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|Case Study - Page 7|
He sees that he still has a ways to go, but he has a sense of movement and progress. "I feel like a woman I once saw skiing," he said recently. "She was blind and being helped by a ski instructor. She couldn't see anything, but was tethered to him. I imagine she was scared and shaky, but also determined to do it. It couldn't have been any fun. That's exactly how I feel."
"And how is that for you right now?" I asked, expecting to hear him say something about his fear and discomfort.
"I feel like I'm in an all-white room, and I'm kind of amorphous and white myself. The floor is all eggshells. I'm not very comfortable, and I feel really vulnerable. I can't see where I end and the room begins." Here he paused for a long time, then looked directly at me and said, "But I'm really OK with that."
I believed him. He really was OK with it. For perhaps the first time in his adult life, Luc was able to tolerate emotional intensity, as well as the painful uncertainty and vulnerability that arise when we try to break long-engrained habits developed in our early years to protect us from suffering. Although our work isn't complete, my hope is that Luc's increasing mindfulness of his inner life can allow him to engage more fully in relationships, including perhaps the sort of close and caring relationship he longs to have one day with a life partner.
By David Treadway
Karen Wegela's work with Luc is delightful. She clearly "gets" what the Networker referred to in its May issue as "the secret world of men." Men aren't withholding from their intimate relationships exactly; it's more that they aren't in an intimate relationship with themselves. As one of my grizzled A.A. veterans said to me once, "You know, Doc, you don't know what you don't know." That sums up many men's experience—or lack of experience—with their emotional life.
As I read through this piece carefully, I discovered some startling parallels between myself, Luc, and many of the men I treat. I can remember vividly early on in my 42-year marriage when my wife, Kate, would say things to me like, "I just don't feel like you're really here." I didn't know what the hell she was talking about! It took me a long time to recognize how cutoff I was from my feelings because, as a therapist, I was in the feelings business—other people's feelings. Later on, I recognized that I really was missing in action, and I began to refer to my coping style in the words of the Southern California postcard, "Having a great time; wish I was here."