Friday, September 2, 2011

TheRapist: Take Two

Well, we had our second visit with the therapist this week. We got to tell her that we employed a couple of strategies that she mentioned to us in our first appointment. But I have to admit, that was all Kidder. He was the one who pulled out her little tricks and sidetracked what was most definitely bound to become an argument.

Our visit this time was definitely different. Since we spent the first one explaining what brought us to therapy, she was ready to help us dig in and start making some progress this time. She had her white board out and a purple marker and started out by asking Kidder some questions about his perceptions about different things about me. The trick was that she was going to give me a chance to respond, but not about the things I disagreed with. Rather, she wanted me to respond to things he said that resonated with me. When she first said this, I have to admit I was a bit annoyed. I mean, who doesn’t want the chance to defend themselves if someone is saying something about you that you completely disagree with. But because I am always a good student and do my best to please my teacher (yes, I realize my job is not to impress my therapist, but old habits are hard to break) I made a strong effort to listen carefully as Kidder answered her first question. After just a few seconds of him speaking, I found that it wasn’t so hard to let go of my innate need to stand up for myself, and really hear what he was saying that I know is true about me. As we went on in the session, we filled up her board with lots of words written in purple and talked about several things that at first didn’t seem to be pertinent to the place we have found ourselves in. But one of the things that we are trying to do is to break out of old habits that have served to keep us trapped in a round and round argument, both of us feeling we are right, both of us wanting to make sure we are heard. The problem is that we have gone through something hard and that has put the deep focus on where we differ and we have not been able to break that cycle that is causing us pain. What we did yesterday was a first step on the path to becoming aware of how we “work” as individuals, so we can communicate more effectively together.

I went into that session feeling neutral, I wasn’t looking forward to it, nor was I dreading it. I left that session feeling pretty calm and most definitely hopeful. It is as if I have a new small bit of insight into what I am doing wrong that contributes to that unfortunate circle. I feel like if I pay attention, I can avoid some of those initial steps that I take that add to our argument. It isn’t much, and it doesn’t mean that I won’t have to walk away from a discussion saying, I can’t talk about this now. But it is only our second session, so if I have to say this week, “I can’t talk about this now,” we might not both feel great about things, but we won’t make things worse. Besides, next week we might discover the clue that gives us a little more insight into how to break these habits. I have to say, I am really looking forward to it.


  1. This sounds like it would be good exercise for ANY couple! It's insightful to hear your thoughts Jade, thank you for sharing.

  2. I'm wondering why y'all have chose to capitalize the "R" in "therapist" making it look like "the rapist". At first I saw it was a typo, but now I see it was intentional.
    Have y'all considered that some of your readers may find that triggering?

  3. You said that she was getting you to use techniques that get you out of a round-and-round argument. I would be very interested in hearing what techniques she has recommended. That seems to be an issue for MrsZ and myself sometimes; we'll both have reasonable arguments and understand eachothers perspective... But find ourselves leaving it there because we can't did the common ground. It's good that we understand eachother, but it would be nice to find ways to work towards a conclusion.

  4. Prerna, I didn't consider that seeing as how we stole this identical gag that was used in Saturday Night Live in the '90s. Sean Connery was a celebrety appearance on Jeopardy.
    Sean: I'll take The Rapists for $300
    Alex Trebek: That's Therapists! Why do you appear on this show week after week?
    Sean: 'Cause I hate you, Trebek!

    I've never heard anyone EVER complain about this bit because, well, it was really fucking funny and in the '90s people were perhaps a bit more likely to allow crude jokes to tickle their sense of humor. Now it seems like everyone has their Offence-O-Meters set to overly-sensitive. So I guess you can take the answer, "we were trying to be funny," or "we were paying homage to SNL" or even "this therapy thing we're doing isn't easy so we're going to poke fun at it for our own benefit and humor takes risks and sometimes we're gonna miss." But if you are going write a complaint letter to us about this pun-er-ific play on words, you'll also have to write SNL first as they did it first.

    zBud - The strategies I used last week were, "Beware of habits that lead us to needless arguments," and "sometime you have to say things over and over again, as many times as necessary for the other person to trust and believe it." I'll explain more about this in my TheRapist report, coming soon.

  5. True Prerna, we were not trying to be offensive. Just poking fun at a situation that is not funny, but humor helps get us through hard times. I am certain that we are not alone in that...

  6. I'm glad that session #2 went well. I hope that you both will feel that the time, energy, hard work (and of course money) are worth it! It's always hard to step back and hear constructive criticism without immediately going on the defensive, but it can be good to see things from different perspectives in hopes of not falling back into the same old patterns.

    I'm cheering loud & clear for you! Just picture me in the front row, with a big foam hand like this one:

  7. I agree with Prerna that the titles may be upsetting, especially considering that rape is a traumatic incident and therapy is supposed to, you know, help someone cope with it. While I understand that it's not meant to be offensive, your intent doesn't mean much if someone is instantly turned off or upset by the title.

    That said, I'm glad to read things seem to be going well. It's really great to hear about individual's experiences with therapy and figuring out how to make it work in a relationship.

  8. I wish we had taken a photo of the whiteboard and posted it.

  9. Kidder and Jade - I wasn't familiar by that SNL reference, and that explanation does fit your personalities. It doesn't offend me, but as Rachel said, your intentions don't negate the possible effects. I respect your freedom to make any jokes and references you'd like to, but it seems a strange choice from a sex educator.

    That said, I am glad to hear you're having a positive experience with therapy, and I truly hope it helps!

  10. My comment got too long so I moved it here.