Support Is Important As Man Continues Therapy Journey

This, the third vignette, found my client, Antonio, here early for our Saturday session.

Sitting in the car along with him was a woman. I parked in an adjoining space. They waited for me to get out of my car and enter the office building. I entered, turned, and waved for them to join me. They held hands as they entered the building.

“Sir, I want to introduce my girlfriend, Antonia.”

We greeted with a firm handshake. They each brought a take-out coffee. Water was offered and both declined. How was your drive?

“Very pretty, Antonia replied. We got up early in order to get ready for this appointment.”

Well, may I call you Antonia?

“Sure, you can.”

I wasn’t sure if Antonio would have you join him, so welcome. Has Antonio discussed our two previous meetings, Antonia?

“Yes. When he returned home, I was busy doing some house cleaning. He drove into the garage. He sat there for I don’t know, maybe 20 minutes. I heard him drive in. I was so busy cleaning, the time before he came into the house went by quickly. He had a look on his face I’d never seen before. It wasn’t like a deer looking into the headlight. All I could imagine was a look like someone who was shocked. He went into the bedroom and laid down for a while. He looked like something terrible had happened. He put his hand up and gestured his finger to his lips. Ordinarily, I’d have not paid attention to his gesture. Instead, I closed the bedroom door and did more housework. Several hours later, he came out. He asked me for a big hug. No biggie; I love to hug. This hug…man, he would not let go. He cried, then his body shook. All I could think of was something happened at the meeting with you. We held each other for a long time. Then he moved us to the couch. We cuddled and he slowly and gradually stopped crying. We haven’t been living together for too long. This was a brand-new experience for me. Get what I’m saying?”

I do. I’m glad he trusted you to let himself go. Sounds like quite an experience, Antonia. Antonio came last week. Did he share anything with you?

“Yes, when he got home, he called me and picked up some food and we sat outside eating. The look on his face wasn’t shellshocked. That’s the expression I was looking for to describe the aftermath of his first session.”

Antonio told me that you, Antonia, got him to come to counseling. What led you to make that determination?

“Moody. He’s been moody. I’m not real clear what sets him off. Lately, you can say differently, Tony (she calls him that), if I’m off base. You’ve got pissed off so easily. Your emotions that I’ve witnessed have been a tad angry at best in the past. Recently, you’re easily brought to be, what did we call it, oh, agitated. Situations that you’d share with me, maybe at worse you got angry or irritable but short-lived. Now when you get agitated, it stays with you for hours. I’m scared that if you don’t figure this out, I’m not sure how much I can tolerate. We used to talk out our day. We haven’t done it for weeks. I’m ready for you to get better, okay?”

Antonio looks at Antonia.

“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t realizing how miserable I’ve been and how much it’s affected you and us. I need the help. This man will see me for as long as it takes to quiet down. Antonia, I need you at home to be my love and support. Can you be there for me? We have a picture of the root of this evil part of me. That’s really tough to share. I need to share it with you. I don’t think you can be there for me unless I fill you in with what we got into at the first session. It beat me up physically and emotionally. I can tell you that I surprised myself with what emerged as this man stated.”

So, Antonio, this, as I stated in our first session, is like chapter one in a book. The length of which you get to determine and to control. Control is a major indicator of improved mental and emotional health. Others in your life, especially Antonia, with permission, get to offer you input and feedback. Often stated, those people who’ve been sexually abused manage their lives healthier by taking your time. Patience with yourself can be virtuous. Your moods have risen to the surface that your body hid for years. The agitation that is a prime mover of your mood has been hidden, defended, and kept at bay for all those years. Your thoughts?

“The way you explain it to me, it’s like time for me to manage my life in a healthier way. My body has stored up all those feelings. I didn’t experience control; hell, I look back on those past 15 years or so and wonder how I managed life at all. Seems crazy that I’m with Antonia who I love and yet treating at times miserably. She doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. He looks at Antonia, “Please forgive me for how shitty I’ve treated you. You don’t need to take on my crap.”

“You’re right, Antonio. Let me say that I see a better and healthier man to live with. I’m glad you came here on your own. I am devoted to you. We have a future together if you want me, Antonio. You need to work on your mental health. It’s not anything to be ashamed about. Keep me in the loop and you’ll get my highest and best of me. I’ve read up on this stuff. Some folks don’t get help and don’t experience the richness of life. You can experience this counseling. I’ll be with you. Just learn not to use me as a foe. I’m your friend and lover.”

They embrace. We made another appointment.

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

Marshall Greenstein holds a master’s degree in marriage and family counseling and is a licensed marriage and family counselor and a licensed mental health counselor in New York state. He has regular office hours at 415 E. Sixth St., Jamestown, and can be reached at 484-7756. For more information or to suggest topics, email editorial@post-journal.com.


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