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.