Exploring Psychology DVD Programme 4: Interviewing and Thematic Analysis Section 4: Interview: Chloe COMMENTARY: Chloe is a white British woman. She is fifty years old and has had a career as an academic but is currently retraining to be a therapist. She was married and divorced in her twenties. She and her current partner plan to marry later this year. She has no children. Interview with Chloe

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HELEN LUCEY:So we’ve already spoken on the telephone about what the research was about, but just to tell you again that the focus of the interview and the focus of the research that we’re doing is about early relationships and how they have kind of shaped us and how they shape relationships with people when we’re adults. It’s also important to tell you that you, if you want to withdraw from the research at any time, then that’s fine.

So you’ve got the right to withdraw your consent at any time during the interview or even afterwards. So if you change your mind about taking part, you can give me a call and the data will be destroyed, or sent back to you, whichever you would prefer. So just wanted to say that. Can you tell me something about your early relationships when you were a child and how you think those relationships have influenced you later on? CHLOE:I don’t remember from when I was very little, I remember mostly from, from when my father left.

He left when I was about eight, and that’s when I sort of … that’s what I sort of link things back to the most I suppose, to that sort of period of time. My mother was very, very sort of affected by that. She changed a lot when, when he left. And I remember her being sort of quite sort of larking about and playing, quite, quite a playful person. And then when he left she just became really, really down and very, very needy. And I think I sort of, I tried to fill that gap somehow, and, umm fill in for my dad and sort of be, be a grown-up.

I sort of did the garden and washed the car and you know, if a plug needed fixing, I would sort of fix the plug, and so I sort of took on that “I’m a strong and helpful person” role, and so I wasn’t sort of being little any more, which was quite weird. And she was, she was very depressed and very sad and … and just very sort of needy and there wasn’t really sort of much room for me, it was … it felt as if everything was, was to do with what she needed, and she needed quite a lot and she got, she got down a lot.

And she wasn’t, she wasn’t … she wasn’t very good at … like if I was sad, she would be, pfff, you know, very dismissive about it, what have you got to be sad about? and, so you’re not really allowed to be sad. And if I was very cheery about something it was like: oh, well it’s all right for you, you can be really … do you know what I mean? So you’ve got … you sort of lose both ways and I think, I think that had a strong effect on lots of things. She was very limited in what she could express and what she couldn’t, and the way in ways in which she could express things, but I know she loved me.

And she had a hard time. I mean she was … I think her Mum died when she was about four and she’d, you know, that must have had a, you know, again, you know, you sort of see things, how my Mum was with me and the the repercussions that that had and, and then you look at somebody else’s history, and you think well, you know, that must have had something for them as well, you know, and she’s, she was sort of like really well developed in some areas and other things … didn’t have a clue.

She couldn’t sort of take on how anybody else felt, it was very much, you know, a bit of a drama queen really, you know, it’s all to do with, with her feelings and you’ve got to sort of limit everything around that because that’s the thing that’s of importance to her, and as a child growing up that’s what you learn. HELEN LUCEY: Can you tell me about your relationship with your dad and how you made contact with him after that long break? CHLOE:Yeah, well my Dad, my Dad left when I was about eight and we didn’t see him for, for years. So he just sort of completely vanished. mm I don’t know, I suppose about 16 years. And umm then there was a short period when I saw him very, very occasionally. And in the past ten years I’ve seen him more. And from this wonderful person that I decided that he must be, it was a bit, it was a bit of a disappointment to find out who he actually was. My image of him was, you know, he was super duper, you know, he was a wonderful person and he loved me in all the, you know, in a very sort of complete way, a very accepting way, that I was just, you know, I could be sad or happy or this or that, and he would love me and he would sort of understand me.

And, and that’s not who he is. I was a very … it was a very a disappointing thing to find out he’s sort of rather a pompous, rather a pompous and insecure person. He welcomed me into his, into his new family, he married again and he has two children, so I have a half-brother and a half-sister, and his wife’s lovely, you know, I like the woman. But, umm but there was definitely this, this, this bit of me that was like eight years old who wanted all the attention and you know, what do you mean, I have to be with these other people as well? I mean it was quite outrageous to me.

I mean looking back on it, you think well, actually, fair enough. But a huge disappointment, huge disappointment. And then I suppose just because we both persisted at it, we both sort of continued this relationship and developed it further, you know, I … I mean he’s just, he’s just a bloke and he’s okay and umm he does the best he can and he’s not very sure of himself so he’s a bit, a bit pompous. Fair enough, you know. But … And our relationship continues. And I think that … I mean he’s still not good, he’s still not good if, if I’m sad or if I’m grumpy about something, he absolutely doesn’t know what to do about that.

So it’s not like he’s become necessarily what I need or what I would like, but he just is like he is, and that’s, that’s, that’s kind of sort of normal and okay. HELEN LUCEY:And how do you think that’s affected your relationships with partners? CHLOE:The things that I expected from my father, I think I also expected from various relationships as well. So you … Expecting someone to be perfect and marvellous and to understand you and if you need something they’re gonna, they’re gonna, they’re gonna know before even you know you need it and they’re gonna be there and … and it isn’t really like that.

HELEN LUCEY:Can you give me an example of that? CHLOE:Well I think … I mean I certainly think that’s what happened with my first, with my first husband. We met in university and you know, fell very much in love, I absolutely adored him, and he was very … very generous, it was a lovely … it was really, really lovely relationship. And we lived together for a while and all the sort of bits with him, with him were, were really really nice. And then we got married, and then it, I don’t know, I got … I got very sort of depressed after we got married.

We got, we got back from our honeymoon and I just felt quite miserable. Don’t really know why. I felt bad about … I think it goes back to that thing with my Mum, that she, she didn’t really like it if I was very happy and she didn’t really want me to be miserable either, and I’d gone away, I’d left her, I’d got married and I was very happy, so I felt really bad about that, and I felt like I was deserting her, which isn’t brilliant. HELEN LUCEY:And what about your current relationship? Can you tell me a bit about that? CHLOE:Yes. My current, my current relationship is, umm is rather lovely. Umm.

We’ve been together for about four years I think now and it’s a very, it’s a very different, it’s a very different kind of story from any relationship that I’ve had before. The fun bits are still fun, you know, that sort of … the things that were good in other relationships I still, I still have with Ian, but there’s, there’s like a whole new … there’s like a whole new area, which is mostly to do with being … I feel like I’m allowed more, more feelings. The job that I was doing when we first met, I wasn’t particularly, I wasn’t particularly enjoying. I was quite miserable about it. And it wasn’t a problem.

HELEN LUCEY:So looking back on your relationship with your mum, what do you think about that now? CHLOE:It was a long time to get to the point of feeling okay about it, cos for a long time the whole story between me and my mother was so closely interwoven, it was, it was, we were too tied up together really, and too sort of … How I felt was too closely linked to her and how she felt was too close … You know, I was saying before about you know, she wasn’t comfortable if I was very happy; she wasn’t comfortable if I was miserable, so you know, how … you’re linking how you feel in together with how somebody else feels.

So it’s very, it’s a very sort of close bond that I don’t think was very helpful. And when, when I first got … when I got married the first time and I, you know, I felt that I’d left my mother and that that was a bad thing. You know, I felt very … I felt very responsible for her happiness. And I only really made a shift from that if you like, when I was, when I was studying for my, for my PhD, when I was working on that.

And I actually chose to sort of move away because that’s what I needed to do, and maybe cos it was more, maybe cos I was more aware of actually making a decision, I need to be away from my mum a bit to be able to do this, that something … it just sort of shifted something. And I could see, I could see sort of like her as a separate person that I don’t need to … I don’t know, it just sort of separated the two things into a better place.

So I didn’t feel guilty, I didn’t feel so bad. I thought no, this is, this is sort of like more correct, and at the same time that enabled me to see the good things of her more clearly, cos they’re less coloured by the sort of, the frustrations of feeling limited in what you’re allowed to do, because you make a clean decision – actually I need this time to do this – you make this space and in that space you can actually see what’s good about that person.

And she was … So many things about her were really, really lovely. You know, she could be lovely with people and sociable person and good fun and I was … it’s like I found a way of seeing that more clearly because I’d made a space and wasn’t, wasn’t feeling like it was my fault or my duty or my, my, my job to make her happy and to make everything all right for her. HELEN LUCEY:Thanks very much, Chloe, that was great. Thank you. CHLOE:You’re welcome.

HELEN LUCEY:So I just wanted to ask you, Chloe, how was the interview for you? What did it feel like doing it? CHLOE:Um, good, good. It’s quite, it’s quite unexpected … it’s quite interesting. HELEN LUCEY:Did it bring up any difficult things for you? CHLOE:I think it’s more surprising than difficult, the way your ideas go together and you think I hadn’t put those two bits together. So more than difficult, I think it’s quite interesting. And I enjoyed it.

HELEN LUCEY:And just before we end, I’d like you to sign this consent form. So you can take a few moments to, to read what’s on the consent form. Um, we’ve discussed all of the issues around consent already, but if you’d just like to read that and sign it. Thanks very much. CHLOE:Thank you. Thank you. HELEN LUCEY:Thanks very much. And lastly, just to say thank you very much for taking part in the interview and taking part in the research, it was great. CHLOE:My pleasure. [INTERVIEW ENDS]

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