Lauren: The changes had to do with becoming emotionally independent. Because after I started therapy, that question about romantic relationships turned into an understanding: I was not available. Why? Because I had all these other emotional connections to people that I needed to become somewhat independent of.

In my family, as in most Latin families, family is the most important thing, and every personal decision quickly escalates into a group decision. Who should I date? Who should I be friends with? Where should I work? What should I do as a career? There was no independent Lauren thought. It was, "What does the collective family think about this situation? Or think about Lauren in this regard?"

Dr. Goldman helped me look at that dynamic closely to see that sometimes the decisions my family made for me were not decisions I would have made. She also stressed that going against my family's opinions did not make me a bad person.

Dr. Goldman: Many of Lauren's strengths were getting in her way. She's a very bright and sensitive and responsible person. But at that stage in her life she was having trouble figuring out how to balance her own needs and wants with other people's.

Lauren: I always thought I would stay in my hometown, marry someone I knew from high school, and live the exact same life my parents lived. I knew there was a life outside of the pictures I had created in my head; I just didn't know it was a life I could live.

Dr. Goldman: When she began therapy, Lauren felt pressure to spend time with family to help them feel happy, but she also wanted to be out with her friends. It took her a while to acknowledge that developing a broader social life was at least as important as keeping her family content. She had to practice speaking up and declining some opportunities with family in favor of socializing.

Lauren: The idea we discussed that sustained me was that I couldn't keep doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result. I saw that I needed to stand on my own two feet and trust my own reactions. It was time to say to my family, "Okay, you can think that, and I appreciate what you have to say; however, I'm going to do what I think is right."
*Names and some identifying details have been changed.  


Next Story