Posted by: Marie | August 13, 2010

(378) He leads the way – Part 2 of 3

Post #378
[Private journal entry written on Thursday, March 4, 2010 – noon – continued from previous post]

We then talked about the status report I sent him a few days ago. He said he read it over . . .

He feels the relationship-related issues I presented (in the second half of the report) are so vast and complex – he isn’t sure where to start with me.

I am puzzled . . . I thought I did a good job of narrowing it down some and organizing it . . . I figured he would be capable of going through it and picking out one or two biggies . . but, apparently not.

Instead of working on any of the issues I presented in the status report, he started talking about the value of romantic relationships. He told me I need to be open to the possibility that a man could show up for me in the way I desire . . . that I would find joy in a romantic relationship if I could just allow it to happen . . . or he said something like that. I actually quit listening because he was saying all the stuff he has said so many times.

The Tea Garden from Martin Chen

He was in preaching mode again – all talk, no listening. He wouldn’t shut up.

I don’t know why he feels the need to tell me over and over again that I would be happy if I could just be in a romantic relationship with a man. I have asked him to not pressure me to date, but he can’t leave it alone.

He then told me I need to be involved with men so I can learn how to be touched – that I need to go out and practice touching and being touched . . . that he couldn’t do any more for me in the “touch” department here in session.

I asked what he meant by that . . . . last I knew, he was willing to use reasonable and appropriate touch as part of my therapy.

He said, “Well, I’m not willing to touch your various body parts, like your arm or your breast, to see if it feels sexual to you or not.”

I was taken aback . . . I never intended touch to be used that way in our therapy. I wanted to test my reactions to various scenarios like anger or affection, but I never wanted him to touch my breasts or to do anything remotely sexual. He has twisted my request into something I never intended.

I asked, “So, what part can you play in my healing related to my ability to touch and be touched?”

“No part. Nothing. I can’t help you in that way.”

Well, okay then.

He then segued into the email I sent him about Ron (the married guy who contacted me again recently) . . .

He told me I am disrespecting Ron’s wife and their marriage by having any contact with him – even though I know I am not willing to be more than casual friends.

Mark said, since I am aware that there is a possibility that Ron is pursuing a sexual relationship with me (either verbally sexual or physically sexual), I must break off all contact so that I am not feeding Ron’s fantasy. Mark said it is my job to not do anything that would encourage Ron’s dishonorable thoughts or behavior – it doesn’t matter what I intend to do or not do with Ron . . . I must not have any contact with him.

I know this is something taught by conservative churches . . . when I was growing up, my dad taught me I was responsible for making sure nothing I said or did encouraged a boy/man to think sinful thoughts . . . that boys/men are not capable of managing their own thoughts. I guess Mark supports that teaching.

Furthermore, Mark said, I must contact Ron’s wife and tell her about the conversation Ron and I had last fall . . . the one that had an element of sexual banter to it until I shut down the banter and took it to a thoughtful, serious place.

Mark told me it is my responsibility to report our “relationship”, and Ron’s “immoral” behavior, to his wife – even though Ron and I are barely acquaintances (definitely not in a “relationship”) – even though I barely know Ron and don’t know his wife at all – even though I don’t consider participating in a conversation that contains sexual banter “immoral”.

Improper – disrespectful, even – but not immoral.

When I expressed a difference of opinion . . . when I told Mark that I am not responsible for what Ron thinks or does, that I am not responsible for reporting a conversation-in-poor-taste to his wife, that it is unreasonable for me to permanently cut off all contact with all men who make inappropriate sexually-tainted comments to me – that I am only responsible for managing my own behavior and for setting and enforcing healthy boundaries . . . . well, that really set Mark off onto a tangent . . .

He asked me if I cared if Ron’s wife knew about our relationship.

I answered: “No, I don’t care if his wife knows . . . Ron is the one who doesn’t want his wife to know. That is his business. I am not doing anything I want to hide from his wife. However, I’m not going to interject myself into their relationship just to make sure that he is behaving respectfully and that he is thinking pure thoughts. That is not my responsibility.”

I told Mark I enjoyed talking to Ron and I would like to talk with him again – provided the conversation and “relationship” can stay respectful and aboveboard. I think it could even be a healing interaction because I felt “seen” and “heard” by him in our past conversations. If nothing else, it is an opportunity for me to safely learn about how I tend to interact with men.

Mark responded: “Well, you are contributing to the destruction of their marriage in order to meet a selfish agenda. If you continue having contact with Ron, you cannot be the person you profess to be. Your behavior would be inconsistent with who you say you are – you would be lying about who you really are.”

(Okay . . . well . . . I get his “big picture” point . . . this is not the healthiest relationship in which to be involved . . . I agree with that. However, Mark stepped way out-of-line with his input. By passing judgment on how this situation defines “who I am”, he is violating an organic boundary.

It is my responsibility to decide how to handle this situation. And, it is my responsibility to define who I am. Mark doesn’t get to do either of those things. He has no business trying to do them.

And, he is not in a position to pass judgment – Mark is so not in a position to pass judgment on what is right or wrong or appropriate or inappropriate.)

Anyway, discussion on that topic came to a screeching halt – I guess the look of stubborn fury on my face provided the hint that he was treading on dangerous ground . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. Marie, I see this situation with your therapist just as you see it – he is putting some of his personal morality onto you, his client. Whether I agree with him or not, that is not his business to do that.

    As it happens, I totally agree with your view on this also. Contact his wife about some conversation you had with Ron? Talk about stirring up trouble where there may be none….

    As a client, this kind of behaviour by a therapist would really bother me and I would be questioning his competence. And I would have been angry also.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      It is good to hear from someone who agrees with me on some of these viewpoints . . .

      In my younger days (20’s and early 30’s), I made it a habit to flirt with any man who would give me the time of day, and to sleep with any man who would whisper sweet nothings in my ear for a few minutes. It didn’t matter to me if the man was married or not.

      So, in the present, I find myself attempting to find a new balance. I am clear that I don’t want to repeat my earlier behavior, but I don’t want to swing wildly the other way and become a rigid prude. I’m working to find a middle ground. Input from another woman is helpful!

      Thank you!

      – Marie

  2. This might be a naughty thought – have you asked him about the status of his own romantic life? My guess is that it isn’t great.

    Mark seems really screwed up about sexuality, romance and responsibility. OK, his stuff – but he should have ways of it not getting in the way of your therapy (in my, not, so humble opinion).

    • Hey, Evan –

      Great questions!

      Actually, Mark has shared some of his personal story with me as a way to connect with me — he often shares his story as part of his religious testimony . . . and it goes something like this:

      He was rather promiscuous during his high school and college days, then he became a Christian and got “right with God”. Now, he is the shining example of a sinner who has been redeemed and transformed through the power of Jesus. He demonstrates that transformation though his ultra-conservative and ultra-rigid ethics, morals and standards.

      I think his current identity is wrapped up in his story of being redeemed and transformed — and in regularly demonstrating righteous behavior. I think he wants to “fix” others [including me] by zealously showing us his path is the best path for all of us. He can’t tolerate any other possibilities.

      So, about his wife . . . the good news is that he and his wife have been married for 20+ years and they really do seem to be happy together. (I know his wife fairly well — the benefit of living in a small town.)

      Maybe the fact they seem happy says more about her than him. She is a strong-minded woman who can take care of herself — if he were putting her into a bad position, I’m sure she could and would make sure it didn’t continue. I just don’t see her taking any crap. She seems to be emotionally mature — maybe she has to be to be married to him. Maybe she just gives him the space to be the way he is and accepts and loves him anyway.

      Of course, outsiders don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors . . . and things aren’t always as they appear . . .

      – Marie

  3. Wowee…that’s some “interesting” therapy right there. Time to run for the hills. Curious to see at what point you decided that this couldn’t be salvaged. I’m guessing within the next session or two, because how much more ridiculousness can you take?

    I do sort of agree with him about the Ron friendship. Not the contacting the wife part–that’s just overkill–but about the general nature of having that friendship. He’s right that Ron probably is at the very least using you as fantasy material. Not that that’s the end of the world, but given how the relationship formed and what his personal situation is, I have a hard time seeing it evolve into some great friendship.

    At the same time, maybe it’s a bit of a stepping stone. You feel safer with him perhaps? Because he is married and therefore off limits and you don’t have to feel worried about the sexual component or anything?

    • Hey, Aaron –

      ‘Wowee…that’s some ‘interesting’ therapy right there.’

      LOL, you are being so kind in your choice of words . . . hang on a few more days and you’ll see my choice of words aren’t so nice!

      One reason I had been hanging on is because I thought it was all my fault. By dealing with my part of the conflict through the script and emails, I knew I had cleaned up my part. That meant that any residual conflict would be on him. It gave me a chance to get clear about how much of the problem was him. This session let me see that it was not all my fault . . . that Mark was contributing big time.

      In fact, this session opened my eyes to the fact that he was contributing more to the problem than I had even imagined. Although . . . it took me until a few days after the session to get clear about it.

      So . . . you are right on the money about Mark . . . and you are right on the money about Ron.

      I knew the deal with Ron would never involved a healthy, solid friendship, but I wondered if it might be, as you said, a stepping stone. I was attracted to him and, the first time I met him, the thought of having an affair with him crossed my mind. But, in the time since I met him and the time of this journal entry, I had gotten some things addressed emotionally and I was no longer tempted. I wanted to see if I could interact with someone like Randy (someone to whom I was attracted) in a healthy way.

      Thanks for your input!

      – Marie

  4. Hi Marie, thanks – I’ve got the Mark picture now. I’ve known quite a few people like this – also their strong wives, from growing up in an evangelical church.

  5. Holy mother of crap! In my not so humble opinion, there’s nothing that could be salvaged from this in the context of a therapeutic relationship. Everything about Mark’s behavior here is so very inappropriate.

    • Yup, David . . . even I, in all my blind loyalty, was beginning to catch on by this point. It took me a couple more days to come to terms with it, though . . .

      – Marie

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