This photo seemed apropos. That’s me. Headed up, toward the light, eyes wide open, smiling, swimming with my defensive spines down. I can’t figure if my therapist would be pushing me up or coaxing forward. Probably he’s swimming alongside.
I’ve had three wonderful therapists and one not so wonderful therapist. Around 13 years ago I was at a crossroads of sorts, but there seemed to be more to it than that. I was unhappier than I thought I should have been, given my circumstances. So I turned to a therapist for help. I interviewed three and chose the one who listened. He didn’t insist that my husband was my problem. The other two were women. Each believed that I was unhappy because I was trapped at home with the kids by an overbearing husband. When I said that I loved what I was doing and that my husband just wanted me to be happy, they said I was in denial and that we would work on that. Just the idea of working with a woman made my skin crawl a little bit, so it ended up being a good choice.
It took about a year for me to deal with a lot of difficult issues but at the end, my self-esteem had improved dramatically. I developed a good relationship with my therapist and we tackled some difficult issues together. I experienced a lot of healing and growth.It wasn’t all peaches and cream of course. I remember getting angry (very angry) when he suggested that being abused as a child had an affect on me as an adult. I told him (screamed at him) that I’d never been abused, never been beaten never been burned with cigarettes. The whole top floor of the building must have heard me. I wasn’t abused! Sheesh! I didn’t understand why he couldn’t get that into his stupid therapist’s brain.After a giving me a minute or two to calm down and catch my breath, he apologized and said that maybe I wasn’t ready for that discussion. Which was ridiculous. There was nothing to discuss! I really had no patience with people who blamed their problems on “not getting a tricycle when they were three years old.” That’s a direct quote from my step-father.Another time he gave me an assignment to write a letter that I wouldn’t send. I usually completed any therapy homework right away. We were supposed to go over the letter together at our next session. I was looking forward to the exercise because most of the work he gave me to do was illuminating. Strangely enough, I just couldn’t get started. I’d decide to start writing and at the end of the day realize that I’d forgotten. Finally I took myself in hand and for some bizarre reason decided to get some vodka. I didn’t drink much, but when I did, I liked dark beer. I don’t think in ten years of marriage I’d bought even one bottle of hard liquor. But vodka it was. I got illuminated all right.Strangely, I never saw a connection. When I was in high school I kept a gallon of vodka in my closet and took a nice big slug in the morning before catching the bus. (I tried hard to become an alcoholic but sex just worked better.) So I’m sitting there, drinking straight vodka with absolutely not a single clue that it was a little weird that I was drinking vodka. Because I didn’t drink vodka – hadn’t touched it for years! I had my legal pad and pen and got ready to write. Eventually I got down “Dear Mom,” and then something happened. I drank and drank and drank. The kids were in bed and my husband was at work and I had planned to write this letter because tomorrow was therapy day. At some point I went into the kitchen and took a butcher knife to the counter. I hacked the daylights out of it and nearly cut one of my fingers off.
The next day my therapist apologized and suggested that I obviously wasn’t ready to write that letter. I wish that years later, when I was ready for that discussion and that letter that I had gone back to see my first therapist. He did a good job. I guess there was some transference, and there might have been some counter-transference but to this day, I haven’t got a clue if he has a sexual fetish. I don’t know what his fantasies. And we ended therapy in his office with a hug, not on the phone having sex, which was, in my experience, more conducive to mental health.