Mr. Blackman Goes to Therapy to Save His Relationship

Therapist: What brings you in today Mr. Blackman?

Mr. Blackman: My relationship with Rica has turned explosive.

Therapist: Explosive?

Mr. Blackman: You have no idea, Doc.

Therapist:  This sounds extremely serious. Are you guys on the verge of divorce?

Mr. Blackman: If I’m honest, I can’t say I haven’t thought about it. But even if it doesn’t feel like it many times – my place is with her. We belong together and are connected forever. We’ve got to make this relationship work. 

Therapist: Let’s start at the beginning. How was your relationship in the beginning? Sometimes remembering how we felt when we started provides the fuel to work through difficult times. Tell me about how you two met.

Mr. Blackman: Ummmmm… I’d rather not talk about it. Let’s just say our relationship didn’t start well.

Therapist: Hmmmm… usually couples love recalling the time when they fell in love with each other. She looks quizzically at Mr. Blackman

Mr. Blackman: Rica tells me not to talk about the past. She says that it was a long time ago and that it doesn’t have anything to do with our relationship now. Every time I’ve ever brought it up she tells me that I like to be a victim and that I am just attempting to make her feel guilty (and she says she doesn’t feel badly anyway because she made those bad choices at a low time in her life – a time when she wasn’t really herself). 

Therapist: You’ve told me how she feels about talking about the past, but how do YOU feel? How do you feel about your relationship’s past Mr. Blackman? In your opinion, does your past contribute to the relationship issues that you have now?

Mr. Blackman:  Absolutely. It damaged our trust. Rica used me.  She used every piece of me. She cheated on me, abused me, called me horrible names, and ostracized me from my family with her antics to keep me all to herself. 

I am religious and I take my vows seriously, so I have always tried to make her happy. I took all that I had and built her a house. I worked night and day — seven days a week — and helped her build a successful business. We are still together, but she kicked me out of the house (yes, the one that I built and that brings her so much income). Now, I’m sleeping on my friend’s couch. The crazy thing is she tells her friends and family that I’m worthless because I’m a grown man sleeping on a friend’s couch.

Therapist: Are you saying that she has never taken responsibility for any part of the downfall of your relationship? Has she ever apologized to you?

Mr. Blackman: No, she’s never apologized.  He has deflected and minimized. When we talk about working on our relationship she tells me I should trust her. How can I trust her after all she’s done to me. I can’t simply forget the past because I am still living in terrible situations due to the things she did to me in the past. When I try to explain this to her, regardless of how calm I am; she yells that I don’t love her, calls me a traitor, and tells me that if I don’t appreciate her I should just get the fuck out of her house –the house I paid for but don’t own and where I am no longer welcome.

Therapist:  Keep talking, please. I think you will benefit most if for now you simply talk. I am here. I am listening. I want to understand.

Mr. Blackman: Thank you. It feels good to talk.  It never goes well when I try to talk to her. Somehow when I talk to her about how I’m feeling it turns into a problem about me: I’m too sensitive, I’m an angry person. In her mind our issues aren’t our problem; but me talking about our issues is our problem.

Therapist: So what do you do with your feelings?

Mr. Blackman: When I am with Rica, I smile and act like everything is great.  I do the things that she asks me to do. I try to be the man I know she likes. It’s easier that way.  If I want to keep our relationship good, it’s best that I look and act in the way she likes; and never complain about her treatment of me.  

She tells me that I’m lucky to have her and that I shouldn’t complain.  We are in a relationship but it always seems as if she thinks that she is doing me a favor and she could get rid of me at any moment.

Therapist: You sound pretty fed up, Mr. Blackman. I have to ask you: Why are you here? Do you want a divorce or are you trying to fix your relationship?

Mr. Blackman:  I don’t know how to explain it, or if it even makes sense; but I’ve invested too much in us to walk away. Rica is my home; but I feel as if we need to start over. She needs to acknowledge all of the things that she did to me in the past. I need for her to understand my pain and apologize for it.  It would do so much for our relationship if she simply said, “I’m sorry.” It would mean that she sees me and she sees my pain. It would also mean that she is being honest about our past and that she is committed to working continuously to make our relationship better.

Therapist: Mr. Blackman, what do you think you need to do for your relationship to be better. Do you hold yourself accountable at all for the state of your relationship?

Mr. Blackman:  Yes. It’s hard to admit, but I allowed her treatment of me to affect how I saw myself. I was happy for every little sliver of love she showed me; and I didn’t ask for what I deserved. She didn’t treat me well but I didn’t insist that she treated me well–not in a real way. I intend on holding us both accountable going forward.

Therapist:  You do understand, Mr. Blackman that repairing this relationship is going take a long time. In other words – there is no easy fix. Making this work will be uncomfortable. It will be hard work. Is Rica committed to repairing your relationship?

Mr. Blackman:  The situation is tense right now. As I mentioned in the beginning of our session; things are explosive. It’s almost as if all the anger I have held inside finally exploded. I am seeing some changes from her. She says she’s committed to doing better, but I don’t know, Doc. I really don’t know.

Therapist: So where do you see yourselves ending up?

Mr. Blackman: At this point, after the years of neglect, disdain and abuse I only see one of two outcomes. Either we will put in the work, and commit to making our relationship healthy for both of us. Or we fall back into our old patterns, the abuse continues, and I finally explode after all of these years. THAT outcome will be bad for both of us . . .

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About Randi B.

Randi is a diversity and inclusion strategist, speaker, trainer and writer, focusing on making connections and cultivating empathy in this diverse world one trip, speech, article, book and conversation at a time.

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