I think maybe something's wrong with me...I think I should see a shrink or something.
I was half joking, but my best friend, the only person whose genius I find intimidating, was serious in her response. That's what I've been telling you for years.
And because we are so much older now and so much more mature, I retorted, You need to see someone too. You're just as crazy.
I wrote the above 5 lines in June 2015. I had started this excerpt, got distracted, and forgot it all together. And here I am, 6 months later, seeing a therapist...through series of events that had nothing, yet everything, to do with me. Maybe I'll blog about that someday.
But I started the above entry after seeing a dental hygienist who said, "Do you grind your teeth?" And I said, no. Then, she said, "Do you clench your teeth sometimes, maybe when you're tense?" And then I realized, yes, I do. Although not sometimes. Not often. But ALWAYS. Whenever my mouth is closed, even with a smile on my face, unknowingly, my teeth immediately clench. I now have to be very aware whenever my mouth is closed to unclench my teeth and loosen my jaws. And then I tell myself, For heaven's sake, Chic, relax!
And so here I am, prodded by colleagues in the mental health field to go "see someone." That mental health check ups are really...healthy. And I hear their prodding as: Hey, you're a nut case. Go get fixed.
And I immediately want to yell, Have you driven through the Staten Island Expressway?? Try crossing that highway, then the Verrazano, then the BQE, and then come back for another 26 hours of traffic for YEARS and you tell me if YOU wouldn't turn into a nut case yourself!!
Anyway...my first session took place 2 weeks ago. It wasn't my appointment, but I decided to take the spot and show up for myself. Maybe because deep down I realize that I have been trying to figure myself out. I mean, this 4 year blog is made up of me comically expressing myself to my readers while trying to discover the truths about who I really am. And frankly, I am tired of having to consciously unclench my teeth.
It was dark when I went and the office was in a basement and the dark, tired look of the place gave me the creeps. Once I got comfortable, I told the therapist, "Your office is creepy."
He looked up, clearly surprised by this. "Really? You think so?"
"It's so dark," I said, pulling my jacket close. "Your patients are probably developing phobias so they keep coming back to be fixed."
He laughed and I thought, this kid looks like a good Mormon. Buttoned down shirt, khakis, dirty blonde hair parted on the side...is he from the Midwest?
We started by talking about family and I talked, nonstop, for a full hour. I don't think I took a breath. And he seemed overwhelmed and then said, "Wow, you're telling me a lot...it's good, it's good...Usually people don't open up right away."
"Yup," I said. "Getting my money's worth."
Another laughter. Not sure if it was nervous laughter from my newfound therapist.
When we finished, I said, "It's so dark outside, I'm afraid I'll get nabbed then murdered."
"Would you like me to walk you to your car?"
"No, I'll just run. And then once I'm in my car, I can die from the anxiety."
The curious thing about therapy is realizing that this Mormon will not fix me. My second session, which was last week, comprised of me asking questions that I answered myself. And whatever questions the therapist asked, I answered with further questions which I eventually also answered.
"Hey, I'm doing all the therapy here," I quipped. "I'm going to pay myself today."
I told my husband that I should just sit in front of a mirror and ask myself a bunch of questions. That way, I don't have to wait week to week for therapy or run across a dark street hoping a serial killer won't discover me.
"I always tell my patients that it's like being in Nascar. You're the driver, but I'm on the passenger seat. Every time there's a sharp turn, you seem to crash straight into the wall. Well, I tell you that the next time you come to that turn, you should move your head away from the wall and into the road. But when we get there, you keep looking at the wall so...I gently move your head towards the road. And guess what you'll do? You'll move the steering wheel away from the wall and onto the road, and this time, you won't crash. Your body will follow the movement of your head. Because the mind is an amazing thing."
That was my honest reaction when the Nascar analogy was explained.
But 3 weeks later I am watching the intensity of my responses, clenching my teeth less, and have committed to taking one day off a week, no matter how tempted I am to go into work. Okay, today is that day off and although I am home writing up this blog, I have responded to emails and at-least 45 text messages from employees---I am a work in progress and the wall is bigger than I realize. Clearly, I will have questions for myself in this week's therapy.
I'll have to get in that race car and listen to the "Passenger." And so far, the ride has been this:
Why do I work so much?
The passenger: "Do you really have to work seven days a week when you own the place?"
Why won't I relax?
The passenger: "You have to loosen up, you really do."
Why am I such a control freak? Wait, I'm such a control freak!
The passenger, laughing, "There you go!"
Why won't I turn the wheel?
To think that I told a close colleague, I'm going to flip this therapy session. First, I made the therapist reflect on the creepiness of his office (he bought extra lamps the following week), then I'll tell him he reminds me of a Mormon, and then I'll ask if he's heterosexual.
CRASH, CRASH, CRASH.
The past 4 years have really come down to this. This was supposed to be the pursuit of the Virtuous Woman. Really, I've been in pursuit of myself. I think I overwork because I'm running away from me. And so, here I am. On this car ride, racing through these laps and confronting several walls.
One. Crash. At. A. Time.