Rob and Celia are in a tough session with their therapist, Carolyn, following their holiday trip together to Celia’s family. Rob is angry that Celia waited until therapy to share her insights with him about the trip; Celia still fears Rob will tell her what to do.
“This was why I went home with you, so we could begin to make decisions together on this stuff,” Rob said. “I don’t want to tell you what to do. I just want to help. I feel like we’re moving backwards right now.” Rob was actually shaking and took a sip of water from a paper cup on the table.
Carolyn stepped in. “Celia, you explained very honestly about your reasons for keeping this inside until our session. Rob, thank you for your response. There’s a lot going on between you two right now. Rob, what are you feeling?”
Rob drained his water cup and put it down. “Hopeless. We’re not getting anywhere.”
Carolyn turned to Celia expectantly, silently asking the same question. “I feel bad that Rob is upset, but this feels OK to me, like we are getting somewhere. I think this is good.”
“What’s good about it?” Carolyn asked her.
“Because if Rob is angry about this, that means he cares about what I’m thinking,” Celia said. “He really wants to know, not to control me, but to help.”
“I don’t get why you didn’t already know that,” Rob said.
Carolyn stepped in again. “Rob, I’d like you to ask Celia that question again, but turn toward her and try to ask it differently. Try to soften your words. That will help her.”
Rob could be impatient with Carolyn’s little psycho-babbly exercises. With a smirk at Carolyn, who knew this, he shifted on the sofa toward Celia. “Celia, we have been doing good work here. We got through your Christmas concert just fine without Carolyn’s help. Why are you still afraid I want to control you? I don’t want to control you. I just want to – love you.” He turned to Carolyn for validation that he had done this well, and she nodded her support.
“Celia, how did those words feel?” Carolyn said.
“They felt good. Like he means it.”
“Why wouldn’t I mean it?” Rob said, anger rising again.
“Rob, I want you to slow down for a moment. Perhaps Celia’s reactions to you on this point don’t actually have anything to do with you,” Carolyn said.
Rob looked at Carolyn, confused.
Reader, you determine what comes next. What is the reason this has nothing to do with Rob?