Posted by: Marie | May 19, 2010

(316) A need to be believed

Post #316
[Private journal entry written on Tuesday, January 12, 2010]

Today, I got off on a mental tangent on which I asked myself what kind of guy would want to become romantically involved with someone like me (meaning . . someone dealing with all kinds of ongoing mental health issues).

I decided to find a suitable answer by mentally trading shoes with such a guy. I asked myself if I would be willing to become involved with someone with mental health issues. I thought about what it would be like, for example, to be involved with someone who is in recovery from drugs or alcohol or who has multiple personalities . . . would I be willing to deal with all that comes with those conditions?

On the Hike by Martin Chen

I went back and forth in my mind about that question . . . it would be a challenge to be in a relationship with someone who (for example) had to occasionally go into the hospital in order to deal with the way his brain works – probably more challenging than being a relationship with someone who is “normal”.

However, I realized that is likely not true – because, often, people who have had to deal with disabling mental disorders have been required to develop the quality of their character and their personal awareness in order to survive – and I would love to be involved with someone who has strong character, personal awareness, strength and wisdom. I’d put up with a lot of “other stuff” in order to enjoy being with someone who could and would be sensitive my heart and my own journey – someone who really “got it”.

Plus, the “normal” people I know all have their own “stuff” to deal with – maybe their stuff wouldn’t require hospitalization, but their disrespect, insensitivity, lack of self-awareness, etc. could make my life pretty unbearable. Maybe dealing with a partner having to go into the hospital every once in a while might not be that tough to live with . . . maybe it would feel really good to provide support – really awesome, solid, loving support – to that partner.

Then, a new realization hit me hard . . . it would feel extremely good to be able to relax into the arms of someone who could honestly sympathize with my struggles and internal drama – someone who would believe I wasn’t being overly dramatic, that it really was “that bad” – someone who would give me the space to hurt and be angry, as much space as I needed, without hurrying me to “get over it already”.

Hey . . . all of those things I want can be summed up in one word/phrase . . . I want to be believed!

When I say that I am sad or mad or depressed or needing time alone or needing to be held or needing to cry or needing to tell my story – I want my partner to believe me. I don’t want him to be gritting his teeth and thinking, “What a drama queen” or “She’s just doing this for the attention.” I don’t want him trying to figure out how to get out of putting up with my drama “because it is all unnecessary”. I don’t want him to be wishing he were with someone who doesn’t require so much effort in exchange for sex.

I imagined how it would feel to have that kind of support . . . and I suddenly realized that it was the same feeling I have been imagining every night as I lay in bed trying to coax myself into sleep by imagining some faceless, gentle man is holding me – a feeling of being safe.

I have a very difficult time imagining myself actually feeling safe while being held by these imaginary men – because there was a missing element. I can almost relax into the fantasy . . . but not quite.

And now, I made the connection – the missing element is being believed. I think I could really relax into those fantasies if the men I dream up actually understood and BELIEVED me – if they believed it really is that bad and I’m not being overly dramatic.

Then, I thought about my therapy — specifically about the situation around the mirror exercise . . .

Mark currently believes that I had no reaction to his touch; therefore, I must have no issue with some kinds of touch.

I believe that the anxiety around doing the mirror exercise caused me to leave my body, which is why I have no memory of being touched. I think we don’t know if I would be okay (or not) with that type of touch – we can’t know until we try it while I am actually present in my body. Furthermore, we already know that I’m okay with some touch . . . Mark and I hug, he touches my arm or my shoulder when we meet in public . . .

I am afraid to tell Mark what I really believe happened during the exercise because it is contrary to what he believes is true – because I’m afraid he will think I’m exaggerating to make things seem worse than they are. I don’t yet trust that he will believe me, whatever I say, however bad I say it is.

I really do believe that he believes my crying in reaction to my body memory of the crotch touch was real – he said that there is so much more that needs to come out – he said that release of emotion was just the beginning. So, in that aspect, I feel believed and “safe”.

But, it feels as if he could change his opinion of my believability very quickly. I have to be very careful to not upset the delicate balance if I’m going to have a forum in which I feel believed and safe. If he shows even a small sign that he doesn’t fully believe me, I’m not sure I can continue therapy with him.

I can get along without full understanding and approval from him . . . but, I do need to know that he fully believes me. That is absolutely necessary in order to continue therapy. I feel that could go away in a heartbeat – that it is very fragile.

I feel torn between wanting to prove to him how unbroken I am – and, at the same time, how broken I am. I guess it is reasonable for people to be confused about what I am saying – about what to believe and not believe. I guess it goes back to my August 21 journal entry post about the twin imperatives.


  1. I really like this post. Thanks for sharing it. I have always wondered what kind of guy would want to be with me – marry me. This makes me feel so much better!


    • Hi, Bee –

      I’m glad you were able to pull some positive thoughts from this post . . . I know I feel that I can’t be loveable unless I “have my act together” . . . I’m learning that is not true.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      – Marie

  2. I can understand you would love to be involved with someone who has dealt with his own struggles. After 6 yeras of struggles my partner and i healing together. Traveling our own road and elarning what we need and enjoy within a emotional, spiritual and physical relationship. Took us a while to find a direction. Yeas, it is possible even with cultural and language barriers on top!
    Can relate how difficlut it is to feel different and strong about things observed by the therapist. During my first therapy 18 years ago I was such a people pleaser that my t thought all is fine and we could move one! Still a people pleaser yet it doesnt come so easy to me anymore! And since my trauma therapy last year I wouldnt keep my mouth shut anymore if my therapist team and I would differ! I love your awareness your thoughtfullness and your progress. Hugs across the pond

    • Hi, Paula –

      I think so much can be overcome when two people are committed to making it work . . . thank you for sharing your success story!

      I’m glad you are learning to speak your mind! That is so important!

      – Marie

  3. I’ll be interested to see if you raised this issue with Mark. I think it is a huge issue for anyone who has had to keep the abuse they suffered secret. I would think that any therapist would be used to dealing with this issue (but that may just be my fantasy).

    • Hey, Evan –

      I agree that it is reasonable to expect therapists to be sensitive to the “being believed” issue . . . it seems like common sense to me . . .

      Maybe therapists who haven’t had to deal with their own yucky stuff aren’t as sensitive . . .

      – Marie

  4. I always wonder if my therapist really knows how I feel inside because I always come across as doing really well. And I haven’t really told her much of my story.

    Sometimes I think that I should be more emotional about myself but I can’t seem to do it. This seems to be a problem for me, my therapist and others thinking I am doing better then I really am.

    • Hey, lostinamaze –

      It is good to hear from you again!

      I think it would be difficult for your therapist to really understand what is going on with you if you don’t tell her . . . I’m sure she doesn’t read minds. Are you benefiting from therapy if you aren’t sharing the parts of you that most need the help?

      – Marie

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