Monday, May 17, 2010

Our First Counseling Session

The long-awaited marriage counseling appointment finally came & went. And wow. We really put it off for far too long.

Our therapist, Dr. R, surprised and impressed me on many levels - I guess I wasn't expecting much from a professional working here in Podunkville. His tone was a great fit for us. When I read on his CV that he also does "Pastoral Counseling," I asked him if he would have any problem working with an atheist like me, and he said no problem at all. He mentioned that he is a mentee of Dr. John Gottman's, whose work I really believe in- and that sealed the deal for me.

What can I say about the hour-long session? DH and I both cried multiple times. My DH has an issue with me that he finally figured out is not really about me, but is about deep-seated family-of-origin pain. Basically, his anger that I am not a better housekeeper has nothing to do with the dirty dishes in the sink, which is what I knew deep down all along. That was validating for me (and for the record, our house is quite clean thank you very fucking much). I didn't say much this time. I had trouble finding the right words for what I was feeling. And I wanted DH to keep talking. I knew I needed to think about these things a lot more. Afterwards, we went for a walk in the park and I suddenly got really angry with DH as I started really thinking about all of the stuff I have been putting under the rug. I need to learn to express my anger in a healthier way. My issue (I think) is that I am good at making things seem like everything is ok when actually DH's moods are killing me inside - just like my dad handles my effed up, emotionally-abusive mom!

I just love dysfunctional family legacies, don't you?

We will definitely be coming back to see Dr. R, and hopefully in time we can come up with some strategies so we don't scar our poor babies for life, end up in divorce court, or worse yet, end up remarrying the exact same effed up pattern-having spouse. Hooray!


paola said...

Great to hear your first session went so well!! Also great to hear that there are some like-minded people in Podunkville!

Claudia said...

That's a great first session! Glad it was so productive.

Don't be worried about your anger toward DH (if you are, that is). Getting it processed now is good.

Make sure you get your time next time. Use it, even if you have no idea what you're going to say. The therapist should be able to help you find your words.

And don't try to build Rome in one day. You'll evolve strategies for not screwing up your kids (at least with these issues ;) over time. It's good to think about it, but a) don't blame yourself for anything that's happened in the past. You have been doing the best you've known how; and b) don't project too much. Focus on yourself. Not even on DH. Just you. Cuz all you can really fix/change/affect is you. The other parts of the family will respond in whatever way they respond.

I've been waiting to hear about this therapy session. It sounds like you guys will get a lot out of it.

caramama said...

So glad you found a therapist that you like, and on the first try too! Isn't it amazing how much our issues stem from our own families and how we were raised? I feel that the first step is really figure out where the problems really come from, and then practicing remembering that it isn't necessarily our partners who have the same problems but perhaps it's us projecting it onto them. Certainly, you guys will come up with strategies that work for you, because you both obviously care and want to do better than your own parents did. Good luck!

And I love what @Claudia said!

Cloud said...

I'm glad it went well.

@Claudia's comment is excellent. I have nothing to add, except best wishes for continuing success with this. (:

blue said...

Congrats on a good beginning.... Sounds like it will be some hard work, but good work. If you feel uneasy at the start because you are angry or don't know how to express your emotions, then you are in exactly the right place. It will come with time and talks and the quiet reflection in between.

I totally agree with Claudia's advice. I too have been waiting to hear how it all would go. Good for you both for caring enough to work for it.

mom2boy said...

Claudia's advice is excellent. Very glad it went so well and you feel comfortable with the therapist!

Melba said...

I don't have much to add that the others haven't already said, but I'm glad it went well and that you feel that it was worth it and that you and DH got something out of it. Good job and good luck. :)

Claudia said...

I totally forgot to give the book recommendation that I meant to give.

*caveat: based on the title, I had expected it to be about something else. I was surprised.

The Dance of Intimacy by Harriet Lerner, PhD.

I've also read The Dance of Connection,also by her (sense a theme?), which was good, and was about your relationship with your partner. But I digress.
The Intimacy one is about family of origin relationships, and how they bleed all over your current relationships, no matter how unrelated-seeming they are.

Peace up.

Oh, and the rest of you have made me blush. Thank you.

hush said...

I love you all and thank you for the supportive comments! @Claudia, don't blush - thank you for like the most validating, encouraging thing to say to someone in my shoes. You, too, @blue and everyone else. I suppose this is a good place for me to keep talking about the journey. Thank you!

nej said...

Therapy is so hard. It's kind of like getting a of it feel really good and parts of it hurt like a bitch and then parts of it are surprising because your neck hurt so bad that you didn't realize you had such a huge knot in your shoulders...but as much as it feels good/hurts/surprises, in the end, you're better off for having spent that hour laying down and working the tough and nasty shit out.

So yeah, there's the anger (honor it! use it! don't hide it away and let it fester!) and there's the sadness and then there's the acceptance and the coming out into the light. When D and I went through our hard patch, we came out of it so much stronger and more in like and in love. And now, whenever we start to slide back into those old and destructive habits, we see the red flags and call each other (and ourselves on it.) We know what it looks like and we know we don't want to go back there.

So thank goodness that you're not too far gone, that you still have enough love, respect, connection to want to work through this, and thank goodness the kids are too young to remember this. All they will remember are the parents that emerge from this.