Case Study #2: Honoring Your Truth And Growth Needs

Anne and Edward have been married for 13 years. When they describe their relationship, they claim to be comfortable. What they are really saying is that they have built a structure of security with each other that seems to work. From our perspective, Edward became defined by his work life and in fulfilling his role as a father, which consumes him. Anne has a part-time career and has also raised two children and is now not sure what the future holds for her. The real problem is that Anne and Edward have grown apart and they have expressed little or no aspiration to find a better way of operating. They have not only defined themselves in terms of their roles as parents, but as breadwinners in an increasingly unpredictable, uncertain society. The responsibility is wearing more on Anne as she feels that she needs some sort of meaning in her life. She has realized that having children was a gift, but that she needs something more to feel fulfilled. Edward feels overwhelmed by her constant questions and concerns.

Anne begins trying to make a difference in her life by re-igniting her romantic and sexual partnership with Edward. She thinks that if she could feel more passion, that it could awaken new possibilities for her. This is interpreted by Edward as placing more demands on him and does not go well. She then attempts to have more connection through her work as a part-time architect. However, she gets little or no encouragement from her supervisor, who states that the company does not want to increase their expenses or the number of hours she is working. What is worse, her supervisor does not think there is a future in the type of architecture she is doing. Finally, she tries to find something she could do to distract her from the repetitive cycles of interactions repeating in her life. For a while, she becomes involved in a fundraising project for a local non-profit foundation and also doing service work at the library. All this leads to an increasing amount of depression because she feels isolated, unappreciated and always misunderstood.

What Anne does not realize is that the type of security she has achieved is not fulfilling for her. Mostly, this is due to the fact that the things she is doing are mainly what her family expected her to do. By not defining herself as her own person, she has become submerged in the needs of others. This allows little time for Solitude and personal creativity. What’s worse is that she feels increasingly distanced from her husband because he does not share her concerns or sense of direction. This leads to arguments where the gulf between them seems even larger. Edward, on the other hand, is doing what he can to make things work based on his own conditioning and need to perform. He feels trapped trying to live up to the expectations of others and unable to break out of the roles and patterns he has between his business partners, his wife and his work life. The draining aspect of the relationship is how, in the search to individualize themselves, each partner feels compromised by the other. What was initially an attractive, secure framework has become a prison, minimizing their growth.

After she goes to a psychiatrist to get some help, Anne ends up in a support group where she realizes she has no real mission in life. She starts exploring what would make her more passionate and engage life more directly. She notices that she has not been telling her truth fully and that she tends to let others define her options. This soul-searching sparks her interest in understanding people, which encourages her to enroll in a series of psychology courses at the local college. She becomes an observer, watching the patterns in her husband and family. She becomes able to predict when they are overwhelmed, when they need to move forward and when they need breaks. This process helps her to accept her own needs more. She also becomes clear about her defensive patterns and how she is actually the cause of her own isolation. This leads to more direct conversations with her husband about his aspirations, as well as her own. She learns to listen more deeply to her children, clients and boss. Over time, she becomes more confident about herself and gains clarity about what she really wants to do. She notices a positive change in the behavior of others towards her as she becomes more intimate and vulnerable.

While Anne is doing much better, there is still the fundamental question she needs to answer: “Does she want to take more risk in shifting careers to become a therapist?” or “Can she use the better understanding of herself to just enrich the life she has?” If she accepts the former, she will have to go back to school and potentially redefine her relationship with her husband. With the latter, she will need to see if she can make what she has currently manifested work for her enough to experience the passion she is seeking. In both of these situations, it is her growth requirement that was originally causing her so much distress. She realizes that if she proceeds in her growth, it will likely cause turbulence in the family because it will require others to adjust to her greater Autonomy. In this case, she will start moving into Level 3, while her husband is more likely to stay at Level 2. The more she takes responsibility for her Truth and can assess how well her Truth will be accepted in her life, the easier her choice will be. Ultimately, our sense of ourselves is usually defined by the content of our experience, which means that we need to have a relationship to the choices we make about how we want to show up with others. Without choice, there is no real Intimacy.

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© Copyright 2016, Larry Byram. All Rights Reserved.

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