Persuasion–or, How F-ed Up Are We Without Couples Therapy?


My partner is at a workshop on Internal Family Systems all day today, tomorrow and Sunday, which means that she’s hanging out with hundreds of therapists.  I am afraid they may brainwash her into believing therapy works.  I am afraid she will come home talking in “I” statements.  She’s already working on saying yes when she means yes and no when she means no, which means she says no a lot more, which I frankly do not enjoy.

Whatever/Whoever help me.

And please tell me why I spent hours yesterday trying to convince her we are far more f*&^-ed up than she can possibly imagine.  I went into the whole intimacy disorder stuff.  Right before she goes off to therapy land?  I must be out of my mind!

Which is, of course, the point.

But my partner is very much an optimist, always trying to put the good spin on things.  It DRIVES ME OUT OF MY MIND!  (Or would if I weren’t out of my mind already!)  I like reality, with a good dose of darkness.  I’m not talking negativity.  I like my reality with some nihilism.  Some good old what’s the meaning of anything there isn’t any you might as well indulge some hedonistic impulse or another.

My partner believes in good intentions.  I believe we’re all engaged in survival of the fittest on some level or another.

In other words, we have our work cut out for us.

But I did turn on every cell of my actor charm (sans comedy techniques) and win a few points for the idea that intimacy–defined as looking at the reality of our commitment to our own needs and getting them met at all costs and admitting this is what we’re really up to–is difficult.  Because once we admit we really are kind of selfish, once we admit we have un-evolved brains and we still want to be taken care of, we feel closer to each other.  And then we can admit that standing in this truth–wanting to love, not sure we’re really evolved enough to love well, admitting we blame, admitting there’s the great unhealed in all of us–freaks us out to an impossible degree.

Here’s my freak out:  after working so hard to get my partner to admit that my view of the world is really cool, not to mention right, I drive to pick her up and get all insulted that she’s not ready and is, instead, talking on the phone and eating in her car.

Would you like to know how many times I’ve been on the phone when she comes to pick me up?  Like, 95% of the time.

What’s really going on is that I’m scared because admitting that intimacy isn’t really my favorite, that I like truth better without personal vulnerability, makes me feel exposed and a good fight is just going to take care of everything.

NOT.

My problem with the Sheepdog–yes, yes, I’m back on to her again–was that she couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  We’d go on and on about the details of a single interaction without ever getting to the real issue–not who talks more, not who is right or wrong, but that we’re terrified of being really and truly emotionally open and vulnerable.  The conflict is just a push/pull between wanting to be known and being too scared to deal with being known.

I don’t know a single couple that doesn’t deal with this fear.  I don’t know a single couple that doesn’t feel closer when they talk about the fear.  And I don’t know a single couple that doesn’t do something to then get a little distance from all of it.

Sheepdogs, my partner told me yesterday, are herders.  Then we cracked up, because the Sheepdog couples therapist spent so much time herding us.  “Lyralen, you are now allowed to say two words.”  “Lyralen’s partner, you are now allowed to say ten words.”  Then the Sheepdog would talk for about a half hour, explaining some concept I’d learned twenty years ago.

Persuasion:  My idea is that if we focus on telling the truth about the big issues, the smaller ones will fall into place.  I’m not much of a detail girl.  I like to be at the heart of the matter.  I was trying to convince my partner to be there with me.

With some nihilism thrown in.

And yes, I did read Nietzsche when I was in high school.

To counteract the Nietzsche, I will attend a one day meditation workshop tomorrow called Letting Go of Fear.

I will also remember that nihilism and all theories about fear of intimacy and normal marital sadism and the insatiable id are CONSTRUCTS, meaning they are wildly approximate stabs at knowing reality through our un-evolved brains.

Buddhism is so optimistic.  You can end suffering, but first you have to accept that you have no self and everything you think is insane.

Works for me.

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