Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

The Break-Up

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on April 20, 2010

    Mel, twenty-eight, really enjoyed his single life between the ages of twenty-two and twenty-seven. He had lots of single friends. He went out every night. He enjoyed cultural events. At twenty-seven, Mel met Hanna, age twenty-five. They fell in love. They spent all their time together. They met each other’s family and friends. Mel was happy; he did not miss his single life. After nine months, Hanna called it quits. She said she no longer enjoyed being with Mel. Hanna explained to Mel that she felt that Mel was too demanding of her time, and she wanted her “life back.” Mel was devastated. “I am crying like a baby,” he said. “Yes, that is exactly right,” I replied. “Maybe you feel like a baby who needs a lot of  love and attention, given how bad you feel right now.” I continue “maybe you are giving yourself permission to feel the loss of love, something that you need quite a bit. Maybe, even though you were happy through those single years, you walled off your desire for connection, and now the flood gates have opened and years of feeling lonely and yearning for connection are now coming up to see the light of day.” “Maybe” he says.

     “Well, I am not drinking” he asserts. “That’s good” I reply, “but what are you doing to help yourself, other than coming here?” “I don’t know how to help myself in a healthy way. That was never modeled for me. Both my parents are alcoholic. ” “So you never saw someone work through their pain” I asked. “Right” he says. “So, we have entered into foreign territory here” I say. “Yes, I would have loved for my mom to go to therapy, but she never would” he says. “Therapy might have helped your mom work through her struggles and that would have helped you be able to work through yours as well.” I state the obvious. “Yep” he says.

     I find Mel’s sadness to be a hopeful chapter in his life. I see that Mel will reconfigure his internal world such that he will embrace his need for connection and dependency. He will come to see that although things did not work out with Hanna, the pleasure he found in being with her, makes searching for a relationship worth the effort and potential pain. At the same time, I feel sad for Mel that he is going through a hard time. His “endless” tears point to the depth of his  suffering. The present is tough. The future is bright.

2 Responses to “The Break-Up”

  1. Shelly said

    How can Mel be working through his pain, just by his visits to you? By feeling the isolation and loneliness more? And by feeling lonely, you think he will try to make more outside connections and then be less isolated? So feeling lonely is therefore a good thing, because it is an impetus for action? What if people simply feel lonely and stay that way? What can people do who feel lonely all the time, even when they’re surrounded by people?

  2. Shirah Vollmer said

    Mel is working through his pain by reflecting on it. This reflection will motivate him to find valuable connections in his life. It is not that feeling lonely is good, it is that it offers a time to reconfigure his relationships with people. So, yes, in that way it is an impetus to action. The lonely person needs to look at the obstacles they have for connection. Removing those obstacles will deepen their connections with people who they can trust.

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