Jason arrived to my office high as he would do so for the next year that we would meet. It was rare that he would show up sober, but sober or not, Jason never fully threw himself into therapy.
Sure, there were times that he would disclose personal and revealing information to me about his escapades and goings on, but there was always a great distance that pervaded our relationship.
It has been about 4 months since I have treated Jason, but I got to thinking about him recently realizing that I did not miss him that much and I was wondering why?
Why would I not miss this young man with whom I spent so many hours listening to and empathizing with? There are many others with whom I've spent considerably less time with and who I miss considerably more than I do Jason. But why would that be?
What I think it comes down to is that Jason and I never fully connected on an emotional level. Jason would come to my office and he would complain about his father, or about his ex-mother-in-law, or about how his friends would be treating him. He would reveal his sexual escapades to me. He would recount what happened at work that week or with his numerous girlfriends, but it was rare that Jason would engage me directly about how he felt about me.
Interestingly, Jason would say on numerous occassions how he did not want to know much about me because he needed to feel that his therapist was somewhat unflappable. When pressed to process his reasoning for this, Jason would say that he couldn't allow himself to think of me as human because then I would be subject to human frailty and he needed me to maintain this appearance of stability and strength.
This strategy, I feel, ultimately did not serve Jason well. It disallowed him from forming a true connection with me. Had he allowed himself to be affected by me, we may have been able to engage in some authentic attempts at real human connection.
And this, in truth, was the real reason behind Jason's pot smoking. Pot was able to numb Jason from his feelings and made interpersonal interaction tolerable. Sober, Jason would be forced to face himself head-on. He would be confronted with having to deal with feelings such as uncertainty, awkwardness, insecurity, shame, guilt, regret! High, these feelings could not penetrate the pot/brain barrier. You've heard of the "blood-brain barrier?" Well, the pot/brain barrier protects one from oneself, from one's own feelings, and from having to truly confront the reality of themselves, the choices they've made, and their own terrifying future.
Life is scary, and feelings are scary too, especially when one is dealing with them on one's own. But feelings, for better or for worse adds to our humanity and are the language of connection. Without talking about our feelings we remain isolated.
Are there other ways that human beings connect with one another other than by discussing feelings, certainly there are, but inorder to have a mature relationship with another person, feelings are the currency.
Jason resisted opening up about his feelings and now that he is gone there is little for me to miss because we only connected on a superficial level, but only very rarely, if ever, on a truly deep and meaningful level.
When in therapy, it pays dividends to risk sharing your feelings. Feelings about yourself and feelings about the therapist. Only then will the therapeutic relationship enable one to heal.