Posted by: Marie | May 14, 2010

(313) Figuring out my own way

Post #313
[Private journal entry written on Saturday, January 9, 2010 – evening]

The one biggest source of frustration for me in working with Mark has been his absoluteness. His style is to gather information quickly and make a determination quickly as to what is “going on” – how things are. Once he makes up his mind, he doesn’t seem to keep it open to the possibility that he got it wrong and that there may be a different conclusion to be made.

This almost makes me chuckle . . . for most of my life I have operated the same way. It was important to me to develop a black and white, concrete story in my mind about what was happening around me. I needed for what I knew to be true to remain stable – if it was shaky, then I had to scramble to figure out how to remain safe in an unstable environment.

On the Hike by Martin Chen

Maybe it is due to age and maybe it is due to progress on my healing path, but I’m finding myself being more comfortable even when things are shifting under my feet (most of the time, anyway). I am beginning to feel a sense of confidence in my ability to keep my balance anyway.

So, it makes me wonder . . . does Mark operate in that absolute, black & white manner because of personality, because of upbringing, because of his religious beliefs . . . ?? Maybe he is afraid of not being able to keep his footing without the absoluteness he creates in his mind.

Of course, it really doesn’t matter . . . that is his business and it has nothing to do with me. But, I still wonder.

I recognize that Mark tries to push his opinions and beliefs on me, stating them as fact instead of allowing me to develop my own. For example, during the session, he boldly stated his opinions about whether I should wear make-up or not (he says I don’t need it), and if I should have sex before marriage or not (he says I shouldn’t). I imagine I’m not the only one he does this to – I’m guessing he is like this with everyone. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. I know he means well.

I will have to shut him down when he is wasting my time. I don’t think it is worth my time to send him journal entries, I’ll just keep my philosophical ponderings to myself – maybe just share the very basic ones – the ones that are relevant to the topics at hand. The more I say, the more fuel he has for his pontificating.

When he does pontificate, I will just listen, consider if what he is saying has value to me, take to heart the parts that do apply, then let the rest go. I can’t waste session time trying to get him to understand what I believe because he is not interested.

He doesn’t understand me and often doesn’t hear me. I have to let go of the need to be understood by him – its not going to happen. This is not a place where I come to be understood, validated and approved of. It is a place where I can get attention (not necessary but enjoyable) and where I can work on gathering information I need for my self-designed, self-paced healing process.

It is unorthodox, and less-than ideal. However, I think it will work for me, at least for now, at least for this very circumscribed purpose. Normally, a therapy client would ask the therapist to help her learn how to stand up to someone else. However, in this case, I’m teaching myself how to stand up to the therapist – he’s a good person for me to “learn on” because he is committed to sticking with me through it all – I know he will stick around for as long as I need him to.

I will just have to be in charge of my own therapy – use my interactions with him to uncover what is going on with me – and take those discoveries and figure out what they mean on my own. It doesn’t matter if he understands or hears me – it only matters that I am getting the information to figure it out on my own, without him.

If I were a therapist, I can imagine I would be horrified to learn that a client of mine thinks and feels this way about me. However, I have tried to talk to him about it – he just doesn’t get it. I’m no longer willing to waste my time and energy trying to get to him to understand. Mark is going to be Mark – if I don’t like how he is, I don’t have to associate with him.

I am trying to hold onto the possibility that someday I will have a relationship (therapeutic, romantic and/or platonic) with a man in which I will be able to be generally understood, validated, approved of and paid attention to. I understand that, just because I don’t have that with Mark, it doesn’t mean I won’t ever have it with a man.

It is possible for me to have hope for something I have not yet experienced.


  1. Hi Marie, I think it is possible for the client to benefit from therapy, even when the client is more mature than the therapist. (Just as well for therapists I think.) Providing support is hugely important I think.

    I’ll be very interested to follow how the relationship developed in the following months.

    • Hey, Evan –

      You make a great point about maturity levels . . . I hadn’t thought of it that way before!

      Thanks for your continued support!

      – Marie

  2. Hi Marie! Your post inspired me for my day. Thank you. :) I can really relate to feeling the need to have things all concretely figured out. As I grow in trusting my own heart (and voice, like your quote says) I am able to operate even if things are still unsure. I don’t need the outer things to be concrete in order for me to feel concrete inside (if that makes sense!) I really admire how you were able to think for yourself with your therapist. That is pretty important stuff! Thanks Marie.

    • Hey, Carla –

      Thank you for the supportive and kind words . . .

      I guess this whole journey is a continuous learning process!!

      – Marie

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