Emily was aware of the disembodied voice asking her questions, she’d already asked her’s: “Why am I am I over weight?” “Why do I keep eating all the wrong things when I know they’re bad for me?” “Why do I keep thinking I deserve a relationship but keep myself feeling unattractive?” “Why am I crying right now?”
The Locksmith had anticipated Emily’s questions, everyone who’d ever been to see him had questions, and of course he knew all about how important they were to his inquisitors, yet he also knew, it wasn’t so much the questions that mattered, but how you asked them.
He asked Emily to use her minds eye and imagine a leopard running through the jungle. Knowing the next question was potentially deceitful (as the animal itself was often seen) but with good intent, he asked her:
“How is it the leopard isn’t fat?”
“I know all about exercise!” exclaimed Emily, “I work out at the gym, but when I get home I eat a packet of fucking biscuits, sorry about my bad language,” she added.
Lord Harry, the little terrier curled up beside her, had raised his head. The Locksmith’s question had worked.
“Well, it must be that eating the packet of biscuits is doing something for you, satisfying you in some way. What is the feeling you experience just before you open the packet?”
“Just before I open the packet?”
“I don’t know, I’ve never thought about it before.”
“And now that you are?”
Emily was feeling exasperated, “Christ! . . . , sorry,” she said.
“So if I’m hearing you right the feeling you have is sorry,” said the Locksmith.
“No, no, I was apologising for using Christ’s name in vain, I keep swearing.”
“Yes, and if you were sorry, what would you be sorry for?” asked the Locksmith
There was a long pause before Emily answered that last question, she was waiting for some rather inexplicable angry feelings to subside. Once calm she repeated the question to herself: if I was sorry what would I be sorry for?
Finding her voice she said, “I’d feel sorry that I was opening a packet of bloody biscuits, that’s for sure! . . . sorry.”
“Um hum, that particular packet, or the packet before that one?” asked the Locksmith.
After a while Emily came to an understanding the Locksmith was looking to help her with; he was helping her understand the looping nature of guilt, and how guilt doesn’t tend to be ‘date stamped.’
“We can feel guilty for something that happened years ago, or hours ago, and the feelings associated with each incident can be no less intense or destructive,” he told her.
“What we must focus our attention on, is the first time we felt guilty, eating. Also we must focus on how something has changed from necessity to guilt.”
That last part didn’t make any sense to Emily but she was listening all the same, especially when he asked her: “Tell me about that first time; feeling guilty; eating to feel better.”
She didn’t want to say, but somehow, Emily found the strength: “It was after the first time he touched me,” she said. Now the tears had become a well.
To be continued…