We pick up the dialogue a few minutes in the therapy session…

Patient: Everything was fine last night, but when I woke up this morning she was out.

Therapist: That had to be very unnerving. What went through your mind when you realized she was gone?

Patient: I didn’t understand it, but I thought she’d be back soon. Like in the past.

Therapist: So, are you saying this has happened before?

Patient: Oh, sure.

Therapist: How often does she just go out like that?

Patient: Oh, probably four or five times a year.

Therapist: Four or five times a year?? She goes out with no warning, no notice, four or five times a year?

Patient: Yep.

Therapist: Why do you keep putting up with this?

Patient: Well, it’s not like I really have a choice. Sure, it’s frustrating, but I guess I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve just accepted that it’s part of the deal. A necessary evil, I guess. Most of the time we’re connected, sometimes we’re not.

Therapist: On the one hand I affirm your resilience, but I have to tell you that this is not normal.

Patient: Same thing happens to all my friends.

Therapist: Then you need to get some new friends because this is NOT normal.

Patient: Yea, like yours never goes out on you?

Therapist: No, she doesn’t. That never happens.

Patient: Well, aren’t you the lucky one. Hey, c’mon, it’s not like it happens every week.

Therapist: Well, I certainly hope not! You’d certainly be a sucker if it did.

Patient: Hey!

Therapist: I mean co-dependent. You’d have to be co-dependent to continually tolerate such disruption.

Patient: Well, it’s not like I can live without her.

Therapist: Seriously??

Patient: OK, when she goes out are things a little more peaceful, a little calmer around the house? Absolutely. Am I more productive? Do I get more done? Sure. But after a several hours I miss her. And the kids REALLY miss her. Bad! I’m talking major meltdown.

Therapist: So, it’s not only negatively affecting you but affecting the children as well. Don’t you see how toxic this pattern is?

Patient: Yea, but as soon as she’s back the kids are fine. I am too. Continuing to be upset when she’s back on board doesn’t make any sense. We just pick up where we left off before she went out. But…

Therapist: But what?

Patient: This time was different. This was the worst. She wasn’t just out for hours, but the entire day and most of the night. The kids were freaking out. I was able to get their minds off the situation for a short time by having them play Uno with me. Later we walked the dog, went to Sonic and got milkshakes for supper.

Therapist: Did you call the police?

Patient: No, why would I do that? The police couldn’t help us. Besides, I knew we’d get her back eventually.

Therapist: Eventually? Wow. She was gone without a trace, probably left in the middle of the night, was gone for over 24 hours, no contact or connection whatsoever, and you didn’t even consider calling the police and filing a missing persons report?

Patient: Why would I file a missing persons report? Who’s missing?

Therapist: YOUR WIFE! You said your wife vanished, that you were worried, and that your children were on the verge of a psychotic break and…

Patient: Wait, my wife wasn’t missing. She was home the whole time.

Therapist: WHAT??!! Then who have we been talking about this entire time?

Patient: I was talking about our internet going out. What did you think I was talking about?

Therapist: YOUR INTERNET??!! This is about losing your *+^#~>@! INTERNET??!! You made a therapy appointment with me because you and your family lost WiFi CONNECTION??!!

Patient: Are you OK? Your face is getting red… and I can see the veins in your neck…

Therapist: (looking up to the ceiling) Please God, let me have a job at a tree nursery or a goat farm.

Patient: Doc, are you OK?

Therapist: (still looking up at ceiling) My brother-in-law has a landscaping business. Or I’ve always liked horses. Just anything that doesn’t involve talking with people…

Patient: Umm, I’m going to just slip out…

Therapist: (still looking up) Please, God. Plumbing, heat and air conditioning, flipping houses, anything. Ooooh, what about automotive repair? You know I’ve always been into cars…

Ramon Presson

Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at [email protected].

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