558. Things Can Only Get Better

I’ll say right off the bat therapy is weird. The reason I say that is that I really thought a therapist would tell me that my constant need to distinguish weird from normal was wrong and I should change it. But what my therapist actual said was that was perfectly normal.


I mean, you go to a doctor because something is wrong with you and they should tell you how to fix it, right? But I felt like most of what my therapist tried to convince me of was that nothing was wrong with me. This is not to say it wasn’t helpful. I don’t mean for it to sound like what the therapist did was take my money just to tell me essentially nothing. But the therapist in fact really DOESN’T tell you anything.

You tell yourself.

It boils down to you know damn well you shouldn’t be so judgmental (for example) but if a therapist (or anyone) told you to stop doing it, you wouldn’t. But when you tell yourself to stop doing it, at least there’s a chance you’ll listen.

I saw my therapist once a week, every Tuesday morning at 11am, for twelve weeks. This meant that for about forty-five minutes a week I cried, ranted, argued (with myself), confessed, etc… and then as I would realize the time was almost up I’d spend about five minutes trying to explain what I really meant, or what I wished I’d said instead, and that was when I’d often actually realize stuff. Yeah, when I was in a hurry. And then it would be the therapist’s turn to talk.

At the end of the first week he said, “Sounds like you should worry more about what’s going on in your own internal processes, and less about what’s going on inside other people.”

That was as much as I ever got out of him. Once in a while, a single sentence that always began with “Sounds like…” i.e. “Sounds like you’re a little isolated from your support system when you’re in LA,” “Sounds like your parents had complicated emotional lives.” Other than that, all he ever said at the end of my weekly rant/crying jag/confession was, “See you again next week?”

I think I’m probably giving a bad impression to therapy and I don’t mean to, but maybe it’s like a joke you can only understand if you were there. I should come out and say: it was fucking helpful. Remember how I felt while–and immediately after–dropping acid on the last day of 1989 in Australia? I felt a rightness, a kind of being in tune with… myself, the universe, everything. It was like acid gave me the feeling of what it was like to be on the top of the mountain. You see how incredible the view is from there. But when you come down (is that why it’s called getting high and coming down?) you’re at the bottom of the mountain, but just knowing what’s up there makes it seem not so bad.

Well, therapy is like going on an incredibly painful hike once a week, where you climb the fucking mountain by your fingernails. But at least it somehow reminds you that the mountaintop is there and it eventually reinforces the feeling that you can stand at the top in perfect peace again.

I told this to my therapist, George Joseph. He wanted to be called George instead of Doctor Joseph. In the end I didn’t find him through Remo exactly, but through a friend of Matthew’s–it being important that I find someone who was gay-friendly, obviously. George Joseph was a dark-haired guy, mid-thirties, dressed like a younger, slightly preppier Mr. Rogers. I think that was supposed to be comforting. He always looked a bit like he was on the verge of tearing up and starting to cry himself. I swear, half of me figuring out my shit was to try to make him feel better after I told him something horrible.

Hey, whatever works.

Anyway, I told him my mountain climbing theory and that acid was like a teleport to the top, but that the feeling didn’t last. This was in the one conversation we had about anti-depressants. Anti-depressants were not like acid, he said, but were probably more like a good pair of hiking boots. They’d be a big help to climb the mountain, especially if without them you couldn’t get anywhere at all, but you still have to do the climbing yourself.

That was the conversation where I decided I was not going on Prozac. Or any other drug.

It wasn’t until later when I was by myself thinking about the mountain climbing analogy that I remembered we’d called Colin my sherpa. Huh.

Yeah, so that was therapy. Next I’ll tell you about the other 167 hours per week I spent in LA. That’s going to take a lot longer.

(P.S. to readers, don’t miss last week’s liner note, in which I mention that I installed a discussion forum here on DGC and in which I ask for help with Wattpad postings and organizing a mass re-read: https://daron.ceciliatan.com/archives/3543)


  • Connie says:

    Awesome that you followed through w/ therapy, Daron. At least LA is good for something beyond crashing at Remo’s where you feel safe, huh?

    • daron says:

      Only took me, what, two years to get around to it?

      You’re right. I do feel safe there. Even if I am “isolated from my support system.” Remo’s my safety net in so many ways. I’m lucky. A lot of people have no safety net of any kind.

  • Sue says:

    Daron your explanation of therapy is spot on. It’s hard to climb the mountain but the view is worth the struggle and pain to get there.

    Good for you 🙂

  • Alan Katz says:

    While I’m not a big fan of therapy (or perhaps the two I tried were less than talented), it’s good that Daron is getting some insight – some real-world insight. He’s been given a bad hand by those who should have been there for him, starting with Digger and ending with Ziggy. But the effect of those betrayals depends upon how Daron processes it, how he grows from it, how he begins to stop defining himself and his worth in terms of other people.

    Daron, you’re so talented and so smart that, if you ever realize it, if you ever find any confidence in yourself, you’ll positively soar.

    • daron says:

      One of the things that makes things hard to figure out is that I have complete confidence in my artistic ability. It’s… everything else that I doubt. Or used to. At this point I have some faith that I’m not a complete waste of a human when it comes to relationships, but I waver between thinking Ziggy and I are still made for each other and we have to work it out and thinking he’s the one person I’ll never figure out and never be able to stay in a constructive partnership with. I figure I can’t determine which one it is if my side of the equation fails every time anyway, so figuring out my own shit is for the best. Maybe when I do I’ll know what to do next.

  • Bill Heath says:

    I’m on a re-read, and this post took me almost two hours to get through because I inserted a comma.

    “I should say right off, the bat therapy is weird.” It took forever to think about bat therapy, what it might involve, how one would select the bats, let alone use them. Does the patient hold out his arms and the bats hang upside down from them?

    Once I had re-read the first sentence and realized there was no comma, the rest of the post took minutes. I did use two full size poodles with one psychiatric patient and a life-size Raggedy Ann doll with another. But bats?

    • daron says:

      Wait wait wait, your subconscious probably does had a dim memory of thing that was a hip therapy tool in the seventies: “bataka encounter bats.” I think you were supposed to use them in family therapy to pummel the shit out of each other and then everyone would feel better afterward. or maybe that was just what I fantasized about doing with them when I heard about them as a kid. Lily Tomlin mentions them in “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe”

      • Bill Heath says:

        I’m back in therapy, this time with a clinical psychologist. I fired the other guy because he wasn’t smart enough to deal with me and kept leaping to conclusions.

        The core problem is that, after 45 years of marriage, I have to accept that my wife does not love me. She loves the person she thinks she needs to make me, kind of like Ziggy has done with Daron. She has no clue who I am but insists she loves *me.*

        Amy (therapist) has suggested something that might work. I’ll talk to my wife about listening to music. She likes music in the background and only hears it as filler. I can listen to the whole thing while simultaneously understanding the orchestration, consider alternative orchestrations, understand how the melody and harmony came to be, note where the theme is passed back and forth, and critique the performances. My mind is fully occupied when I listen to music. And my mind works very very very very differently from my wife’s.

        If this doesn’t work to begin introducing her to who I am, I’m not sure what’s next. Since I’m dying (three to seven years) it won’t matter. I’m in grief for an adulthood spent never knowing love of a soulmate. Fortunately, that will be over soon.

        • daron says:

          man, that is rough. I don’t know about “soulmates” but I don’t think it’s necessarily necessary for people who love me to understand me at all. And that I can love people I don’t understand. I guess what’s important to me, and maybe to you too, is that they recognize that they don’t understand me. If it’s important to them to understand me then I want them to actually try to understand me and not just whatever idea they have in their own head, I guess?

          I kinda wonder if your wife’s idea of you is so tied up in her idea of herself that she can’t see past that to the real you? That’s what I think was going on ultimately with me and Jonathan. His own self-image and how it defined couplehood meant who I was was kinda meaningless in the end. I can’t even say that was his “fault” so much as that’s just how he was and I wasn’t going to try to change him–since I hated how he tried to change me.

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