A full breasted, svelte woman, Lisa had all the right sexy attributes. Not only did her long flowing auburn hair outline her exquisitely sculpted oval face. Not only did she turn heads with her striking good looks. Not only had she mastered the art of the come-hither look. But the sexiest part of her was her brains. A hedge fund analyst, Lisa's managerial skills were remarkable. She had a way of cutting to the chase in business situations and anticipating setbacks as well as solutions.
Despite her talents, in her love-life something was awry; here she was lost. Lloyd was sweet, sensitive, loving, and creative ─ everything she ever wanted.
"I just can't let go with him." Tears welled in her dark eyes.
What seemed to be the problem? Further dialogue revealed Lisa's fear of the unknown. In her work life, this fear was an asset that factored into her success, but in her love-life it did nothing but hinder it.
Dreamy-eyed, Lisa smiled, "Lloyd can sit, without trepidation, in front of a blank canvas. He simply lets his imagination and his senses go, and a brilliant painting flows out of him. He tells me he works spontaneously, without any plans in his head; his unconscious moves his soul and his hands. I watch him work sometimes and I marvel at how he is lost in the moment to moment experience of painting."
"So he stays in the moment when he works. What about when he makes love to you?" I asked.
Needless to say, that was the problem. Lloyd could let go and enjoy the moment without allowing the past to foreclose the present or the future to eclipse it. It's not that Lloyd was born without a traumatic past or, as a painter, with a secure future. It's that Lloyd has learned to live every moment to its fullest.
Here's his secret. In therapy, Lloyd worked on his painful childhood that featured an anxious rigid, neat-freak mother who controlled every move of his. In his relationship with Lisa, at times the ghost of his mother hovered and distorted how he saw Lisa. Rather than reacting to a phantom, Lloyd was able to step back and see Lisa for who she was ─an organized, rational, pragmatic woman ─ and not who his mother was.
Lloyd's father, busy building empires, was plagued with the fear of not making oodles of money a la Trump. Not wanting to turn into his father or to comply with his mother Lloyd rebelled by living as a struggling artist. Neither enslaved to the past, or to the unknown future, Lloyd was free to surrender to his unconscious, his needs, his desires in the moment.
Alas, such was not the case for Lisa. Staying in the moment and surrendering to her needs and desires was an anathema that was met with dread. Lisa's traumatic past starred an unpredictable mother whose moods instantly varied. Her fury wielded a kitchen knife as she chased young Lisa around the house. Luckily, she never caught her as Lisa had mapped out her escape in meticulous detail. Like a good chess player, Lisa anticipated her mother's moves three steps ahead of her and had a countermove in place.
In a flash, the wicked witch from the west was transformed to a loving, kind, sweet mother. Lisa never knew what to expect, so that she was always on guard for what the future portended. Her parents were divorced as her father, who Lisa recalled lovingly, had cheated on her mother. Lisa recalled his absences and how she missed him and longed for him to return. He never did return.
Now that Lisa was in therapy we could examine the effects her past had on the present, the adaptive measures she took as a child and how these measures lived on in her relationship with Lloyd. The crafty ways she out-maneuvered her mother's craziness worked to protect her from the dreadful unknown. It also worked wonders in her job in the financial world!
Unfortunately, the fear of the future that saved her life as a child entrapped her as an adult. She was not free to surrender to her own feelings or to Lloyd when they made love. Although Lloyd's attention, love, and sweetness reminded her of the good times with her mother, in her mind, the bad times lurked close by.
In time, Lisa began to separate out the unpredictable mother from Lloyd. Although Lloyd's emotional temperament resembled her mother's, the resemblance was a far cry from the real thing. Yes, they were both emotional, yes they were both expressive of their emotions, but their expansive moods differed. Whereas her mother was out of control, with hate and love split apart, Lloyd could hold onto ambiguous feels of love and hate.
By the way, although we are all wired for love, we also harbor feelings of hate. And for most of us our instincts to love, to empathize and to emotionally attune outweigh our hateful, self centered feelings. When they don't ─ such as in psychopathic killers ─ either a genetic defect or cruel abusive childhoods have blocked the innate capacity to love.
In therapy, Lisa also learned that whereas her father had betrayed her mother and had abandoned young Lisa, Lloyd did not. He may flirt with women, but so does Lisa flirt with men. Lisa has adultery on her mind often, but she realizes that such a move would be simply a way to avoid real intimacy with Lloyd. The journey from fear of surrender to feeling free to transcend herself in sweet surrender has been arduous. As she grows more confident in the power of the present, her fantasies of sex with strangers have grown into ones of love and lust with Lloyd.
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