posted on May, 19 2008 @ 10:47 AM
I am in my psychologist's office.
This place has become a sort of sanctuary for me over the past 6 months…..it is one of the few places I really feel safe to talk about myself, where
I am headed and I think most importantly about my feelings.
I can bring anything I want into this room, and talk about it.
I look around the room while Doug fumbles about on his pc printing me a receipt. There are pictures on the walls of some boats - an indicator of his
love of sailing – for some reason the pictures have a calming effect on me, despite the fact I have never been sailing and know little about it.
Sometimes my imagination can paint a picture for my emotions which is far sweeter than the reality……..there is a sense of peace when i think of my
therapist on his boat which he also lives on - a freedom in being able to set course for any destination when holiday time comes around.
Doug faces me – his unspoken message to me that we can now start.
"How are you after last weeks session?…….it was pretty big stuff."
"I have been ok. Writing a lot about my feelings, like you suggested. For some reason though, the stuff around Dad has not been the big issue – I
think I might be getting to grips with it. I want to talk about Kiva."
I never really know how to start, so I just let the first thing which pops into my head do the talking.
"I recognize it was a totally unhealthy relationship – there was a lack of trust, not surprising on my part considering the fact I could not be
trusted. Doing drugs daily when we could afford it. It bothers me that I still miss Kiva when I know it was so unhealthy for the both of us….."
"I don't #ing get it……it was a while ago now – why do I still think about the relationship we had? I have had plenty of relationships before
and since then which ended and I get over them quickly."
I can feel something in my tummy moving up my body – it moves so quickly it seems like it bypasses my chest and into my throat – an uncomfortable
ball of emotion.
I am crying……
"What is going on for you right now Anthony?"
I decide to move from my head to my body.
Learning in rehab the value of "going south" when searching for an answer to a question has been so valuable to me. Our emotions originate in our
physical body – hence they are felt, not thought, which also explains the phrase "go south".
Many people I know try to intellectualize their emotions when they start to come up – that is – rather than allowing them to process things like
sadness, grief, or anger and accept their presence, they try to "think away" their emotions inside their head. This is the defence mechanism known
as "intellectualization" and, from what I have been told, I am very "good" at it.
For me, it is a defence mechanism born out of the family I grew up in. Negative emotions and their expression, rather than being encouraged as a
process which encourages healthy well being, is in fact judged as "weakness".
I have come to learn that having the courage to talk about ones own feelings and express them, is in fact one of the most courageous things a person
can do. It is easier to fight back the tears, to try and numb the feelings to appear "strong".
There are a lot of things coming up for me in this moment but thanks to practice, I am getting better at identifying them.
"I definitely feel pain and sadness about our relationship ending. Even though it was unhealthy, even though I would not change the way things have
happened since then for anything in the world, I feel sad."
"Anger……I'm angry. I remember when we broke up I knew I had a problem. I was petrified because I did not really understand what was going on for
me, but I did my best. I tried going to Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, even started seeing a therapist at the Sexual Health Clinic in St
"So you are angry that Kiva was not patient enough with you?"
"Im not sure…..i mean I recognize and accept the reasons she broke up with me – I was cheating. But I guess, rightly or wrongly, the whole time
during that period I had the belief that if I sorted my stuff out we could be together again…….and there were times when she did tell me that was
possible but would always add in the disclaimer she could not promise me anything."
I realize I have never spoken to anyone about this stuff before……I am crying as I speak but feel soothed at the same time.
"I guess us getting back together did not happen soon enough for my liking – so in some ways I think I was impatient, and sure enough I did what I
have always done – medicated with another relationship with Cinone which I think was the nail in the coffin for Kiva to a large extent. But I was
doing the best I could at that time, I really was – and I guess I am angry and hurt that was not enough.."
"I can understand that…..what else?....."
I start to cry with the sort of hurt that comes from a place where no matter who you are, no matter what background or history you have – if you
hear this sobbing come from another human being you know the pain is real.
"I……….I……I feel humiliated."
"I know at the time she told some people about my problems. And I also know they were shocked that she could even give me the time of day, firstly
because I had cheated, and secondly because I was a sex and love addict."
"Does what other people think matter?"….he asks me this question a lot, because he knows my concern with other peoples opinions is something I am
"No – but it still hurts. It is as though they think I enjoy hurting the people I care about time and time again. First there was Danielle, Kiva,
Cinone and then Kristy. I think the trouble is that its sex which is my addiction – sometimes I wish it were drugs or alcohol because there is so
much more information about it in the public domain. If people just knew………if people just knew what it felt like to be me at that time I have no
doubt they would not judge."
"Of course not."
Doug pauses, staring out the window onto the office buildings in North Sydney as he usually does when processing what I have told him.
When I first started therapy I wondered if he was trying to buy time to find something to say. I have come to realize he takes these moments so that
the feedback or question he directs towards me is not for the sake of conversation – it is because the answer, if I can find it, is probably very
important to me.
In other words, he is a very good psychologist.
Doug's eyes lock on mine and, as I have learned to recognize, he has found the question he was searching for.
"What is it about your relationship with her that you remember most positively?"
I have been on this journey before inside my head - on my own -and asked myself the same question. There is however, something very different about
processing emotions in the presence of another.
I remember you were always bright and positive – I don't think anyone should underestimate the contagious effective an optimistic attitude can have
on drawing others to you. It certainly drew me to you.
You are not the only partner I have had who has shown that sort of consistent affect, so, while it is most definitely something I remember fondly, it
just does not sit right with being the answer to the question Doug has asked.
There is one thing which, whenever I think about this, sort of niggles at me more than anything else. I have had this thought many times, and it is
the one thing I remember most about you.
"Kiva was supportive……in the sense that if I wanted to do something, if I had an idea, she would tell me to go for it. I always felt as though if
I made a decision which felt right for me I would be supported."
Doug's eyes light up…..we are staring at each other.
Carl Jung once said the more one sees of human fate and the more one examines its secret springs of action, the more one is impressed by the strength
of unconscious motives and by the limitations of free choice.
Doug is nodding – he knows what is going on and for the first time so do I.
"Unconditional support – what I never got at home – oh # – that's why I can't forget our relationship."
I sit there a little stunned……..I understand…….it never ceases to amaze me how childhood affects a persons relationships when they are older,
Doug breaks the silence.
"This is delayed grief you are experiencing……for the first time you are not medicating with sex or relationships, and in turn given yourself the
opportunity to grieve a loss properly. It is no different to grieving a death – it is the grieving the end of a relationship. The reason you are
fixated on Kiva is because she offered what your parents never did – unconditional support - that is naturally going to have a tremendous pull for
I listen intently.
"Two things are important when a person grieves. One is expressing it – you are doing that now. The second is attaching a meaning to the loss so
you can live with it."
I sometimes wonder why I pay so much money each week to go to therapy, and sometimes even wonder if it is actually doing me any good. Besides all the
amazing changes in my life which I have put in place since starting therapy, such experiences as I have just described quickly put to bed any doubt I
have about whether it is good for me.
We did not have time to explore the meaning I might attach to the loss – we ran out of time – but that is something which has emerged when writing
this very blog - but that is for another time…….