Next, Fontaine is asking you about Christmas in your house growing up.

“Oh it was fine.” You hear yourself say.

“Fine?” Needles Fontaine.

“I mean, it was Christmas. Presents. Tree. Santa Claus, all that.” No one else was talking. “Sure, I never seemed to get what I wanted but my brothers always did, but hey, first world problems, right?”

Fontaine focuses on you completely, making you feel somehow nervous and nurtured at the same time… Remember your professionalism, you remind yourself. Just a job.

“Look, don’t make light of stuff like that. Did that make you feel snubbed as a kid?”

“Well, yeah… if I think about it. And I haven’t thought about it for a long time… but it’s not like anyone was throwing lamps at me or spent the entire holiday drunk and passed out… Compared to everyone else here, my childhood was perfect.”

“We don’t compare trials and tribulations here. It’s not about one-upmanship. And there is no such thing as a perfect childhood. We all have scars. They are just as real as Sam’s or Nina’s. Because they are yours. What is the aftermath for you of feeling left out, maybe disregarded, of not feeling listened to? How does that affect how you interact with people today? It’s interesting that you haven’t thought about your childhood in a long time, but I can tell you as a professional, it is thinking about you. It is affecting you. You are all still that child crying out for what you needed and weren’t given. For some of you it was love. Or importance. Safety. Security. What was it you wanted that you didn’t get?”

“Uhhhm… I don’t know. Maybe a bit more attention. But my mom had her hands full, I can’t blame –“

“No I mean specifically. What did you want for Christmas that you didn’t get? Was it a doll? A bicycle?”

“Oh gosh. It sounds so silly now. I don’t even want to say.”

“Say it. Name it. What was it?”

“OK. Don’t laugh. It was a stupid Holiday Dream Barbie doll. But my parents thought they were too sexist and didn’t believe in them.” You chuckle nervously. Fontaine is dead serious. He pauses to digest.

“So your parents put their belief system over the simple, I have to say, very reasonable desire of their child… for what? Would it have turned you into a promiscuous whore to get that one doll for Christmas?”

“NO!”

“And yet… it is still there. The frustration of that child is still in there.”

“I’m over it.”

“You have stuffed it away where it can’t hurt you. You’ve squashed it down to appease a relationship with your parents, that they obviously don’t put at the top of their list. Am I right?”

“Mmmmmm… I don’t… really think I would put it that way…”

“It is OK to feel that pain and frustration. This is a safe place to do that. Embrace it here. You’ll see. A few weeks with us and you will be healed, even if you didn’t consciously know you were broken to begin with. That’s our time today. You all keep fighting the good fight.”

And everyone got up to go to the next thing. For us, a martial arts class.