There has to be enough room for hate in loving relationships

 

Consider Alex who came to therapy to overcome his depression.
Alex was a loving son who worked daily with his father in the family business.
He loved his father dearly but avoided him socially and felt guilty, confused, and ashamed because his father was so proud of him that he had made him CEO of the family business, allowing him a life style of great financial rewards for which he was grateful.. And yet he avoided him socially.
Through therapy Alex was able to come to terms with the guilt provoking, repressed hate he felt for his father which caused his depression.
His father had never entertained the notion that he may, in fact, not be interested in following in his professional footsteps.
I went on to cite Schopenhauer’s porcupine fable:
A troupe of porcupines is milling about on a cold winter’s day. To keep from freezing, they move close together. When close enough to huddle, however, they start to poke each other with their quills. In order to stop the pain, they spread out, but again begin to shiver. This sends them back to each other, and the cycle repeats, as they struggle for a comfortable place between entanglement and freezing.
I explained that the fable depicted the dilemma of closeness and pointed out that it is a great metaphor for boundaries and contradictory feelings in relationships.
Eventually, Alex’s depression subsided when he came to accept that his autonomy often couldn’t bear the closeness that his dependence on his father demanded.
Parodoxically, he began looking forward to spending more time with his father socially.