Elisabeth: Counseling is so hard, Babe. I fought with her the whole time. She makes me afraid. I don’t even know why. (In a loud frustrated voice) She is a barrage of niceness. She goes on an on about all the good things. She looks for everything good to say. She talks a lot about love. I can’t do love. I only know how to do hate. I mean, Rich, everything. She finds good things to say about cooking and crackers and hiking and parenting!! At first I could blow it off, but it is getting harder to do that. (I’m complaining on and on). It’s so hard to listen to all this good stuff. I told her to stop, but she said she can’t because then she would be joining in with the eating disorder. She is so persistent and purposeful. I feel awkward. It would be so much easier if she said I was stupid and should just go into the kitchen and get something to eat! I am afraid. I am very afraid.” (I realize I’m talking too loud and maybe I should let him get a word in, so I become quiet).
Elisabeth: You are not saying anything.
Rich: More silence. “Sweetie, that’s so sad!”
Elisabeth: Surprised silence because I never thought of that as sad before.
Rich: “It’s not surprising though. Every nice thing I say, you counter with something negative.”
Elisabeth: Still silence because I know he’s right about that. “I never thought of that as sad before.”
Rich: “Well, it’s sad if you are me.”
Elisabeth: Quiet for a minute. “I’m sorry, sweetie.”
Rich: “I forgive you.” Silence. “Is there a way to apologize to yourself?”
Elisabeth: Silence while I mull that over – that’s an unusual thing to do. I don’t know how to do that! I never did that before! “I don’t know!”
Rich: “Huh.” Quiet. “I was thinking about love in Bible study last night. What was it?”
Elisabeth: “I Peter 4:1-11.” I hear Rich flipping the pages of his Bible.
Rich: Yes, “maintain constant love for one another.” That’s kind of important. We should have the children memorize that. That’s the rule at our house.
Elisabeth: I can give love. It is the getting that is hard. I mean I know I love you. And I love the kids. Like really, really love.
Rich: How much do you think it can be a one way street? Do you know that anyone loves you?
Elisabeth: Silence. I don’t want to hurt his feelings. “Yes. I know you love me.” Is that true? It might not be true. I don’t think that’s true, but I don’t want to admit otherwise.
Rich: That’s important to me.
Elisabeth: This is not what I was expecting in counseling.
Rich: Yeah. Well, I’m glad you and she are pressing on together.
Elisabeth: I wonder about that. “You are? Hmm. That’s a relief.”
Rich: What are you making for the picnic tonight?
Rich: Do you want to meet and walk over to the picnic together?
Elisabeth: Sure. I’ll call you before 5:30. I need to get the kids started on homework.
Rich: I love you.
Elisabeth: I love you too. Too-da-loo.
Letters: A Husband’s Confession (video)