Fatma’s story is unbelievable. As she grew up in the country in North Africa, her father was poisoned by a jealous aunt when she was three. Then, as a four-year old, her mother sold her to a family in the capital. She had to work from dawn to dusk, often without food, and was regularly beaten by her mistress, at times with an iron chain. She had to sleep on the hard floor in the hall of the house. Every two years her mother came to collect the money for the slavery contract.
Once, during those visits Fatma told her mother how she was treated and begged her to take her home. When Fatima’s mother discussed her story with the mistress, the woman got very angry and told mother Fatma was a liar. The mistress then blackmailed Fatma into staying because otherwise something terrible would happen to her little sister. After this incident, mother left again for two years, after which she was sold to another family.
After our first phonecall, before our session, Fatima has written me a long letter, in which she describes the child slavery, the forced marriage at the age of fifteen, the rage of her mother-in-law who didn’t want her son to be married to a slave and tried to poison her. Instead, her three-year-old son drank the poison and died in Fatima’s arms. Another child died at four under mysterious circumstances.
Many years later, her then-husband went to Switzerland to work and she was to follow him. Somehow she managed to free herself from the marriage and to marry a Swiss man. She is very happy with him, but she’s hounted by the traumatic past. In the evening she feels herself leaving her body, which results in panic attacks in which she re-experiences the horrible past.
Murder, torture, rape – nothing is left out in Fatma’s destiny. In the hall of the building I meet a slender, elegantly dressed oriental woman. She’s beautiful. Strange enough, there is nothing in her presentation that points towards the story she has told me in the mail. She must be enormously strong to live through all that and then manage to look like this. Her German has only a light accent, when she arrived in Switzerland she learned it with the help of friends, within three months.
In my consulting room I decide to leave the lead to her. I tell her I don’t need to hear more of the story. She has written enough to show me that she has an amazing memory, which is also very precise in the description of the events. That allows to address specific aspects of the trauma, so I’m hopeful, even though I have a deep respect for the suffering that has come with her destiny. At the same time it’s clear to me that this is her destiny, not mine. It’s my task to provide a solid frame within which she can fully arrive in the here-and-now.
I tell Fatma that I’m not the one to tell her where to start the work. There are so many issues to process that it’s up to her to decide which one is the most important. She has read my book so she knows how I think. I propose that we address one or two issues to find out if the Logosynthesis method works with her. She fully agrees with that strategy and immediately mentions two incidents she wants to process.
The first one is the visit of her mother in the capital. When she went to sleep after that visit she had an experience that she was dying. Her body grew cold from her feet up, and when the cold sensation had reached her head she had lost consciousness. When she came to her senses again she was deeply disappointed that she was still alive – she had asked God to take her away from this earth.
We activate the scene and address it with the sentences. I propose to say the sentences on her behalf but she insists on repeating them herself. She goes into deep reprocessing, and I let her repeat each sentence a few times. After this first round she has gone from despair to rage at her mother who had sold her to this mistress, and I let her say the sentences for the image of her mother to which she reacts with that rage.
Now there is a deep relief. A broad, happy smile appears on her face. This is what she has come for and she knows it. She says that there is still something there in the scene. She sees the houses in the neighbourhood near the palace in the capital. I have her say the Logosynthesis sentences for that image, and the result is moving: She sees how the palace turns into a home for children who have been freed from slavery. In her letter she had written me that this is what she considers her life mission.