Gina in Therapy

Gina was on her way to see her therapist. Several weeks ago, when she visited Kira, she informed her, “I’ve decided that I want to go for counseling. I need to talk to someone professional about the issues with my father and my divorce. Do you know of anyone you can refer me to?”

“Do you mind if the person is a Christian?”

“No. That might actually be better although I must admit that I’m not much of a churchgoer.”

“All right. The person goes to my church. I will speak to her on Saturday.”

The day after Kira called her with the friend’s name and number Gina got in touch with her to make an appointment. The first time, she showed up, she was very nervous but Dr. Trisha Goodwin soon put her at ease. She encouraged Gina to tell her a little bit about herself. Gina spoke about her son, Cam, her mother and her job. She didn’t mention her father.

“What brings you here today, Gina?”

“I’m divorced,” Gina told her. “My husband–ex-husband, Matt had wanted us to come for counseling when we were still married but I didn’t want to. I hated the idea of going for counseling and so I refused to go.”

“I see. Did he go for counseling on his own?”

“No, he didn’t but I knew it would have meant a lot to him at the time if we had gone for counseling together.”

“Have you ever seen a counselor before?”

Gina shook her head. “No. I never thought I had any reason to.”

“What do you expect from therapy?”

“I want to be able to talk about my marriage and why it’s over. There are things I’ve done which I’m ashamed of and I figure out if there’s an underlying reason or reasons why I did them. I don’t think I’m a bad person but I did bad things to Matt who was a very good husband to me.”

“I’m not here to give you advice or and to tell you how to feel or behave. You can get that from friends or family. I’m here to become more self-aware, meet your goals, and reflect on the best choices for you.”

“I just want to be able to speak freely and not feel like I’m being judged.”

“You can do that here, Gina and whatever your reason for being here, you don’t have to feel ashamed. It took courage for you to come here today. Do you have supportive people in your life? If so, who?”

Gina thought about it. “Yes, my sister-in-law, Kira. It was she who referred me to you.”

“Good. Is Kira the only support you have?”

Gina nodded. “Yes.”

“How is your relationship with your family?”

Gina glanced down at her hands. “We’re not close,” she said. “I get along with my mother but not with my father. He wanted a son but got me instead.”

“I can see that talking about your father is painful. We can talk about more when you’re feel more comfortable doing so.”

Gina nodded. “All right.”

Dr. Goodwin went on to ask her how she coped with stress, what some of her strengths were and what goals she wanted to accomplish in therapy. “Are there any questions you would like to ask me?”

Gina asked about cost and coverage, what to expect and Dr. Goodwin’s approach to therapy. The doctor answered her questions frankly. Gina left the office feeling optimistic. They agreed that the sessions would be weekly and last 60 minutes. After work on Fridays were best for Gina.

They were in Dr. Goodwin’s office now. The therapist was sitting in a chair opposite her. “What would you like to talk about this evening?” she asked her.

“I would like to talk about Matt.”

“Tell me about your ex-husband.”

After taking a deep breath, Gina told her everything–from when she met Matt, her attraction to his brother, Joel, her considering tying her tubes, the miscarriage, Melania, her divorce and her leaving Cam in the car. “I didn’t mean to endanger him. Unfortunately, it was my father who found him and he never let me forget it. Do you know what he did? He blackmailed me. He threatened to tell Matt about me leaving Cam in the hot car if I didn’t give him what he wanted–the divorce. So, I agreed to the divorce even though I didn’t want to. Then, he threatened to tell him if I didn’t give him full custody of Cam. He said a boy belonged with his father. So, I gave Matt full custody of Cam. Cam is living with him. I see him on weekends and over the holidays.”

“Tell me, how do you feel about your father, Gina?”

“I hate him!” Gina replied forcefully. “There was a time when I adored him and yearned for his love but he has never given it to me. I will never forget that awful day when I asked him what was wrong with me and why he didn’t love me and his reply was, ‘I wanted a son but instead, I got a daughter.’” She didn’t realize that she was crying until Dr. Goodwin got up and handed her a box of tissues before returning to her seat opposite her. “I grew up feeling that I was nothing but a big disappointment to him because I wasn’t a boy. He’s very fond of my male cousins and Cam and he likes Matt. He said that Matt’s father was very lucky because he has two sons. He never took me anywhere like other girls’ fathers did. My mother tried to get him to take me to the park or to the playground but he refused and said to her, ‘Why don’t you take her? She’s your daughter.’ Wasn’t I his daughter too?”

“Is Matt a good father?”

“Yes, he is.”

“When you watch him and Cam interact, how does it make you feel?”

Gina thought about it for a moment. “I think of how lucky Cam is to have a father who loves him and it has nothing to do with the fact that he’s a boy. I know that Matt would have been very happy if our second child had been a girl. I think he would have spoiled her.”

“And how do you feel when you watch your father with Cam or Matt?”

“I’m angry, upset, resentful because he never treated me the way he treats them. He hugs Cam and plays with him which he never did with me. He and Matt would talk or watch television together or play cards or dominoes which he never did with me.”

“What kind of relationship do you have with your mother?”

“We’re not close. She’s always taking my father’s side. She agreed that Cam is better off with Matt because he’s a boy. She told me that I shouldn’t have married Matt when I didn’t love him. According to her, I’m a good mother but I wasn’t a good wife.”

“That’s what your mother thinks but what do you think, Gina?”

Gina lowered her gaze. “I wasn’t a good wife to Matt even though he loved me and was a good husband to me.”

“Did he know that you didn’t love him?”

“Yes, but he was hoping that I would get over my infatuation for his brother, Joel and grow to love him. He said that I wasn’t wife to him and that I didn’t care that our marriage was in trouble or I would have agreed to go for marriage counseling. He divorced me because I lied about the miscarriage and then tried to get him to sleep with me so that I could get pregnant again.”

“How did he find out about the miscarriage?”

“From my doctor’s receptionist. She offered her condolences because she assumed that he knew. She lost her job.”

“Gina, do you see a parallel here between your relationship with your father and your relationship with Matt?”

Gina stared at her. “A parallel?”

“Yes. You’ve always wanted your father’s love but you never received it. Matt wanted your love but never received it. Both Matt and you have been hurt by someone you love.”

“Yes, but the difference is that I love Matt. I admit that I didn’t when I married him but that changed.”

“When did it change?”

“When I realized that I could lose him.”

“Does Matt know that you love him?”

“No. He probably won’t believe me, anyway. When I told Joel that I loved his brother, he didn’t believe me.”

“What is your biggest regret right now?”

“My biggest regret is that I didn’t go for counseling when Matt wanted us to. If I had, we would still be married.”

“I’m afraid our time is up.” Dr. Goodwin got up and walked over to her desk. She picked up a sheet of paper and took it to Gina. “Over the weekend or during the week, I would like you to go over this Feelings About Myself Self-Esteem Worksheet and fill it out.”

Gina took the sheet from her. “Will this help me?” she asked.

“The purpose of the worksheet is to help you to see how perceive yourself and to recognize if you have a problem which you need to address. My other clients find self-esteem worksheets very helpful.”

Gina folded the sheet and put it in her handbag. She rose to her feet. “Thank you, Dr. Goodwin. I will read it over and fill it out.”

Dr. Goodwin smiled. “I’ll see you next week Friday at the same time.”

“Yes. Goodnight, Dr. Goodwin. Have a good weekend.”

“Goodnight, Gina. You have a good weekend too.”

Gina walked out of the office.


Sources: Positive Psychology; Psych Central; KMA Therapy; The Thera Platform

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