I think my husband is still shocked that there was no couch involved. And that it wasn’t really like the kind of therapy sessions you see on TV.
Regardless, as I head down the slope of my final months in my 20s I picked myself out a therapist, something I promised to do for myself in 2013, something I need. There’s a lot going on in my mind and heart and on most days it’s too much to handle; on all days it’s too much to write about on the Internet because it’s not really my story to tell.
It came easy, really. You sit down and you open up the storybook of your life and basically start to read. It flows easily, without much emotion. Just the story, the first five grafs before you get to all the quotes and opinions. This is easy for a storyteller. So much of it reminded me of my days as a reporter, which put me in my element immediately. Question. Answer. Words on a notebook page. Trust-building. Lots of listening and empathizing and making the source (me, in this case) feel like you are on their side. And you are (he was, instantly), you get what they are saying, you see their pain and you can pinpoint the exact moment when whatever crisis is going on in their lives made them fall apart. He was good.
First, it surprises me that I was assigned–and have accepted–a dude therapist and that even after saying I’d prefer a female they recommended him to me for my situation, which he refers to as a “crisis.” What the hell? I’ll give it a shot, I thought. And sometimes the stars just align and you can’t help but believe that you fell into the right situation, er, solution; you’re at the right place at the right time and there’s no where else you should be. It’s interesting–and quite liberating, thank you very much–being validated by a man.
Within 20 minutes, he pretty much had my personality summed up. As he should, right? He’s a professional. I’m a sensitive, old soul. I’m not sure if “wise” is the right word, but I’m definitely “something” beyond my years. Yep, that’s me. He quickly distinguishes where you became fucked in the head and where every relationship you’re worried about and fearful over fell apart and if all of your crazy is matter of nature or nurture. He sings your praises and reminds you that you are on the list of good people, “keepers,” easy to get along with, compassionate toward others, empathetic. Filled with strong emotion. Sure you wear your heart on your sleeve, “but I’d be much more worried, Mandy, if you weren’t feeling at all.” Check. Check. Feeling is so, so good. And that–with and without therapy’s help–I am doing.
The snot cry came. It went. I can’t remember the last time someone looked me in the eyes–way deep in my eyes–and told me it was OK to cry instead of the alternative “you can’t keep doing this” or “just don’t worry about it so much,” “stop letting this bother you.” Everything bothers me. That is OK.
As your allotted time comes to an end, it gets a little like TV. He respectfully told me we were nearing the end, we got a plan together and we booked the next session. Yes, he likes me! I like him! He’s MY therapist! Win. I’m getting a jump start on my 30s right here; people in their 30s have therapists, right? Right. I want to be better.
The day after therapy you basically wake up to feeling like you had an emotional ass-kicking yesterday, because you did. You dug deep, you found some tools and now you have to practice. While practicing, you constantly have to remind yourself of your values and that learning the process does not mean forgetting for even one tiny second that you should not change the way your mind works or the way you feel or your deep-rooted morals. Thank you, Mr. Therapist. Validation that I’m very, very normal.
The part I did not expect was the personal details he shares. He’d been through something similar when he was my age, still calling it a “crisis,” which feels really good, actually. It’s something big enough to take care of yourself over, because truthfully, ain’t no one else gonna take care of you. With certainty, he promises I’ll come out on the better side, that my marriage is healthy and that I can stop looking for deterioration that isn’t there just because the world is a scary place; he thinks I have one of the best allies he’s seen in my corner (so nice to hear) and that I’m acting this out in very healthy ways (who knew?!), surrounding myself by the best, strongest people I can find and moving through this life–that is hard right now–appropriately. I did the right thing by finding “the couch” and I’m hungry for a lot more.