To help cope with the breakup, I am seeking the help of a psychologist. Here's what I've learned so far.
by Jane D.
I suppose getting someone that got so under my skin, the way the Ex-Boyfriend did, out of my system is as hard as giving up cigarettes. I've never been a smoker but I can somewhat understand now why doing a detox is so painful.
Yesterday, I took the first step and saw a psychologist, an older Jewish woman who I'll call Dr. X, for now. When I walked into her office, drenched from a downpour, she welcomed me with a clipboard of paperwork. It had been two years since I'd gone to therapy, and the serene and minimalist feel of the office sent me back in time.
I chose to sit on the north end of the couch, far away from her. To my right was an old-fashioned alarm clock and to my left a lot of space.
"How can I help you?" she asked.
I tried to stay calm. "I need to learn more about how to handle relationships," I said to her.
"With whom?" she asked.
"With men...with people," I said. Then I spilled the story for the hundredth time (who hasn't heard the story now?). In hindsight, I told her, I was probably doomed in this relationship from the start. On top of our faulty beginning and our messy breakup(s), he suckered me into believing that he was really going to get help, to see someone, and to find a way to not walk out, not give up on me, on us, again.
She sat still, nodding every so often, and throwing out questions like, "And why do you think he walked out?"
I thought about it. Something about his return this time didn't seem genuine and I was pushing him to live up to what he had professed to feel for me, to feel about our future, in all of his e-mails and letters (empty promises?) -- to be willing to be committed to me.
"Men want to be the pursuers; you never gave him a chance," she said. This was true. I was extremely impatient, but I also sensed that there was something not right about the pursuit. He sent very mixed messages, and, in return, I sent out mixed messages, too -- at times coming across as a very aggressive and independent woman, at other times a Chinese Betty Crocker.
"Well, you were seduced -- he knew how to get to you," she said.
I told her that he drew me in by inviting me to a wedding after only a month and a half of knowing me.
"Well, that is misleading," she said. "Wedding invitations are reserved for people who you are pretty close to."
And then, after I spilled everything out, we looked at each other, silent.
"Why would you want to be with someone like that?" she asked. "He doesn't seem like solid relationship material."
"But neither am I."
"You both played a part in this, but, overall, I'd say that he seduced you and wasn't truthful to you. Your fear of abandonment, perhaps due to your mother's leaving your family, was an impediment, too."
Our session's length, forty-five minutes, had passed. After a brief moment of silence, I asked, "How could this have happened?"
"You're mad at yourself," she said.
"Yes, I could have been better, too. I could have treated him better and not tested his patience, played on his insecurities as much." And then I thought about that snowy morning when he walked out without regard for me at all. I shook my head. How. Could. I. Have. Believed. Him. What. Happened. To this day, I can't believe that there was (is?) another woman. He seemed so perfect.
We stopped there, and she asked if I would like to keep seeing her. "I want to, but what other days do you have, sometimes I swim..." I started.
"I don't have any other times, just this," she said. There was a long pause.
"Yes, I want to come back," I said as I wrote out a check. And then I looked at her and asked. "Is there hope?" I asked.
"Yes, you're here, aren't you?"