Posted by: Marie | November 27, 2012

(756) The yin and yang of things – Part 1 of 4

Post #756
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, January 4, 2012]

I had a therapy session today . . .

As soon as we got settled into Edward’s office, I mentioned that I didn’t send him a status report this time because there has been no big drama recently – nothing overwhelming has occurred recently . . .


Me: In fact, I’m noticing that my therapeutic journey has become less overwhelming in general . . . it’s not all consuming anymore. It used to be that I’d just try to survive from one therapy session to the next . . . my emails to you would often serve as a brain dump so that I could start to sort through the jumbled mess of thoughts in my head . . . it was one of the ways I managed to survive to the next session. But, it’s not like that as much anymore.

Edward: That sounds like a positive thing!

Me: True, it is.

So, since you don’t know where my brain has been since the last session, I guess I’ll just have to tell you . . .

Selflessness Forest by Martin Chen

Edward: Okay!

Me: One of the things I wanted to touch on quickly is the situation with the student, Bailey, who disclosed abuse to me. I sent you an email about it before our last session and I wanted to talk to you about it during our last session, but I forgot to bring it up. I still would like to talk to you about it – would you like me to recap the situation for you? I’m not sure if you remember what I’m talking about . . .

Edward: It’s been a while since I read your email. But, if I remember correctly, your student told you that her dad was physically abusing her, you reported it to the police and the police interviewed the kids and decided that the disclosure was not substantiated. Then, the parents asked to meet with you to better understand what had motivated you to file the police report – that meeting went very smoothly. But, then, at the next piano lesson, the mom accused you of not being flexible enough with your scheduling and walked out. The last I understood, you are no longer willing to keep them on as clients . . .

Do I have the details straight, for the most part?

Me: (With my mouth hanging open) Wow! I can’t believe you accurately recalled all those details . . . it’s been several weeks since I’ve called your attention to it and you didn’t refer to any notes . . . you had all that in your head . . . okay, I’m impressed!

Edward: Well, thank you . . . the situation is a significant one in your life . . . it is important to you. And, you are important! You are important to me and you’re worth the effort required on my part to remember what is going on in your life.

Me: Thank you. It means a lot to me that you remember those details. Thank you for that.

Edward: You are very welcome.

Me: I don’t think I need to talk anymore about the situation with Jane and Bailey . . . by the way, Jane is the mom. I feel pretty settled about all of that. But, I would like some feedback from you concerning all the bridges I’ve been burning lately. It seems I’ve been doing a lot of setting boundaries and subsequently pushing away people.

Edward: What kind of feedback are you looking for?

Me: Well . . . I’m wondering if it is “normal” and “reasonable” for me to be ending so many relationships in such a short time. Have I swung the pendulum too far in this setting boundaries thing?

Edward: It doesn’t seem to me that you’ve ended very many relationships recently . . . have you?

Me: Well, there is Jane, and the music teachers association . . . and the client who refused to honor my boundaries a few months back, and the neighbors with whom I no longer care to socialize . . .

Edward: Okay, there have been a few.

What I’m hearing you asking is: Am I setting so many boundaries and pushing away so many not-ideal clients that I going to put myself out of business?

Me: Yes, that is what I’m asking . . . and not just in business, but in my personal life also. I want to have relationships . . . it’s an area in which I struggle . . . am I putting up so many boundaries that it is impossible for people to honor them and therefore, in the end, I won’t have any relationships?

Edward: I hear and understand your fear . . . but, I can tell you that your boundaries are not unreasonable – in fact, they are very healthy.

What I think you are doing is holding people to their agreements . . . don’t you have written agreements with your clients and a published charter with the music teachers association?

Me: Well, yeah, that is true.

Edward: I think you are just holding them to what they agreed to do.

Let me ask you this . . . what percentage of your client families do those two families make up?

Me: Well, they are two out of 40 families . . . so, 5%.

Edward: Have there been other clients that you fired?

Me: No, not recently.

Edward: Well, it is normal for a service-centric business to have a certain percentage of clients who have needs that are beyond what the service provider can meet. I think 5% is within the normal range.

It sounds like you are being very reasonable and healthy – you’re setting reasonable boundaries in your professional relationships. I think you are just getting clear on what you are willing to tolerate in your life. It seems to me that is probably a very good thing.

Me: Okay . . . I wanted your opinion on that.

You know . . . my psychiatrist student made a point of telling that he really appreciated my written agreement – when he brought his signed copy of the agreement back to me, he said he appreciated the clear boundaries and expectations.

Edward: I can imagine a client would appreciate having that information at the beginning of a professional relationship.

Me: Yes . . . it makes it easier and more comfortable for me, too.

So, thank you for your input. It has been helpful.

Edward: You’re welcome. Do you need anything additional from me on that?

Me: No . . . you answered my question!

Edward: Well good.

And . . . you just reminded me of something I wanted to ask you . . .

I have a client who needs a referral for a psychiatrist and I don’t know any psychiatrists to whom I would feel comfortable sending a referral. You speak so highly of your student who is a psychiatrist. I wonder if he would be a good fit for this client of mine. Do you think he would be okay with me referring a client to him? If so, and more importantly, would you be okay with me doing that?

Me: I’m sure he would be okay with it . . . I just don’t know if he taking clients right now. I know he used to have a private practice, but he has said some things that lead me to believe he doesn’t have a private practice now. I’m not sure where he works now. But, I’d be glad to give you his name and you can look him up on the internet . . . and, I’ll contact him to see if he is taking clients.

(I gave him Jeff’s name)

Me: Jeff is aware that I’m in therapy, so you are welcome to disclose to him that you are my therapist. I don’t care if he knows.

Edward: There really is no reason for me to tell him . . . since there is no reason, I won’t be telling him. I’ll just say that you are a friend.

Me: Okay, I don’t care either way.

Edward: Thank you for facilitating that connection . . . it will be a big help to me.

Me: It’s my pleasure!

So, there’s something else I wanted to mention to you before we get into heavy stuff . . .

Edward: Okay!

Me: The number of adult men with whom I feel emotionally connected is growing . . . and, as that is happening, the infatuation I feel towards any one of them is lessening. For example, when you were the only man in my inner circle, I wanted you to approve of me. I’m not saying that I wanted to go to bed with you, but I wanted to impress you. I was very concerned about what you thought of me. But, now, that infatuation has gotten so diluted that it’s almost not there. I find that I’m not so concerned about looking just right and being impressive when I’m around the men in my life. That feels good to me.

Edward: I can imagine it does feel good! Congratulations on that shift!

Me: Thank you! I don’t have anything more to say about that . . . I just wanted to mention it.

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


  1. I think having strong boundaries in place actually makes it more possible to have good, close relationships with people because it makes it safe enough for you to venture.

    I hope so anyhow. I’ve been pushing some people out of my life lately also, and it worries me sometimes.

    • Hey, Ellen –

      It is a bit scary to push away a seemingly scarce resource . . .

      I agree with you that strong boundaries allow for closer (and safer, more respectful) relationships!

      – Marie

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