This is the second of a two part series. For Part I, see Why can’t the past just be the past?
Barb commented: While I respect so much about what you say
Isn’t doesn’t it get a point to where what’s done is done – forgive and forget what can’t be changed and not keep bringing up old hurts over and over? Not saying anyone should deliberately say that it’s easy to just get over. But it can often be worse for some people to constantly bring up old hurts, thinking about it, as well. if one feels the need to speak about it, get things off chest fine. But even then they should do it on “their” time when they are ready. Alls I’m saying is this whole language of “dissociation” and what it “is” can be totally confusing to so many. Go read blogs.
Sometimes we think too much instead of doing what’s natural to us. As long as it’s not hurting you or others who cares? Plus, no one can seem to list an actual relatable common sense example of how not always being deeply focused effects you in ways, instead of confusing people into thinking they have something wrong with them because they may daydream, or relax watching TV, or look in their phone, or simply choose to not focus on their painful problems too much. And Heck most people who “get in the zone” can do good things too.
I was back-tracking an interesting search query that led someone to my blog and ran across a great web site that was one of the Google search results. From what I saw, this has links to a lot of great resources if you’re dealing with attachment problems, so I wanted to share it. (I didn’t go beyond the page to which I am linking, but it looked as if the whole thing would make for good reading.)
AG, if you don’t mind sharing, what exactly helped you recognize that BN was totally comfortable with your relationship with him?
Instead of answering in the comments, I thought I’d write a post about my last session instead. So my thanks to Ann for providing inspiration. 🙂
I know I have been speaking about my work with shame recently, but in some ways my work has always been about shame. BN and I have recognized a pattern, often discussed, since the beginning of my work with him. I was worried I had manipulated my way into working with him (which is actually pretty funny in retrospect as manipulating BN would take someone a lot smarter than me 🙂 ), that I had no right to be there, that I had been there too long, that I was too much and too demanding, that I was too dependent and too needy. I’m sure you’re catching a theme here. I found reason after reason why I shouldn’t be seeing BN. Continue Reading
My husband and I went on a trip to Colonial Williamsburg last Fall. For those of you who have never heard of it, Colonial Williamsburg is a living history center. Williamsburg was the first capital of Virginia and was still the capital during the American Revolutionary War. Many of the buildings, including the Governor’s Palace, House of Burgesses, Armory, homes, churches and coffee shops have been restored and there are re-enacters in colonial costume at all the various buildings to teach you what life was like at the time. There are also re-enactments of major events leading up to and during the revolutionary war (we got to storm the Governor’s Palace which was pretty cool, I’ve always wanted to storm a palace!) and talks are given by famous people, such as George Washington, who even took questions from the audience (which was impressive, the man had an incredible grasp of both Washington’s life and the events of the revolutionary war.) I love revolutionary history (my humble apologies to my British readers. 😀 )and found this fascinating.
One display I found especially striking was in one of the museums. An early mental hospital had been established by a Dr. John M Galt, who was one of the early adopters and strong promoters of more humane treatment of mentally ill people. Conditions up until that time were pretty horrific, with many patients chained up and left in their own filth, treated worse than livestock in many cases. He was an early proponent of treating the mentally insane with respect and compassion.
Among the displays was the following letter written by a resident of the hospital:
It would have rendered me most agreeable pleasure to have been with you all these Christmas times, but Dr. John M. Galt, the gentleman under whose care and protection I am here placed, does not think my mind sufficiently cured for me to leave here yet so I will not say in this epistle when you will see me, probably never.
The Doctor is a gentleman whom the whole world ought to love and respect. To speak more concisely and emphatically, I do not think that I ought to desire a better or more worthy friend in this world. …Be not disposed to think me exaggerating, for I am writing the real truth, and am bold too, in having the gratification of writing thus. I’ll now bring this epistle to a close not knowing what else beneficial or amusing to write you.
Yours until death,
The Galt Family Papers
Earl Gregg Swem Library
College of William and Mary
Reading this was so powerful. The man who wrote this letter lived in such different times. The culture, the technology, the rhythms of life were vastly different from what I experience, yet the feelings he spoke of echoed across the years with a piercing familiarity. Someone had come alongside him, and given him compassion and acceptance and understanding and at a time when those things were exceedingly rare for someone with mental problems. And he reacted in a way which resonated deeply with me: he saw Dr. Galt as an amazing human being, one deserving of love and respect. He was grateful to speak of his esteem of this man as he saw him as so deserving.
While human cultures, mores, beliefs and customs change, human beings do not. There is a reason we can look at, and be moved, by a piece of art conceived and executed thousands of years ago. Human beings have always, and probably always will, struggle to understand ourselves and our purpose, to make sense of our experiences and distill meaning out of our lives. And one of the most important ways that we do this is to connect with other human beings. We can only know ourselves in relationship, by being clearly reflected by another person. So it is these connections, these attachments, that evoke our most powerful feelings.
So across the years, I found a kindred spirit. He wrote letters home to speak of his love and esteem and I write letters to a world-wide community to speak of mine. But the deep feelings of gratitude and respect are the same and spring from the same source. The next time you are wondering why your therapist is evoking such strong feelings, I hope you remember this post and that these feelings come from deep within and are integral to our humanity. Perhaps one of the privileges of needing to heal is to be conscious of our deep attachments and how they have shaped us. Know you are not alone in how you react, in this or any other time where humans have reached out to each other for meaning.
I just found a really valuable blog written by Dr. Jeffrey Smith, a psychiatrist who works in Scarsdale, NY. I want to thank his reader K who very kindly linked to my blog, which is how I found Moments of Change. He writes with incredible clarity, and compassion about therapy, how it heals, and the therapeutic relationship while providing insight into the therapist’s side of the relationship. Go read this man! Start with this article Attachment to your Therapist II and its follow-up, Part III: How Relationships Transform.
UPDATE: Sorry, start here! Attachment to Your Therapist
BEST. DESCRIPTION. EVER.
For the beginning of this story, please see The Beginning Part I.
So when I left off, I was going to see BN alone, to tell him about my growing feelings for him. Did I mention the insanely scared part? I managed to explain to him that I was experiencing strong feelings of attraction that were really confusing me and told him about the articles which recommended taking these feelings to your therapist. I shared how his understanding and accepting me were so appealing, that I felt less alone than I had in a long time. BN was amazing (I was still capable of being surprised by that at this point in our relationship :)). He told me that he thought I was very brave to come and speak to him, that he was glad I was experiencing such a strong sense of being connected and that all of my feelings, no matter what they were, were acceptable and welcome in his office. Then he reassured me that he had the boundaries and nothing inappropriate would happen so it was safe to explore these feelings. Continue Reading
NOTE: Since I’m going to be discussing couples counseling in this post, I just want to be clear in order to be fair to my husband, who has no voice here, that the problems in the marriage were complex, based on both our pasts and our reinforcing those patterns for each other. We were both, most definitely, part of the problem. I am also happy to say that we both took responsibility for our part and worked very hard to change. We just celebrated our 26th anniversary and are happier than we have ever been.
So I thought it would be good to go back to the beginning and explain how I ended up working with the Boundary Ninja. It was not a simple, straight-forward process, but interestingly enough contained the dynamic that I most needed to see. Which after a number of years and one break in therapy, I am finally working through. 🙂 Therapy does not usually take the most direct path (or in my case, even an intelligible one) for long periods of time. 🙂 Continue Reading
|Patti on Why can’t the past just…|
|Maggie on Boundaries, Dependence and…|
|EB on Erotic Transference|
|Dan on Disorganized Attachment or Why…|