Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

The Horror Of Your Own Words

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 27, 2012

Monte and Marla, return, much to Jon’s dismay. Jon has consistently commented to these posts that Marla is one of Monte’s toxic relationship, and as such, he should move on so that Monte can develop self-esteem without the inevitable setbacks that his relationship with Marla encourages. The fictional Monte sees me, where we discuss his relationship with Marla to examine how this serves Monte on an unconscious level. At times, Monte sides with Jon, feeling like distance is the answer. Other times, Monte seeks Marla’s professional consultation for work-related dilemmas. Still other times, Marla solicits Monte’s advice about teaching opportunities and teaching experiences. Recently, Marla contacted Monte, leading Monte to remind Marla of her last interchange in which Marla said “I am willing to talk to you,” much to the horror of Monte. Marla, upon hearing her words reflected back at her, begins to understand the arrogance of her words. She is not exactly remorseful, but she is aware of the haughty nature of that comment. Marla, somehow seeming that she wants to apologize, but never quite saying that, suggests that they meet to talk about that some more. Monte comes to me with the dilemma. “She seemed upset by her words, but I know we are in a cycle of hurt followed by reconciliation followed by hurt again.” Monte says with understanding, along with wishing that their relationship could reach equanimity.  “Why do you think it is so important that you get peace with Marla?” I ask, knowing that I have inquired about this repeatedly, but also knowing that each time I ask I get a slightly different answer. “Two of my mentors have passed away recently, and so there are so few people in my life who have seen me grow professionally, that I want to hold on to Marla because of our long history.” Monte says in a way which makes me understand his yearning, but also in a way which makes me think that he is living in wishes. He seems to be yearning for a parental figure who will nurture him through his career, but he and I both know that Marla cannot be that person. “Sometimes you have to go around the block a few times with people before you really understand how they impact you,” I say, pointing Monte to the idea that we know how this tale ends. We know that Monte will get hurt again. “Yea, I do know how this tale ends, yet for reasons I don’t understand, I want to go around the block again. I am sure I will end up saying you told me so, but I still need to give Marla another chance.” Monte says to me, with both cognitive understanding and deep emotional yearning for a connection with Marla, for reasons we have yet to explore.

4 Responses to “The Horror Of Your Own Words”

  1. Jon said

    Shirah, you know my feelings of Monte’s actions too well. In the words of the Freelance Human Being, James Lee Stanley, “Lat time should have been the last time.” Sadly Monte must delve deeper into his emotional masochism. It is hard to read about, and must be hard to hear about…

    • Shirah said

      Thanks, Jon. The difficulty in hearing about it is mitigated by the recognition that sometimes repetition is important for learning. Thanks Again.

  2. Shelly said

    For some reason, Monte does not seem to let Marla go. I think this relationship is unhealthy and it goes far beyond a typical professional one. It feels to me as if Monte sees in Marla some unredeemed motherly aspect that he constantly wants approval from but can never get. No amount of meetings or talking to will change their interactions. Only by Monte’s understanding of his need for Marla’s approval will anything change. I think by Monte’s caring less will Marla ever answer Monte’s need.

    • Yes! This relationship is unhealthy in that it damages Monte’s self-esteem. In that way, I agree with you. Monte is searching for something from Marla which Marla cannot give to him and yes, the end of this story is clear. “Case closed” as I said in one of my other postings. Yes, Monte needs to understand what he is seeking from Marla. Once he figures that out he then needs to understand why he is seeking that from a person who will never give it to him. The enduring aspect of this relationship speaks to the mutual searching involved. Both Monte and Marla are seeking something from one another. I use this fictional relationship to demonstrate how there is knowing and knowing. Monte knows that Marla hurts him repeatedly, but he comes back for more. This layering of knowing, but still wishing, illustrates how deep yearnings bypass intellectual understanding. Will Monte ever be free of wishing Marla were different? Stay tuned. Thanks.

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