In Treatment 2-- Mia, Week 6

Paul opens the door to find Mia in the waiting room. She says it is over, that she is no longer pregnant.

She says she isn't feeling well and she called in sick. She complains of being tired and not being up for the whole session. She does not want to move into the office, preferring to remain on the couch in the waiting room. Paul offers to fix her tea but she declines.

She tells Paul she started bleeding Friday and it didn't stop. Paul asks how she is emotionally. She says she's numb. That she had felt different for a little while, that she had a purpose. Being a mother answered all the questions about her life. Paul suggests there are other ways to have a child if she wants one but she rejects adoption or artificial insemination. She says she never found the right man or she pushed him away and now she has no man and no child.

Paul asks if she called anyone. That she could have called him. She says she spoke to her mother. Paul again suggest they move into the office. She follows him. Paul asks about the conversation with her mother who called when she did not attend her niece's piano recital. She had been paying for the piano lessons. Paul suggests she wanted to be certain music was not taken from them as it had been from her. When she didn't answer her mother's call, she came over and asked if she had the flu. She cried when her mother asked and her mother says maybe that's nature's way. Her mother attempted to make a consolation toast and said she was proud of her, because she is independent and has a career. She told her mother that was odd given that she always accused Mia that she had ruined her modeling career. Her mother told her she never actually had much of a career, that she lost her mind not her looks when Mia was born. She told Mia she stayed in her room because she was afraid she would kill herself and didn't want to do that to her. Her father moved into the living room when this happened but got no help for her. Paul suggests she had no mothering for a year. Mia said her mother told her when she came out of it she had a rush of feeling and wanted to be close to her but Mia was close with her father and didn't want her. And her father couldn't forgive his wife. 

She also found the twins were an accident. Her mother told her it was her father's idea to send her to his sister's family when the twins came along because he wouldn't hire help for her.

Mia is angry that her mother spent so many years telling her she had ruined her life and now she tells another story. Paul tells her he understands her anger -- her mother never mothered her and now wants to be close to her. As Paul tries to help Mia see that maybe her father was not all that she thought, Mia accuses him of taking the mother's side. Mia asks if he is accusing her of pushing her mother away. Paul asks what about her father? Has she considered that her father colluded in the lie? Mia is furious at the thought that her father was not the hero. Paul says maybe she has to reevaluate her parents and what they did. Mia insists her father was always there for her and her mother never was. Paul points out that she becomes angry whenever he suggests she look at her father more closely.  Paul tells her she needs to question the way she has thought about her parents, that it isn't about blame but about the image she has carried. He tells her about discovering too late that his father wasn't who he had thought. That if she doesn't go through this she will stay where she is.

Paul asks if her mother told her what happened to the piano. he tells him her mother said her father sold it because with two babies, that was enough noise. Paul asks what would happen if she entertained that her mother told the truth. Mia tells him her mother called her doctor and insisted she go to see him. So she took Mia there. He ran some tests and told her that she hadn't been pregnant, that she had not miscarried and likely would not get pregnant. He told her he sees this often, successful women who come in believing they are pregnant and they are not. Paul asks if she had done a test. She says no, that she thought she would wait because she had been so sure. She tells Paul he is wrong, she does not have to grieve for a child she never had. Paul says in a way it was, in the desire to create new life. After making a joke about meeting a man in the bar, she gets ready to leave. Paul asks her to call during the week because he wants to know how she is.


I wondered last time how Mia could know so soon that she was pregnant. And I wondered if perhaps she was wishing for a child so much that she was convincing herself that her late period meant she was pregnant. And indeed it appears this is what happened.

The experience of what she believed to be a miscarriage brought her mother into the picture as a person for the first time and we see that Mia has been so firmly attached to her father, so in the grip of her negative mother complex, that even now she cannot accept any version of her life which does not place her father as hero and her other as villain.

The revelations from her mother -- that there was no modeling career, that there had been a deep and serious postpartum depression which left her father to care for her, that it was her father who sent her away when the twins came, and it was her father who took away her piano -- are too much for her to take in. They create such serious dissonance for her that she rejects them because to do otherwise, to entertain even part of them would necessitate a radical revision of the story she has told herself about her life. It is often the case when one parent is idolized and the other demonized that a closer look reveals a different and far more complex story.

All of us have a story we are living. And we work to defend and maintain this story because it makes sense of our experiences and feelings. Mia's story is that she has a doting father and a rejecting mother and that her mother has been the source of all that is bad in her life. She cannot bear to see her father as other than the hero. Though she is not happy with her life, is despondent about her failed relationships, to make any serious change she must be willing to look at the story she is living and be willing to revise it, to see her parents as they were not as she wanted them to be, not as she felt. And she is at best ambivalent at this prospect.

Paul was quite good with her this week. But I suspect she will push him away again because to allow him to care for her, to allow him t help her means she must be willing to look at herself and at her parents and how the story has shaped her entire life. He seemed on the mark when he suggested that in way she had been pregnant, pregnant with the desire for a new life and that losing that possibility deserves grieving.  What remains to be seen is whether or not she is willing to continue to work on bringing a new life into being for herself.


The only way out is through

Negative mother complex

Father hero




© Cheryl Fuller, 2016. All  rights reserved.