Archives for February, 2013
In Ben Affleck's Best Picture acceptance speech, he didn't sprinkle his wife Jennifer Garner with accolades. Instead, he thanked her for working with him all these years. "Marriage is work," he said, "and there's no one I'd rather work with." Since then, there's been speculation that his marriage is on the rocks. I thought his speech signified the opposite: that their marriage is a living breathing organism, and they tend to it.
My client--we'll call her Marta--alternately cries and acts tough: "I don't need anyone...will anyone ever really love me?...screw it." Her latest boyfriend is just like all the rest, with lots of promises and very little payoff. Marta has been traumatized. First, as a child, and now, as an adult, she continues to put herself in harm's way and choose bad bets as partners, which leads to retraumatization. It reinforces the belief that she is, in fact, unlovable, and that people don't really love and treat each other well anyway. It's a grim view of the world.
First, a disclaimer: If you're averse to discussions about poop, stop reading right now. If you're still reading, it means you're a parent, and you know how much time you spend considering the question of poop. That's right: poop becomes a question. As in: When did she last...? What was the consistency? Etc., etc. I am going somewhere with this.
Often, I work with couples who've begun to ask that question. "I used to love that she was so different," he'll say, "it was exciting. But now it feels like we have nothing in common." Or, "I used to love that he challenged me," she says, "and now it just all feels like work." What does it mean to be a match, and to stay that way, long-term? To be complementary in your differences, instead of just feeling opposite?
Leaving your toddler with a daycare provider for the first time can be an emotional experience, for both you and your child. There might be sadness for him, and guilt for you. You might struggle with yielding control, and fear losing that unique sense of closeness.
Clients leave therapy for a number of reasons. Some of them relate to the skill of the therapist; some relate to the readiness of the client; some just to circumstance. I believe that a good therapist is supposed to make herself obsolete (i.e. help the clients reach goals so they can move on from therapy, help them create other emotionally supportive relationships in their lives.) But with that said, some clients are facing intractable or chronic problems, or consistently encountering new ones. So sometimes, I get to know them for a while, sometimes years. Ultimately, though, it's a finite relationship, and that means eventually, I'll have to say goodbye.
We're not really supposed to speak about money in polite company. Therapists who are incredibly comfortable talking to their clients about sex and intimacy and even abuse can balk when it comes to discussing their clients' finances. In some ways, it feels like the last taboo. But money does affect mental health, and it can certainly affect our relationships.