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My therapist doesn't think I'm special
what the actual heck?
Ok he didn’t actually say that, but at NO point in our first session did he come out and say I was special, so, ipso facto, one can only deduce that I am not.
And that, my friends, is not good news.
I mean, what is the point of therapy if not to be told by a licensed medical doctor that I am a special flower, interesting in ways that none of his other patients are. That he cannot wait to rummage around the depths of my brain and find out what makes this little genius tick, what exciting and once in a lifetime discoveries we can make all about the very special one of a kind human being that I am.
This has happened before. With other therapists (to my parents reading this: yes I’ve had multiple therapists and no, I am not crazy - do not panic). In fact, it happens with everyone.
I need everyone to think I’m special because, if you didn’t, then I’d be a big ol piece of shit or - even worse - a normal normie.
Back to the session. The first session. I once heard that inside of the first session is the entire therapeutic relationship, start to finish. If so, our therapeutic relationship is gonna suck butt.
It started rough too. We sit and I’m staring at my phone because I can’t figure out how to pay for parking using Pasadena’s absolute nightmare of a parking app that you have to (1) download, (2) add your license plate and ‘zone’, and then finally (3) pay using your phone rather than just paying with your card in the meter like a god damn normal human being.
I try to explain what’s happening but I’m sweating through it, panicked and anxious about this awful first messy manchild impression I must be exuding.
So I pivot. Hard.
I say ‘ah screw it I’ll just chance it’ and start to put my phone away (like a cool, tough guy), but he says ‘no you really shouldn’t chance it. They’re strict here.”
And so the chess match that is therapy has begun.
My opening gambit has been foiled by a strong “there are rules” rebuttal. As we all know, the key of every chess match is the third move1. Everything rides on my response.
Will I fold and do what he says or stand up for myself? Be a manchild or a man, child (this should work like Jay-Z’s ‘I’m not a business man, I’m a business, man’ but for some godforsaken reason it doesn’t).
Of course I cave. Because I am weak.
He makes a mental note, I’m sure: “gives up easily. no backbone.”
And then we just sit there, in silence, as I try to make this awful app work and he studies / pities me.
This was not the plan. This is hell.
It was without a doubt one of the worst moments of my life. Almost as bad as being ratio’d on Twitter by RL Stine, which did in fact happen today:
I should have just gotten up right then and there and said ‘big gulps huh, welp cya later” and walked out. Or at the very least ‘brought it into the room’ as I always tell Lauren to do when she tells me she has nothing to talk about with her therapist. ‘Then talk about that, babe’ I say, like an asshole.
We sit for what feels like eternity but was probably two more minutes. 120 full US American seconds of silence and the app still doesn’t work so finally I lie and say “you know what, I think there was time on the meter so I’ll just risk it.”
And he goes “really? Ok (judgement)” and that, folks, is how you start off therapy on the wrong foot.
I spend the next fifty minutes digging myself out of this hole, trying to impress him and also be vulnerable or whatever you’re supposed to do so that he can tell me what’s wrong with me and fix it by the end of the session.
I cover my entire life story in the first session - also impressive - when he looks down at his clock like this is a frikkin 90s movie and says “and that’s actually our time.”
I leave feeling like it went terribly because of the parking thing until I realize that no, it was because I had this expectation. That after I spilled my guts, he would have the decency to tell me tell me how special I was.
But he didn’t. Which is obviously a him problem.
Today was our second session and I brought this up.
But for some reason he did not respond with “oh my god I’m sorry I didn’t say that out loud! I do think you’re special. You’re fascinating and crazy but in a cool creative manageable way! Sure the whole ‘tortured artist’ thing is a myth, but it perfectly applies to you and soon the world will know about it! I’m gonna write books about you like Freud or Oliver Sacks did about their cooky lil patients.’
No, instead he just said “that is interesting.” and we continued.
He ended the session abruptly again - “ok that’s our time” and pointed me to the door, once again failing to mention anything about my being special. What sort of mind game is this, I wonder.
Does he, dare I say, want me to figure out on my own that I’m special just the same way that all people are special and, resting in that hard earned truth, find contentment for the rest of my days?
I sure as shit hope not, because that’s not what I am paying him a reduced sliding scale fee for, no way Joseph.
Instead I’ll just keep walking into rooms and say “hey look at this thing I did - I made the app work!” until they all say, in unison, “wow Alex, what a special guy you are.”
In this analogy the app represents my doing cool creative things that make me lots of money, if that wasn’t clear. Also I’m able to make the app work, unlike what happened in the therapist’s office. Honestly the analogy is a nightmare. I have failed yet again, just like I did with the parking app. Look at that, art imitating life, so cute.
Just wait till next time. Next time I’ll really wow you all.
this has not been corroborated by anyone who plays chess.