Lint-Trap 2/16/01: Diana




So where do I start about Diana?

I've mentioned that she is a single mom with a stressful job and two teen-age boys, both of whom need a lot of help with schoolwork. She has a fierce, mama-bear-defending-her-cubs air about her at times. She dumped a worthless husband (alchoholic, verbally abusive, suicidal) when he told her "I'm going down, but I'm going to take you with me!". He didn't. She fought her way clear of him, and, with the help of her parents, set about doing 20 years of neglected maintenance on her house (it had been 'his job', but he didn't do it?).

Her challenge had been to make room for herself in her world. Even when she saw me, I sometimes had the feeling that she had to make room for me too, rather than knowing what she wanted and getting that for herself.

In NLP terms, many of her drivers were 'away from's. I don't want to be poor, I don't want my kids to fail, I don't want to be alone.

We were able to go to Hawaii twice to go to Huna workshops. It was hard work, but we had fun too, and relaxed. But this put a lot of strain on her kids, and thus on her.

We had planned to go to Hawaii again in March. Her kids were having problems with this idea. We were considering taking them too. Eson failed geometry, kicking up Diana's survival instincts bigtime. Then Yson's 8th grade project, needed for graduation, didn't pass muster at the proposal stage (but the school waited 2 months to tell him!). Then Diana got a horrible case of Bronchitus, and missed a week of work. When she went back, before she was really over the disease, she was having trouble doing the work--she was making mistakes, and her boss came down hard on her. She began to worry that she would be fired. She started having trouble sleeping. Her voice was tinged with fear. We decided that she shouldn't go to Hawaii, but this didn't help. She started to believe that she had to do everything alone, and she wasn't strong enough to do it...

Monday night, escaping the snow, I spent at her house. In the middle of the night I woke up--she was crying, gasping in fear that she had screwed up on her job and would be fired. We talked for an hour and a half. She fell asleep, but later in night she woke up again, and was again filled with fear.

On Tues., she saw a doctor and decided to check herself into the local hospital's psychiatric unit--diagnosis: depression. I didn't know until Wed. AM--she had left a message on my cell phone that I missed in all the futter over getting my electricity turned back on, my fridge cleaned out, etc.

The message almost broke my heart--she sounded so afraid, and so alone, and gave me a phone number "should I wish to call". As a perfectionist, she was so convinced that nobody would want her if she wasn't perfect.

I called, and have been to see her twice. The unit is pleasant. Their collection of books is fascinating--I'd almost be willing to stay there a week and do some reading. She is much calmer--she has been sleeping better. She is starting to make some serious plans to forge a life that has room in it for her wants and desires.

Her ex is dealing with the boys--perhaps he will step up to a few things as well.

We've talked about our future. I told her that I absolutely refused to get into the job of figuring out what she wanted. I did that in my last marriage, and not only didn't do a good job of it, but I lost myself in the quest to please my wife. I am not going to go there again.

So I said, "If we stay together for a long time, there are two choices. You will tell me what you want, and we'll negotiate choices using all those things we learned in kindergarten (Take turns. Share, etc...). Or you'll do what I want you to do. I'd prefer the former." From the set of her jaw, it was clear she'd prefer the former also.

We talked some more. We agreed that helping each other understand what we ourselves wanted was a big deal, and fair game. Both of us got a lot of messages as a kid that what we wanted was pretty low on the priority list in the family. As a male of my generation, I was brought up to believe that my job was to want things, however, so I've never had it as bad as some of my women friends (who were brought up to believe their job was to not want things).

She is starting to consider quitting her job (or possibly going on early retirement or disability). This is big--the mere mention of this a week ago put her into a "What else could I possibly do?" panic.

So I visit her, and support her, and talk to her about the future. I suspect she will remain in there several more days. As I write this, and as I think of her during the day at work, I find tears leaking from my eyes and rolling down my cheeks. She is so dear to me. She makes her life so difficult. And now she has said "STOP! This isn't working!". Her body and her unconscious mind couldn't take any more. This could turn out to be a very good thing...

I'm sure you will read more about this as it unfolds.

Thank you for reading.

Copyright © 2001 Pete Stevens. All rights reserved.