Dance Into The Fire

Posted on January 16, 2014


Dance into the fire; that fatal kiss is all we need.  Duran Duran

Tell me where it hurts you, honey, and I’ll tell you who to call.  Bob Dylan

What is the worst James Bond movie?  I would guess I have seen perhaps two thirds of the James Bond films.  I think I could make a good case for “A View to a Kill” as the worst (even though I only saw the film once in the mid 80’s).  In 1971 after making “Diamonds are Forever,” Sean Connery quit playing Bond as he felt he was getting too old for the part.  He was replaced with Roger Moore who was three years his senior.  I never really watched “The Saint,” but friends who did generally asserted that Moore played Bond like the Simon Templar character from The Saint rather than like Ian Fleming’s Bond.  Even though Moore was the Bond of my teen years and the first half of my 20’s, he really wasn’t the best Bond of the franchise.  By the time of “A View to a Kill,” he was 58 and frankly, looked older.[1]  I recall the scene in which he was breathing underwater by inhaling the air out of the car tire valve.  The sagging skin around his jowl attested to his age.  Then there is the whole jumping into Grace Jones’ (playing the evil henceperson) bed to avoid getting caught searching her room and her wordlessly climbing on top of him.  Really?  You guys are enemies and veritable strangers.  Just as “Live and Let Die” was partly carried by having Paul McCartney write and sing the theme song (and Jane Seymour as Miss Solitaire), A View to a Kill had current hit makers Duran Duran write and record the theme song.  The video for the song mostly featured Simon LeBon wandering around the Eiffel Tower with an earpiece as though someone were going to communicate some important information to him surreptitiously.  It finished with Simon modifying the famous Bond line, “The name is Bon, Simon LeBon.”  All of that brings me to a really painful admission; I really like the song.

I was once misquoted by a supervisor as having said that I like to make clients cry.  What I had actually said was that if someone cried in session, I had done my job.  This was not based upon some malevolent or sadistic desire to see someone in pain.  Rather it is about following the emotion.  When a client starts to tear up, he or she has just told me where to look for the crux of the issue.  Those things that bring the tears are the things that are really important to us.  When you show that to a therapist, the therapist should pick up on it and find out what is going on there.  Follow the affect.  Sit with it.  Make the covert, overt.  We need to clean out the wound to give it a chance to heal.  In life in general, we usually try to avoid opening up these painful places.  Don’t show weakness.  In therapy, we need to be able to sit with that discomfort to help find a path to healing.  To paraphrase the Dylan quote above, if you tell me where it hurts, I am better able to help you find the healing you came for.  For the record, I don’t make clients cry, I just lean into the pain that was already there so we can bring it out into the light and get some healing around it.

Sue Johnson (the theorist who developed Emotionally Focused Therapy) has often observed that the patterns of interactions in which couples engage is often like a dance.  Each partner is responding to the steps and movements of their partner.  Both positive and negative cycles work in this way.  Underneath the behaviors, thoughts, and anger that we see on the surface are some more primary emotions (hurt, sadness, loneliness, fear, shame) and attachment needs (love, appreciation, acceptance, value, safety).  When the steps that one partner takes in the dance trigger something in the attachment system of the other partner, the second partner responds with their own movements in the dance.  The first partner responds to that step, and around the cycle we go.  To understand and get out of negative cycles, we need to get down into the primary emotions and attachment needs that are driving the cycle.  These emotions can be pretty hot.  I recall a session in which a couple came in with both partners asserting that they were “done” and ready to divorce.  We spent some time digging into what was happening in their negative cycle at the deeper levels.  They finished the session crying in each other’s arms.  It was a beautiful moment.  This is where we cross from “you are not there for me” to “I just want to feel loved, valued, and emotionally safe with you.”  It is where we move from “whatever I do is never enough” to “I want desperately to feel that you see me as a good partner.”  To make that change, we had to be able to get down to the softer, more painful emotions.  It was exhausting work (for them), but transformational to the relationship.  If couples are willing to allow a therapist to help them dance into that fire, they can really find healing for their relationship.

Afterwards, I walked across the street to get my burger for lunch singing, “But can we dance into the fire; that fatal kiss is all we need.  Dance into the fire to fatal sounds of broken dreams.”  It seemed to reflect what we had just done.  I love my job.

[1] As a man in his 50’s, I get to make this observation.  I would consider myself too old for the part and told the producers that when they called and asked if I was interested.