When I first began working with couples there was always a question I dreaded. Someone would eventually ask me if I was married. At that time I was divorced and I would then hear the question about how I was supposed to help them if I couldn’t help my own relationship. It is a fair question, but not an easy one to answer. We therapists are humans first. Being able learn ways to help others can often feel easier than applying the same principles in our own lives. Not only are we human, but we are all complex as well. In keeping with an exercise on marketing (what is the problem, how did I solve it, what can I do for you), I came up with the following to answer the dreaded questions.
Hi, I’m Lin Jovanović and I’m a former relationship junkie. For years I struggled to overcome fears, to know what to do to feel safe with another person, and to do the tough work of making my relationships work. I spent a good deal of my youth going from one relationship to another trying to find the right person, only to fail again and again. I had almost accepted that there just wasn’t the right person out there for me.
Then I discovered not only the whys of my fears to get close, but how to heal myself to be able to enter into a satisfying and nurturing relationship. I learned I had to be the right person with the right healing, tools, and skills to discover how enjoyable an intimate relationship could be. I learned how to shift my behavior from avoidance of being close or of getting hurt to one of feeling more secure to express my desires for closeness to another person and expecting that person to respond in kind. I came to recognize that I needed to focus on the kind of partner I was being to have the kind of relationship I wanted.
Do I wish I hadn’t had to struggle through so many bad relationships before I learned what I needed to know to be the right person? Of course I do. But I don’t see any of that as failure. I believe both my personal and professional experience help to make me the unique therapist I am. I believe that I can more readily understand the blocks people have and how painful change can be. That I don’t judge the past of others and that I actually work harder to help couples learn how they can change and grow rather than continue to hurt and be hurt.
I do this work because it gives me joy to guide people to realize that they are the right person and that they can learn ways to greater peace and joy in themselves and their relationships. This is what I can offer you too.
This is what I tell clients now when they ask the dreaded questions. I don’t feel that I have to hide this part of who I am as a human being. I do hope they care about my credentials and training as well, but I know that what I say about that will probably not have as much meaning as how I have tackled my own life problems.