Friday, May 17, 2013

Why my imaginary boyfriend is better than yours

There is no theme here. Do not try to find a theme.
a. On the way home from yoga last night I rolled up on a stoplight and became distracted by an advertisement on the side of a bus turning left in front of me. This is what it looked like:

You would be distracted by this too, right, if it was five feet high and in your face? As I stared at it I continued to roll towards the crosswalk and started to turn right. As I did so I nearly jumped out of my skin when I realized that there was a pedestrian in the crosswalk that I hadn't seen, because I had  been so distracted by the pedestrian safety sign on the side of the bus. This is a true story.

b. A few minutes later at a different intersection, another pedestrian walked right in front of my car against the light, so luckily I was on alert this time. He was completely out of it, barefoot, and his face was bleeding, not as if he had had an accident or been in a fight, but as if he had scratched it so much that it bled, and I thought, why does anyone still do meth anymore? Because they're addicted, right, but I mean, why did they do it the first time? Is there anyone left on earth who still thinks this might be a good idea? It is not a good idea.


2. Laying in bed last night not sleeping I let my mind wander until I invented an awesome dude who was super into me, complete with people I actually know in real life having introduced us, I guess so it would seem more realistic to the part of my brain that was not in on the fantasy. And guess what? That shit totally worked! I was as giddy as if it had actually happened. Even this morning as I was driving to work (I guess there is a theme?) I was still super cheerful and smiley, imagining new scenarios for us wherein he would come visit for the weekend, because of course it's a long-distance relationship, because apparently even in my wildest fantasies I can't just meet a nice dude who lives in the tri-state area. So I guess imaginary boyfriends is where I am right now.

Also, apparently I spend a lot of time in the car?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why I stopped going to therapy

32 was the year I finally started going to therapy. It was also the year that I quit therapy. (Since I turned 33 all of six days ago, I can say this with an air of detached gravity that comes from being older and marginally wiser.) So, now that you know the end of that story, let's start at the beginning. 

I wanted to get at some unresolved issues, and get at them my therapist did, in the manner of a pitchfork churning up long buried muck and slime and spreading it all out to air in the sun. Meanwhile I'm on the sidelines yelling, "Hey, I just cleaned that!" Being the writer/neurotic (redundant?) that I am, I thought I would jot down some brief notes after each session, hoping that over time I would begin to see some kind of progress. However, being the well-intentioned but often-lacking-in-follow-through kind of person that I also am, this lasted all of one (1) session. My thoughts following my very first therapy session ever (carefully recorded in an e-mail draft) read as follows:  
So, when do I start feeling better? Not so sure about this. Felt like I was drowning, and instead of throwing a life preserver she just watched, occasionally murmuring, "So, tell me how drowning feels." Also would like to know when we get to the part where she tells me how to fix myself instead of just nodding sympathetically. Sympathetic nodding is nice but not particularly helpful. 
And here is the part where you tell me, "Silly! Therapists don't tell you how to 'fix yourself'; they help you figure out how to do it yourself!" And yes, yes, I am well aware of that, but I was hoping for something a bit more...guided. Unfortunately, even after four months, it became clear that sympathetic nodding and boomerang questions were all I would ever get. Which is all fine and good, I suppose (her theory is that just talking about things can sometimes make the issues disappear--poof), but after four months of churning up and then re-burying the muck every week, I realized that, hmm, I didn't have so much to talk about, anymore. "Actually, I feel kind of...fine" only gets you so far in an hour-long therapy session, unfortunately, and so, prodded by my therapist, I would have to find some new muck to rake, and it's funny how after that, suddenly I wasn't feeling so fine anymore. This went on for weeks. I would go in even-keel, feeling that things were overall good, and leave burdened by the weight of all the past awfulness we had dredged up. All the pain and hurt feelings and disappointment of three decades past, condensed into a sixty-minute (or sometimes more!) session. Not exactly how I wanted to spend my lunch hour. After that I would bounce back and things would be good again, until the next week. Finally I realized, hey, if I feel pretty much ok until I start dredging up past shit, maybe I should...stop dredging up past shit? Like, hey genius, if it hurts when you poke it, maybe...give the poking a rest for a while? Now that I'm writing this down I realize it sounds kind of unhealthy and avoidant, but honestly, it wasn't like that at all. I had addressed the issues and discussed them, at length, and now I was ready to leave them alone for a while. Possibly forever. At least leave the muck buried deep down where I wouldn't have to see it and think about it anymore. Again, I realize that maybe this sounds the opposite of healthy, but honestly, I'm tired of wallowing around in muck; I want to run naked in the rain. (Metaphorically speaking?)

And so I realized it was time to break up with my therapist, which led to a not insignificant amount of stress. As much as I hate getting broken up with, I also hate breaking up with someone; I will move to a different country to avoid having to break up with someone. I was hoping to take the coward's way out and do it over the phone (ok, voicemail), but, like the professional she is, she made me face my fears and break up with her face to face. Which led to (seriously) the most awkward "it's not you, it's me" conversation ever. (She actually asked, "Was it something I said?") I reassured her (over and over), that it had nothing to do with her, and while I very much appreciated her time and expertise, lately our weekly sessions had been creating some unwanted stress in my life, both financial and otherwise. I pleaded poor and said it was hard for me to get away from work in the middle of the day, and even harder to get back into a groove at work after an emotionally wracking session. All of these things were true, and I stuck to that explanation, repeating it various different ways for her approval. She clearly didn't think I was ready to "graduate" from therapy, but finally said that she understood my reasons and wished me well. I left feeling lighter than I had in a long time.

And maybe it's because it's spring, with flowers blooming everywhere and summer on the horizon, but ever since then, I've been feeling pretty good. Like I tried to tell my therapist, I'm actually pretty...fine. I'm doing just fine. Thanks. 

And that's the story of how in my 32nd year, I started going to therapy, and then quit therapy. Feel free to chime in in the comments if you feel moved to share your own experiences.   

Kitty says cuddle therapy works too