Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


She's Not Here For Therapy

Sonoma Valley, California, USA

July 30, 2016



He called me and asked me to come over. His relationship of the last few years was faltering. He wanted / needed to talk. We've all been there. Just listening is a great gift to offer a friend at a time like this (there are no useful trite answers). "I don't know what to do. I feel her slipping away. I don't want to lose her" he said. His sadness was palpable. I knew she must be sad too (she's also a good friend of mine). "I get it" I said. I did. I recognized the experience from his sharing. But more than that, I recognized it from similar experiences I've had in my own past.

I've known more than a few couples who've been in the same situation as them. What "situation" is that? Typically it's when a couple's relationship begins while one or both of them are experiencing loss, and provides comfort (at least initially)  to one or both partners. He had gone through a nasty divorce he hadn't wanted to go through (it takes two to make a marriage, but only one to take it apart). She had recently been laid off from her dream job. Their relationship worked well in the beginning. New company, with lots of hugs thrown in for good measure, can heal a raft of ills. Then not so strangely, the trouble began after  a great deal of healing had occurred. You'd think that would be the time the relationship would go into overdrive and thrive, yes? It may. But if it doesn't (and theirs didn't), it's not atypical.

My take on this is derived from my own experience in similar situations (we're not all that different, he and you and I): once the healing begins in one or both partners in a relationship which began with loss, that relationship is now no longer on the same foundation on which it was to begin with. It's a paradox: the more the relationship heals the partners in it, the more the foundation on which the relationship is based, erodes. Soon the relationship finds itself on shaky ground. It's not insurmountable. But it is shaky. Very  shaky. It's the beginning of a new dynamic which could make or  (if not recognized and confronted) fracture the relationship.

From the moment he opened himself to me and began sharing what was going on with them, it wasn't hard for me to see what the greater issue was - but then again, it's always easier for an outsider to see what's going on in a relationship when for the couple themselves, it can be as clear as mud.

I said to him "This is today. You've both come a long way. She's not here for therapy. That is to say she's not here for therapy any more.  She may have been, once. But that's all over now. And the thing is even without changing any of the circumstances, you  get to choose if it's all over now like done, or if it's all over now like a new beginning.". I could tell he wasn't hearing me.

Sadness is never a good listener. Sadness is supposed to cure being sad, and yet it never does (as Werner may have said). I had to break through to a more astute level of his listening. I pressed again in a lilting tone "She's not here for therapy" using its hyperbole as a hook. I wanted him to hear it in a way which would reveal to him the way he was being with her: he was rooted in the past  about her. And she, having been healed of her past by being with him (and how great is that!?), no longer experienced him as a space in which she could grow. Talk about a paradox! Talk about being between a rock and a hard place! Talk about a rough dichotomy!  (it's certainly one I can relate to).

I visited him again about six weeks later. He told me they were still together. "AND?  ..." I said, leaning in and smiling. He told me the mutual therapy (and along with it, that  relationship) had ended. And where they were at now was enjoying each other as two human beings getting to know each other again newly, trying on what it's like to be without a past  with each other - which would be an interesting place to be in (as Werner may have also said) even though it may not be totally possible. They were re-discovering each other as if they'd never met before. "AND?  ..." I urged again. He told me it was going well. He said it was like they had come apart without actually separating (at least not yet), and had then come together again and were immersed in a tender experiment of taking it one day at a time, living into a future which was inviting without offering any guarantees. He said he assumed this was typical of the beginning of any new relationship (and I liked the way he emphasized "new"  relationship).

"Damn! That's Big!"  I mused later in the evening, leaving his place and driving home.



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© Laurence Platt - 2016 Permission