23 January 2011

The saddest part is what goes unspoken

My saddest moments as a therapist often have nothing to do with what's being said.  Instead, they are about the heartbreak that hovers in the room and goes unspoken.

She yelled at me all morning about how lazy I was, and then took off for the weekend without calling once.  What I couldn't believe is that when she came home on Sunday night, she didn't even want to eat dinner with me.  Is that so much to ask?*

If this quote made you twitch, that's a good thing.

What is not being said here?  How much it hurts to be yelled at and demeaned.  The breach of trust that occurs when one person leaves and doesn't call.  How this should call into question the entire relationship, and how the issue should be how this person is being treated overall by an emotionally and verbally abusive partner.

Instead, it becomes about the missed pizza, or not receiving a birthday card from someone who hasn't said a respectful word in ten years, or how someone who yells at you everyday never text-messages back in a timely fashion.

This lack of self-respect, lack of self-love, is the saddest and most heart-breaking thing that I experience as a therapist.  It is what is not said, not acknowledged.   It is the looking to incriminate someone's behavior rather than weep at your own heartbreak.  It is trying to fit into someone's desire rather than draw boundaries around your own heart.

"Love yourself" is mantra we all know.  But what does it mean?  How do you put it into practice?

One day, one interaction, one relationship at a time.  Say no.  Say yes.  Take care of your self.

*All quotes in this post are completely fictionalized accounts of therapy.
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