Posted by: Marie | August 25, 2011

(582) I want to believe it, but I don’t

Post #582
[Email exchange with my therapist on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 in preparation for an upcoming session]

Hi, Edward –

I trust you are enjoying the beautiful weather!

So . . . about my current status . . . I don’t want to attempt to have a session via email, and I’m not expecting a response from you before the next session. But, I thought you might like an advance warning about where I am at . . . it’s not pretty.

A month ago, here is how I would have assessed my psychological status:

Photo by Martin Chen

1) I basically have no hope of ever participating in emotionally intimate relationships in which the interaction occurs on a regular and long-term basis. (I know you are telling me something different, but I don’t believe it – I want to believe it, but I don’t.)

2) The reason for #1 is because I still feel broken and unlovable, and because I believe I would not survive participating in such a relationship, and because that part of me has already died – and I basically have no hope any of that will ever change. (I know you are telling me something different, but I don’t believe it – I want to believe it, but I don’t.)

3) I have basically accepted that this is the hand I’ve been dealt in this lifetime – and I can live with it because I do have hope I will find a way to derive joy from other sources (like teaching piano) – and that the absence of emotionally intimate relationships is not a barrier to experiencing a life filled with joy. (This is my motivation for continuing to show up for therapy.)


Then, in the last session, I gained the following insights:

1) My crippling deep pain and ever-present depression are the result of the absence of emotionally intimate relationships in my life – because I’m excruciatingly lonely.

2) The solution for the pain and depression is for me to manifest emotionally intimate relationships in my life. (But, of course, I have no hope of that happening in this lifetime.)

3) The joy I might experience from other sources is never going to outshine the pain and depression from the absence of healing relationships – I am always going to be in pain.


Since the last session, I have realized:

1) We have covered every topic at least once . . . there are no more pockets of crap to be cleaned out . . . nothing has been left untouched . . . there isn’t anything else left to cover – nothing else left to heal.

2) I do feel better and lighter about many things . . . there has been significant healing and I’m in a better place now than I was a year ago (as you pointed out). But, the weight of the existing pain still outweighs the improvements ten to one – and it’s not going to get better – this is as good as it gets – and it’s not enough to cause me to want to stick around.

3) The good news is that I know how to buckle down and deal with it – I only have to survive it for 20 more years . . . maybe less . . . I’ll just grit my teeth and get through it – I’ll just stay busy and have as many joyful moments as I can because four joyful hours a day is much better than none.

4) Since there is nothing else left to cover, there is no reason for me to continue showing up for therapy. And that means the end of the one healthy, emotionally intimate relationship I do have – and that sucks.

So . . . there it is. I’m sorry it is so ugly.

– Marie


Dear Marie,

Thank you for your intimate and considered sharing.

I understand your sense of sadness and despair, expressed powerfully in your email.

As you’d anticipate, you and I disagree about some of your conclusions. I look forward to our time together when I can share an alternate conclusion to your dilemma, and embark together on your ongoing healing, transitioning you toward the love and joy you very much deserve.

Until then, take excellent care of yourself, and know you’ve got me and my care for you “in your corner”.



  1. I believe Edward truly cares for you, beyond that of simply doctor-patient. I think he really believes in you healing and that he’s willing to go above and beyond for you.

    That means it is a truly healthy, intimate relationship.

    Glad you’re having that experience

    • Hey, Aaron –

      I’ve often wondered if Edward does become this invested with all or most of his clients . . . realistically, I imagine there are varying degrees with different clients.

      It is a very new experience for me to have men show up consistently in a supportive way . . . in therapy . . . on the blog . . . I really appreciate the experience and the men’s efforts!

      – Marie

      • I have a hard time believing that Edward gets this invested with all of his clients. I’m sure he’d like to have a deep interaction that changes their lives, but knowing what I do about human nature–I suspect that very few of his patients are capable of the level of dedication that your bring to the table.

        In other words, you’re providing Edward with the opportunity to do what he does best, and I’m sure he very much values you as a person and a client because of this. I am sure that he cares very much for you and believes in you.

        By it’s nature, therapy is different from friendship, but that doesn’t make it LESS of a relationship. With the right two people it can be incredibly intimate and profound, clearly. And you are demonstrating that, as well as an ability to interact in a very healthy way with a man.

        Although it’s a slow process, you’re seeing the differences and I’m sure they will be exponential soon.

        • Hey, Aaron –

          It is true that my relationship with Edward repeatedly challenges what I know to be true about men . . . and each time those beliefs are challenged and he continues to show up in his quiet, profound way, another brick falls out of my defensive wall.

          He has been (and continues to be) a gift in my life.

          Thank you for the encouraging and acknowledging words!

          – Marie

  2. I’ll be interested to hear what happened.

    I do know people who have felt similarly to you and who have built intimate relationships step by step. (Though they did use their teeth gritting ability to get there.) I’m married to one (I know others too).

    • Hey, Evan –

      There seems to be a pattern in the exchanges between Edward and me . . . he proposed a new idea, I give him all the reasons it can’t be true, he patiently helps me disprove each reason . . . and slowly, I’m able to embrace the new truth.

      It is a very painfully slow process . . . I often lose faith in my ability to get through it.

      – Marie

  3. i know this is time lagged, but i really hope you didn’t quit therapy. there is so much more you can do. it really does get better, and it doesn’t happen in such a short amount of time. i’ve been with my therapist over 18 months, twice a week for the last year and i’m only now untangling my intimacy and sexuality issues. i had to do some other work first in order to be well enough to dig deep. you can do it! i believe in you.

    • Hey, Catherine –

      Rest assured . . . I didn’t quit therapy . . . I’m still going, even today!

      And, yes, I’m learning how long and how much effort is required to cause these shifts. Phew!

      Thank you for the encouraging words!! Congratulations on your progress — you deserve it!!!

      – Marie

      • You mention the effort and time and I think that’s a really huge point. In any endeavor, be it piano, or learning a trade, or working on our emotional health–it takes YEARS of practice to become proficient.

        When I look at the work I’ve done emotionally and psychologically on myself, we’re talking easily 12-18 years of pretty intensive work to get to a place where I feel a sense of “mastery” of certain aspects of my emotional and mental health. Even now there are areas where I feel tremendously weak and I need to learn so much more.

        It’s endless and it can feel like nothing’s happening, but that’s the case in any worthwhile endeavor.

  4. Hi Aaron,

    There is a rule of thumb amongst therapists that see people off the street (rather than those who work in institutions) about 20%. That is 20% of clients are great, 20% difficult and the rest you put in the work and get the results.

    Marie, I think you would be the kind of client most therapists would love to have – self-aware, articulate and willing to put in the work. It would be very strange I think if Edward didn’t look forward to your sessions.

    • Thank you, Evan for believing I’m one of the great ones!

      – Marie

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