Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 828225

Shown: posts 1 to 17 of 17. This is the beginning of the thread.

 

Fighting to relationship..... again

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:14:59

If today's session had been recorded, I don't know if it would make it into the great moments of therapy presentation. But no couples counseling course would be complete without it.

We had the sort of session that only two people possessing excellent training in fighting to relationship could have. If therapy had ended today, it would have been fitting in a way. Today's session could have been the showcase of what thirteen years of therapy can do.

The tone was established early. It's like we each used one hand to hold on tightly to the fierce caring and respect we had for each other. And with that anchor, we were free to say what we felt. All the reasonable and sensible things and all the unreasonable and less than sensible things. But it never got ugly because we kept holding on tight to each other and to our relationship.

There were misunderstandings and times when things looked to be at a standstill, and like the end was near. Each of us was determined to hold firm on what we thought was important, and while that made things dicey at times, we also did our best to understand what was important to the other and why. We did a lot of reflective listening (when you say that, what I hear is...) and lots of I statements. We each expressed more vulnerability than we may have preferred.

I wouldn't give on the fact that I needed to have more information if I was to consider going through another really painful period with him. I made sure he really understood how painful it was, and he says he has a new understanding of that. Or maybe he just remembered an old understanding. I'm not sure. I thought this would be a sticking point as he appeared to be ready to give up. But I asked if there wasn't any way I could get what I needed, and I tried an old technique I pull out on Administration sometimes with Dr. Bob. I gave him four statements and asked which was closest to correct. And after much thought on his part, he chose one that was somewhat acceptable to me. That he has no intention of leaving town at this point, and no wish to leave town at this point, but that he can't rule out that in the future he might change his mind.

He *says* that the reason he finds this so hard to answer is that if he does change his mind and leave in the future I'll be angry that he lied to me. I told him that if he terminates me, I'm going to be angry no matter what he says now, and that should be the least of his worries.

So... I guess we left on good terms and with our usual routines in place. And I agreed to give it a chance and see how it goes, and he agreed to try very hard not to hurt me by being absent.

He asked how he was doing today, and of course today he was enormously present. But as I told him, we can't have major drama every week. He needs to be present when the energy level is at its normal point.

I already knew that he cares about me, but he was very clear on that point today, and on the fact that he's committed to do what it takes to make the therapy relationship work (unless of course he chooses to leave town). And I was clear throughout how much I cared about him. I even reminded him of that dream. And he took it in the way I meant it.

All in all, it was a masterful example of fighting to relationship. Of course, this is not new to either of us. But somehow in the frame of a fifty minute (or maybe hour) very intense session, the beauty of it was highlighted.

That's not enough of course. The followthrough will have to be there. But for tonight at least I feel like I'm part of something very very special. And I don't think it would be unreasonable for me to think he may feel that way too.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:34:21

In reply to Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:14:59

You know, that sounds so fairy tale perfect, and that's not realistic.

In its entirety it was beautiful.

But there were moments when he said things that hurt, and I said things that hurt. We both were at times angry or hurt or even petulant, selfish and unreasonable. Things are far from settled. We're two flawed and very human beings.

But we also reached out to each other with kindness. And also let each other view the pain we were feeling, without lashing out or trying to hide it.

I just keep having this picture of two people circling and having a very real verbal fight, but at the same time his hand is grasping my elbow and my hand is grasping his elbow and that somehow kept us together in our circling, and kept us from getting enough distance to do any major damage to each other.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:43:12

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:34:21

You know...

What's even more amazing, because it's so rare, is that I don't hear any of the cynical chatter in my mind that I nearly always hear after therapy. I don't think that there's any way I can turn what happened today into his manipulating me into staying for his own benefit. And there's no way I can have my usual snide thought that he was protecting his income stream.

It was just too raw and intense and vulnerable and real. It would have been lousy manipulation. And I seriously doubt my income stream entered his head even once.

Amazing really. That cynical voice in my head can usually twist *anything* into something ugly.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again

Posted by Annierose on May 9, 2008, at 18:38:30

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:43:12

I am so glad you had this session where you felt understood and appreciated. These are the sessions we hold in our mind and replay over and over again.

I believe him. He cannot predict the future but for now, he believes he is going to stay put. My t answers that question similarily ... "I have no plans to a. retire b. move c. terminate you" BUT ...

Enjoy the weekend.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again Annierose

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 19:12:07

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Annierose on May 9, 2008, at 18:38:30

I *think* I believe him. He was complaining about what he called my demands for guarantees. That would fit in with not thinking he was going to leave, but having the belief that I was asking him to assure me he wouldn't.

I'm not sure it's wise to put too much faith in his not terminating me. He asked me how I was interpreting what he was saying, and I answered "as self protectively as possible". I stand by that.

I don't think I've ever had a session like this one. I know I'll never forget it. But he almost certainly will. :)

I think I'm so emotionally exhausted I'll have a very peaceful weekend. I hope yours is a good one as well.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again

Posted by backseatdriver on May 9, 2008, at 19:14:45

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again Annierose, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 19:12:07

Dinah, how fabulous. Just amazing. Congratulations. You both fought hard and fair, holding onto each other the whole way. SO wonderful. Thank you for writing it up.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again Dinah

Posted by seldomseen on May 9, 2008, at 19:17:47

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:43:12

What a wonderful way to describe your session today: Fighting to relationship - again.

For me that is what therapy is all about - fighting to that relationship. Fighting myself, fighting him, fighting the situation.

It's a struggle - but it is so worth it.

You are a brave soul to stand up and fight for yourself and for him.

Love can calm even the most of cynical minds and a good fight can make you realize that love I think.

Maybe next session will be "make up" therapy ;)

I'm glad it went okay. None of us can ever predict the future and there is no such thing as a sure thing, although we humans, we never quit fighting for it.

Peace
Seldom.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again Dinah

Posted by TherapyGirl on May 9, 2008, at 19:40:37

In reply to Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:14:59

Bravo, Dinah! And bravo to your T, too, although I'm giving you most of the credit for this.

And I agree that you are part of something very, very special.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again backseatdriver

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 22:37:53

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by backseatdriver on May 9, 2008, at 19:14:45

I wonder if he sees it the same way...

I don't know that I have the nerve to ask. :)

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again seldomseen

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 22:44:27

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again Dinah, posted by seldomseen on May 9, 2008, at 19:17:47

Oh, I hope no makeup therapy next time. I want boring old usual therapy.

When I was growing up, fights in the family were so destructive and so nasty. For the first many years in therapy, I remember that if I thought he was angry with me, I'd put my hands over my ears and whimper "please don't be mad at me". And he'd try to explain that anger could be a healthy part of a good relationship.

I guess that's another thing that he slowly shaped over the years. The fact that I can now think of a "good" fight, and that I can see the difference between the sort of fight my parents had and the sort of fight people have when they keep caring and respect in mind tells a lot about how this kind of therapy works.

I could have heard him say it a million times and never taken it in. But by experiencing it over and over, I can take these things and hopefully generalize them. Of course the problem is that the people in my family haven't gone to therapy and learned it. But still, in limited ways I can apply it elsewhere.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again TherapyGirl

Posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 22:50:55

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again Dinah, posted by TherapyGirl on May 9, 2008, at 19:40:37

Well, I'll take a fair amount of the credit. But he deserves a lot too.

Actually, thinking back, I now worry about some of the stupid and insensitive things I said, and I have to keep in mind that the last ten minutes or so were quite warm and positive.

It's nice to remember his fine and useful qualities. Sometimes in day to day interactions, it's easier to see the flaws and weaknesses than the strengths. But he's got some vibrant strengths. Which is probably why he accomplished the very difficult task of gaining my trust and attachment.

 

Re: Fighting to relationship..... again

Posted by Daisym on May 10, 2008, at 0:02:23

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Dinah on May 9, 2008, at 17:43:12

"And there's no way I can have my usual snide thought that he was protecting his income stream."

Isn't it the truth that this is an easy shot to take at them? It really must have been a special session to shove this aside.

I know you've been really upset and with good reason. Change is hard and with all the retirements and moves going on here, it just adds to the pre-existing fears that are part and parcel of giving yourself over to this relationship. Because unlike other relationships, that change but turn into long distance relationships, therapy ends when someone moves or retires. Ends - not "we'll see each other soon." So it *is* scary.

And you do deserve for him to be present. This is not too much to ask. I'm really impressed that you could verbalize all these feelings and still feel his caring and give him yours.

You are right - it should be part of every couple's counseling text book.

Happy Mother's Day - what a nice gift your therapist/mommy gave you...and you him.

 

Fear of the fates Daisym

Posted by Dinah on May 12, 2008, at 11:58:28

In reply to Re: Fighting to relationship..... again, posted by Daisym on May 10, 2008, at 0:02:23

You're right. It is an easy, and really unanswerable, shot at him. Because neither of us can deny that if I didn't pay him, I wouldn't see him.

I can believe he cares about me, but I know he wouldn't stay in touch if I didn't pay.

I was marveling again at the fight. It was amazing what a difference it makes to say "I want you to know that I am saying this in the context of caring about you very much (with obvious feeling), but I'm really angry with you right now." "You are very important to me, and I would miss you very much if I didn't see you, but I don't think you're being fair." If both statements are given equal emphasis, or maybe the caring part even more emphasis, it's amazing how much honesty can go into the second part of the statement without it being overly hurtful.

But...

There are aspects of this entire issue that I don't feel entirely free to share, because of my magical thinking and fear of the fates. Things about having changed and gotten if not all better than at least well on the road to better.

It's hard.

 

next week... Dinah

Posted by twinleaf on May 13, 2008, at 1:37:41

In reply to Fear of the fates Daisym, posted by Dinah on May 12, 2008, at 11:58:28

You made such an amazing effort at connecting with him, and the intensity of the session finally pulled him into a genuine connection with you. But if he has a serious problem which is making him pre-occupied and emotionally unavailable, won't the same conditions that bothered you so much still be there next week? And maybe even long-term? I may have missed something, but I don't think I saw a conviction on his part to put aside his own problems sufficiently to be really there for you emotionally. I hope I'm mistaken.

 

Re: next week... twinleaf

Posted by Dinah on May 13, 2008, at 9:02:50

In reply to next week... Dinah, posted by twinleaf on May 13, 2008, at 1:37:41

Well, now, that's the question. As I pointed out to him when he asked how he was doing last week, we can't keep that level of intensity going week after week. Or even one more week. I'm tired.

It remains to be seen if he can drag himself into the room when things aren't as intense. I *do* think he remembered or learned just how horrible things were for me last time, and he seemed to be moved by that. And it might have shaken things up enough for him to remember that he can't skate by with me.

But it remains to be seen if these things actually lead to behavioral change. I didn't promise to stay. I promised to give him a chance.

If it's hurting me to stay, I will be forced to leave.

So in some ways things really didn't change. Or maybe they did. It's up to him for the most part.

 

((((Dinah)))) (nm)

Posted by muffled on May 13, 2008, at 10:54:53

In reply to Re: next week... twinleaf, posted by Dinah on May 13, 2008, at 9:02:50

 

Re: ((((Dinah))))

Posted by Dinah on May 13, 2008, at 12:03:40

In reply to ((((Dinah)))) (nm), posted by muffled on May 13, 2008, at 10:54:53

He was there today. That was good.

He said he hadn't thought of the last session in the same way I had. That he thought it went well, and he was relieved. But once I explained, he thought about it and agreed with my assessment.

It was nice and quiet. I thought I detected a note of resentment or mild anger towards me. Nothing he said or did. Just some tension. But hopefully time will take care of that. I suppose it's not unreasonable. And at least he didn't block it off from me. I'd rather he be real and a bit angry with me than fake and positive.


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