Therapy Friday 2

…continued

E. On the weekend I went to see my parents – they had a barbecue.

R. How did that go.

E. Well, I wasn’t depressed at all. I was kind of arguing some of the time. It was my parents, my sister and brother in law, and my parents’ friend. He’d been to see the Picasso exhibit….so I said Picasso was such a misogynist. They really seemed surprised by that. They kept coming back to it…..Mostly I was talking with my brother in law. He said in the end I’d be ‘at the gallery with my spraypaint’, protesting…stupid.

R. So he caricatured what you were saying by exaggerating it…

E. Yeah, kind of. It’s not as if this is a new idea that I came up with.

R. Do you think they were so interested because it reflects something real in your family – misogyny?

E. Yeah…that’s true. I hadn’t thought of that actually. And just the men debated this – my mother and my sister said absolutely nothing about it. My family is difficult to talk to – at least it kept things lively. It’s like…they’re on a search for truth all the time. It’s difficult to go anywhere with that.

R. Describe that. How are they on a search for truth?

E. Well….everything comes down to the one true answer. I don’t know….I’m trying to remember what happened. For instance, my father said, sometimes great artists are not nice people….but you can look at their work apart from that. Which is a valid point actually. So then I said that Picasso’s work reflects his view of women….I’m not doing a good job of saying how they search for truth.

Sigh. I think what I meant to express was they’re always trying to say the definitive authoritative answer – which makes everyone afraid to say much, in case they say the wrong thing. It’s very noticeable that they’re like that, but I had trouble explaining it to Ron. However, he believed me anyway. He’s nice like that sometimes.

R. No, I think I understand….

E. Like my mother. She won’t talk about anything but books, or some opera they’ve been to. She was always a housewife – she still does have to take care of a lot of things. But nothing ordinary like that is ever worth talking about for her. But then…she doesn’t have much to say about the book or opera….just a sentence or two…and then that’s it, it doesn’t go anywhere. So it’s difficult to talk to her. For instance, when I first came in, she said she’d found On Chesil Beach terribly depressing….really authors seem to have only one or two good books in them, then they should stop. So then…I said I’d quite liked On Chesil Beach, I thought the characters were very well drawn and it was tightly structured…so then my mother said Oh, did you? and that was the end of the conversation.

R. Did you ask her why she found the book depressing? Because….really a conversation about anything, a book…is about her.

E. No, I didn’t even think of that. See – I could have asked her questions and drawn her out. I just get aggravated right away. There is just a lot of stress and tension around my family.

I forget how Ron responded, but something to the effect that it was fine I hadn’t drawn her out.

E. My mother is so very shy…when I’m alone with her, it’s even worse. She’s very hard to talk to.

R. When it’s your own mother, I don’t think shyness is really the right word.

E. Anxiety?

R. Maybe, or repression.

E. You’ve got that right. My mother represses every single thing, even little things, she will repress.

In general, Ron is pretty supportive about my efforts at dealing with my family. A nice change from how he is when discussing the group, where it seems like I cannot catch a break. I like hearing his take, because my family has me pretty well baffled. Maybe I’ll go and see them again next weekend so I’ll have more data for therapy. 🙂

R. How do you feel about my vacation?

E. I hate it. I wish you wouldn’t go. I prefer if you stay in the city and don’t take vacations….

We talk a bit about him leaving, and I forget how it goes. It felt good to talk about it though, I remember that. He tells me about how he won’t be checking emails, though I could text him…so then I feel rather worse.

So the session ends.

When I get home, I feel like I will fly apart from anxiety. I write Ron an email eventually, detailing how he needs to get me unattached because I find it painful. He replies we can discuss how I feel about him next session.

I feel better after writing, so I go for a swim.

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4 comments
  1. Ruth said:

    R has a good point that shy doesn't apply with your own mother. I tend to not talk much in a group but when I am one on one I tend to talk up a storm. Perhaps she feels like what she says is in the wrong and so learned to stop talking all together. May be a habit. Interesting to explore. I so understand your feeling about counselors going on vacation. My counselor had a no contact vacation, he went on a cruise. I thought I would totally fall apart. That was the time I learned to write an ongoing email that I sent when I knew he was back. Knowing that he would read it eventually helped. I also remembered that he would have a ton of emails to catch up on so he might not answer. I took a copy of the email with me and used it to start the session. It worked for me. Just a suggestion to consider. You are really doing very well. Keep up the great work.Ruth

  2. when sharon was away on vacation last year i sat down each of our regularly scheduled sessions and wrote her a letter… i wrote for the full 50 minutes… that way i felt connected to her. i might do the same this year. this year she's also offered the "back up" services of another therapist that works in her practice, in case i wan to talk to someone one to one. i might take her up on that…

  3. Laura said:

    I thought your description of your mother as 'shy' was sweet – sympathetic – considering the pain it must have caused you in life, and Ron (as usual, I think) is more critical, and you often seem to like that. Like, he gives you permission to be critical, or he makes it clear in so doing, that he's on your side (unlike when you talk about group)…

  4. Ellen said:

    @ Ruth – My mother will not talk much to me one on one either. She was mostly silent throughout my childhood. It's more than a habit – it's a deep personality trait I think, whatever the cause. Ongoing email sounds good. I have actually sent him one so far, but I know he won't get it until he returns. A cruise really is out of touch isn't it. Thanks for the encouragement.@ obd – Did you mail the letter? Seems like a good idea. I would totally go to a back up T if offered one. Hope you do it. At least it would be something a little different. Cheers@ Laura – My experience is Ron is more critical of me than of people I describe, usually – with the exception of my family. It feels good to have him side with me here – people always have taken my family's view (well, the siblings, family friends, other relatives). I've often been very critical of my family, but I can also see their positive qualities. Families are just very difficult. Cheers

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