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“Dirty Deals” or “The Spark is Gone” or “My Husband and I Don’t Talk Anymore” or “My Wife Doesn’t Understand Me.”

by Virginia Beach Therapist, Dr. Candice Cook

You remember those personas we talked about?  A persona is a sub personality, an aspect of you that you designed and put together trying to find self-worth, approval, admiration or strength.  With your personas you manipulate people into giving you what you think will give you safety, comfort, or applause.  Two people can “wow” each other for a time and for a little bit they think “I’ve got it!”  The love, approval, safety, and comfort I need to survive.  All I have to do is give this person my glamorous (or needed, or strong, or clever, or supportive or whatever), phony persona and I’ll trick him/her into giving me the Real Deal.  I sure hope, you go on, he/she doesn’t figure it out.  After all, I’ll be giving him/her all I possess – my hollow persona as a permanent, willing, adoring slave.  In fact, for my gift, he/she will owe me the Real Deal, his/her true Essence, which is what I am really wanting in the first place.

The problem, of course, is both parties are offering the same lousy deal to each other.  Neither party is authentic (we’ll explore what the heck that means later).  Both are locked into a persona.  Both have a sense of the fear and confusion that underly such deals, but they focus instead on “The Glory of Being in Love” and planning their Rosy Future.  Both relate to the image they present which cuts out the possibility of honesty (and I am not talking about “honestly” expressing the anger at the partner for the resentment that naturally builds as the Dirty Deal falls through.)  Great blame arises as the Dirty Deal falls through. What they each must learn to experience are the feelings (i.e. emotions and physical sensations in the body) that are behind the persona.  Loneliness.  Emptiness.  Fear.  Great blame as the Deal falls through.

Sometimes they’ll then come into my office telling me they need to learn “communication skills”.  I’ll say!  What THEY mean by communication skills is usually a form of negotiations that will at least ,in part, patch up the Dirty Deal.  “Show me how to get what I want from my partner.”

So, I teach them how to ask – nicely.  But, the main thing I do is encourage them to recognize the pain beneath their facades.  I’ll ask them to stop trying to force the partner to fix the pain by using an empty persona.  Rather, they can learn to mutually support each other as they look together and feel together  (in their bodies), the Big Three:  Loneliness, Emptiness, and Fear.  Can they just allow themselves to feel without blaming the other for the pain?  The pain was not caused by their partner.  The pain was there all along, masked for a while beneath the illusion of love. This illusion, created by the Dirty Deal could have never worked.  It’s just possible at this point, if they both have a lot of courage, to allow the Real Deal to take root and grow.

The alternative?  They scrap the marriage to go find some other sucker to make another Dirty Deal and again come to the same grim outcome down the line.  Yuck!