DITCHING THE DISGUISE

Kristin is a 29-year old who appears to “have it all”: she is successful at work; she is popular with her colleagues and friends; and she has been with her boyfriend, Josh, for two years and anticipates a marriage proposal soon. Yet, she feels overwhelmed and inundated by the eagerness of her girlfriends, who seem certain about almost everything: when couples get engaged, how much time between the proposal and wedding, when to merge households, what type of wedding, where to honeymoon and so forth. Kristin’s secretly struggling because her preference has always been to accommodate the expectations of others rather than to make her own choices. 

When she realizes she can’t maintain her “having it all” disguise, she starts avoiding meeting up with her friends. Instead, she goes home most evenings and curls up on the couch with a bottle of wine to relax and calm her nerves.

The downside of this was that drinking every evening made her feel sluggish during the day. It wasn’t until her work performance became erratic that she took the initiative to schedule a therapy appointment.

Clinical Considerations
For as many individuals who seek therapy to cope with clinical issues, there are also those who simply come for help to get through a particularly tough time. After a few sessions, Kristin felt more in charge of her life again and less anxious.  She stopped drinking every night and started exercising again after work. She confided in Josh about feeling pressured by the constant advice from their friends about everything having to do with their lives.  Josh was supportive and reassuring.

Kristen used therapy to look at her pattern of accommodating others’ expectations of her. She began to realize how her perceptions of what she thinks others expect of her is really self-imposed. This helped her begin to figure out what she wanted for herself and to trust showing up as herself in her relationship with Josh and her interactions with others.

Kristin is proud of being proactive about her self-care. She likes the work she has been doing in therapy. She’s back on track at work. She and Josh have agreed to have regular checkpoints of their own - rather than subscribe to any ‘expected’ timelines from their friends.  She is even thinking about shifting from individual therapy to group therapy as a way to continue to make strides within herself and in the company of others.