Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer


Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 23, 2012

Stacy, thirty-two, wants to travel world for a year and then decide how she wants to make a living. Her aunt Mo thinks she is making a horrible mistake. Stacy and Mo love each other, but now they cannot be in the same room. “She called me myopic,” Stacy says, bewildered.  “What does she think you should do?” I ask. “She thinks I should get a career path, get married and have kids. I want those things. I just don’t want them now.” Stacy says, with a sound of protest which resembles an adolescent. “It sounds like Mo hit a nerve,” I say, implying that she has some insecurities about her travel plans. “Well, yes, I am really not sure what I want to do with my life and so traveling postpones that decision for a year, but I don’t want to admit that to Mo.” Stacy says with candor and shame. “You don’t want to admit that to Mo because you want her to believe that you feel more confident than you actually do.” I say, pointing out her embarrassment over her uncertainties. “Yea, and I don’t want to tell her that she has a point.” Stacy says, as if she and Mo are at war. “Why can’t you tell her that you understand and appreciate her concern?” I say, pointing out that people who are interested in your welfare are hard to come by. “I have told her that, but I also think she should trust me that I will figure it out.” Stacy says, with the irony that she does not trust herself to “figure it out.” “You mean that her questioning your decision makes you feel that she has no faith in you?” I say, trying to show her that Stacy is projecting her insecurities on to Mo. “Yes, when she questions me, I question myself and I don’t like that feeling.” Stacy says, revealing that the problem with the question is that it makes her uncomfortable because it hits on unresolved issues for her. I repeat, “So Mo hit a nerve and now you are in pain.” “I guess so,” she agrees, but still confused about how to handle her relationship with Mo. “Maybe you can tell her that your life is uncertain, and that you can live with that and you hope she can too.” I suggest, hoping that an honesty about her internal state might be helpful. “I will try that,” Stacy agrees, with a hopeful tone.

4 Responses to “Myopia”

  1. Jon said

    The Ancients understood much. From Greece, at the front of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi the inscribed were the words that would come to mean “Know Thyself.” While Stacy is on the way to do just that, she, like all of us, is finding the journey difficult. To comfort her, we can look from the Mediterranean to China of about the same era. The Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu is credited with the statement, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Stacy has taken the first steps, but there are many more to follow.

  2. Hi Jon,
    I am beginning to count on you to expand the breath of this blog, so thank you for the addition of the Ancients. Mo, it seems to me, believes that Stacy is stepping backwards and not forwards. Stacy, might in fact, agree with Mo internally, but externally she protests vociferously. This discrepancy between what she says to Mo and how she feels is the “nerve” that was hit. Yes, ultimately, Stacy’s life’s journey is her own. How much guidance she needs from people who care about her is questionable. This is what Stacy has to sort out. Thanks.

  3. Shelly said

    What kind of relationship do Stacy and Mo usually enjoy, one that is like a friendship where it is an equal give and take, or adult–child? The fictional encounter you describe sounds almost mother-daughter like and it is for this reason I can see why Stacy would rebel against her ajnt’s sensible advice. Every young adult, even a 32 year old adult, will refuse to take advice from a close family member if it sounds like they are being judged. The trick is to make Stacy believe she thought of the idea herself. I thought our role as aunts and friends was to simply support our nieces and nephews unconditionally, not necessarily act as our sibling’s mouthpieces?

    • Yes, I did not describe their previous relationship. One point of my blog is that “mother/child” relationships exist between all types of people. In this case, Stacy do, as you say have a “mother/child” relationship. I don’t know if Stacy is rebelling or if she is just painfully confused. I am also not sure if Stacy feels judged or she is reluctant to enter into a conventional life style. Yes, giving Stacy agency, or as you say, making her feel as though she thought of the idea, is useful, but the problem is that Stacy seems afraid to take ownership over her life. Our role in our various relationships is dependent on the dyad. I do not think it is one size fits all. Mo is stepping in because Stacy’s mother, Mo’s sister, is a painfully passive parent. One has to decide what role wants to have in their family. Sometimes one can decide this, but more often, that “role” is decided by previous generations. Again, the issue of “role” in one’s family reminds me that that is a good topic for future blogs. Thanks.

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