I went to the new shrink last night. The first thing that I noticed was she was wearing shoes that she could barely walk in. Then when I got to her office, I noticed a huge sign on the wall that said “It’s time for some SOLE searching” with a picture of a giant high-heeled shoe. And then, in the chair: “If the shoe fits, buy it in every color!” was literally embroidered on a pillow.
As I type this, I am barefoot. Clearly she is not my people.
The problem for me regarding a new shrink is, and I hate to sound like an asshole here, they tend to underestimate me and I feel like they’re talking down to me when they try to give me advice.
The first full-time shrink that I tried out last year told me that I was, without a doubt, the most self-realized person she had ever met. I appreciated the compliment, but that’s when I realized that I wouldn’t get anywhere just talking to her about feeling helpless. I had to actually go do something. So I quit seeing her, and put all my energy towards throwing a big ass concert to help my mom.
Therese, the one I liked so much, met me when I was at my most depressed and anxious. She’s the one who pointed me towards the Ten Twisted Forms of Thinking and totally changed my life. She watched me lose 40 pounds. Quit smoking. Handle my dad’s heart surgery. Then one leg. Then the other. She watched me finally turn heartbreak into a positive motivator, and fall in love again. She would say, “I know you can get through this, because I’ve seen you handle worse. And you usually solve the problem yourself just by talking it out. So just come here and vent. Okay?”
So when I say out loud, “I’m not really bothered by the no-legs thing anymore,” she knows that I mean it. That at this point, I’ve got an expert handle on things that would permanently traumatize other people.
This lady? Was immediately convinced I was repressing things with my dad, that it was the root of all my problems. She drew a (I’m sorry, there is no other word and I mean this in its most literal definition) retarded little diagram about visualizing my feelings, something that I learned in 9th grade Intro to Psychology.
“Look,” I told her. “I’m not repressing anything. I get sad about it, and I realize how important it is to allow myself to be sad. I don’t hold it in, even when I’m in public. By this point, all I need is 30 seconds of tears with my back turned to the room. Once it’s out, I feel fine again.”
She pointed out that I didn’t even cry when I witnessed the doctor tell my parents that they had to take the second leg. Um, THAT is repression, she said.
“My family has survived blindness, unemployment, amputated toes, heart surgeries, and by that point, one leg. It sucks for a while, yes. You have to adjust every part of your day. But you get used to it, and within a year, it’s normal again. You take it step by step. But it’s just one more thing to learn and deal with, is all. Sure, I mourned. I cried privately. I got sad, and I let myself be sad. But the last thing they needed to do in that moment was comfort me. And getting hung up and angry and depressed does nothing. It’s jumping into the process that helps.” I left out the part where if she “um”ed at me again, my “sole searching” would involve kicking her in the face.
I have this ongoing fear that Justin will be in a car accident. I told her about this, and mentioned that while it might be related to my dad, it’s really related to two people I know who lost their husbands to car accidents in the last year. She “um”ed that it was obviously related to my dad’s sickness, the unresolved fear of him dying, daddy issues, and my own fear of death.
“UM, I watched my friend cry about losing her husband, and now that I’m in love and I’ve met the person I’m going to marry, I can imagine how it feels and it terrifies me. And I’ve dealt with my dad’s inevitable death. We thought he was going to die on Christmas. We talked to the counselors about end of life decisions. Then one day he was sitting up and joking around again. And I mean, he’s been “dying” my whole life. I’ve had every single day to prepare myself. But that’s not something you can ever fully deal with until it happens, and now that I’ve realized that, I’ve stopped worrying about it. You just have to get yourself to a place where you can be confident that you can handle it. You develop a back-up personality that can whisper in your ear, ‘It will suck, but then you will be fine.’ And you know what? I will miss him, but at least he won’t be in pain anymore, or stuck in his bed, completely helpless. And my mom won’t have to work her life away. And so when I miss him, I know I’ll need to focus on those two things. THAT is how you prepare for death. So when I’m worried about Justin, I don’t picture that stuff. I just picture my friend crying about her husband, and I don’t know how to get rid of that feeling. So, that’s what I need your help with.”
She complimented me on my “techniques” with a chirp, the way I imagine she compliments her girlfriends on their peeptoe pumps. Then she wanted to talk to me about my job. Man, it’s 5 o’clock. I don’t wanna think about work.
I mean, all I want to deal with right now is living with two cranky septuagenarians that have every damn right to be cranky, and learning to relax and just enjoy the first healthy, mature relationship I’ve ever had.
I guess my main problem – and I think this is valid, because while I’m annoyed that people underestimate me, I shouldn’t expect them to know how well-adjusted I am – is that she tried to sum up the source of all my problems and give me advice within 30 minutes of meeting me. And whether she blamed my dad’s disease or my job or a childhood trauma or whatever, it would still be insulting, because that’s not what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to listen.
Maybe I should just stick to handling it like a dude. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna throw on some unfashionable thrift-store Reeboks and go talk to my hedge trimmer about this.