Therapy

This is fictional, autobiographical, and self-referential, and thus becomes non-fiction, since it refers to a real body of work (itself). More than anything else, it’s cathartic, and thus unfortunately probably very emo.

I meet our therapist for the first time, and I immediately ask about her credentials: How many patients has she treated before, whether or not number of patients is a good metric for skill, and what her experience levels are. The answer doesn’t really matter to me, but she ends up being subtly evasive anyway. She points out that she’s a still a student studying, and that’s one reason I’m receiving this therapy for free. I’m signalling trust issues, right away. I know it. She knows it. I don’t know if she knows that I know it. But she does now, after reading this. I do have trust issues, I admit to her. One of the biggest issues I have with my relationship is that I feel like She’s been lying to me. I’m capitalizing “She” so as to differentiate between when I’m referring to my therapist, and then I’m referring to the Girl. It’s a thin facade of anonymity so that I can signal signs of respect for privacy – despite posting this to my blog without Her permission.

Does the capitalization show signs of a inferiority complex? Well, I don’t think so, but let’s get into that later. First, I tell her, I want her to be frank, direct, straightforward. We’re all adults here. I’m aware of what I’m doing. It’s best if we’re all aware. Her and her too. I’m in couples training specifically so to imply that She and I are a couple. This is partially an excuse just to spend time with Her anyway. The therapist is a woman, so that whenever I disagree with her, I have an easy defence mechanism of dismissing her opinion as a form of female conspiracy against me. In this fiction, she is young, attractive, and a psychology student, because I am recreating my failed relationship with Her. And if I happen to seduce her, it seems like this would be the ultimate in passive-aggressive revenge against Her.

I want Her to suffer. I want revenge. I want to kill Her and I want to kill myself. Or maybe kill her friends. Or just strike her, so that her friends will beat the shit out of me, so that I can feel justified in seeing myself as a victim. I don’t know. I was going to say I was unsure of who to kill, because I wasn’t sure what would cause most harm to her, but now upon seeing my own victimization as an attractive solution, I see it really has nothing to do with optimizing harm to her, but rather optimizing harm in general.

This is all petty and childish, I know. But people are petty and childish, and in this case, I am no exception. Where I am exceptional, I think, is in my self-awareness; or perhaps rather in my honesty, to myself and to others. There’s a pause while I await for the therapist to confirm and praise this. But I don’t outright ask for praise, because I want to look like I don’t care. She remains silent of course. I move on, because to dwell on this is to be vulnerable.

“I don’t believe in therapy,” I tell her. “Well, no, that’s not quite right. Rather, I don’t believe in therapists.” Am I trying to provoke her, to break her silence and neutrality? I don’t know, but certainly if questioned, I will hide behind the excuse of simply being honest, which is what therapists want, right? We’re supposed to say what we feel and think, and that’s what I feel and think. I half expect her to ask “What do you mean by that?” or “Why don’t you believe in therapist?” or some sort of equally vapid question, but in this fantasy, she’s a professional, and she doesn’t take the bait.

I’m thrown a bit off balance here. I had considered bringing up the possibility that I am a narcissist, literally seeing myself as the hero of my own short story (of this short story, that I am right now composing, in fact), but I don’t want to come off as an arm-chair psychologist, despite the fact that that’s exactly what I am.

I know (or at least, I want to claim that I know) that my two hours of pop-psychology blog reading a week does not compare to her years of university-level study, and yet here I am steering this narrative such that I can, at the end, conclude “See? I didn’t need to see a therapist. I can be my own therapist. I’m introspective enough that simply talking to myself, I can work out all of my own problems. That’s what therapy is, anyway, right? I’m just talking to myself, and you therapists just take the last sentence I made, and rephrase it as a question, to keep me talking. ‘What do you mean, to keep you talking?’, for example.”

“So why are you here?” I expect her to ask. But maybe she won’t, because maybe we all know why I’m here. Or maybe she will, but I’m simply signalling to the world that I’ve considered the possibility that she won’t, because I don’t want to make a prediction in public and turn out to be wrong. Either way, I prepare an answer for this question, should it arise, but I try to pass it off as if I had come up with the answer on the spot. “I told you why. This is just an excuse to spend time with Her. That’s the only reason I’m here.”

That’s what I’d say if I were feeling confrontational. Another answer is that I’m suffering. Bad. And I want the suffering to stop. She (with a capital S) doesn’t want to be with me, I want to be with Her. Only one of us can be happy here. At one level, I want you (the therapist) to change Her. Make Her want to be with me. At another level, I want you to change me. Make me no longer want to be with her, or at least to not mind when She’s not with me. Her happiness does not depend on me, but mine depends on Her, and that gives Her way too much power over me.

So I gave a confrontational answer, and a non-confrontational one. Which one is true? Does it necessarily have to be that one is true? When I state either of these answers, I don’t ever feel like I’m lying. They are not mutually exclusive, but they certainly are very different. She (capital S) often tells me not to over-analyze. Why not? How much analysis is over-analysis? And why is the therapist allowed to analyze me, but not I?

The therapist is young and attractive, as I mentioned earlier. If this were real life, there would be no sense in asking “why?”, but this is fiction. I chose to make her attractive. Why? Someone (“a girl”, I want to emphasize, but I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, nor insecure) asked me what I was looking for in a girl, and I told her (damn, I should have let this pronoun do the talking for me) that I didn’t know. But now, living through this fiction, I figured it out. It becomes self-apparent when you look at this idealized therapist I’ve created as the potential love interest.

I want a guardian, who supervises me, but lets me explore on my own. She’s a security blanket. I’m metaphorically running through the platonic fields of ideas, and she’s in the background, but always in my peripheral vision, so that I know I’m not going too astray. And she’s non-judgemental, always approving of what I do, loving unconditionally.

Notice how I haven’t said anything about her, except in terms of how she relates to me. This is narcissism. And this makes me unusual, but I don’t know if I’m unusual because I’m narcissistic, and no-one else is, or if I’m unusual because everyone is narcissistic and I’m the only one willing to admit it.

I fantasize (a fantasy within a fantasy) that she will read this, jump up and exclaim how incredibly self-observant I am, forward this to other researchers, and the text will become a classic case study. But of course, that’s completely out of character for her, and probably an exaggeration of my own importance. I’m just piling on the evidence.

And I keep pointing out that I know what I’m doing is called narcissism, both as if that makes it okay and to show off. See? I didn’t need to see a therapist. I figured it out all on my own.

 
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