|Attachment Symposium 2012 Clinical Mastery Narcissistic Clients Anxiety Mind/Body Great Attachment Debate Trauma David Schnarch CE Comments Attachment Theory Couples Therapy Alan Sroufe Mindfulness Community of Excellence Linda Bacon Challenging Cases Diets Couples Ethics Future of Psychotherapy Wendy Behary Brain Science The Future of Psychotherapy Clinical Excellence Men in Therapy Mary Jo Barrett Gender Issues William Doherty Etienne Wenger|
|Case Studies Jan/Feb - Page 7|
Lisa took up the challenge, and gradually acclimated herself to solitude. It didn't take long before she realized that "self-doubt has crept into so comfortable a place inside me that it doesn't want to leave." This was a helpful admission. It meant that Lisa's camouflaged feelings were coming into the open. For the first time, she understood that her primary concern—"always to please the man, not myself"—often made her mind opaque to herself, confused, defensive, and uncertain about its own originality. "Instead of asking, 'Who am I?' I've been asking, 'Who do you want me to be?' Instead of pondering, 'What do I want for myself?' I've asked, 'What do you want from me?'" Now Lisa was ready to turn the question around and ask: "What do I want for myself?"
Her question was open-ended. It went beyond her work, her friendships, her ideas of success, her longing for a "real relationship," and it settled on utterly simple things: drinking lemonade at a cafe and watching the world go by, cooking a stew and putting candles on the table for her dinner, puttering around in her apartment. She was amused to discover how much some of the humbler forms of creative living delighted her.
A year later, Lisa met Simon: "exactly the kind of man I've never been drawn to. He's shy, he's an introvert, he doesn't care a whit about his appearance, and he couldn't care less about making a name for himself." She was surprised to discover how good it felt being with him. Eventually, when Simon asked her if she ever thought about living together, Lisa heard herself saying, "I'm not sure I want to give up my freedom" and asking if he'd be willing to wait for a while. Meanwhile, in her time alone, she could ask the kind of questions she'd have been too afraid to address before: if I'm a woman alone, do I want to stay that way? if so, why? and if not, why not? Can I be a woman alone and still continue this intimate relationship with Simon? And if I do decide to have children, does that mean I should get married first? She still isn't sure what her answers will be, and she's grateful Simon isn't pressing her.
Female psychotherapists, partnered or not, need to begin asking themselves, "As a woman alone, who am I?" and bringing the awareness of fresh answers consciously into their work, so that they, and their clients, can begin to understand that aloneness is one of the most overlooked and underutilized dimensions in women's lives—one we'll all experience; one we owe it to ourselves to learn about.