Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

“You Were Right:” A Ten-Year Follow-Up

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on August 22, 2011

  Sando, sixty-three, male,  came back after ten years, having seen me for the ten years before that, saying “you were right. I should not have married her.” “I am sorry,” I said, thinking that I am not sure what I was right about, but whatever it was, I feel bad that he is going through more hard times. “What do you mean?” I ask, remembering how worried I was about his upcoming marriage all those years ago. “Well, as you said, she liked the idea of marriage, more than the reality of being married, so she was just very selfish. The irony though is that I was unhappy for a long time, but it was she who ended the marriage. She wanted to get back together with her ex-boyfriend from high school, so she left me.” Sando is flat while he is describing the painful relationship until the very end of our session, when he breaks down and says “I just don’t know why I pick such bad people. As you said, Sheila (his current wife, soon to be ex-wife) was just like Sandy (his ex-wife) except that Sheila was not as mean as Sandy.” I don’t remember saying that, although it sounds like something I could say.

      Sando comes back to me with tremendous ambivalence. On the one hand, he appreciates the history we had together, but on the other hand, he wonders if he will fall into the same trap, since he hoped that by seeing me he could pick relationships which made him feel more fulfilled. The fact that I was right did not help our relationship; it only made him mad at me, and mad at himself for repeating a bad pattern. Yet, despite these questions about our relationship, we are quite fond of each other, and so Sando feels drawn to the warmth and comfort of seeing me and being in my office. “I guess we could make another appointment,” Sando says, implying that he is not committing to psychotherapy, but he wants to continue to explore how the past relates to the present, at least for a few sessions. Surprised by his initiation of further contact with me, I said “sure, we can try to sort some things out. It is good to see you, but I am sorry about the circumstances.” I say, remembering the hard times we have been through together: the death of his father, then his mother, then his younger brother. “Well, it is not nice to be back,” he says, with some humor and some truth. Being “right” has little value in our relationship, I feel. The strength of our bond is in our emotional connection. I might tell him that next time, but then again, maybe he already knows that. Seeing Sando made ten years feel like one. Time is funny that way.

2 Responses to ““You Were Right:” A Ten-Year Follow-Up”

  1. Shelly said

    Being “right” is similar to when a parent warns a child not to do something and then something bad happens when the child does it. Not only does the child get hurt, but then he is embarrassed to tell the parent that he is right. Same here. Perhaps reminding Sando that you are not there to judge but to help him would make him less embarrassed; but as you say, perhaps he already knows that?

    • Yes, I think he already knows that. I find it interesting that he is telling me that I was right. I am not sure what that is about, but it is something that I plan to explore with him.

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