Posted by: Marie | August 4, 2010

(371) Truth keeps flowing – Part 3 of 5

Post #371
[Email to my therapist written on Saturday, February 27, 2010 – continued from previous post]

I am sad I don’t feel that level of connection with you. I think the connection and trust would be beneficial in our therapeutic relationship – because it seems the therapeutic relationship is often the first emotionally intimate, healing relationship that provides a bridge to other healthy and healing relationships.

In the absence of that level of connection, I’m finding I have taken a step back and have pragmatically positioned our relationship in my mind as a “purely business” relationship. In reality, I guess that is all it really is. I don’t have to feel extraordinarily connected to you in order to figure out what it going on inside my head. It would be helpful, but it is not necessary.

The Red Ball by Martin Chen

I don’t understand why you are unwilling to take steps that would bring healing to me and to our relationship. But, that is about you and not about me. I spoke my truth and you responded the way you responded. There is nothing else left for me to do about it – talking about it more with you is not going to make a difference. I just have to understand this is the way it is going to be with you. If I don’t like it, I can leave. When it starts impeding my ability to progress in my healing journey, I’ll go elsewhere for my therapy.

It seems I learn mostly through our conflict. By examining our conflict, I am sorting through what does and does not work for me in emotionally intimate relationships with men. I am quite sure this is not the way therapy is “supposed” to work. However, for now, it is working for me.

For example, since our last session, I have learned it is extremely important to me that the people with whom I have emotionally intimate relationships be willing to take responsibility for the pain they cause others. It is important to me they be naturally empathetic.

I have also identified my pattern of selecting people who tend to not be that way. This is valuable insight for me.

I have also identified my pattern of spending time – huge allotments of time – trying to elicit empathy and understanding and connection from men who are not available to me in that way. For a lifetime, I have been operating under an inaccurate belief that I could create that sense of restoration and connection if I could just better explain “it” to them.

I now understand that is a colossal waste of my precious time and energy. I have gotten really good at explaining, but the explaining has not resulted in better emotional connections or deeper trust. I am no longer willing to continue that pattern, in general, and I am no longer willing to continue it with you. It is time for me to quit beating the dead horse lying on the floor between us.

I am making a deliberate choice to set aside all the stuff that has happened between us in the past. And, I am letting go of the hope that empathy, apologies and mutual understanding will lead to a deeper trust and emotional connection between us. I am resigning myself to the fact I must always be prepared to actively protect some of my boundaries with you – I must always be somewhat on guard with you. I am choosing to stop fighting to change all of that.

If, in our future work together, I find myself feeling unheard, misunderstood or unsafe again, I will deal with it on the spot – as opposed to picking it up and putting it in my bag of “unresolved issues” I have historically carried with me from session to session. I will do, in real time, whatever I need to do to protect my boundaries.

I believe I can now deal with stuff as it comes up for me because I have finally found my truth-telling voice and I am becoming more courageous about using it. This, in and of itself, has been the most valuable skill I have learned, so far, through our work together.

By taking these steps, I am creating a sense of resolution, completion and safety for myself, independently of your actions.

Additionally, your willingness to listen without interruption and your promise to respect my boundary around the religion topic has allowed me to feel “heard enough” and “safe enough” to move forward to new topics. So, for me, this topic – our history – is complete enough. I don’t need to discuss it further.

—————

In relation to the homework assignment you gave me to find behaviors and emotions that show up in the present as result of what happened between my dad and me . . .

It feels like, by setting aside my bag of “unresolved issues” I have been carrying from one therapy session to the next, I am also setting aside my defensive, prickly, protective layer. In order to do the homework assignment, it feels like I have to turn around 180 degrees from a defensive stance to an inwardly reflecting stance. It feels like I’m setting aside that prickly, very thick outside layer and opening up the very tender-to-the-touch soft core.

When I think of doing that, I realize a couple of things: I don’t know anything about what is in my core (who I am at my core) and I am very, very afraid of looking at or touching that part of me or letting you look at or touch that part of me – I am afraid of the pain it will cause. When I glance that direction, I only see a red hot, bubbling mass of pain and anger and rawness.

I’m finding it very hard to do the homework assignment – I feel myself glancing then quickly looking away, feeling such strong pain that I feel sick to my stomach.

This feels like something I need help doing. In this moment, the idea of examining the content of that soft core with your help feels safer to me than the idea of doing it by myself. I am terrified at the intensity of the emotions and I need help with handling them as they come up for me.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. Hanging on every word. I am so very impressed with your ability to express yourself clearly and honestly, and am very much wondering what Mark did with all of this.

    • Hey, David –

      I’m so tickled to hear this stuff is interesting to you! It was a big deal for me and it seems worthy of some attention from someone!

      I think it is cool that all of you were able to help me figure this stuff out in a major way by contributing to the blog conversation contained in that “apology” reader input post. That conversation was hugely helpful for me in this process — so, thank you (way after the fact) for that!

      – Marie

  2. It sounds like you were very in touch with your core Marie – a red hot, bubbling mass of pain and anger and rawness.

    Looking forward to seeing where you go with this.

    • Hey, Evan –

      Yes . . . once I set aside all the drama with Mark and got back to the healing stuff, I was able to feel the rawness . . . a big deal, for sure!

      Thanks for your support — including your part in the “apology” reader input discussion!

      – Marie

  3. “I have also identified my pattern of spending time – huge allotments of time – trying to elicit empathy and understanding and connection from men who are not available to me in that way.”

    This is important, because my experience tells me that if someone is unavailable to you in that way, it’s going to take a miracle to change it. Most people, and men probably more so than women, have difficulty opening up and being vulnerable and working through heavy emotional content.

    The kinds of people who ARE able to do this kind of work are few and far between, and it takes years and years–maybe even a lifetime–of sustained effort. So it really can be futile to try and “change” a man from that detached, prideful, non-reflective stance, to be the kind of man you are looking for.

    But as a man who has done a lot of that work, I can say that we do in fact exist. However, being a man, I still have a lot of anger and abusive and reactionary tendencies that I deal with. I find it unlikely you will come across a guy who is perfectly kind and generous and self-reflective at all times.

    But you may find a man (or men) who at least are working at it.

    You definitely strike me as being on the right track and coming from a very powerful place of deep self-knowledge. Your blog is quite inspiring.

    • Hey, Aaron –

      You hit on one of the biggest pieces of new understanding I’ve gained lately . . . I thought all men were detached, prideful and non-reflective because that is all I’ve ever experienced of men. It is only recently that I’ve found a few men who are awake and aware and committed to being kind and supportive.

      I have a long history of believing it was my fault . . . if I could somehow get my act together, men would be kind and supportive and would not blame me for all the problems we experience. It is a huge relief to discover it isn’t about me not “having my act together”, but rather it has to do with my choosing of particular men.

      That is something that seems changeable to me . . . I believe I can learn to choose better (and have, in fact, started choosing better).

      Great input! Thank you!

      – Marie

    • And . . thank you for your very kind words!


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