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)