Last night I watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” and this morning I watched a couple of episodes of “The West Wing.” Both have to do with a similar theme. In “It’s a Wonderful Life” the statement is made, “No man is a failure who has friends..” In “The West Wing” episodes I watched the President and his staff were dealing with the loss of his secretary, Mrs. Landingham. Mrs. Landingham was a long time friend, more like a family member, to the President. She was smart, a character, a strong influential presence, and well-loved, in the White House and in the President’s life. Her death therefore left a big, shocking, devastating, hole. The shock evident on people’s faces as they hear the news of her death moved me. To have such an impact on people, to have such importance to people or even to a singular person, is part of what I deeply desire. To matter so much in life that your death would be a “life event” to those left behind is…I don’t know. What is it that I am seeking? What is it that I am needing?
It is difficult when a client (me) experiences transferential feelings towards their therapist. Sometimes I wish I had chosen “K” as a friend rather than a therapist. But then would I be any closer to where I need to be? I see “K” on a relatively weekly basis. Would be that be true if I were friends with “K?” But hearing a mutual acquaintance talk about a shared experience between them (an ASL class) I wanted to ask “K” her thoughts and experiences about the class. I want to ask about her life. Laugh, talk, and listen to her. I enjoy her company. She’s smart and funny and we interact well. Except, what keeps me from discussing this and some other things with her is a form of negative transference. I am embarrassed. HELP!
One of the issues that came up for me during my last session was meaning something to someone. Last night I read in one of my textbooks an incident where an art therapist experienced countertransference with the Vietnam Vets she was treating. This resonated with me because a large part of me wants to know what kind of impact I’ve had on another person, particularly in a student/teacher or client/ therapist relationship. Teachers, for example, encounter thousands or hundreds of thousands of students during their careers. It is unreasonable for me to expect that they would remember me with any kind of significance a year or two or ten after we had our time together. A therapist may not have the same kind of numbers of clients during their careers but still what is there to distinguish one from another, especially years down the road? And why does this matter so much to me? It is as if I want to feel special, important, and like I have some kind of connection to someone. I want to know…I want to know that I’ve made a lasting impression.