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Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Tabitha

Posted by Dinah on October 11, 2011, at 8:43:41

In reply to Re: Embracing the pernicious inner voice Dinah, posted by Tabitha on October 11, 2011, at 3:55:15

Not romantic love. Definitely not sexual love. I think of my therapist and sex as I think of my parents and sex. There may be some evidence that they ever had it (me), but I prefer to consider myself a test tube baby.

Maybe not even the first tier love that belongs to my son, my husband, my Daddy, and my beloved dog who died nearly 25 years ago. But definitely in the next tier with a very few friends and a few other beloved dogs. I can't quite place my mother. I know who he is to a larger extent than many clients might, and don't really idealize him - though I might idealize the relationship. I remember most everything he's ever told me. I worry about him when he's not well, and think of him outside session. I'd inconvenience myself a fair amount to ensure his well being. Maybe I wouldn't give him a kidney if my son or husband needed it. But I'd consider it if they didn't and I had an extra one sitting around. I've stuck by him through times when he hasn't really been a very good therapist, as well as the admittedly far greater number of times when he has. I pretty much have his approval, perhaps more than he has mine. Sometimes too much so, and I feel the pressure of expectations I can't meet. My therapist is a pretty accepting guy.

I say I love my dogs to greater or lesser extents, and believe I mean it. Why wouldn't I love the therapist/mommy who helped shaped me into who I am today? Who I imprinted on like a baby duckling fresh from the shell? Mind you, it doesn't hurt that I think he's perfected a cocker spaniel look that he's likely used since childhood to get him out of trouble with his mama, and that he likely doesn't even realize he's using. It brings out maternal instincts in me. Though honestly, I must say I have no desire to involve myself in his real life, or give him fluids or pills like I do my dear dog. I suspect that with that much contact, my love might fade a bit. But then, I also have no desire to be in his life to the extent of living with him. So maybe my love is limited too.

I think maybe we need different sorts of words for love. I may not love him like a husband or lover, but I do love him as I would a mama and sometimes as I would a child or dog. I suspect it's the love for him as a mama that causes me pain.

He loves me like a client. A client who is special to him, no doubt. That's what I always wanted, from back when I verbalized the want. I wanted to be a Jessica to him. I am. It should be good enough.

And, while I don't wish to criticize him, I think part of the imbalance comes from the difference between the two of us as people. I tend to love seldom but fiercely. I'm a sheepdog. Loss affects me forever. I get the idea that he loves much easier, but perhaps not quite as deeply. He's no Greyfriar's Bobby (who of course wasn't a sheepdog, to be fair). At any rate, he seems to uproot himself from his attachments fairly easily and without nearly the pain I'd expect. Maybe he just hides the pain well, but I think it's also true that he protects his core more thoroughly than I do. I once even observed that about him and he agreed. That he really appeared open and caring, but that the openness only went so deep before stopping at a protective layer. To be fair, it's entirely proper that he do so in a therapeutic relationship.

So partly it may be impossible to have equivalent love in a therapeutic relationship. When by definition we open ourselves to the very core, and where by definition they really really shouldn't do that. A therapeutic relationship with equal love, and therefore equal vulnerability, by definition loses the detachment of a therapeutic relationship and becomes a personal one. Which I don't really want. I've always suspected (and again he agrees) that his clients get the best part of him. Just as my husband's coworkers get the most agreeable side of him.

So maybe reconciling the imbalance can come partly from the knowledge that the imbalance is in my best interest. Can you imagine a therapy where the therapist has too much of an investment in the client's outcome? In a client's love, approval, and attendance? Disaster.

I think the idea of agreeing with the pernicious inner voice might be a variant of the "not taking obsessions seriously" that I learned from "Stop Obsessing". Although I don't specifically remember agreement as a vehicle to do that. But then obsessions generally lack the truth that the pernicious inner voice usually has. The pernicious inner voice isn't *wrong*. It just may be short of completely right.

 

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