When we started with our new counselor, B, it was different than with the previous two counselors, very different. For the first time, I really think we were getting marriage counseling, whereas before it was more like joint individual counseling.
With Phil it was all about MC owning up to his shit and helping me with the trauma. Phil was very G-d centered. He talked about what G-d wanted for our marriage. If our marriage had hope he would tell me, if it didn’t he would tell me. I also liked that he called the APs religious hypocrites, pointing out to me that even if they fooled the world around them, they could not fool G-d (I somehow found that helpful)! Phil was also very real, in terms of calling MC out on his behavior, on helping MC understand that our healing would be hindered by any instinct for self-protection (especially in terms of fear and shame). If MC truly wanted us to heal and move forward, he could not allow that instinct to win out over helping me, our marriage and, ultimately, himself. Phil pointed out weaknesses and what needed to happen to address them.
With Counselor Troi it was all about talking to our pain, finding out why it was a part of us and how to go about facing it and deconstructing its power over us. When we started with Counselor Troi, I was so lost. I felt like I didn’t really even know who I was anymore. So, Counselor Troi helped us identify who we were as individuals, finding who we each wanted to be and how best to get there in the present and future, as well as still helping me through the trauma. Yes, I had a shit ton of trauma. Counselor Troi also worked with MC on, what she called, his “neural biological” pathologies and how to deal with those.
Just before and overlapping with our Counselor Troi sessions, we also took an online Affair Recovery EMS 13-week course. The exercises in Rick’s class, through Affair Recovery, were instrumental in helping MC and me to have a better example of what love, marriage and family can and should be about, as opposed to what we had seen in our own families. The AR class helped us understand a more complete definition of love and maturity. The AR class also was instrumental in MC understanding the costs of his actions, the costs to me, to our family and to himself. This gave him a true understanding of the pain he had caused. It was helpful to me to see MC truly understand this pain, to see and feel his empathy and understanding.
With our newest counselor, B, on an individual basis we are working on our individual issues, including family of origin (foo) stuff and learning the hows and whys of building new neural pathways, while allowing the old pathways to crumble away. Together, we also talk about these new pathways. In fact, I am so excited to talk to B about the movie Inside Out, it is really an animated version of everything she has been teaching us! We also spend our together-sessions on working on the marriage, to understand how to better communicate with each other about kids, about life, about the past, present and future. We are learning about how we listen, how we react and what we can do to ensure that we are truly on the same page, not just talking at each other, but to each other.
I think we needed the path given to us by each counselor. They each served a wonderful purpose at the time, based on where we were bleeding out the most. As those sutures heal, I feel we are actually starting the process of learning to live again as a healthy couple, not just trying to stop the bleeding.
I know I say this a lot, but I feel it important to point out that this process is neither linear, nor finite. But, when I look at where we are now, to where we were last year and the year before that I can see those improvements. This is not to say that there are not still hard moments. Those moments are coming less often though. You know, it’s been 26 years since my Dad died and I still miss him, I am still sad that he is gone. But, that pain and sadness do not overtake me like they once did, that pain and sadness do not rule my life like they once did. It is very different in many ways, I know. But, still, I think there are some similarities in how the impact of the pain will fade, but not ever entirely go away.