Shirah Vollmer MD

The Musings of Dr. Vollmer

Archive for the ‘unemployment’ Category

Emptiness Of Unemployment

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on December 12, 2013


Shayna, twenty-three has never perceived a bump in her road. She did well in school, went to an Ivy League college, majored in a humanity, and is now searching for a job in the publishing business, knowing well that the business is drying up and her prospects are poor. She has returned to her parent’s house, with contentment. She is not burning to move out, or to move on, for that matter. Her life feels “empty” but not “boring”. She entertains herself with her friends who are in similar situations. She could go to graduate school, but “why should I waste all that money?” She tells me, as if she is echoing her parents. She has a boyfriend in town, who is hard-working, at a steady job in the technology world, and he pays for their entertainment, but “I am not comfortable,” she says, expressing ambivalence about their financial inequality. “Maybe you are scared you won’t find the job that satisfies you, so you are stuck in a place where movement is more threatening than stasis.” I say, highlighting her apparent challenge to become an adult and commit to a profession which both makes her happy and provides financial independence. ” I do not feel fear,” she says directly, “but I do feel stuck,” she responds, letting me know that her surface is paralysis, and under that surface is foggy to her. “I guess I am scared,” she continues, as she thinks about my comment. “I have never not gotten what I wanted, so I am not sure how I cope with disappointment,” she says with admirable candor and courage. “Maybe the adventure is to be open to coping with disappointment and/or enjoying your next chapter.” I say, highlighting her uncertainty that she may get rejected from jobs, and/or she may not like the job she lands. “I am stuck now,” she says, “but I am also afraid of getting stuck in a job that makes all my time feel wasted and not creative,” she says opening up our discussion of her inhibitions and her fears. “Which kind of stuck do you prefer?” I say, encouraging her to make more conscious choices about her behavior, as right now she seems to be  unconsciously choosing to not pursue jobs very aggressively in order not to land a job which makes her feel like she is selling her soul.  “I guess I prefer my current situation,” she says, with hesitation and uncertainty about her response. Stasis versus movement, comes to my mind. Inertia is powerful, and yet upon reflection, can feel like a wasted opportunity. “We need to think about this more deeply,” I say, as I toy with how to approach her fear-based inertia.

Posted in unemployment | 4 Comments »

The Job Miracle

Posted by Dr. Vollmer on July 3, 2012

Dibs, forty-one, got a job, after not having one for five years. Not only that, he is doing something he loves and making more money than he did in his previous job. Dibs, needless to say, is very happy. “How do you think things came together for you?” I ask, wondering if he thinks it is related to our psychotherapy, which has spanned ten years, and three previous employers. “Well, I have been trying to get a job. I really wanted one. I think some people out there get lazy, but I never did. I mean I did sometimes, but I always bounced back and I stayed focused.” “I see your point,” I reply, thinking that he never stopped thinking about getting a job, and even though at times, that made him very depressed, it also reminded him that he needed to try every avenue to see if there were opportunities. I can see that although our work together might have helped to keep him focused, it is also true that he was very hard on himself, which in a way, was painful to watch, but in another way, kept him in the game. “My mom died when I was fifteen,” he chimes into my thinking about how amazing it is that he landed a really good job. “And you wish she could see how happy you are right now?” I ask, knowing that I am finishing his sentence, but also fairly certain as to why he mentioned the saddest part of his life. “Yes,” he starts to cry. “I will never get over it. When she died, I was a mess. I did not get out of bed. I did not go to school. I did not talk to my friends. I know what it is like to shut down. I am just glad that I did not shut down when I was looking for a job. Otherwise, I don’t know what would have happened to me.” Dibs says, with gratefulness to himself for being active and resourceful. “You wanted to make your mom proud,” I say, pointing out that maybe he stayed active because he knew that his mom had faith in him and he wanted to prove her right. Dibs become overwhelmingly sad. “Of course, I do,” Dibs says with deep feeling. “Well, she is proud of you,” I say, also with deep feeling and appreciation for these moments that Dibs and I are sharing together. “Yea, I know. I am also really proud of myself.” Dibs says, ending our session, as we began, with tremendous hopefulness and exuberance.

Posted in Finances, Psychoanalysis, Psychotherapy, unemployment | 8 Comments »

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