Friday, April 29, 2005

The Real Person

To a degree we are like chameleons, those little green lizards that can change color to blend in with their surroundings. We adapt our way of speaking, of gesturing, of dressing so as not to seem different from those around us. For me, this was especially true when I was in a sorority in college. There was an expected behavior that almost every girl emulated to a degree. The mating game also causes us to comport ourselves in a way that is most alluring to the object of our desire. That was all ages ago for me.

I like to think that I am truly my own person. What you see is what you get – no more, no less. I have a secure marriage with a loving husband, so I am certainly not into baiting men. I have friends that are much like myself, so I need not modify my behavior around them. There is that hidden urge to use profanity – a good s--t or f--k – occasionally that feels so good and sounds so bad. But other than that, I am who I appear to be.

I’ve come to realize that this is probably not the case with therapists. By the nature of their work, they take on the personna that we most need in order to deliver the greatest benefit. This is well and good and usually not apparent. For the most part, we know absolutely nothing about the people we see for professional purposes. We give them little thought from one visit to the next. But I suddenly find that I am in a situation where I have become almost a friend to someone I see professionally. I read her BLOG. I know a lot about her and her circle of friends. It is becoming clear that she is playing a “mother superior” role in therapy that is just a performance. Should I care if it is beneficial to me? And it definitely has been. It probably should not matter. But somehow I want to see therapy as more than play-acting. It causes one to wonder where the real person really lies. It also makes it clear to me why professional boundaries are so important so as not to cause the confusion I now face. It’s hard when doors to a private life have been opened a crack to suddenly close them and retreat to a totally anonymous business relationship.

I have another pending situation. I have recently started playing duets with a medical doctor, who is not only a skilled musician, but who also comes highly recommended as a doctor. We immediately hit it off when we got together to play. We have children who are exactly the same age, obviously similar interests, similar values. After my great disappointment in my internist last year, when he never even called me after my bout with thyroid cancer, I have been looking for a new doctor. I asked Deborah if she was willing to take a new patient and she agreed. So
I will now know her as Dr. E---. I understand from a mutual friend who has this dual role with her that she is a master at keeping the necessary separation.

I think we are all searching for reality in all of our relationships, but sometimes it is elusive.


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