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Ask Julie: I Think My Girlfriend Is About To Break Up With Me

Q: I think my girlfriend is about to break up with me, because there were these girls she didn’t want me to hang out with but I did, because I was mad at her for cheating on me, which she told me about a long time ago and was open about, so I decided to have secrets of my own, which I know was a horrible idea. Well we had this big fight where she wanted me to tell her everything, and I did for the most part, leaving out one time where I had this party and invited this girl over to my house. She just found out yesterday and is really upset, and I don’t know what to do. For some reason, I’ve lied to her a lot, because I don’t want to get in trouble, and I know that if I’m honest she’ll accept it and everything will be okay, but for some reason I can’t get it through my thick skull. I keep messing up time after time. I don’t want to lose her because she understands me and is the best thing to happen to me. I don’t know what to do, I slept all day today just because I didn’t know what to do. I really don’t want to lose her and I feel so bad for making her feel horrible, and when we were talking and she was crying I really felt bad about it and hated seeing her cry but I still felt sort of detached for some reason. I don’t know why I feel detached sometimes but I would really like to not feel that way. For some reason I think subconsciously I like to feel miserable, because otherwise I don’t know why I do the things I do. Sometimes before I do or say anything I think to myself “this is not a good idea” but then I do it anyway.  I really don’t want to lose her, I’ve been through so much with her, more than anybody. shes my best friend and my confidant and shes always been there for her. I just want to be normal, and not lose the most important person in my life.

A: Thanks for writing in for help with your relationship. Whether or not she breaks up with you, it’s important for you to get to the bottom of you why you continue to do things, like lie and cheat, that you know aren’t a good idea. Frequently, relationship sabotage has roots in past hurts. Is there anything in your relationship or family history that might be emotionally driving your pattern of pushing your girlfriend away? Your emotional detachment to her sadness also suggests that there may be something that is unresolved for you in close relationships.  I suggest that you get a therapist and explore what’s driving this pattern so if your girlfriend stays with you, you can learn how to maintain closeness and if she breaks up with you, you can prevent this pattern in future relationships. Also, consider reading the book “Getting the Love You Want: A Guide For Couples” by Dr. Harville Hendrix to help you start understanding the deeper patterns that may be getting in the way of your love relationship.

Take good care of yourself and your relationships!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Ask Julie: My Therapist Looks Like A Skeleton

Q: I don’t know what to do. I have been seeing my therapist for 3 years. I suffer with body image issues and distorted eating. My therapist has always been thin/healthy. Sometimes her weight drops and I am very sensitive to it. We have talked about it before and I am very open with it if I feel triggered by her. I saw her today and she looks like an eating disordered patient. She said she is aware of it and working on it. She said she has medical issues that make her body do things if she’s not careful and stress plays a part. I believe she is OK and she will work at getting back up to a healthy weight, but its really hard for me to make sense of. Why can she look like that but I have to work to keep myself healthy? Why are such high expectations put on me that she doesn’t live up to? She is my biggest role model, and all I can think of at this moment is starving myself until I look like her. She is happy, successful, smart, has a family and is pretty. She said, “I hope you’re not jealous of this (her body)” and she said that she wished she was in a different place. I just can’t get the picture of her out of my mind. Oh and she’s been getting sick a lot recently. It scares me. I want her to be healthy. She’s MY motivation to be healthy. But when she’s not…my motivation goes away and I want to restrict. How do I make sense of this?

A: Wow. What a tough situation! I want to validate your confusion about how to make sense of your therapist’s weight loss. It sounds like you’ve handled this things well so far by being open with your concern for her health, and talking about how her weight loss is impacting your recovery process. It’s scary when someone close to you is obviously ill and I’m glad that you are asking for help to deal with your concerns.

I can hear that on one level you trust that your therapist is addressing the problem, and on another level you’re angry about the double standard — she can be at a seemingly unhealthy weight and you’re expected to be at a healthy weight. While it is normal to be concerned about your therapist, I think there may be more for you to learn about yourself and your relationship patterns.

Your comment that you can’t get the picture of her out of your mind may be a sign that you’re too focused on her. I’m curious, have you had other close relationships where you’ve focused on their problems or issues in a way that negatively impacted you? Core relationship patterns and emotional wounds often replay themselves in clients’ feelings and thoughts about their therapist. You may want to explore these patterns with your therapist.

Just like children who idealize their parents eventually come to realize that their parents aren’t perfect, it sounds like you are experiencing a similar realization with your therapist. Instead of seeing her as the epitome of health, her drastic weight loss has knocked her off of the pedestal of perfection in your eyes.  There may be some grieving that goes along with acknowledging that your role model isn’t everything you hoped she’d be.

It’s time for you to work toward developing an internal source of motivation for health and recovery instead of relying solely on your therapist for your motivation. Ultimately, who you are and who you want to become are defined and chosen by you, not by any external source. You are stronger than you think you are.

Keep the dialogue with your therapist focused on you and trust that she’s aware and taking care of her own struggles. If after a few months she’s not improving and you are still frequently triggered by her appearance, it may be time to talk to your therapist about transferring to another therapist.

Thanks for writing in and I wish you well in your continued recovery.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

Therapist Roll Call: Can We Peek Inside Your Office, Please?

53/365 Sneak a peek

The physical “space” you work  in says a lot about you. Does your office space appeal to your ideal client? Does it speak about your tastes and preferences? Would you be willing to give other shrinks a tour of your office? Why or why not?

Every time a new client comes into my office they comment on my denim couch. It feels cozy and casual, which is how I want my clients to feel when they’re in my office. The color scheme of the office decor coincides with our logo and website colors…and that’s no accident.

I thought it would be fun to peek into the offices of private practitioners to share ideas and get inspiration. So, if you’re willing to let the world (or the readers of this blog) see YOUR office space follow these simple steps by Feb. 29th, 2012.

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