Blog

Better to be bad than weak?

Some years ago I read Harry Guntrip's Schizoid Phenomena, Object Relations, and the Self. I often think of something he wrote in that book, that many of us would rather be bad than weak. Now that seems paradoxical at first but think about it -- it is often more satisfying to believe that we, in our "badness" ,create the behavior in others that bothers us, because that way, if we become good, then they will change too.

If my mother treated me badly because I was bad; if my lover is abusive because I am not good then all I have to do is change, become good and then I will have the mother I wanted, the lover who will cherish me.

But if I have no control over my mother's behavior or my lover's abuse, then I have to live with knowing that I cannot change them, that I have to deal with who they are as they are.

To accept that I cannot determine the behavior of others means I must be more aware of my own choices and what drives them. I have to surrender my illusions about my power to control others.

A Moving Target

Yes, changes are still coming. Yes, the look of this site will be changing. No, I don’t have date for when it happens. So, let’s continue on our merry way talking about psychotherapy, about aging, about body issues. The change will come when all is ready.

Changes are coming soon

Regular readers know I have been contemplating moving this site to Wordpress. Though I am pretty comfortable with technology, I felt a bit flummoxed about doing the move myself. Today I am talking with someone with whom I will be working to make this move. The move means that what you see now will disappear, be replaced by an Under Construction sign  and then reappear in new dress. The address will be the same but the underpinnings will be new — kind of like a house renovation. So watch for the reappearance of the new and improved (I just had to use that) Jung at Heart. I won’t be gone long.

She’s BACK!

Where have I been, you may ask? And that is a very good question. I decided I really needed to take some time to consider what comes next. And it is taking longer than I thought. 

I am not disappearing. There will be changes here as I hope to begin to work to move this site to Wordpress which requires I get some help. 

I am thinking even more deeply about the work I want to do, the kinds of issues I want to work with and help with — I will be writing more about that.

I have a backlog of things I want to write about — about aging, about fat, about chronic illness, about life in general. There will be posts.

So I am back. I am here. I am open to new patients. Thank you for bearing with me.


Personal Myth

"I suspected that myth had a meaning which I was sure to miss if I lived outside it in the haze of my own speculations. I was driven to ask myself in all seriousness: “What is the myth you are living?” I found no answer to this question, and had to admit that I was not living with a myth, or even in a myth, but rather in an uncertain cloud of theoretical possibilities which I was beginning to regard with increasing distrust. I did not know that I was living a myth, and even if I had known it, I would not have known what sort of myth was ordering my life without my knowledge. So, in the most natural way, I took it upon myself to get to know “my” myth, and I regarded this as the task of tasks…”  C.G. Jung

I return to this subject over and over again, in my personal life and with the people I work with. Your personal myth is the story you have for making sense and meaning of the world. It is the story you are living. Keep in mind that myth is our story about our experiences as a human. It is not something that is false or unreal. Discovering and exploring  the myth you have been living opens the door for editing and changing the story. And in changing the story, you change your life.

Your personal myth might develop from myths you have read and heard — stories of Greek or Roman gods. Or it could be that you find your myth in fairy tales.  Or try writing your own fairy tale — begin with Once upon a time…

Years ago when I was early in my own analysis, I began to write a fairy tale. It was a new experience for me, though I had long kept a journal. I sat down one evening and began to write , starting of course with "Once upon a time in a far away land…”.  I didn’t have a preconceived idea about the story or where it would. I simply let it write itself and when the words stopped coming, I stopped. It was nowhere near finished after that first bit of writing and I didn’t pick it up again until the urge to write more came to me. The process continued like this — write until I had no more to write, stop and out it away, start again whenever the urge stuck again — for seven years. I was tickled by the length of time it took to complete the fairy tale because somehow 7 years felt like it belonged to the realm of such stories. In the years since then I have revisited the fairy tale, made minor revisions, reflected on it. Just this past week I have been with it again, this time contemplating a major revision. 

The Return of Yellow

In 1968, right after I graduated from college, I was maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding. I had a really pretty yellow dress for the rehearsal dinner (the less said the better about the dresses we attendants wore for the wedding). Then yellow disappeared. I cannot recall anything yellow I wore for 51 years after that event. The reason? None really though when I “had my colors done” sometime in the late 80s the woman told me I was a winter and that yellow was one of the colors that was not good on me. Or maybe I was afraid it would make me stand out too much - there is nothing subtle about bright yellow. Anyway a month or so ago I saw a bright yellow blouse and fell in love with it, the very blouse you see me wearing there on the right.

It has been as if yellow has returned from exile somewhere, from the Underworld maybe. I have had a big dream about daffodils. In contemplating something I want to knit, yellow was the only color that caught my eye. Looking at the DyeForYarn Etsy shop where I love to find yarn, this skein jumped into my basket and is on its way from Germany to me now -

Are you ready for a journey?

Office


“I thought I found an answer when I was older, meditation, yoga, channeling. A way of making use of a talent, a gift. And now it's back worse than ever. No, not worse than ever, but it feels like that because I've been OK so long. It's like unfinished business has come back to haunt me.” 

 “The gate that opens and closes can't close.”

“Two years ago I began medication and it helped, not completely, but relief. Then the sleeplessness started and my doctor suggested I speak with you.” 

 “Are you ready for a therapy journey?” 

              Michael Eigen, Under the Totem: In Search of a Path.


So writes Eigen of his beginning work with a patient he calls Rose.

Are you ready for a therapy journey? I want to remember this question, hold it in mind for the next time I begin with someone new. Describing therapy as a journey isn’t unique to Eigen, but I don’t think we say it out loud all that often and not at the beginning.

People come to therapy looking for answers, for solutions to problems in their lives. In an era of “evidence based” medicine, they expect there to be some formula, some evidence based set of things they can do to make themselves feel better. They want assignments, suggestions, techniques — mindfulness, journal writing, drawing all of which are useful tools but do not carry magic. 

It is hard not to respond to this desire for a solution, a fix. Hard not to make suggestions, not to offer something to soothe the longing expressed for relief, for a partner, for happiness. We become therapists at least in part out of a desire to help.

But that kind of therapy is not what Eigen means when he asks his question. The therapy journey is a journey inward, with no predefined end point and often goes into unexpected territory. And on this journey, the therapist is more likely to ask questions than provide answers.

Doors

IMG 2985


"The doors to the self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door."

Clarissa Pinkola Estés 


Mistakes


"People do not grow in sterile containers with perfect analysts; they grow in messy human relationships with analysts who try their best to do right by their patients  but whose best must frequently consist of reparative efforts vis-á-vis the difficulties they have created."

How do we recover from the mistakes that we make? We recover by recognizing that of course we make mistakes because we are human and it is how we learn. I have been in this work for 40 years and I still make mistakes -- different ones, but mistakes nonetheless. 

 When things go awry because of something I say or do, initially I need to be able to simply accept that I made a mistake, be willing to own that mistake. Optimally the relationship is solid enough that my mistake does not end it and we have the opportunity to work through it, to look at what happened and why and how it came to be experienced painfully. 

Sometimes the therapist's mistake breaks the relationship. What do we do then? Well, we have to sit with it, reflect on what happened to see what we can learn from it. Maybe got some supervision to see if looking at the situation with another pair of eyes illuminates it for us. We learn what we can from it and let the patient go. Pursuing trying to get her to hear the explanation starts to be its own problem.  

Time is on my mind

My daughter texted me today to ask me when she had her measles vaccination. She will be 43 this year so it was a long  time ago. Except that in old age, distant events sometimes feel more recent than last year. A trick of time and memory that lends a vividness to long ago. 

I dream about a little boy and in associating to it in an effort to reveal and understand what my psyche is telling me about my life today, I have a very vivid memory of walking with my son when he was 3. I can feel his hand in mine as we walk along the street and I can almost hear his stream of commentary about things  he sees. Yet that day was forty years ago. 

In another dream I see my grandmother’s kitchen, a room I have not seen in more than sixty years.

How can it be almost 20 years since that Fourth of July weekend when I flew to Detroit to meet the man I am now married to? A vivid image of the fireworks I could see from the window of the plane as I flew back to Maine and feeling they were for me, celebrating what I felt after that wonderful weekend.


© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.