Often in my work, as many therapists do, I use metaphor to help clients access and articulate emotions that otherwise they could not express. Recently, I came across one that I found moving – it was the metaphor of a sandbox, and how a partner, the boy, could not get in to the same sandbox with the girl – who was sadly, instead, throwing stones and keeping him out. I found that powerful. It spoke to me of child-like longing for connection (on both sides!). It spoke to me of loneliness – I saw this boy wanting to play, wanting to join his love in the sandbox – but being prevented from doing so out of a need to protect himself. Conversely it was easy to imagine the sad and frightened little girl in the sandbox, so afraid is she that she needs to keep everyone out. Yet that loneliness that she experiences just exacerbates her pain, her mistrust of the world, so she throws those stones with a passion that would knock Goliath out.
How do you dig in when it’s time to be vulnerable? How do bring yourself to share the sandbox, to invite someone in? Who do you allow to see your playful side? Your fearful side? Who would you throw a stone at? How might you lay the stone down for a moment? How might you reach across the sand to someone to quell their fear (and your own) long enough that they might hear you say hello, it’s me, it’s ok? How do you trust that another stone won’t come hurtling toward you?
When I think about my own experience I recognize my own stone throwing going on when I worry I won’t be taken care of. So I see now that when I am vulnerable, and while it totally defeats the purpose, that is when I decide it’s time to pick up my stones and prepare to throw … just when I should be saying please come in and join me.
We are curious creatures are we not?