Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for October 18th, 2010

Traffic

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on October 18, 2010

Luigi, forty-two, hates to be late, but he also does not account for traffic in his calculation in coming to my office, despite the fact that I have seen him for ten years. One day, Luigi, frustrated with himself that he is fifteen minutes late, realizing that since he is unemployed he has time, says seemingly to himself “I could come early, get a cup of coffee, and that way I will never be late. I don’t know why I did not think of that before,” he says, as if the fog cleared. In the past, Luigi used to repeatedly say “if it were not for traffic I would have been here on time,” as if that explains his lateness. Luigi does not want there to be traffic so he acts as if it does not happen: denial. “Is pretending things not to be so, a theme in your life?” I wonder aloud. “I guess so,” he laughs. “Reality is hard to hold on to,” I say, thinking that that did not come out right. “Especially when we wish it were not so,” he finishes my sentence. “Yes, but coming here late hurts you,” I say, stating the obvious. “I know,” he says, “but leaving my house earlier somehow does not sit well with me.” “That is interesting. Instead of dealing with the realities of traffic, you pretend that you can make it here as if the freeways flowed smoothly, and then when the reality hits you, you get angry with yourself and you walk in here irritable,” I say, again, stating the obvious. “Maybe I am avoiding talking about other things, since we do spend a lot of time talking about the freeway,” he says, to my surprise. “Avoidance and denial do seem to go together. I can see how it is almost convenient to discuss the frustrations of traffic, given that it is a common irritant among Angelenos.,” I say, pleased that we can discuss how he has woven traffic into his therapy to protect him from talking about more sensitive issues. “I am going to get better at this on-time thing. You watch,” he says, as if to challenge himself and to surprise me. “That’s a deal,” I say, noting the enthusiasm and sense of renewal in his voice. Traffic might actually help us out.

Posted in avoidance, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy | 8 Comments »

 
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