Letters from your therapist.
You came to session today worried and scared of what the future holds. You discussed your relationship, and how it has shifted from courting and romance to something different - something more permanent. You expressed your concern that you might cease to exist should you make the investment that is required of connection and closeness. As you approach intimacy, vulnerability and dependency have become the ever-feared monsters hiding under your bed.
I recall you describing your youth, and the turmoil you witnessed between your parents. You discussed their divorce, and how awful it felt to be put in the middle and chauffeured between houses on a weekly basis. Never really feeling at home, and always having to shift personas to meet your parents needs. It was a sad time in your life, watching your parents split up and argue over custody. It was even harder to live with them together and watch their conflict.
Sometimes they leaned on you in ways that felt confusing because while you wanted to feel the privilege of knowing “grown up” information, you also wondered who exactly was in charge now? Somehow, you found yourself becoming the parent to your parents and trying to find your own identity at the same time. This experience helped you mature and become an independent and responsible adult. It also left you wondering if you can ever really rely on someone else for nurture or protection?
There seemed to be so much uncertainty that unfolded during your session. There is an innate desire for closeness in your relationship and yet a fear of being let down, or worse, somehow losing a sense of yourself and all the autonomy you have had to develop. I was left wondering if you might consider that you can become a part of a “we” and not lose the “I”, and that by allowing yourself to become connected in such a meaningful way you are growing into the “self” you long to become.
You are not alone in your desire to protect yourself from the pain you witnessed in your youth. Perhaps now, as you emerge into your own adult hood, and are faced with the choice of commitment, the fear of repeating the past is ever present. What if I lose my ability to speak up for myself? What if I stay in a relationship because I believe that I cannot survive on my own? What if I surrender my trust and love, and it is not returned or mishandled in some way? What if…. Your worries are not without reason, and yet they stand in the way of evolving yourself and your relationship.
Somewhere in all the worry you seem to have forgotten all of the resiliency you have learned and built within yourself along the way. It seems that vulnerability has taken on the definition of giving up your voice, dreams, and relevancy. My hope is that you remember that you always have the option to be different, and that vulnerability can take on a safe and secure definition. It is in our most intimate relationships that we are truly able to discover ourselves. It is in these commitments that we begin to define our values and beliefs and take on a clearer path. Vulnerability can be a place where you assert your needs and expectations, have your needs met, and learn that conflict can be a means to understanding. Vulnerability and dependency can be a place of growth for you, your partner, and your relationship.
Above all else, I wanted to remind you that it is all going to be ok.