Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Scratching The Wound-II

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 31, 2011

 Jesse, has another friend Ralph, sixty-five, single, who has no romantic interest in Jesse, but they consider themselves “close friends”. “Ralph, like Miriam, scratches my wounds too,” Jesse tells me, wondering what this pattern is about. “What do you mean?” I ask, also thinking why Jesse finds herself in relationships which make her feel bad about herself. “Well, Ralph knows that I hate it when he repeats himself over and over. I tell him that he does not need to suggest the same restaurants all the time, or tell me the same stories over and over. I explain that in that repetition is a certain irritation, a certain hostility, a certain fear of talking about new or different topics. At first, he says he understands, but inevitably each conversation has the same irritating subjects. Ralph then senses my irritation and then he withdraws. Ultimately, he feels that I have withdrawn from him, but in fact, he withdrew from me since he cannot seem to understand that his tone suggests that he is angry and fearful of the world and that is very difficult to deal with. ” Jesse conveys her analysis of the situation with angst and discomfort. She is clearly tortured in this relationship, but at the same time, she does not want to break it off. “How can I help you?” I ask, wondering if Jesse has an idea about what she is looking for from me. “I need to understand why Ralph gets to me so much. I know I am sensitive to his feelings, but that sensitivity makes me feel his anger and irritation, and then that is hard on me, but I don’t understand why I can’t distance myself from his feelings.” Jesse says with terrible dismay and discouragement. “It feels like it does with Miriam in that you have a sensitive area, you tell her not to touch it, and she touches it anyway and then you feel helpless because you can’t make the pain go away.” I say, knowing that Jesse understands this, but wanting her to know that I see that too. “Maybe if your wounds heal, then there would be nothing for Ralph or Miriam to hurt,” I say, keeping with the metaphor of physical injury. “Well, yes, of course,” Jesse says, “but I don’t understand these wounds, so how are they going to heal?” Jesse says with frustration. “I know that is our job to work on those wounds,” I say, making a plea for patience. “Yea, we do need to work on those, but at the moment, all I can think about is how frustrated I am with Ralph.” Jesse says with anger and impatience. “I can understand that Ralph is bringing things up for you which is both curious and disturbing. Maybe we can see Ralph as a tool to help us explore your sensitivities.” I say, trying to prove that looking at how Ralph makes her mad can illuminate the inner workings of her mind. “Ralph as a tool, I like that,” Jesse says with good and relaxed humor. “I am glad your tone has shifted,” I say, happy to end on a lighter note. “Me too” Jesse says, looking at me like our session was quite  the journey.

2 Responses to “Scratching The Wound-II”

  1. Shelly said

    So what’s the deal with this trend? Do all of Jesse’s friends make her feel badly? If so, then perhaps you need to work on her relationships and not so much on wound healing. Wound healing seems to me like patchwork.

    • Ah, but maybe not. Perhaps if she did not carry around so many wounds, being around her friends would feel better to her. Of course, I also agree with you that the problem could also be her choice of friends. The likely thing is that both her wounds and her judgments are getting in the way of her having more fulfilling relationships.

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