Monday, November 20, 2006

Let's talk therapy.

“You must be Katie.” He said, rising from his chair and reaching to shake my hand after I tentatively knocked on Dr. Counselor’s door. “Have we met before?”

“I don’t think so.” I said, smiling and offering the appropriate greetings. I sat in the single chair in the small office and twisted my mouth as he too sat and regarded me in silence.

“It’s, um, funny you should ask that.” I spoke again, a bit uncomfortable without chatter. “I went to a new church this Sunday and almost everyone asked if I’d been there before. Maybe I have a common face.”

“What church?” He asked, visibly brightening.

“Presbyterian. First Presbyterian, in [town near where my house is].”

“I’m a Presbyterian!” He said and I couldn’t resist a grin as he told me which church he attends. Apparently their obsession with not appearing rude by accidentally forgetting someone extends to work environments. I wonder if I’ll start asking everyone new if we’ve met before.

It’s tempting to write out everything we discussed – I could provide helpful links for some of it so you could catch the background if you missed it. Other revelations I’ve specifically decided against putting on a blog. There aren’t a great number of facts I keep private – and it’s likely you could deduce what I know if you’ve read long enough and really understand me – but these few pieces of information don't need explicit statement.

Luckily, there are enough moments – between the tissues I took (five) and times I decided I was likely more intelligent than my therapist (I lost track, honestly) – that can safely be recorded.

“What’s your favorite color?” He asked at one point.

“What?” I said, cocking my head and offering him a frown.

“What color do you like? What color makes you happy?”

I increased the severity of my frown to indicate my disapproval. I wasn’t sure where he was going with this, but I wasn’t impressed.

We stared at each other for a moment, my frown as constant as his expectant expression.

“What?” I finally offered again.

“Your favorite color.” He insisted.

“I don’t know.” I said, shaking my head. “I like blue, I guess.”

“What other colors?” He asked.

“Gray, maybe.” I said after sighing. “Do you have a point here?”

“Do you keep a journal?” He asked and I visibly brightened. Finally! Something I was doing right!

“Yes.” I nodded firmly. “I write something every day.”

“How?” He probed. “Written out?”

“No.” I shook my head and sighed again. I fail to see how that would be important. “I use my laptop.”

“I’d like you to buy a notebook. A blue notebook since that’s your favorite color.” (I’m back to frowning and sighing at this point. Because, honestly, what the hell?) “Then I’d like you to write in it every day. Doodle. Draw pictures.”

I stifled a laugh, largely unsuccessfully. He looked at me, eyebrows raised, and I shrugged.

“I’m sorry. I just don’t see that happening.”

Then he looked surprised. “Why not?”

“I’m happy with the way I journal now. I don’t write many things longhand – it’s too time consuming. And I’m not sure how I’d feel going over it with you – it’d be awkward watching someone read what I wrote.” (I briefly considered how it was normal to let many strangers read, then dismissed the thought. I wanted to battle the blue journal – of that, I was certain. Even at the risk of failing therapy.)

“I want you to try it.” He insisted. “Buy a blue notebook then write in it. Keep track of your dreams. Do you keep track of your dreams?”

“Sometimes.” I said, trying to think of any I’ve written here. I really should put the archived posts into categories, I mused. Then I focused again to sigh at his continued prodding.

“Keep track of your dreams. In a blue notebook. And doodle. Draw pictures that describe your hopes and fears and concerns.”

“What? Why?

“I’ve used this tool with someone else and it’s so revealing! We’ve learned so much by going through it. You’ll be amazed.”

“I’ll think about it.” I said, then shrugged as he looked concerned. “It really doesn’t sound like something that will work for me. But I’ll think about it.”

I wasn’t always so uncooperative – that was by far the tensest moment. But I don’t want to buy the blue journal! Or write down my dreams. “I don’t doodle. Or draw. Ever.” I said when he brought it up again. His insistence is making me more resistant, I think.

But, really? A notebook in my favorite color? For drawing pictures? It’s just not me.

“You want the wine before you pick the grapes!” He said once after I pounced on one of his statements ("Yes!" I said. "How do I do that?"), and I nodded.

“I am impatient.” I said. “I know.”

“I use a lot of metaphors.” He said, ducking his head and smiling. “But you can’t have a good vintage wine without patience. We'll work toward fixing that problem, but it will take some time.”

And I sighed, but didn’t frown. His intentions are good even if his metaphors could use some work.

“I’d like to see you next week.” He noted as our time started to run short. And I nodded – of course he would. He’d figured out a great many of my problems. I’d talked freely, cried a bit, argued a minimal amount. I’m easy to work with and simple to understand. “Would you like to see me again?” He asked.

“I… don’t know.” I said and watched his face fall. “I just don’t know that I’m willing to do this every week. Come here and cry. But I do need to make progress. I know that.” And I rolled my eyes and blinked back more tears. Reaching for another tissue – he put them on the corner of the desk closest to me – I sniffled and shrugged.

“Tears don’t just clean dirt from your eyes. They clean pain from your soul.” Which effectively stopped my tears so I could sigh again. Then I felt a twinge of guilt as he continued. “I understand this is hard.” He said gently. “If you want to see a woman or someone else, I can make those arrangements. But I think I can help you. I think we can work together and make some things better. I care about you – I want you to be happier and healthier. I don’t mind the tears.”

“OK.” I said softly. “I’ll come back. I really will try, but it might be frustrating. For both of us.”

So I’ll see him next week – it’s on both of our calendars. He did offer some help. I did feel comfortable. I think he’ll force some accountability on some issues that have been too long neglected. I’m a mess right now, so I think anyone could initiate some improvements. When I start to do better, we’ll reevaluate. I’m not going to continue if I feel uncomfortable – if I dread seeing him, I’m done.

“It was nice to meet you. Thank you for seeing me.” I said, shaking his hand as I walked out of his door.

“Joy.” He said, and I frowned, not really understanding.

Perhaps eventually I’ll get it.


The Contessa said...

I'm a wine person so I did like that metaphor. I may even borrow it... :-).

I'm glad you went. A neutral third party is a good thing. I have my priest that I see, he's my age and understands me. We have a good time socially and when I am on the proverbial couch. It's easy and it's comfortable - now. It wasn't always in the beginning. It gets better. And if you aren't comfortable you retain the option of finding a new one.

Congrats! A bold decisive step and it's wonderful!

Lucy said...

I would've been resisting the blue journal, too (but much more silently passive-aggressively, of course :) ). I hope this does turn out to be helpful for you. Good luck.

Terminaldegree said...

I'd hate the journal, too. But I'm impressed with how honestly you handled it. :)

DRD said...

I'm glad you went.

I wouldn't have been comfortable with the journal... I can't regularly blog and I'm even worse with pen and paper. But I am super impressed with your honesty in telling him it wouldn't work. I would have been much more passive (and probably went out and bought another color just ot be difficult!).

Anonymous said...

i hope this therapist works out, and sorry he is having you do lame things. at least i think its lame. a blue journal?! anyway, it will help (the therapy, not sure about the dream journal;o)

take care!

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