February 14, 2018

contrary

Yesterday, my therapist looked me right in the eye and whispered, "You are ... so weird."

I held his gaze without wavering and said, "Thank you.  But you just understood what I said.  So what does that make you?"

He said, "I'm weird.  Thank you.  And you're welcome."  There was kindness and a gleam in his eye.


I really don't see why the therapists I've had over the years have considered me oppositional and difficult, just because I contradict everything they say and don't respond well to traditional methods and end up with a completely different result from every other client they've ever had.  For some reason, they think I'm resistant.  They suspect I just came in for an argument.

I worked forever with a therapist who is revered in the mental health community here.  She wanted to try a proven technique with me, one in which the person develops "resources" for their inner child, a nurturing person and a guardian and a spiritual guide.  I'm taking liberties here; I know it's not as simple as all that, and there's research behind it, and testimonials and what-not.  So I only spent eight years refusing to try it.  I think the words I used were "hokey" and "contrived".  Once, I agreed to start it, and then promptly broke out in full-body hives during the first minute.  (I had never had hives before.  I didn't know what the fuck a hive looked like.)  Three years later, I grudgingly agreed to try again.  We started, and I fell asleep and dropped onto the couch like a rag doll.  Undeterred, we tried it again a few months later.  I got further this time.  But then I pointed out that the three resources, who were supposed to form a ring around Lille, needed to all be in separate rooms, like maybe in offices down a hallway.  "Why?"  "Because I don't want them talking about me."

We stopped trying after that.  She had had scores of clients over her many years of practice who had benefited immensely from the technique.  No one had ever said that before.  "Strange.  Usually, that's the easy part for folks."  Well, Lille doesn't want these people she doesn't even know talking about her, let alone ganging up on her after having their secret conversations.  She smells a conspiracy.  And they're probably all positive people.

I saw a therapist briefly, years and years ago, who tried to convince me I wasn't gay.  Not a pray-the-gay-away type, just someone who believed that because men temporarily engage in homosexual behavior while in prison, he could make the homeopathic extrapolation that all homosexual identities were artificial and circumstantial in nature.  I think his closet was probably a walk-in with room for a Tatami mat and a lamp and some bookshelves.  A chic Ikea closet.

I chose my current therapist after deciding that he might just be the one person out there who can call my shit and break through the difficulty and "challenging client" thing.  He's tack-sharp and goes where I go, along for the ride instead of pushing an agenda, and possesses a rare flexibility.  He's like Therapist Gumby.

Sometimes we do hypnosis.  The first time we tried it, we set up my special, safe place, and then he asked me to focus hard on a particular spot in this imaginary place and then zoom in on it, so close that I could see tiny details.  I snapped out of it and gasped for air because I felt like I was suffocating. The thing was right in my face.  Okay, throw that one out.  We tried imagining somewhere a little more roomy.  He wanted to put a screen there, which is a great way to let the unconscious mind project things.  I insisted on a hologram.  Then once we were using the hologram, I tossed it and went all Lothl√≥rien and decided on a pool of water instead.  Now that I mention it, I don't think I've shared that with him yet.

If he were on a baseball team, he'd be the star outfielder who always manages to run like hell and catch the errant pop-fly.  He should be on a card, one that comes with bubble gum.  He'd be humble, too, and give his autograph to any kid who asked for it.  Lille's shy but is thinking of walking up to him and shaking his hand, then running away and hiding behind my skirts.

Know what kicks ass?  He does cut through my shit and how difficult I am.  He says hard things without flinching.  I'm his challenging client.  He wouldn't give me any less.  He knows that when I argue, it isn't for its own sake.  I'm trying to be clear, to articulate granular distinctions needed to navigate complexity.  He gets that my brain has an i7 Coffee Lake processor and thinks through a suggestion in roughly the same amount of time it takes a person to formulate what they would say if they were going to disagree just to have control and be right.  I'm not just being contrary.  In that snap of time, I think it over, weigh it, compare it to various bits of life, sift through merits and drawbacks, and consider its applicability.  Then I say the thing that comes out sounding contrary.  But it's actually raw honesty.

I wouldn't give a star outfielder any less.

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