Amruti, my fifty-eight year old female patient, relates a story to me about her connection to a long-term friend, Kirsten, age sixty-three, whom she met when they were both raising their sons who are now in their mid-twenties. “Kirsten told me about her younger daughter who was going to a high-end college and that really hit me hard,” Amruti says. “Since high-end meant that other colleges were low-end,” I said, tuning into the knife of judgment that Amruti felt. “Yes, that is it, exactly,” Amruti says with enthusiasm in the recognition that I understood her reaction. “I just felt like Kirsten must be so judgmental, and yet, I have known her for years, and yes, I have seen that part of her, but it has never hit me like it did last week,” Amruti says with confusion and curiosity. “Why do you think you were so sensitive to it?” I ask, with the same confusion and curiosity. “I just think that we needed each other when we were raising our kids. We were two working parents in a world in which most moms were at home. We had to join forces and overlook our personality clashes. Now that our kids are grown, we are less dependent on one another, and so our flaws, or at least my perception of her flaws, are more obvious and more painful.” Amruti says with striking clarity of thought and interesting insight. “In other words, friends use each other to get through hard times, and then when those hard times are over, the friendship is sometimes challenged.” I say, understanding how friendships sometimes end, but also sharing Amruti’s curiosity about how relationships can change over decades. “The knife of judgment is off-putting,” I say, repeating Amruti’s dilemma. “Yes, I am not sure how to handle it. I have to think about whether I will confront her on that, but I don’t think it will do any good. I can’t stop her from bragging about her daughter.” Amruti says. “No, but you can tell her how it made you feel.” I say. “Yes, I am not sure she cares,” Amruti responds. “Well, if that is true, that tells you a lot about the relationship.” I say, stating the obvious. “Yea, it is sad,” Amruti replies, “but I am not sure if I am reading the situation correctly. I think I will think about it some more.” Amruti says, returning to her confused state. “It makes sense to give yourself time to ponder this relationship.” I say, stating that quick decisions in these situations do not make sense. “Yea, but I certainly did not like the sting.” Amruti reminds me. “Yep, I am sorry about that,” I say, understanding the “sting,” but also thinking that Amruti must have a certain sensitivity about college status as well. That sensitivity, I will discuss with her another day. This session was about reflecting on the friendship. It was interesting.
“Image (c) 2005 Tony LaRocca” http://egotisticalproductions.blogspot.com/