Posted by: Marie | October 23, 2011

(607) Hitting back – Part 3 of 5

Post #607
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]


Me: Okay, maybe a better approach would be for you to tell me what you see being involved in this conversation with my dad. Maybe I’m not understanding what you think needs to happen.

Edward: I don’t think I can give you a step-by-step detailed description of what I see happening, but I could give you a general description. Would you prefer that I give you a general big picture before we get started – with the understanding that the picture may change dramatically once we get started just because of how things unfold organically – or, would you prefer that I just lead you through each step and we only focus on the step that is in front of us?

Photo by Martin Chen

Me: Because of the level of fear I’m feeling around what is to come with regards to this process, I would feel safer if I had a big picture laid out for me before we start down that path. And, I am very clear that the big picture may change dramatically as we move forward – but, I’d like to have a general idea of where we are aiming.

Edward: Okay . . . I see the conversation being about how you were affected by his behavior. I envision you expressing to him how you felt about his expectations, how he did or did not meet your emotional needs . . .

Me: Can you be more specific? I’m having trouble understanding what you mean, exactly. Maybe you could give me some examples of specific words or phrases I might use?

(As I was talking, I pulled out a pen and my clipboard with blank paper on it, and readied myself for taking notes.)

Edward: Yes . . . you might say to him:

This is who you wanted me to be then.
This is who I am now.
This is how I felt then.
This is how I feel now.
This is what I needed then.
This is what I need/want now.

(I captured the list of statements verbatim.)

Me: So, I’m thinking that I have already had a conversation with my dad about all three of the “then” items – is that not true?

Edward: No, I don’t think you have yet.

Me: What about the letter to my dad . . . ??

Edward: Oh . . . I see . . . I am sorry that I didn’t give you credit for the work you have already done with your letter. Yes, you have indeed address the three historical pieces in your letter. And, that was a great first step.

What I would like to see you do is actually have an unscripted real-time face-to-face conversation with your dad – or, more accurately, an imagined version of your dad. An interactive conversation is very different from reading a scripted letter. I think you would benefit from the interactive experience.

Me: Oh, okay . . . I see what you are saying. It is specifically the interactive aspect of the conversation that is creating the terror for me. So yes, I agree it would be beneficial for me to face that fear.

So, as I look over this list, I’m pretty comfortable that I could have a conversation – with minimal preparation – concerning all of these pieces except for the second one, “This is who I am now.” That is the one piece I don’t have any idea how to do.

Edward: Ah . . . so, let me state that one in a different way: As a person deserving of respect and love, here is how I want to be treated.

(Again, I transcribed that phrase verbatim.)

Me: So, the definition of who I am is based upon how others treat me?

Edward: Well, I think it is more about who you are when you are in relationship with others.

Me: So, the definition of who I am is based upon who I am in relationship with others? Can’t it be about who I am when I stand independently?

(I was flooded with frustration when I again was reminded that my inability to be in relationships is taking away from my ability to move through the healing process. I became emotional and tears filled my eyes.)

Edward: Marie, what is happening?

Me: (Angrily) If it has to do with my interactions with other people, I’m screwed!

Edward: Why would you be screwed?

Me: Because people can’t be trusted with the task of defining who I am!

Edward: Can you give me an example of what a relationship would look like with someone who cannot be trusted?

Me: For example, when a man sees me as being valuable only for sex and housekeeping.

Edward: In that case, the man would not be honoring who you really are, so that would be a relationship you would want to move away from. Who you are is not dependent on who he thinks you are.

Me: So, I’m right – who I am has nothing to do with how others see me – it is independent of how I show up in relationships or how others experience me.

Edward: Okay . . . that is true to some extent. But, a large part of who you are is who you are in relationship to others. Our relationships greatly influence who we are.

Me: Then, unless I figure out how to attract and participate in healthy relationships, I’m screwed – not completely, but significantly.

Edward: Well, in addition to our relationships, who we are is also defined by how we feel and what we need and want. There are also parts of who we are that are created by our history. All of that comes into play when we start defining who we are.

Me: (Tears of frustration started again . . . ) I don’t know how to do this . . . how to be a complete and healthy person. I don’t know how to define who I am. I don’t get how to do this stuff.

Edward: Your tears are telling me that you probably know more than you are giving yourself credit for . . .

(I buried my face in my hands, quit talking and just let the tears flow . . . )

Edward: What is happening with you, Marie?

Me: I’m back in that place of hopelessness. I’m very frustrated and very angry. I know you think I should know the answers, but I don’t. I don’t know how to do this and I don’t think I will ever get it. I’ve tried many times before to figure this out, but I can’t.

I’m too broken, too damaged. It’s never going to be better, this is as good as it gets, so I better buckle down and figure out how to survive it.

I feel like I’m at a crossroads, that I have two choices. I can do something to numb myself, or I can grow up and get over myself and keep trying. But, the anger and frustration are too overwhelming for me to do the latter – it seems the only choice I really have is to get mad, throw things, walk out and get numb on ice cream.

Edward: May I offer a third option?

Me: Sure . . .

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. I’m glad Edward offered another option!

    • Hi, Evan –

      I like how he handled it . . . he didn’t invalidate or criticize where I was at, but he gave me another way to head.

      – Marie

  2. I like how you and Edward are able to go back and forth, when you don’t understand or disagree, you can ask and find out what he really means, and vice versa…

    • Hey, Ellen –

      That is a new experience for me . . . I have always believed that I wasn’t supposed to need that kind of exchange, that I should just somehow magically “know” what the other person meant. It sure makes life easier to be able to talk like that!

      – Marie

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