Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for October 3rd, 2010

Reality? Over-rated

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 3, 2010

  “In the end, Ed, most of us are carried along by our  delusions.”

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Frenemies

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 3, 2010

    Frenemy, the singular of a newly invented word, frenemies, describes many close relationships. The ambivalence dominates the experience. Jacklyn and Helen, both in their sixties,  have been friends since elementary school. Jacklyn tells me she “can’t stand Helen, but she has known her so long, she is stuck with her.” “Interesting,” I reply, “why does the longevity make you stuck?” I ask, knowing that it is hard to give up long-term friendships, but wanting to know how Jacklyn is thinking. “I don’t know,” she says, “it is just hard to give up on someone you have known that long.” “Perhaps you want to hold on to your past-you want continuity in your life-so Helen is important for that,” I say, not sure if I have captured Jacklyn’s experience, but knowing that Jacklyn is having a hard time articulating her inner world. “I don’t know,” Jacklyn continues. “All I know is that Helen drives me crazy with her whining and complaining, but not being friends with Helen is unthinkable.” I wonder about her words “whining and complaining,” thinking that all friendships have an aspect of that. Jacklyn continues, “if I met Helen today, there is no way I would be friends with her.” “That is interesting,” I say. “Have you changed; has she changed, or both?” I ask. “I don’t know,” Jacklyn says, “all I know is that the relationship is now driving me crazy.” I am having a hard time getting to the essence of Jacklyn’s vague descriptions of  being driven “crazy” but I am sympathetic to the fact that Jacklyn is struggling with her relationship with Helen; she wants desperately to understand how the past influences her decision to stay friends with her, even though the present relationship seems intolerable. The time dimension seems to be critical here, perhaps for the obvious reason that people need to have threads throughout their lives. Helen is a thread for Jacklyn. Yet, hearing Jacklyn talk about Helen, it seems that Helen is more than a connection to Jacklyn’s past.  Jacklyn is struggling to describe the layers of feelings which Helen evokes. For now, Jacklyn and I understand Helen as a frenemy. With time, I anticipate clarity.

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