Loving and Growing
Posted by Dr. Vollmer on November 6, 2014
Freud said that good mental health was evidenced by the ability to love and work. The love, the devotion to others, creates a safety and security to be emotionally vulnerable to new experiences; the loving relationship is the nest to return to, after the world is explored. Following through, those who are unable to love, or feel loved, are often also unable to venture out into the world in new ways, creating a greater sense of one’s idiom, as Christopher Bollas, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Bollas, would say. Creating the idiom means developing aspects of yourself which feel authentic and deeply meaningful.
Miley, a sixty-four year old woman, comes to mind. She is single, never married, and has few friends. She is heavily involved in the care of her elderly parents. Consequently, she feels quite burdened and “victimized” by their circumstances. Although on the one hand, Miley knows that many people her age deal with elderly parents, on the other hand, she feels that her problems are uniquely horrible and quite weighty, such that she feels she has no time or energy for herself. Miley, on further exploration, has never felt love from her parents, and in turn, has never loved anyone else. This isolation and loneliness has caused Miley to hunker down and create a life which is constricted and “boring”. She does not give herself permission to make new friends, develop hobbies, or get exercise. She has sentenced herself to a life of slavery, mostly, as we discuss, because she feels so unloveable, and hence not worthy of self-indulgence. Our work has changed her from a victim narrative where she feels that her parents prevent her from having a life, to an unloveable narrative, where she is beginning to see that if she could start to love herself, then she would take better care of her own needs, and in turn, she would create her idiom. Miley is on the path to love and work.