therapist kept calling me ma’am. He said, "Ma’am? My name is Dr. Whosis.
Welcome to Clinic Whatsis. Why don’t you follow me in here?" and I
almost shot out straight the other way, because how would it be
possible to talk about your deep dark secrets and the way your life is
a sucking hole of despair with a man who keeps calling you ma’am?
don’t know why I’ve decided to try therapy. What the hell am I talking about? Of course I know why. When
you’re sad, and it goes on and on, there’s a point when you decide that
being tough and silent and strong isn’t quite cutting it any more.
When you think maybe that the small, nagging feeling that says it’s kind of
like surrendering–to deliver yourself and your issues over into the
hands of someone else and asking her, essentially, "fix me?"–isn’t
really important anymore. That maybe asking for help doesn’t make you
weak, necessarily, but is in fact a strong and brave thing to do! I
Crying in front of strangers isn’t something I am really a fan of, either.
the other times I’ve been in therapy, I have been herded by family. My
mother, back in the day, decided that what our family needed most was a
dose of good old-fashioned head shrinking. I never really asked her
why. I was around eight or nine, I think, and the only thing I remember about
it is how much I liked the stuffed ostrich the therapist had in her
office. She asked me questions that I thought were stupid, and I spent
most of the time secretly hoping she would think I was so sad that I
deserved to have her ostrich. Once I lied to her, and told her that I
had a dream that I rode it into the desert, and then it sank into the
sand crying "Help me! Take me home!" She nodded thoughtfully, and noted
it down on her pad. She did not give the ostrich to me. My mother
stopped sending all of us shortly after that.
This did not, as you might imagine, leave me with glowing feelings about benefits of therapy.
The other two times, they were not especially enlightening either. The lasting benefits: a copy of The Road Less Traveled (now kindling), and a deep hatred for the movie Deliverance (long story).
therapy is useless, pointless, purposeless, and for weak chumps who are
fond of helpless weeping, I’ve been thinking. Yet I’m going anyway.
maybe because this time it’s all my decision, that will make a
difference. I don’t know. So far, I’m not especially cured. I’ve just
answered questions about hearing voices and feeling persecuted (no, and
no, for the record). And I’ve already burst into tears. He looked at me
and said, "So what brings you here, ma’am?" And there I was, wailing.
But not because he called me ma’am. Mostly because I am a delicate
flower, after all.