Sunday, October 9, 2016

Marlin's Mother and the 'Why'

Early in Marlin's counseling sessions with Dr. McNeil, Dr. McNeil told her at some point it would be helpful for her mother to come to a session.  Knowing how much Marlin's mother's pressure on her to get married has affected her, Dr. McNeil thought that having Mrs. Bonnie Reynolds come would accomplish two things.  First, understand why she puts such pressure on Marlin and secondly, ask her to understand and support Marlin's desire to end the pressure so she can stop feeling so desperate to get married.

It is the date and time for Marlin's session with Dr. McNeil and her mother has happily come along.  She and Marlin arrived a little early and were shown to the counseling room where Dr. McNeil speaks with her clients.

Bonnie:  This is a very nice office.  I like the colors and quotes on the walls.  What a career this Dr. McNeil must have.
Marlin:  She's good at her job.  I think she's really helping me. 
Bonnie:  I'm glad, Honey.  I really hope it continues to help you to see her.  I'm glad you found someone to help you figure out how to find a husband.
Marlin:  But that's not exactly what she's helping me to do.
Bonnie (puzzled):  But you said she...

The conversation is interrupted by Dr. McNeil entering the room.

Dr. McNeil:  Hello, Marlin.  You must be Mrs. Reynolds.  It's a pleasure to meet you.
Bonnie:  Well, aren't you just gorgeous.  Yes, I'm Mrs. Reynolds, but you can call me Bonnie.  You're helping my daughter find a husband.  Let's not be so formal.
Dr. McNeil: Thank you so much for the compliment, Bonnie.  I'm glad you mentioned that, about Marlin finding a husband.  That will help us to jump right into why you've been invited here.
Marlin:  Hi, Dr. McNeil.  I was about to explain to my mother. I'm glad you're here to help.
Dr. McNeil:  I'll have a seat and we'll talk.

Dr. McNeil:  Bonnie, I appreciate your joining us.  I'd like to set some ground rules based on respect. 
Bonnie:  Okay.
Dr. McNeil:  People can get emotional when we talk about why they believe things, so let's all respect we each have a different perspective and point of view.  Please try to refrain from accusing, name calling and demeaning someone else's point of view.  Allow the person who is speaking to finish her thought.  And above all else, please listen without rushing to form a response first.  Can we all agree to that?
Bonnie and Marlin:  Yes.
Dr. McNeil:  Good.  Then we should have a productive session.

Dr. McNeil:  Bonnie, I don't normally share what a client has shared with me with others.  However, to facilitate this session, Marlin has given me permission to discuss things which are pertinent to getting to the root of your relationship.
Bonnie (interrupting): Our relationship?
Dr.  McNeil:  Yes.  Please remember the ground rules and let me finish.
Bonnie:  I'm sorry.  Go ahead.
Dr. McNeil:  Thank you.  For years, Marlin has felt immense and intense pressure from you to get married and have children.  Because she is only focused on that one thing, she can go too far and get so desperate, she is crushed when her attempts at beginning relationships fail.  Can you please articulate why you believe she must get married so that we can all understand?

Bonnie:  That's just what a woman should do.  It's important. 
Dr. McNeil:  Did your parents tell you it was important?
Bonnie (pausing before responding):  No.  My mother was never married and I don't know my father. My mother went from man to man.  We barely (pausing again)...we barely knew where a meal was coming from because she didn't have a husband.
Dr. McNeil:  You believe it was because she didn't have a husband or a job.
Bonnie:  I knew plenty of girls when I was growing up who had mothers who didn't work, but their mothers were married.

Bonnie:  No, my mother wasn't married and that's why we suffered.  I remember those girls, the ones with the fathers at home.  The father who stuck around.  That was part of his job.  Those girls never had a worry.  They ate well, they looked good all the time.  They didn't have to worry about people laughing at them because their mother was with a different man every other week.  That's why it's important.
Dr. McNeil:  Is that why you got married?
Bonnie:  Yes, of course.  I found a good man and I married him.

Marlin:  A good man?  Mom, you keep telling me to get married and have children.  That I need a man to be a good provider and a good father.  Dad may have a good job, but he wasn't a good father.  He barely acts like I'm alive.
Bonnie:  He has always paid the bills.  You've always eaten and had decent clothes.  You grew up in a nice house in a nice neighborhood.  You should be grateful I found a man to do that. 
Marlin:  But where is the good father part?  Yes, we weren't poor and living in a hovel, but he's never been a real father to me.  I'm lucky if he even acknowledges me.  Why does he treat me like that?
Bonnie:  We all make sacrifices to be comfortable.  I love you.  I love you enough to make up for what I knew he couldn't give.
Marlin:  What do you mean by that?  You knew he wouldn't want me or love me?

Bonnie:  Honey, I did my best to be sure my children had a father in their lives growing up.  He was around.
Marlin:  Did you know he didn't want me?
Bonnie (sighing):  Yes.  He never wanted children, but I just knew I could change that.  I thought he'd take one look at you when you were born and change his mind.  But it wasn't so bad.  It's not like he divorced me.  See?  He's a good man because he took care of his responsibilities even when he had one he didn't necessarily want.
Marlin (tearing up):  Wow!  I always thought he didn't want me, but to hear you actually say it...I don't understand why I'm even surprised.  I guess that explains why I'm an only child.  Just one was honestly too much.

Dr. McNeil: Are you okay, Marlin?
Marlin:  Yes.  I don't even know why I'm upset. I guess it's just the reality of what I've known all along being confirmed. 
Bonnie:  I know it sounds bad, but it really isn't. 
Dr. McNeil:  Does Marlin's father feel like you were dishonest with him in your intentions?  Would he have preferred she not been conceived?
Bonnie (nodding):  Yes.  He was pretty angry when I told him I was pregnant.  But I still thought he'd see her and change his mind.  He was there when she was born, but he never really connected with her.  I didn't care.  I mean, she was here already and I had my baby to love.  So everything could only get better.  Besides, when you're married, you do that. You make sacrifices to keep your marriage in tact.  I took care of Marlin, Mark took care of us.  It's simple.

Marlin:  So you had me with a man who never wanted me because you thought it would be okay.  You married him because you thought it was important to be married.  You thought it was important to be married because your mother wasn't and you thought that was the reason why you never had anything as a child.  You hoped that my father would change his mind and never thought how that would affect me.  You want me to get married to someone, anyone, because your childhood led you to believe marriage is the only option in life for a woman to have things?
Bonnie:  They way you explain it seems so...well so horrible.  Listen, Marlin, I did what I did because I felt it was necessary.  You don't understand,  but I did set a good example for you by getting married.  That's what I thought we were here for,  to help you get a man, not a beat up on me session. 

Marlin and Bonnie just look at each other in silence for a few seconds.

Dr. McNeil:  Ladies, this is good information for us to work on and work with to clarify and move forward.  Bonnie, please understand that Marlin is hurting.  I don't want to put words in her mouth, but I am hearing that the pressure you've put on her is based on your own childhood wherein you felt disappointed and hurt too by your mother's actions.  Can you see how your actions can in turn hurt Marlin?

Bonnie:  Has all of this been hurting you, Honey?
Marlin (tearing up again):  Yes, Mom.  You keep pushing me and making me feel like a failure for not being married yet when you are in a marriage out of desperation.  You've put your desperation on me and I keep showing it.  That's why I can't find a man. I'm too busy looking for one. 
Bonnie:  I didn't mean to make you feel like a failure.  I thought I was helping you. You know, pushing you to do the right thing.  I just think a woman should be married.  You have to understand that I was doing the right thing.

Marlin:  No, Mom.  I don't understand.  But at least now you've been completely honest about things.  You were so worried about recovering from your childhood, that you brought me into a situation where my childhood wasn't the greatest.  Imagine having a cordial relationship with your own father, who is actually in the house, but acting like you shouldn't be.
Bonnie:  It wasn't that bad, Honey.

Dr. McNeil:  Please be careful that you do not negate each other's feelings.  It is clear you have both been affected in negative ways by your childhoods.  Both of you have some healing to do.
Marlin:  I'll say.

Dr. McNeil:  Bonnie, I normally charge by the person for my sessions because of the way billing has to be done. Marlin is my client, here to get some help. I do think having you join for two to three more sessions could be helpful.  No more than three.  If you'd like to see me yourself after that, I would be open to do that. But at this point, I definitely would like you to come with Marlin to continue to work on a few things and discuss how we can both help her move forward.  Would you be agreeable to that?

Bonnie:  Sure, if that would help Marlin. I...I would like to help her.  I never thought I was hurting her.  It's the least I can do.  Are you okay with that, Marlin?
Marlin:  Yes, I'm okay with it.  I need to deal with all of this. I also really think you may need help too. 
Bonnie:  Me.  What?

Marlin:  Mom, it took a really good friend to help me figure out that I needed to get some help.  If she hadn't talked me into it, I'd still be spinning my wheels hoping every man who looks at me would be the right one.  Now I'm starting to understand how to value myself first and let them chase me.  I want to really get that strong and stay there.  You haven't been strong enough to want more for yourself.  You settled for a man just to be married.  Maybe we both could move forward.  Can we just start with the next couple of visits together and see what you think?
Bonnie (hesitating):  Okay.  Okay.  We can do that, for your sake, Honey. 

Dr. McNeil:  That's a good step forward.  Thank you for being willing to help Marlin, Bonnie.  I'm sure she will continue to progress with your continued support.  Let's make that next appointment as soon as possible. 

They finish up the current appointment and schedule the next one.  Marlin is happy her mother agreed to come again.  She feels she'll continue to do better, although she's not so sure her mother will be open to getting some help herself.

Thanks for stopping by. ~ Jaye


  1. Wow, that was a good session! Very eye opening for Marlin. I hope her mother gets some help and takes the pressure off of Marlin. As a single mom, I always got criticism from some family members for embarking on the journey to parenthood on my own. I am very careful not to put the same kind of pressure on my daughters. Both of my daughters are on their own paths. I tell them I just want them to be happy and will do whatever I can to support their goals.

    1. Thank you, Phyllis. I know everyone has been wondering what kind of hold Marlin's mother has on her and why she pressures her so much. There it is. She never got over her own childhood.

      It's unfortunate because in Bonnie's experience with her mother, she associated her mother's behavior with an inability to be a good single mother.

  2. Wow, indeed! What a powerful episode. So much revealed and a great dialog opened between Marlin and her mom. I think her mom attending her own sessions is a great idea. I'm not saying the end result to the mom's sessions should be for her to divorce her husband and learn to stand on her own, but some self awareness and self preservation could go a long way to a healthier, happier her.

    My mom was also a single mother. She did push us to give her grandbabies once we were grown, but us having them in wedlock was never a big concern for her. She thinks all males are useless and just wanted some babies to spoil.

    1. Thank you, Muff. I think Bonnie needs help too. Hopefully she can see it. She may never get it and just deal. Sometimes people just get settled.

      Your mother saying all males are useless made me laugh. I don't think all, but some definitely are.

    2. Muff, the all males are useless made me laugh too! I sometimes feel that way, especially some of the men in my life were that way. Guess that is why I am a single senior and loving it!

  3. Awesome session!! I hope that Bonnie eventually get it. She seems to need the help just as much as Marlin. Interesting back story. I am happy that Marlin is on a good track. Once Dr. McNeil gets her to value herself more, so should be good.

    I love your storytelling! It makes my day to see a post from you.

    1. That is so sweet of you, Georgia Girl. Thank you!

      I hope Marlin can continue to improve. She seems to want to do so.

  4. Wow, what a session! After all that's come out, Marlin's mom definitely needs some therapy herself, and honest some family counseling with Marlin's dad wouldn't hurt either.


Hi. I truly appreciate your reading my blog and your comments. I enjoy the interaction. As soon as I check to be sure your comment is not from a bot or some other unreliable source, it will be posted.

Have a great day!