A monkey was in need of a friend and spotted a tortoise. When she approached, the tortoise withdrew his head, just a little bit as tortoises do, but was actually pleased to be chosen. As the friendship grew he managed to be fully available; he learned that he could keep all of his limbs out of his shell in order to partake in the hugs they often gave each other. They began to trust and love each other.
The monkey liked lots of hugs and one day she came up close to the tortoise. He instinctively withdrew a little as he was thinking about something else at the time. The monkey saw how the tortoise withdrew and thought that she had hurt him or that he might be going off her. So she wanted the reassurance of connection with him and she came close and put her arms around him. He withdrew completely into his shell. She held him even tighter but there was still no response. She felt rejected. In her desperation to get any kind of small reaction from him, she got on top of his shell and jumped up and down. He felt crowded and attacked. When she started to let out a little cry with each jump he became angry. He started to use his shell resentfully, like a fortress, remaining deep inside. After a while she gave up and walked away. They both felt sad.
With thanks to:
The Imago Therapist and Teacher, Sophie Slade,
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