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“Tina, what’s holding you back? Do you think Bette will change once you move in together?”
Tina sits back and contemplates her therapist’s question. Today is Tuesday, and this is now the fifth session she has spent discussing this decision since Bette asked her on Saturday. Tina’s anxiety is visible by her flushed neck and chest and her bouncing legs. Uncertain, she responds, “Yes… no… I don’t know…”
Heather sees the hesitation in Tina’s eyes, and she presses further. “It’s okay Tina, it’s okay to be honest here – it’s okay to be honest with yourself – there’s no judgement.”
“I…” Tina blows out a deep breath and runs her hands through her hair. “I’m afraid that… I’ll change… once we move in together?” She whispers.
“Okay, why do you think that?”
“Bette’s so strong…” Tina smiles warmly as she thinks about her Beloved. “She’s been through so much, but she’s so resilient. She’s so private… but she was so open with me… she makes such healthy choices and takes charge even when I know she’s struggling inside.” Tears prick Tina’s eyes as she looks at Heather. “You know, she started seeing Dan twice a week just because she knew she needed the help and support. She’s taking care of herself so that she remains healthy, and our relationship remains healthy.”
“Those all sound like really great things and will be really beneficial as your relationship progresses outside of treatment – whether you live together or not. Tell me, why are those things not reassuring? When you think of those things, why does that give you hesitation rather than anticipation to move in with Bette?”
A few tears trickle down Tina’s cheeks. “She’s strong… but as strong as she is, I’m just as weak… I’m afraid… I’ll lose myself in her.” Tina closes her eyes, the lightest of smiles appearing on her face as she pictures Bette. “She makes me feel so safe… so wanted… so loved…” Tina opens her eyes and as she does more tears fall. “I’m afraid I’ll surrender all autonomy to ensure I always have those feelings. I’m independent, I have an important, high-profile job; I’ll resent her when I realize I’ve lost my autonomy, but I think my biggest fear… is that… she’ll leave me… when she realizes how weak and useless I am. She doesn’t want a sycophant; she wants a partner. I’m afraid I can’t be her equal… that I’m not her equal.”