Archive for February 21st, 2012
There are people who have given up trying to understand. They also have childhood recollections. Laura (age 4). “I remember one Christmas Eve, sitting on the floor with my parents and my brother. Santa Claus, wearing a mask, was passing out presents. It was our next door neighbor, Chester. I remember thinking that it was smart of me to figure out who he was, but I felt sad. It meant that there was no Santa Claus.”
In this recollection, Laura’s happiness at understanding what was going on is followed immediately by sadness and regret. She was sorry that she had solved the mystery. She experienced a loss of innocence. She had become cynical. Things weren’t what they seemed to be. People were deceptive and couldn’t be trusted.
Laura is now newly married. She wants to understand her husband and herself. At the same time, she is aware of a deep down feeling of discouragement. “What’s the use of understanding. I’ll only lose out in the end.” She remembers feeling this way throughout her school years and also in her adult relationships. She felt trapped in a conflict between wanting to understand what was going on and not wanting to be disappointed by finding out too much. There was no way that she could resolve this conflict, of which she was barely aware.
Laura solved the problem by doing her homework. She found her husband, Hank looking at pornography. She went into a rage. She realized at the time that she was overreacting. She just did not know why. The issue wasn’t one of morality, or faithfulness to his new bride, but something else. It was Laura’s doubt as to her attractiveness. She had always been attractive, but her last boyfriend made a point of comparing her constantly to other women who were prettier than she was. After three years of this abuse she left him, but the damage was done. Her former confidence in her appearance was shattered.
Hank had trouble believing that his pretty wife felt unattractive and threatened by these cardboard dollies. He defended his right, under the law, to ogle ladies that he did not even know. Laura calmed herself down. She did something that was very hard for her to do, she took the risk of telling Herb what she wanted him to do. She dropped the power struggle over who could prevent whom from reading what. Instead, she talked about her own human need for reassurance. She just wanted to know that she was attractive to him. All she was asking for was a kind word of reassurance now and then. Hank did not betray her trust in him, nor did he ridicule her as she had expected him to do. He saw her as an imperfect human being not as a dependent weakling.
Laura felt much better after confessing her needs to Hank. She felt relief, control, identity and independence. She felt liberated from her childhood cynicism and distrust. She felt that she had used good judgment in deciding to trust Hank with her need for his help. She felt smart enough to make positive changes in the present. She felt confident that she could reach out to Hank again and secure his cooperation in the future.
Furthermore, the issue of attractiveness had become irrelevant. As a self‑respecting human being, she was no more and no less attractive than anyone else. She was attractive enough.
This “homework” opened Laura’s eyes. She understood Hank as an imperfect human being, not as a tower of strength to depend on forever. She also understood her own human imperfections. She was able to replace her old, negative attitude toward understanding with a more encouraging one. Understanding was no longer a liability, it had become an asset. As a worthwhile human being, she deserved to understand and to use her insights for positive purposes in the future.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )