Like to SPY?:)
I wish everyone could ‘be a spyder on the wall’ of my office where confidentiality is essential.
I tend to disagree with psychotherapists who believe that men are different from women in the emotional realm, even John Gray’s popular book, Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus gives us this impression. I’ve worked with many couples over the spam of twenty-plus years, and at least half of my clients are male.
Two weeks ago, Steve came in alone for the first time, after attending sessions with his wife for maybe 6 sessions. Originally, Nancy had been seeing me for about four months; Steve was afraid to enter therapy yet saw the changes in her and decided to be courageous. As with all people, trust has to be built, so I was a bit surprised that Steve had agreed to see me alone after expressing much anxiety (fear) to do so. During that session, I asked if there was anything he could not share with his wife. He embarrassingly admitted there were two things. After he told me about two childhood events, he expressed how relieved he felt, because he had never told anyone, and had thought about those sexual events off and on for forty-some years. The following week I was surprised again when Steve and Nancy came in as a couple and told me that Steve had revealed his secrets to Nancy despite feeling great fear. Nancy said she felt afraid as well when Steve said, “We have to talk.”
Steve tells me with wide eyes, “As soon as I began to tell her, this HUGE weight came off my shoulders,” emphasized by his arms lifting up in the air, which he repeated with varying expressions during the session. Nancy said that Steve repeated his relieved feelings at home several times. It is difficult to describe the swell in my heart to hear Steve; it’s as if the mystical ONEness the Buddhists have long time spoken of is felt.
A couple I helped through a near divorce several years ago was initiated by the man who cried most sessions, while his wife rarely sprang tears.
Another man, who has recently returned to therapy after leaving a few months ago, and who had sobbed in sessions with his wife, (who was more angry than tearful), is crying again although I catch him trying to hold back tears. I ask him what makes him hold onto his tears. He replies, “My dad always says things aren’t so bad, just suck it up. But, I know I want to cry. Yet, I just hide in booze. I don’t want to be angry as I am.”
On the other gender, a 26 year old woman came in four months ago full of rage; she had thrown a garbage can over her husband’s head. She is a social worker who knew she needed help. She had been to another therapist the previous year, coming to me saying, “I need someone to challenge me…I didn’t let them put me on Lexapro. The anger and loss of control are getting worse…I’m scared and don’t want to own up to it.” Now, she is crying openly with her husband and her rage has dissipated thru connecting it to her loss of her dad after a divorce.
Yes, we still hear Fregie sing, “Big girls don’t cry,” and parents telling their sons, “Big boys don’t cry.” But, I am encouraged (and surprised again) by a new male client who had never been in therapy before, saying in his first session: “I am used to bawling myself to sleep.”