Posted on 18 November 2011, 18:26
Here’s a second extract from my book Solitude – recovering the power of alone. We listen in to a conversation about therapy:
We all need therapy and have all experienced therapy.
I’m talking about all sorts - paid or unpaid, formal or informal.
Well, obviously I’ve been helped by chatting to someone occasionally.
We’re all therapists to someone and the word comes from the Greek word therapeia, meaning ‘attendance’; someone attending on another.
I didn’t know that.
This developed into meaning the treatment which the one in attendance administered. Friends are sometimes our best therapists and some swear by their hairdressers. At other times, a professional feels like a better option.
So the question is: who helps you? Have you had good experiences or bad experiences of ‘attendance’?
It might be interesting to have some real life stories from therapy.
I could do that.
It would help de-mystify it.
Fair enough, let’s try that. But the two stories I tell I choose not because they’re startling but because they’re entirely normal.
Just so long as they’re true.
OK but we’ll change the names and one or two particulars to ensure confidentiality. So meet Christopher who is reading me some very aggressive texts from his partner.
You’re describing the session?
I am, yes. And in these texts, she calls him all the negative names under the sun.
Things are not well?
Christopher then tells me that such abuse is quite normal; that she puts him down all the time and tells him that their relationship can only continue if he improves.
What was she doing?
The message seemed to be this: ‘You are sick, Christopher and I am trying to save you. Be grateful.’
How did Christopher feel about this?
You might be surprised to hear that he was very grateful and in awe of her wonderful kindness.
Was that your understanding?
No, from where I sat, the relationship was killing him. His partner was no saviour; indeed she was probably sicker than he was. He had an issue with pornography but salvation for Christopher lay in himself rather than in infantile dependency on a brittle and controlling partner.
He remained sure that he was not worthy of her. But before leaving, he added one thing: ‘She’s always demanding I say sorry. But she has never said sorry. Never.’
How do you react to that story?
I suppose it made her feel good to be saving someone. It seems she had to feel superior to him. Doesn’t sound like a very healthy connection either way.
Solitude by Simon Parke is published by White Crow Books and Available from Amazon and all good online books stores.