Let’s see. She’s kind to you, she gives you her full attention, she accepted you for who you are even before you did, she’s helped you look in the mirror without wanting to puke, she asks nothing of you but that you be your emotionally honest self, and she is always there for you—of course you’ve got a crush on her. She’s perfect; you’d be half in love with her even if she were a he and ugly to boot. I’m not downplaying your feelings—your feelings are absolutely real, and she’s obviously been very good for you—but under the circumstances they’re not hard to understand. There are professional therapists who contend that without these feelings (they call them “transference”) your therapy wouldn’t even be working.
Yes, you have to tell her how you feel. Believe me, she will not be shocked or embarrassed. Whether she calls it transference or takes a different approach, it’s part of her job to help you understand and deal with this. What would not be a part of her job, and would actually be so far out of line as to merit reporting her to your State Board of Psychology, would be reciprocating your feelings or encouraging you to act on them. Not because you’re unworthy of her—or anyone else’s—love. It’s because as your therapist it would be totally unprofessional and highly unethical for her to take advantage of the trust that you, as her client (patient), have placed in her.
My life from the outside seems perfect. I have a loving husband, three adorable kids, and a legal secretarial job that pays well above the average. Women friends often tell me how much they envy me. But I have a vague, disquieting feeling that something important is missing from my life. My job is mostly OK, but sometimes working for people who are no smarter than I am but who treat me like I have no talent beyond an ability to spell and use a computer competently is frustrating. I’d love to get involved in something artistic, but I don’t know what. With my job and my family I don’t have a lot of time, and my husband is less than supportive. Even in this day and age he thinks a woman need not aspire to anything more fulfilling than taking care of her family. I love my family, but I need something more to make me feel less like a drudge and more challenged. Do you have any suggestions?
Most everyone’s life looks better from the outside, mainly because most of us don’t flaunt the crap we live with every day. I worked as a legal secretary for several years myself, and, while I got along pretty well with my own boss, I remember others at the firm who considered my lack of a law degree proof that my intelligence was only slightly less substandard than George W. Bush’s. And I was granted that grudging bit of respect only because I, like you but unlike Mr. Bush, could spell, write, and speak whole sentences using words of more than two syllables.
Nihil illigitimates carborundum. That’s Latin (the language of the law) for “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” Print that out, put it where you can see it, and chant it to yourself every time you’re treated like a piece of office equipment. It takes brains to do your job, even if your “superiors” can’t acknowledge it. It also takes brains to run a household, so give yourself some extra props for that.
I hate to sound like a women’s magazine, but you need to make some time for yourself. Take some art classes at a local community center or college, or even (ta da!) an art school, but if that’s impossible, leaf through some of the home-improvement magazines or browse your local crafts store. Look for something simple that doesn’t require a lot of expensive tools and materials (or attract too much unwelcome attention from your husband)—maybe stenciling or painting a small table for the kids’ room. Then do it. It may be only a teeny tiny baby step toward artistic fulfillment, but it’s a step. Careers in the arts are notoriously low paying, so don’t quit your job right away, but you’ll be amazed at how gratifying, confidence-building, and empowering completing even a small project can be.
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