We had a relationship with Mary for nine months. I think many of our interactions (among the three of us) were relevant to a lot of what Iíve written in this letter.
Some of the ways you interacted with Mary and I in our sessions, were similar to the ways you interacted with me outside. More than a few times, you "shut down" and pushed her (and me) away. You were alternately "hot and cold" with Mary just like you were with me--although you did get better as time went on. I am sure that when you "shut down" in our sessions, Mary was just as frustrated as I was. Wouldnít you be frustrated, if someone just began ignoring you and refused to interact with you? After several of these episodes, you went through the whole "Mary hates me" thing with me. Once again, I had to rush in to boost your self- esteem as I mentioned before. However, at the time did you ever take responsibility for the way you treated Mary in the first place, by pushing her away? People are less likely to be endeared to you, when you silently fume at them and push them away! Excuse me for saying this over and over, but you must take responsibility for your own behavior.
Many times, you would snap at me over the subject of going to Mary, either separately or together. It was convenient to snap "I donít have the money!" at me, using your anger to get me off the subject. However, as I pointed out before, you had hundreds of dollars to spend on baseball cards. What was the real reason for your anger when it came to this? Perhaps you were afraid to see Mary alone, because that would be a forum for focusing on yourself, and that was just too threatening to you. Once again, the specter of Sandy kept me in line--with your ranting over how Sandy had "forced" you to go into therapy, I couldnít even push a little (although I thought it might do a world of good for our relationship) because then you would have really yelled at me. "Youíre being just like Sandy!!"
I liked Mary a lot. However, I personally feel that she was in way over her head. I was fortunate enough to be able to see Alan throughout. You didnít have your own therapist, which isnít your fault. In my opinion, Mary was really good. However, I donít think that even the best therapist in the world, could have effectively dealt with all your issues, and all our issues together as a couple, in the context of only one hour, the three of us together, a week! I think that was why she was always trying to get you to see her alone, because she thought some individual therapy might help. Despite the fact that she was our "couples counselor," I donít hold her responsible in any way, for the way our relationship turned out. It wasnít her fault; it was our fault. She wasnít a miracle worker. I really think she did the best she could, with what she had to work with.
As far as my seeing Mary alone that one time, you can blame me. I was the one who approached her--at the time I desperately needed to see her. I do not think she did anything wrong. I reached out to her, and she did not push me away. I was getting something from her that I never got from you. She saw my pain.
The final outcome of our situation with Mary, was instrumental in showing me your way of thinking. Because at the very end, it was so obvious, how your attitude toward Mary was so like your attitude toward a lot of other people. You saw her in terms of black and white (while she had been a "good" person for months, now suddenly she was evil), you criticized and blamed her--deflecting blame from yourself, and you responded to a conflict by simply writing her off forever.