Tag Archives: therapy

I don’t know where we came from.

When we moved to New York we moved quickly, one after another, in what felt like years apart but was really week to week, our arrivals stacked together like holes in a belt. I don’t know where we came from. We were temp-to-perm assistants. We were broke. We were free — subsisting off of open bars and leftover lunches, crashing on one another’s couches, sleeping on mattresses hoisted above suitcases stuffed with clothes. We didn’t know much, but we knew our next apartment wouldn’t have mice. And we knew how to go and go and go, working and drinking and sleeping around through hangovers, through head colds, through deaths in the family, through all the strangers underground. We spent the beginnings of our paychecks on vodka and the last of it on a therapist, who gathered that we drank more than we would ever say, because she knew how to read our early on-set wrinkles and our breath, and she knew that everything we said was either too true or not really true at all.

Standing

Some people, if they say something enough times, begin to believe it. Not me. The more I repeat myself, the more I see through my own lies. I was never a good liar.

I saw a therapist when I was in college who, after three semesters of unloading my problems on him, told me I was my own worst enemy. He said I was standing in the way of my own happiness, and there was nothing he could do to help me. I obsessed that for years until a friend told me she saw that same therapist and gave her the same speech. He had been a therapist for twenty years. I wonder if he told everyone that. I wonder if you tell enough people something enough times, everyone starts to believe it.

No, standing in the way of my happiness was a group of tourists. They meandered slowly down Columbus Avenue three abreast, gawking at the museum to their left and the menu of the Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill to their right. A tangled dog walker approached from the cross walk, two aging retrievers pulling in his wake. Across the avenue, the green market vendors wrapped up their unsold produce and organic chicken. The scent of warm, rotting berries mingled with fresh dog shit. That group of tourists stopped in front of the bodega, allowing themselves to be counted by a man with what sounded to me like a German accent. I wove through the roadblock. There must have been at least fifteen, all of them sweating and smiling feebly.

One of them had his shoes off. He leaned against the glass window of the bodega and wiped his brow. His shoes, tied neatly together, dangled on either side of his shoulder. 

here was something else my therapist said in college, but I had forgotten it. He didn’t dispense much advice, which was okay. He was in his forties or fifties — it was hard for me to measure middle age when I was barely twenty — and went barefoot in his office. I respected that about him, at least more than I respected the degrees or piles of paperwork I had to fill out before each session. His bare feet was a badge of authenticity that alleviated how clinical and foolish the hour felt. I was depressed, but I was also staring at a grown man’s bunions.

When I asked my friend if he had taken his shoes off during her therapy sessions, she said she didn’t remember.

Wait — I remember when he had said. He told me to stop doing drugs. No, not exactly. He said something like: “Of course you’re depressed. You’re fucking high all the time.” And just like that, I didn’t feel depressed anymore. But I still got high. I got high every single day because I was in college and I was bored and had no idea what to do with myself except smoke pot. I listened to music and drank, too. But mostly I got high on a couch with a rotating cast of roommates, classmates and friends. No one, I had instructed, should ever wear any shoes or socks when they’re smoking with me.

Metamorphosis

I used to be in therapy.

I’m a neurotic New Yorker who was raised by overprotective Jewish parents. Of course I used to be in therapy. Not my whole life, mind you. But I was a depressed teenager, miserable and ugly and overwhelmingly threatened by my own intelligence and subsequent lack of friends. But so what? It’s a popular history, and yes I use that word ironically, that I share. So in college I went back and forth, seasonally, to see a man who looked and acted exactly like the Big Lebowski. He would lean back in his chair and stare at his Dali-style melting grandfather clock, look back at me in the big, black leather chair on the multi-colored shag rug, and shrug. “Yeah, kid,” he said, “You’re depressed. I mean, come on. You smoke a lot of pot. Hell. This isn’t the prettiest campus. So I don’t know. Yeah, depressed, of course. Maybe you should write that book, kid.”

When I graduated from college I spent a summer at home in Dutchess County, New York, alternately lounging in the hot tub and applying for jobs. I drank a lot at my father’s bar and took my old black lab on long walks down the cul-de-sac.

I got a job at a publishing house that August and moved to Manhattan that weekend. A few weeks later, my beloved dog passed away. My then-boyfriend, who was planning to move to New York, called to say he had been accepted into the Peace Corps. I was back in therapy before you could say long-distance-relationship. The boyfriend moved to Manhattan to begin a long and miserable five month break up process. That November, my aunt passed away from cancer. The boyfriend left for Ukraine in March. Later that spring, my grandmother died.

Desperate times call for desperate crying jags on the couch of a woman I paid $100 an hour to see. And she was fantastic. By the summer, I had picked up the pieces of my fractured heart and surged ahead with my life. I was promoted at work, reconciling my losses, dating again. So I stopped going to therapy. That was about a year ago.

I think the people who end up in therapy for years use it incorrectly. When I saw my last therapist, I talked nonstop about everything. Childhood, college, drugs, sex, jealousy, ambition: All of it was on the table. And while my therapist meant well, it was mostly me who was able to name the answers to my problems, the explanations to my quirks. The more I talked about everything, the more epiphanies I experienced.

Now that I’m not in therapy, I rely on the very closest of my friends to listen to me talk. My dear friend Chana listened to my drunken musings on my relationship with my mother after a drunken book club went down hill after our third cocktail. My wise friend Darren helped me realize the reason I cut off my ex-boyfriend was not out of principal, rather, my own desperation to gain control over a situation in which I had none.

I also use this blog. This blog, which was started as a sort of easy device for me to copy the drunken poetry from my moleskin notebook, has recently taken the shape of a diary of sorts. I cringe to admit it has taken the form of a real, ugh, blog.

Indeed, I remember a “friend” in college who had a blog she advertised in her away messages. A notable posting was intended to ameliorate her isolation, I’m sure, yet listed all of us, her “friends”, and explained why she was too cool to hang out with us. Ah, that blog post kept us going for years. I never understood why a girl who was lonely would trash the only friends she had in a public forum. I never wanted anyone to read my diary but the select few entries I deemed appropriate and grand.

This is not a diary. I don’t know what it is, but I am not stupid enough to make this a diary. And while there are friends of mine who are aware of its presence, the bulk of my people have no clue I have this rinky-dink word show. In fact, my friend Chana brought it up at my book club, which contains five of my best friends, and one of my oldest friends from college was struck by my secrecy. And it wasn’t that I was hiding it from her, per se, rather, I never want a stupid collection of paragraphs and sentences that are most always written at one in the morning (it is currently 1:26am) to define me or isolate me or generate anything but perhaps an amusingly slight self-understanding. It keeps me writing.

So I hope this makes more sense to the 20 some-odd readers of this humble, self-indulgent creation. You are, all of you, so much cheaper than a good therapist, and twice as lovely.