My husband and I are in therapy and it’s great. Definitely one of the most meaningful experiences of my life thus far. My husband is changing. I am changing. I recently attempted to characterize some of these changes for a small group of my closest friends in New York City. I described how, for the first time since I’ve know the guy, instead of going into his room and suffering alone in silence, my husband came to me to talk about something that was bothering him. He came to me. To talk. And I listened. For the first time, I didn’t interrupt and I didn’t offer twenty seven possible courses of action he could take solve the problem. My husband came to me in a way that he had not before, and I was there for him in a way that I had not been before. I’m telling you, therapy is great.
I’ve had a major breakthrough of my own. And now I really wish I was a writer, because this is some deep shit that could make you cry if I were Mikal Gilmore or Stephen King.
Here’s what happened: Our therapist suggested that the ongoing the dialogue between my husband and I concerning where to live (New York or Portland) is really about each of us asking how important we are to the other person. I didn’t get it at first, and said that I didn’t expect my husband to give up his career in New York and move to Portland just to make me happy. “Why?” the therapist says. And then I replied with some stuff about how I think that for most men, career is the most important thing, how they define themselves, etcetera, and that I can accept that. The therapist repeated herself, “Why?” Because I want my husband to be happy, right? But our therapist wasn’t satisfied, so then she said, “Is it possible that what you really want is for your husband to make you the most important thing in his life?” Chuh! As if! I’d never expect something so ludicrous of anyone! My reaction was just this side of flabbergasted. Which was the whole point. The therapist got me. Oh, she got me good and she friggin’ made me cry again. How deeply sad and truly liberating to admit that as much as I have longed to be the most important thing in someone else’s life, I have never believed myself entitled to that kind of love, much less asked someone for it! What a tragic imbalance I have perpetuated without even knowing it.
I recounted the incident to three of my closest friends and then said to them, “Did you know that you can ask to be the most important thing in someone else’s life?” The blank expression that fell across each of their faces was the semi-hilarious but ultimately heartbreaking answer…none of my friends had ever asked anyone for that kind of love. In that moment, I could see each of my friends silently asking his or her self, “Am I entitled to it?” Yes dear friends, you are.