(this is raw unedited text transcribed directly from the audio)
Dr. Kenner: Maria, you’re having some difficulties?
Maria: I can hardly hear you.
Dr. Kenner: I’m sorry. Can you hear me better now?
Maria: A little bit, yeah.
Dr. Kenner: That’s strange. Are you on a landline?
Dr. Kenner: Let’s give it a shot, okay?
Maria: I don’t know what can’t you talk about? You mentioned something you could not discuss – what was it?
Dr. Kenner: Things like suicide.
Maria: I wouldn’t discuss that. Why give something good away. Bad sense of humor. Anyway, I’m having a lot of difficulties in my marriage. It’s been going on for nine years. There’s nothing there. Nothing. I don’t know what to do. There’s no sex drive for him. And I’m kind of alone in it. I was going to go back to my religion, but because of that, he got even more upset. Mentioning leaving and things, which might be better in the long run, but I don’t want to stay here kind of alone, because it’s out in the sticks and I’d be stuck and it’s really a very complex thing. Right now I’ve got my granddaughter who has been with me since February.
Dr. Kenner: How old is she?
Maria: She has no place to live and she’s pregnant. And she’s ADHD and I’ve just been going crazy.
Dr. Kenner: It sounds like you’re on overload. And it sounds like – you’ve been married for how many years?
Dr. Kenner: 13 years and some of them were good?
Maria: A few. My daughter died the year before, so it put a damper on even our relationship.
Dr. Kenner: Oh, is this your granddaughter’s mom that die?
Dr. Kenner: What did she die of?
Dr. Kenner: That’s okay. Amazed that you could joke about it. Very sorry to hear that. That’s a lifelong pain.
Maria: Everything has been. A lost a lot of everything.
Dr. Kenner: You lost a lot of what? People?
Maria: I lost a lot of, well, yes, but a lot of feelings. Like I’m not close to my granddaughter and we were kept apart for a long time because my other daughter had her. She was very selfish with her and wouldn’t let anyone see her. This is the truth. She’s got a lot of really bad issues with ADHD and everything.
Dr. Kenner: Why won’t your other daughter take her back?
Maria: The other daughter?
Dr. Kenner: That was taking care of the granddaughter who is now pregnant?
Maria: She abused her.
Dr. Kenner: Okay.
Maria: She mentally abused her. She told me this. I’ve got her in counseling.
Dr. Kenner: Here’s the problem – it sounds like you don’t own your own life. That there are circumstances way beyond your control, for example your daughter’s suicide, having the responsibility of a granddaughter whom you didn’t bond with early on, who was abused by the other daughter, and now she’s pregnant. How far along is she in the pregnancy?
Maria: She’s due anytime.
Dr. Kenner: That’s too bad. She obviously doesn’t have a hubby around that is going to support her?
Maria: There is nobody.
Dr. Kenner: So why she went through with a pregnancy in a civilized era, I don’t know.
Maria: She kept her captive, it’s a long story.
Dr. Kenner: So there’s a lot going on. The piece that I’m hearing from you though – you can correct me if I’m wrong – is that you want to feel happy. You want to feel your emotions coming back to you.
Maria: I feel so dead.
Dr. Kenner: Many times when people have gone through horrendous trauma, like you have gone through with your daughter’s suicide, people don’t want to feel pain anymore. And they just say –
Maria: Close it off, yes.
Dr. Kenner: I don’t want to feel the pain anymore. What your subconscious is here, “Honey, shut down. Close it off.” And not only do you lop off the pain, but you lop off the joy in life. So partly to be able to breathe again emotionally, you need to be able to feel. And to be able to feel, feelings don’t just come in the positive. When you allow yourself to respond to things in the world, both positive and negative, you get both. You get positive and negative, and if you can let a little bit of the negative back in, and I don’t mean just to dwell on negatives, but not be so afraid of them, not let them terrorize you, then you can begin to enjoy your life. I would recommend, number one, starting slowly. Maybe you can’t resolve the granddaughter issue right now, but one of the things you can do is every single day, Maria, find something that you enjoy. Whether it’s a walk, whether it’s calling a friend who is not involved with all this mess, whether it’s reaching out, whether it’s starting a new hobby. The other day I picked up knitting and thought my husband would have a fit because I haven’t knit in years and he thinks it’s kind of silly, but I actually found it very relaxing. Finding something. If you’re lonely, there’s a book, The Loneliness Workbook, by Marry Ellen Copeland, that you might try. It has some ideas in it on connecting. But you need something in every single day that is your life.
Should you leave your husband or not? You sound very solid that you have been in a bad marriage for nine years. There is nothing there, you told me. If there is nothing there, then you answered your own question. Yes, it would be great to leave him. Now you need to deal with the functional things. How do you leave him when you’re out in the boondocks with your granddaughter, right? That would be the question to ask yourself and work with a therapist on, to come up with a strategy. It may not be this year, but to come up with a strategy where your granddaughter can maybe get some help elsewhere to become more self responsible and where you can gently liberate yourself and also liberate yourself from the marriage. I would get that help. Thank you so much for your call.
Male 1: That’s kind of sensitive.
Male 2: Listen, Phil, as a psychiatrist, anything you tell me will be kept in the strictest confidence. It’s funny, the more you bottle things up, the bigger they seem to be.
Male 1: I’ve never told anybody this before, but, okay, here goes, six years ago, I was abducted by aliens.
Dr. Kenner: And that’s from Fraiser. You can keep stuff bottled up inside and it’s absolutely true. If you find someone whom you can trust, whether it’s a therapist or maybe a good friend or maybe your spouse, and you start to un-bottle what you’ve kept inside for so long, assuming you don’t burden the person you’re un-bottling with, it can feel such a relief. It can feel like, “Oh my God, I thought this was a huge deal and by talking about it, by getting it out in the open, even by writing it down on paper, I’m seeing that it may not be as gigantic as I thought and I can see there are some aspects that I was exaggerating or catastrophizing about, and maybe I can make sense of my life or maybe I’m seeing other paths I can take, other choices I can make with friendships or whatnot.” However, there’s one caveat. If what you un-bottle is that you’ve been abducted by aliens, you definitely need help! Because there ain’t no aliens! There are no aliens and the problem with that is you’ve lost contact with reality and you don’t want a therapist who goes along with you, obviously. You want a therapist who has their feet grounded in the facts, in reality, and will help you go from a state when you may be either evading pushing stuff out of awareness or making stuff up, believing in fortune tellers and astrology, stuff that is bogus, and you need to get reality based. You don’t want to use irrational methods to try to enjoy your life. Because you can never get to genuine happiness through irrationality or mysticism.