Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for January 9th, 2014

Family Constraints

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on January 9, 2014


“I am the only one in my family who is divorced,” Karina, fifty-two, says, pointing that out of her six siblings, and twenty cousins, she is the only one to split from their spouse, as if somehow that matters to her. “That is interesting that your comparison group is your family, and not your friends or society, or the national statistics. “It sounds like it is very important to you to blend in with your family, and now you feel like an outcast.” I say, highlighting her need for acceptance from a family, which, until this point, has been one she has desperately tried to separate from. “I just think it is remarkable that I am the only one to get divorced,” she repeats with insistence, as if I did not hear her the first time. “In that your family generally tends to marry others who make them happy and/or they stay in relationships whether they are happy or not,” I say, that the lack of divorce does not reflect relationship satisfaction or finding one’s soul mate. “Regardless, I really stand out,” Karina repeats her shameful sense of being different, as if divorce is a scarlet letter for the tribe she wants membership in. “Maybe you stand out as the one who is true to your ideals, and not afraid to take a step in life which is challenging and scary.” I say, highlighting that standing out is not always about failure, which Karina seems to feel like, at the moment. “If I did not have so many siblings, maybe it would not be so bad,” she says, reminding me how many people she is talking about, and how the numbers weigh on her. “Maybe not, but it also sounds like the burden of your many siblings is a strong need for conformity,” I say, reminding her that families come in different varieties, and her family was one of constant comparisons, and competition, and now she has taken that pattern on herself. “I take your point,” Karina says tearfully, “that is why I need to get away from all of them,” Karina says wreaking with pain and confusion.

Posted in Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy | 4 Comments »

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