Sunday, February 01, 2009

Fear and Desire

First, before anyone reads this I want everyone to recognize that while I always care for Dr. X; I believe my periodically having feelings of love for him are reflections of the difficulties I have with romance, connection and lust in my "real" (i.e. outside therapy) life.
This topic is very difficult for me to write about, but I also believe it is very important to dissect and address the feelings I experience.

While I respect and care deeply for Dr. X as a person and psychiatrist and I feel he is an extraordinary human being, I do not REALLY love Dr. X. (I feel sad saying this.)

The reason I brought up the love/lust/caring thing with Dr. X. is not because I wanted him to know how I feel about him...I think he could have guessed that. I am pretty transparent.

The reason I brought the topic up is I believe it reflects and shows me difficulties and patterns and relationships in my life that need changing. I believe in acknowledging my feelings I have the opportunity to open up at a deeper level than I have ever been able to in therapy. I also believe this needs to happen before I can set about making changes to the relationships I am having trouble with. I think the love I feel for Dr. X. is a reflection of the love and connection I am missing in my "real" life (vs. life in therapy). Dr. X is a "surrogate" for the feelings I want to experience in my life.

I thought it might be helpful to brainstorm some of the real life connections/disconnections that lead me to desire the love of my pdoc. By writing them here I will have a list of things to discuss and work on in therapy.

I came upon a very powerful statement about transference the other day. I have turned it into a question for myself:

What are the feelings the patient has towards the therapist? Examine the feelings the patient has and how they relate to unconscious motivations, desires and fears.

Conscious/Unconscious Motivations that Lead to My Feelings:

  • I feel listened to. How could I not feel attracted to someone who listens carefully to what I say; someone who listens not only to what is being said, but also wants to uncover what is not being said. In my real life love relationship I feel unheard, undervalued, and ignored.
  • I feel safe. I feel I can say pretty much anything with Dr. X. He never gets mad at me, never yells at me, never challenges my opinion in an angry way. My spouse always seems angry at me.
  • I feel cared for. by Dr. X. He is always thoughtful, kind and compassionate. In my real life love relationship I feel the target of a huge amount of anger and frustration. I feel like my husband goes out of his way to avoid me. Much of the time I feel lonely when with him.

Conscious/Unconscious Desires that Propel My Feelings:

  • I desire the love of a kind man. Dr. X is like this, always. I recognize it is his job to be this way, but I have NEVER encountered a man like this...ever. It would be hard not to have feelings for someone who, every time you see them, is kind, and thoughtful.
  • I used to enjoy casual encounters with different people. On some level I miss the excitement and newness of casual sex. I get bored in my sex life. Dr. X is a powerful "taboo". This excites me. It is the IDEA of a prohibited encounter that excites me.
  • I desire a man/woman who wants to spend time with me and who shows me that. I feel wanted (as in I don't feel rejected) in therapy. I often feel rejected by my husband in many areas of our relationship. He calls me greedy for wanting too much sex, or ignores me when we are together, or is angry at me all the time.
  • Dr. X seems to enjoy many of the cultural things I do (music, art, intellectual pursuits etc). My husband could care less. It is a chore to get him to participate in cultural events. I feel like we have little in common. I would love a partner who liked to do some of the same things as me.
  • Dr. X never seems uncomfortable with my sexuality. Rather he normalizes the desires I have that may seem out of bounds to some. My husband is good like this too. He is really open minded...but he gets jealous. I like to flirt sometimes. It feels like harmless fun to me because I never have the intention to take my flirtation to the next level. I am just flirting as a form of fantasy. I get angry when my husband wants me to stop being a sexual being with anyone but him. I don't mean my having sex with others...though I miss that...I mean innuendo and flirtation, just for the fun of it
  • I love a man who is an authority figure. Dr. X is this to me...though we have tried and tried to help me lose that feeling. I recognize Dr. X is not authoritative with me/towards me. I appreciate that. He really has tried and tried to help me feel like an equal, but something about how close I feel to him makes me want him to control me. Part of my sexual psyche/my love psyche craves someone in control, someone who knows what to do, someone who has power over me, someone who "forces" me to do things I do not want to do., who forces me to do things I need to do, etc. I have created a fantasy world where people in my life, other than my husband are doing this for me. This is a weird pattern of behaviour in that, on some level, it reflects my feelings towards my father. He was intensely controlling and my feelings of having an authority figure "force" me to do something, or tell me what to do are holdovers from both my childhood and from how my dad still treats me. I suppose, given my father's authoritative behaviour I always have had a difficult time making decisions for myself. I have an ingrained need to be given the answer, the activity, the way of being. This has slipped over into my sexual fantasy life.

Conscious/Unconscious Fears that Lead to My Feelings:

  • I am afraid I am unlovable and cannot love. I feel like I have never been loved by a partner. Likewise, I have never felt "love" for any partner. I care about them, lust after them, am obsessed with them, excited by them etc., but I don't think I have ever truly loved or felt loved. I am not sure why. I think I am so scared I will be rejected that I neglect to allow myself to feel and show love.
  • I am afraid my marriage is a sham. I fear I have spent from 27 to 43 (16 years) trying to hold together, repair and survive a marriage that was not meant to be. I am terrified that my husband stays with me just because he doesn't want to hurt me. I am scared we both stay together because the other choice is too difficult to decide and take action towards.
  • I am afraid I have become old, depressed and unattractive. I am afraid no one will desire me. On some level, my desire for an "other" reflects my fear I will never be interesting, or desired by anyone else. I fear dying and not having experienced true love. Or having missed out on opportunities to exchange an intense and everlasting bond with someone else.


Hannah said...

This is such a brilliant post, I can really identify with the points you have made. I too struggle with relationships and very much need to apply this kind of method to work out what the different relationships I have with people in my life actually mean. I really admire your honesty and your determination to work at understanding your thought processes.
I've taken a lot from this post, thank you.

Hannah xxx

Aqua said...

Thanks Hannah,
I almost removed the post a couple times after I posted it because I was afraid people might think I am really crazy or weird. This topic is so difficuly, yet so important, to address in a meaningful way. Thanks for the supportive comment. I appreciate it and it makes me more confident that posting and addressing these feelings is the right thing for me to do.

Lisa Marie said...

This is an extremely profound post. You know so much of what you want and need! Posting this is a huge step in your acknowledgement of how it affects you. Great job!

I struggle with finding "approval" from parental figures, namely anyone who is 30+ years older than me. So when I was deciding on a therapist,I had to find someone that would not distract me from trying to seek the approval/love from them that I never received from my parents. So I chose someone young, only 8 or 9 years older than me, but about 25 years younger than my mom and dad.

Polar Bear said...

wow, Aqua.

You seem to be expressing yourself really well these days.

While I feel sad that you are not getting a lot of the love and security that you should get from your relationship with your husband, I do understand how easy it is to fall in love with Dr X.

I think human beings are made to love and made to need love. I don't think we all get it necessarily. But if we don't feel loved, there will always be that empty space within that we will continually look to fill in one way or another.

I am afraid too, that I am unlovable, or that I cannot love. But my emptiness relates back to the relationship I had with my mother, and I find that I am constantly trying to look towards "mother figures" to fill that need.

It's not a nice feeling to have - to have that aching need for something that is no longer "appropriate". No longer appropriate, because now I am an adult, and I really should be looking more towards the kind of intimate relationship between a man and a woman.

But enough about me. I just want to say I do understand where you're coming from, and I also want to say well done on being able to express these feelings in the open.

Polar B.

Aqua said...

Lisa Marie,
I really struggle with seeking approval. Also, one of the things I have recognized in my therapy dynamic is that it really is helpful for me to have a male therapist when most of my difficulties seem to revolve around men. I seem to be able to get more out of the sessions than with a female therapist because I react to my therapist in the way I react to we can address that.

Polar Bear,
You definately are not unloveable. I live across the world and I feel a strong sense of connection to you. I understand that feeling of emptiness and how difficult it is to fill it.

Thanks each of you for the tremendously supportive responses.

jcat said...

Hey A, wow! I come back from a timeout while on holiday to find that you have posted so many of the things that I feel for my pdoc, and other things too!

On the loving a therapist bit, I'd like to add one point. For me, and I guess for many others too, reaching a point where you can absolutely love and trust someone is crucial. If I didn't feel that way about my pdoc, I would also not be allowing him anywhere near the 'bad' bits of me. I can function fine with people I don't care about, even at the worst times, but it takes a huge effort to allow someone I love to see behind the functioning charade. And when you can do that and still have a relationship, for me it's the first step in trying to love myself as well.

I think the erotisism follows almost automatically. It's hard to allow someone that far inside your mind without wanting it to be physical as well. I guess the same applies in reverse as well - when you are really attracted to someone on a physical level, it's almost inevitable that you start to love them emotionally as well.

I'm not as brave as you, so I've never actually discussed this with Dr J, although he does know indirectly that I think he is soooo sexy (!!), but we've kind of alluded to it now and then. I am way more compliant because I love him, I am far more willing to keep trying when every bit of me says stuff it because loving him makes me want to be more worth being loved in return. Even without talking about it, me knowing how I feel about him does make me think about how it applies to RL relationships. And it makes me far more comfortable with RL bits generally, because I feel that I can actually love someone and not be completely rejected for doing so. It's a good start...

The other bit that made me laugh is Lisa Marie's comment on the whole parent/authority issue, especially as it relates to age. I have similar things with my mother. So I end up with a tdoc who is ten years younger than me, and she 'mothers' me totally just cos that is how she is! And strangely enough, kind of letting that happen has also allowed me to handle the way my mother does things a lot better too...