A supreme and successful effort to manage . . . RELATIONSHIP DEPENDENCE.
I was seeing a couple, both of whom were university professors. (All descriptions are disguised and combined to not apply to actual persons. I have enough wacky people in my family to use anyway.) The husband was frustrated with the marriage and had moved into his own apartment. Things were improving with therapy as each learned more about their reactivity and anxiety management, but the husband was not ready to re-commit. The wife had a research report tour scheduled which would take her on the road for two months and require her to make presentations to large groups, a process that was hard for her.
In the last session before she was to leave, she asked her husband to promise that their marriage was going to work out. Though she made it very clear he could cure her current anxiety by saying what she wanted to hear, he held his ground that he was still unsure. He was particularly worried that if they got back together she would end up leaning on him again for her sense of self. Prior to separating the wife had suffered panic attacks if left alone and all night bouts of anger insisting that her husband was not caring enough.
The wife headed out on the tour. During the second week, while she was in New York, the husband called at around eleven to ask how she was doing. The first few minutes was enjoyable for both. The husband said “Goodnight,” as was pleasantly signing off when the wife shouted, “Stop!” He did. She started crying and saying he’d ruined her tour, that he’d never loved her, and that she was going out to find some man who did. He pleaded to continue the discussion the next day. She refused continuing to list his crimes and her own faults. After several more attempts to close the conversation, the husband hung up.
The wife threw herself on the bed hysterical, more because she’d made such an absolute mess of things than anything else. The urge to hear from her husband was almost unbearable. She “felt” out of control and absolutely hopeless.
THEN, she remembered a word or two about taking the energy she was using to TRY AND GET A RESPONSE from another person . . .
As she told me: “What did I have to lose,” I asked myself. “I got up, got dressed and went out on the sidewalk and started walking. I was in Times Square, so there were plenty of interesting people. Even though every cell in my body (okay, that’s my phrase) wanted to either try to contact my husband or wallow in continuing misery, I started LOOKING at the interesting people. I looked at the marquees. I told myself I was going to walk and walk and walk until I WAS IN CHARGE OF MYSELF. And I did.”
When her husband called, she apologized for dumping her anxiety into the phone call. He heard, for the first time, that she understood what it meant to be responsible for self.
|Print article||This entry was posted by mysteryshrink on September 7, 2008 at 7:41 pm, and is filed under Love, Dating, and Marriage. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.|
Comments are closed.