afterwards. The same thing happens with credits: those who stumbled up to the finish line have changed, their needs have changed. The apartment they needed 15—20 years ago and bought for the mortgage does not make them happy anymore. Or there was a financial crisis, so the huge investment in real estate that plummeted in value since then has lost all meaning. Now you have an apartment that doesn’t cost this kind of money — it’s no party. The bank customers realize that they have paid triple price.

Where am I going with this? Am I saying that those who take credits are immature dependable people? No, of course not. Taking a credit is a rather healthy solution and it disciplines, if a person reckoned his/her abilities, saw all the consequences of the choice and agreed to it. And he won’t blame the bank for not giving all the information on how he would feel paying back the debt for a long period of time. If someone is able to pay the credit with no fines and no harm to the other aspects of his/her life, it means it’s healthy behavior. However, there always were and always will be those who cannot live in balance.

For example, a person who can soberly consider his/her financial abilities won’t even touch credit cards that are send to mail boxes, that are designed to immature consumers forcing them to exceed their means and spend the money they don’t have. It’s absurd: we borrow the money to buy the things we don’t need to impress the people we don’t know.

How do we learn to live in balance financial-wise? The recipe is the same: to give a rod, not a fish. To help a person once, you need to give them money. To help them forever, you need to rebuild the way they think to restore the balance between “give” and “take”. The law of balance is simple: to decrease the spending and increase the income. Read books on financial literacy, attend workshops, find ways to earn more, invest in your personal growth. Reaching financial success is not an issue, it’s a task. And it’s an interesting and achievable task, too.

And now on the subject of women and IVF: is it the only way to become a mother? You are the only person who knows the answer. Read books on psychology, go to workshops, find alternative ways of healing, not only in the field of medicine, invest the energy of your psyche in yourself, your growth, become an expert on infertility, learn this problem inside out. Try all the options of solving the issue: what happens if you never become a mother? What are the alternatives? It is also life, fulfilled and worth living. It’s not an issue, but a task to realize your creative potential. And it’s an interesting and achievable task, too.

My book is an attempt to make women hear me: infertility is not the problem of your body, it’s a problem of undeveloped, immature personality, and it can be solved with the help of non-medical psychotherapy. It’s a way to save so much money, health, time, energy! It will not be easy, it’s hard work, although it looks innocent: just a conversation with a specialist for one hour a week. But not only will you keep your health, but you will also take care of it, take the power over your life in your hands, fill it with meaning and joy.

Just know that there is such an opportunity, but if you know this, don’t tell that you have tried EVERYTHING!


Drugs and surgery are the major methods applied. One of the main problems to use drugs and surgery in healing is their numerous side-effects. It is only the influence on physical body that is taken into account when prescribing the drugs.

Barbara Ann Brennan

The story of Lida is a story of a woman who literary tried EVERYTHING. Now she is thirty-seven, she is joyful, vivacious woman who reminds of a sun not only by her spirit, but also by her brown eyes and bright-red hair. She came to a women’s psychotherapy group when she was thirty, by that time she had been trying to get pregnant for ten years. We used psychodrama method in our work with her, which is the way for the clients to play their situation, choosing the group members and staging the scenes from their own life.

So, Lida told she wanted to become a mother, but didn’t know what else to do, as she had tried everything for ten years.

— What else does it want? — she exclaimed desperately in tears. I tried to build on that phrase and told her:

— Ask it.

Lida chose two women for the role of herself and the baby and talked to the baby:

— What else do you want? Why don’t you come to me? What haven’t I done? I know everything about it. My poor entrails are cut and wounded, there is not a thing doctors didn’t do with them? I’m so tired!

— Then you don’t need to talk to the baby.

— To my entrails then?

— I think so. Who could play them?

— I need many people: uterus, tubes, ovaries.

— Choose as many as you need.

Looking attentively into the faces of the group members, Lida chose them for a new scene. The four women chosen for the roles of wounded entrails came to the group because they had miscarriages, lost pregnancies, abortions and infertility.

— Do you know how it all looks like?

— I’ve learned the anatomy over these years so well that I will make female organs with my eyes closed. But mine are all kinds of different, everything is wrung in and out.

I automatically make a mental note about the use of the verb “make”, which also has a figurative meaning: “make someone do something”. I just note it to check out my hypothesis: what if Lida’s infertility is a result of her strategy to make people do something? People are free and they don’t like to be made do anything. As well as entrails.

— Make the sculpture of your female organs of these people.

Lida puts the “uterus” in the middle, “tubes” and “ovaries” by the sides. The five women who play the roles of reproductive organs join their hands.

— Now wring like in a child’s game “Jumble”.

The women make the symmetrical orderly sculpture into a chaos of people while still holding each other’s hands. When Lida sees what happened she wipes her tears:

— These are my female organs…

— What is going on with you?

— I’m sad and I feel pity for myself.

— Tell me, when you look at this sculpture, does it remind you of something?

— Yes, it looks like our family: this is how I drag on my mother, my brother, two relatives who are like children to me, although they have their own parents…

— Now there are two ways: either get your organs or your family members in order.

— I will straighten it with the family soon just as well; my husband and I are moving to another city. I’d rather talk to my organs.

— So try to be a baby and get into the uterus.

Lida takes on a role of her baby and walks around the wrung sculpture:

— How can I get in… No, it’s not what it takes. I need to talk to my uterus and ask her to let it in.

— Do it.

Lida stops talking, it is obvious, something is going on in her mind. Then she stands on her knees and tells to her “uterus” crying”:

— I’m sorry I did this to you… I thought if I go to doctors and they do some procedures, this would mean I was doing the right thing, nothing else was required. I didn’t take a moment to think what it was what you needed…

— You can ask it what it needs.

— It doesn’t need anything at this point, she is used to the pain, so it doesn’t feel anything.

— That is what you decided for it. Exchange roles with it.

Lida exchanges places with the uterus and stands in the wrung sculpture, yikes and laughs:

— Yeah, now I get it!

Other parts of the sculpture who have been standing in uncomfortable poses for several minutes now are tired of waiting for Lida to understand that she needs to untie the knot.

— Tell us, what is it that you get?

— I need to un-wring.

— Let your stand-in who plays you ask for forgiveness and you listen to it in the role of the uterus.

The member of the group who plays Lida addresses the uterus and repeats Lida’s words about being guilty and asks to forgive her. Lida listens to these words in the role of her uterus and says:

— I’m so tired, it’s OK, it’s water under the bridge, I’m glad you understand me now.

— Now, go out and untie.

Lida unties the “jumble” and puts the participants in an orderly structure like five Olympic rings: ovaries and uterus are in the front and tubes on the back, all of them are still holding hands.

— This is how it goes.

— Now be the baby and try to get into the uterus.

Lida in the role of the baby crawls as an egg: going between the legs of the women who comprise the sculpture and finds herself in the uterus.

— Here I am, all attached.

— Now exchange roles and be yourself again.

Lida becomes herself, now she walks to the sculpture to metaphorically place the organs and the baby within herself, everybody sits down.

— What do you feel?

— I feel good… my back hurts, I need someone to stand behind me… My husband!

— Choose your husband, let him stand behind you.

— I need him to hug me. Now it’s warm.

— How does your baby feel?

The woman who plays the baby:

— I feel so good here!

— Shall we finish? Take the roles off.

“Jumble”: commentary

We are invited to take a different view of our symptoms. Our first, natural desire is to suppress them, but we must learn to read them as cues to the wounded wishes of our soul, or as the autonomous protest of our soul over our mismanagement.

James Hollis

This session with Lida happened seven years ago. Now I would have done it differently, I would have put more emphasis on the feelings of the client. However, what was done was enough to see the psychological reasons for her infertility. The climax of the session happened when Lida realized what she did to her reproductive system and expressed it as: “I thought if I go to doctors and they do some procedures, this would mean I was doing the right thing, nothing else was required. I didn’t take a moment to think what it was what you needed…”

Now Lida understood for the first time in her life, that, firstly, her health was her responsibility, not the doctors’; secondly, that it was necessary to know the needs of one’s body and to listen to oneself and to one’s body, and not to undergo standard recommendations and supposedly necessary and useful procedures. To do so, it is necessary to redirect one’s energy from the outside to the inside, develop one’s intuition, learn how to read the language of one’s body, get to know one’s own feelings. This is not something our culture offers to us, and living this way is unusual for many people.

What is it that our bodies want? It’s been comparatively a short time since Bert Hellinger’s Love’s Hidden Symmetry was published. Its main idea is that every person within the family system has a place he has an inherent right for. If he is deprived of that place for some reason, it ends badly for the whole system. The same works for entrails. Each one of them has a place, a territory, boundaries that are as sacred as the borders of a country. Any intervention is possible only upon obtaining the “permission” of the organ; just as well as when going to another country one should obtain a visa.

Violating boundaries

Say, what good two kidneys are?

Better a kidney and a car.

Internet meme

Unfortunately, medical interventions are violation of the boundaries without the “permission” from the body. I know this both from my experience of psychotherapy sessions and my own. For example, there was a time when I had a blood sample taken to check out my hormones and prescribe the treatment. When a nurse took out the needle from my vein, she accidentally dropped some blood on my arm. She took a wet piece of cloth from the sink (usually they clean the sink with such cloths) and wiped the blood from my skin. I was told return to have my blood sample taken one more time in a week. For this whole week I could not shake the disgusted memory of the wet cloth. Besides, I couldn’t forgive myself for being so tactful as to keep silent, instead of telling about my resentment. The day before the blood test the skin on the inside of my elbow was covered in red itching spots. When I understood that this was the way my body reacted to the procedure and to upcoming hormonal treatment, I didn’t go to the hospital any more, a started looking for other ways of treatment and I did find them.

Personally, I’m not lucky with medical procedures, lots of bad things happen to me. When I had my eczema treated with quartz lamp, I made it worse by getting my leg burnt. The thing was that the lamp was loose on its pole and was coming down bit by bit, but I didn’t notice as I was wearing safety goggles. After curing the burn I’ve got another prescription for injections that should have been done according to a special pattern: the dose of the drug should have been increased from one to ten units. The nurse who supposedly was very familiar with this drug didn’t read the prescription and started with the maximum dosage of the drug. As a result, my whole body was covered in eczema…

If I studied psychology when I was young, maybe it would have been different. However, I doubt it. It is due to the negative experience that I was able to hear my body and had some insights as a result of difficult and hard inner work.

“Jumble”: post scriptum

But despite the fact that the doctors treated him, bled him, and gave him medicines to drink, he recovered.

Leo Tolstoy

I guess, Lida also needed to get there. I didn’t hear from her for a long time, and then I got an email from her:

“It’s been three years since I moved. Several days ago I heard that you were planning on visiting our city. I was reviewing the program for the conference and found your theme. I would be glad to see you if you have time”.

I used this opportunity to ask about the children. Lida said that her husband and she got divorced as he left her “for a twenty-four year old”; that she does not have children, she was “married to her work”. Sometimes she was perfectly happy, sometimes she missed Siberia, her friends. She bought an apartment, she took a mortgage. She joked about this: “In Russia we exchanged death penalty for mortgage”.

In a couple of years I received one more message from Lida:

“You may congratulate me on a new husband!”

“Yes, I got that already, congratulations! And on the new second name as well!”

And finally, the long expected message:

“Hello, Rimma. I wanted to boast to you that I gave birth to a boy. I know you will be glad for me. Now I cannot imagine how I lived without him all these years”.

“Lida, all these years I was afraid to ask you if you had children? I remember you session on this subject. Was it IVF or you made it on your own? I’m not just glad, I’m happy!!! I have a grandson, he is six months, it’s a bliss!”

“Yes, I saw the photos of your grandson, he is great! I had IVF done in Moscow, my second husband literary forced me to go through with it. I didn’t even dream of it, I just lived enjoying my life. I gave birth on my own, I tried so hard and listened to what doctors told me to do. When I was pregnant, I read my notes of your lectures on developmental psychology, I try not to become a “crazy mommy”.

Now I think I didn’t just have to go through it all, but I have also truly accept this, so that the pain stopped being so painful, pity dissolved in love and all of this became my valuable experience. I am very grateful to God and to doctors”.

Skeptics might say that this is the case when no psychotherapy worked. What did work was the infamous IVF and there were no negative consequences! It is both so and not so. Yes, IVF did work, I’m very happy for Lida. However, now it is not the same Lida who once addressed the doctors for the first time about her regular sex life with one partner for two years not resulting in pregnancy. The girl was healthy at that point, at least physically. Usually, sterility in such cases is a result of subconscious wish not to have a baby for some reason. In Lida’s case I suppose it was due to her unconscious wish to push aside the problems of her five relatives who behaved like babies and take care of her own baby in her own family. This desire conflicted with the mistrust to her partner on whom, as Lida had guessed, she could not rely on. Later this lack of trust was confirmed when her husband left her for another woman.

If we turn back to the moment when Lida went to doctors, one can only regret that she had a wrong address: as we all remember, medical procedures did not bring the desired results. What she did need at that point was to see her controversial situation. However, medical system gives a chance to every customer who is healthy enough (I remind you that it “helps” not ill women, but healthy women who made it through numerous difficult tests!) to undergo standard methods that are useless in the best case scenario, and it the worst case scenario they damaging to women’s health.

Robert Mendelsohn is sure that treating patients with today’s standard medical methods can seldom be effective, it is often more dangerous than the disease it is supposed to treat. It happens because modern medicine went too far using the methods designed for extreme situations on daily basis. Should we be surprised that when we come to a doctor we are treated not like a person who needs help, but rather like a potential consumer of miracle factory products? There is some bitter irony in the fact that the doctor is perfectly aware of the cost of these modern and useless procedures!

Why did IVF worked when Lida’s body was deprived of the ability to function naturally because of all the interventions? Why hadn’t it worked before? Unlike women who spend their lives in a race for conception, Lida accepted her life and everything in it. She didn’t bet on becoming a mother in her second marriage, her life was filled with her art. If that try wasn’t a success it wouldn’t have broken her heart and wouldn’t have bankrupted her emotionally. The thing is that the procedure is useless, if a woman is not ready to open herself to new experience. It’s not the procedure that causes the problems, but the state on one’s mind. Conscious choice does not equal the choice made out of fear and desperation. It is totally different.

How about a kiss?

Artificial insemination specialist leaves the farm after having his job done. A cow puts its head in the window of his car and says: “How about a kiss?”

A joke

Angela, a thirty year old woman, has endometriosis, she has IVF done for free due to the federal program. She has already had two unsuccessful tries, although the third one was made just two days ago she knows in advance that the embryo won’t survive. Of all the eggs they had only one was fertilized and it was underdeveloped: instead of dividing eight times by a certain moment, it divided only three times. Embryo specialist said not to give it much hope.

But Angela came with a different problem. She was highly impressed by a handsome doctor who performed the IVF. When he had his job done, he said: “You’ll spend this night with me”. The ambiguity of his words and his tone caused confusion in her mind.

— Can you imagine? He didn’t say “You will stay in the hospital till tomorrow”, he said “You’ll spend this night with me”! — told Angela excitedly. — If he only asked me, if he only gave me a hint, I would have given it to him without giving it much thought!

Angela looks in front of her as if not seeing anything, rubs her temples and says frustrated:

— But I’m happily married, my husband is such a nice guy, we are so close! Can you explain what is the deal with this obsession?

I have thought about this frequently, as a matter of fact. I mean, about in vitro fertilization. The process that is deeply personal, spiritual and sexual that joins two people as one and makes them parents, becomes distant and impersonal inside a hospital. There is no passion-charged field necessary to conceive new life in the mechanical procedure.

Is it possible that the feelings Angela told me about are normal in an un-normal situation? And she tries to compensate it with her behavior? I don’t know the answer, but nothing prevents me from assuming it. The man who fertilized the egg and put the embryo in is a part of the sacrament now. He becomes very close, but he is still a stranger. How a woman is supposed to overcome this estrangement and resolve the conflict between the two roles he performs: a doctor and a participant of bringing new life into this world? Unconsciously Angela found a way: to fall in love with him to humanize the process of in vitro fertilization.

I totally agree with Jeremy Taylor when he says that each of us is born as a result of a sexual contact, so in this sense sexuality deeply resonates with religious and philosophical problems. So, modern procedures, such as artificial insemination, amniocentesis, ability to determine the sex of a baby and possible abnormalities, in vitro fertilization, complicated devices for maintaining life that allow to “give birth to an embryo” without growing it in mother’s uterus, have created moral dilemmas that can’t be solved, unless the un-measurable elements of human life are considered as real and important as the devices that make these procedures possible.

If two people are bound by love and respect for each other, this does good to the future baby, so nothing is impossible.

Chapter 4

Saving oneself is one’s own business

Responsibility and conception

I won’t play coy and say I’m clever.

I haven’t created anything ever.

My inventions haven’t won any gold,

But just “cause I was busy and had a cold.

Internet meme by Better-days

I want to scream out loud: always take responsibility when you have an opportunity to do so! I would put it even more strictly: always take responsibility, create this opportunity for yourself. Responsibility is your power to rule over your life. Sometimes people think that responsibility is a heavy unbearable load that is better to be passed on to somebody else. But when we give up the responsibility, we give up the power.

I pretty much copied the paragraph above from my other book on financial success. If you want to have a lot of money, take the responsibility. This principal might be even more important in case of medical interventions, because it’s about your health and your life. Robert Menleshon states that doctors’ strategy is to “blame it on the victim”, to disguise most of their sins, including forcing on the medication, hysterectomy and cesarean that their patients didn’t need and that were not necessary. He thinks that a woman who wishes to be healthy should learn how to shield herself against dangerous and unnecessary medicines. Don’t wait that a doctor does it for you. Ask to give instruction to each medicine. Pay special attention to warnings and side effects. If you don’t like want you see, make your doctor prove his point of view. If he is unable or unwilling to do so, maybe it’s time to discuss it with somebody else.

This is what R. Mendelsohn says to American women who live in a state of law and have many choices, unlike us. What should we, Russian women, do? Where should we address our complaints if a nurse overlooked and UV-lamp slid down and caused a burn? And the other nurse didn’t look in the prescription, took the initiative and caused complications in a patient? I don’t know where to complain in such cases, what about you?

Here are several reviews from your Russian women forum. I retyped them by my own hand from the site, because there is a special software that does not allow copying the text in order not to violate the copy right. I do respect the copy right as I give the link to the site.

Lidia: “I’m 39. I have been treated for infertility for 19 years, I guess. My tubes aren’t blocked, but my husband and I are incompatible, otherwise I’m OK. I was offered hormonal therapy to shake up my body, IV fluids, inseminations, ended up by surgery — ovarian wedge resection (after this the doctor said I shouldn’t have had it). This is when it all started. My cycle became irregular, prolactin went off the charts, my hormones went crazy. I have not had my periods for six months — I have early climax. I feel fine, besides the ovaries hurting, I don’t have hot flashes. But I’m no longer a customer of a reproduction center, I can’t have IVF. Any advice? I would still like to have my cycle fixed and have IVF”.

Mila: “I’m 34, I’ve have three surgeries, endometrial polyp when I was 26, laparoscopy when I was 31 and 33, hormonal treatment. As a result, I went to cancer center with serious cystadenoma where they explicitly explained to me that hormonal therapy caused all kinds of complications. So I was asked at the reproduction center not to bother them anymore. In the cancer center I was suggested to be checked up regularly in antenatal clinic, to see if I am lucky enough as not to get cancer. My ovaries hurt all the time, my ovulation comes like clockwork — and it’s hurtful too. My ovaries are stuck somewhere in my guts — no one takes the risk of pulling them out. I was laughed at in the cancer center when I asked about pregnancy, they told me that hope was the last one to die, of course. But if it does happen I have 50/50 chance of giving birth and having cancer. I live on sedatives. Don’t know how to live”.

Aniram: “Keep holding on! My fourth attempt ended up in severe hyper stimulation. Hydrothorax, pain, my waist was 40 inches, I was admitted in ICU. The doctors from fertility clinic made arrangements with the doctors in the hospital, so there is no word about this nightmare in the discharge documents. It’s time for me to give IVF another try. It’ll be fine!”

This is what our reality looks like — unnecessary procedures like it was in Lida’s case (“the doctor said afterwards that I shouldn’t have had it”); sending a patient from point A to point B, like it was in Mila’s case; and believing in the bright future like it was in case of Aniram, our persistent “It’ll be fine!”

When I see women behaving like victims, I encourage them to take responsibility for their healing. I live in this country as well and I do use the services of our medicine. I deeply sympathize with both patient who are left without proper care and health professionals who work in a constant force majeure mode often for tiny fees.

When your doctor says there is only one way to treat your disease, he takes a great risk acting like he has god’s powers. Learn how to translate this into human language and you will see it means just: HE knows the only way of treatment — the one he was taught in medical school and the one that brings him money.

Risk factors

Oleg plays accordion balls-to-the-wall.

To tell you the truth, he’s no good at all.

Even his goat plays accordion just fine.

And chess is where they both shine.

Internet meme

Dr. Christiane Northrup is an obstetrician. She delivered thousands of babies and wrote a book where she shared her views on this part of women’s life. I thought it would be useful to show her table where she presents two views on childbirth women have. One view increases the risk in labour, the other one reduces it to nothing. It is possible to predict 95% sure the difficulties each woman would have in labor and birth according to criteria listed in the table.

This table also allows to predict if a woman is able to conceive or she will try to find who is “responsible for this” among her close ones.

Risk factors at birth

As it happens in fairy-tales, in this table the main difference is accepting / not accepting responsibility for one’s own condition, denying / agreeing to suffer through the challenge. If a woman agrees that she has to bear difficulties and pain, she gets new, more important status. Just as the step-daughter form the fairytale Old Father Frost, mentioned above.

Leo Tolstoy’s heroines and their attitude towards motherhood

As a woman lives, so shall she birth.

Gayle Peterson

No writer in the history of fiction literature scrutinized the issue of motherhood so precisely from psychological point of view as Leo Tolstoy. When he created his characters, he made them survive near-death experience, because it is the one to make human life meaningful and to force one to make a choice. Motherhood is a peculiar test that allows differentiating mature behavior from the immature, a heroine from a false-heroine. The way a woman behaves during initiation by motherhood shows everything about her.

Take Leo Tolstoy’s favorite Natasha Rostova who left high society to have an opportunity to bear, give birth and breastfeed her four children. I still remember that when I read about this when I was sixteen as I was supposed to according to the school curriculum, I was disappointed to find in the end of the book a “strong, handsome, and fertile woman” who could “come striding disheveled from the nursery in her dressing gown, and with joyful face show a yellow instead of a green stain on baby’s napkin, and from whom she could hear reassuring words to the effect that baby was much better”.

However, when I became more mature myself, I saw this novel completely differently. I felt deep respect and admiration at this woman of high society who was a ground-breaker. She followed Rousseau who wrote that milk-nurses were unnatural and bad for a baby, “despite the opposition of her mother, the doctors, and even of her husband himself — who were all vigorously opposed to her nursing her baby herself, a thing then unheard of and considered injurious — she insisted on having her own way, and after that nursed all her babies herself”.

And there is beautiful Helen who changed husbands and even her faith to change a husband and divorce the previous one. Tolstoy condemns her to a horrible death from a failed abortion (“had suddenly taken a very large dose of the drug, and had died in agony before assistance could be rendered her”), because she diverted from the path that he thinks to be the only right one for a woman. Thus, Tolstoy acts like a gift-giver in a fairy-tale — he kills the heroine who didn’t pass the trial.


Книга предназначена
для читателей старше 18 лет

Бесплатный фрагмент закончился.

Купите книгу, чтобы продолжить чтение.