The most difficult task in writing about living in relationship with Gay is paring it down into readable, digestible parts. I guess that would be true of any dynamic relationship. I cannot think about my relationship with Gay apart from her character and the woman I know and love. Gay has taught me that it is possible to be in relationship with others as the whole person God created and is daily transforming. There's a fancy psychological term for what I'm talking about: integration. Before I could understand integration, I had to know some important things about myself and about relationships.
I'm admittedly simple. It's easier for me to explain what I value now by examining how I learned healthier relational patterns with Gay. I came to Gay 20 years ago with the goal of NOT having an eating disorder or feeling depressed. I wanted to maintain my figure, my perfect marriage, and my ideals about how that should happen. I already had the big picture answers, I just needed direction and validation from an expert. More importantly, a Christian expert. I was the quintessential people pleaser. I played it with fluidity and, on the surface, great ease. Be the person you need to be with the appropriate person. Do what is necessary to make the other person feel good. Make sure the person leaves with the best possible opinion of you as well. More importantly make sure that God is honored by your words and actions. I was exhausted and failing.
Based on my paradigm, one I learned in college while training to be a social worker, Gay would be the impartial, impersonal expert. She would point out my unhealthy patterns, offer new strategies, bolster strengths and support systems. I'd leave the better person for having interacted with the expert.
Being in relationship with my therapist was not only not in my paradigm, it was unthinkable.
Knowing my personal and educational bias now, it may be easier to understand my shock I wrote of last time when Gay, without reservation or concern for proper social work protocol, said, "I am overweight. I have been this way my whole life..." What? This psychologist just broke a RULE. I'd already made up my mind that this woman was my best option. I gave her the benefit of those who recommended her and stayed seated. However by the end, I wasn't sure if she could really help because she didn't offer any eating plans or any tips on how to stop binging and purging. In fact, weeks later when I fell off the wagon, so to speak, she had the audacity to affirm how smart I was for purging? She didn't even scold me! Instead she told me how smart I was for knowing deep within that I needed comfort and affirmation. I'd hear this same phrase hundreds, if not thousands of times in the future, "Your motive was excellent. Your method could be improved."
Although unaware of my bias, I believed that rules and structure were the bedrock that held relationships together. Follow rules and all was well. Break rules and suffer because of your disobedience. (For those of you that are concerned....I'd learn, in time, that, of course, structure and rules were and are very important. I'd learn that I had power and choices to set and manage the structure.) I needed my old system turned upside down to see how it worked. I also needed to see that alternative methods would not maim or dismember me.
Gay, with brilliance, sensitivity, and skill was teaching me a new way of living. She was building new life vocabulary for me. She was pointing out strengths with which I had been utterly unaware. I began to trust what she was saying to me and about me. In part, I trusted her because she was so blasted honest about herself--she broke rules.
Some of the phrases that she taught me about myself, still resonate deep within me. For lots of years, it was her voice that echoed within. Now, it's my voice.
The most profound lesson that I've learned with and through Gay is this:
The risk is great. There are no true short cuts. Pain is inevitable. Yet, to be known deeply and still be loved by another brings ineffable joy.
Continue with me to pray for Gay and Beth during this difficult season. She'll be back next week if all goes as planned. Blessings to all of you, ~lori