I tried so many times to learn to ride a bike. When I was an 8-year-old, my dad ran beside me. I remember screaming when he would let go, fear clutching my small body in a King Kong grip. The ground seemed sinister, and balancing on tiny wheels felt impossible. Watching other kids whiz around didn’t make me believe it was possible; it was clear to me that I was just not the type of person who could ride a bike.
I’m a married psychotherapist now, living in a city of hills and bicyclists. Often my clients bike to my office. They walk in wearing one pants leg rolled up and put their helmets next to them on the sofa/couch. Each time I feel a wave of admiration.
This morning a very bright, sexually adventurous 28-year-old woman came for her weekly consultation with me. She has a strikingly pretty face, no makeup, a shaved head and a mischievous boyishness. Her bike helmet has stickers that declare “Question Gender” and “Geeks Do It Better.” She works in tech. Last week, she moved in with her new partner, whom I’ll call Aaron, a very bright and sexually adventurous 28-year-old man who also works in tech. They spent the last six months falling deeply in love. Their compatibility is obvious to everyone. She came to therapy because she wanted greater emotional intimacy — and she is in the process of building that — but she is still afraid that she doesn’t know how, afraid that not knowing how means that she is incapable of greater intimacy, that she isn’t the type of person who has a stable long-term relationship. Perhaps she had been damaged?
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