This is one of those weeks when I just don’t feel like working. Maybe I’m a little burned out on work right now; it does seem to happen with clock-like regularity. People come into my office every day and tell me bizarre, ridiculous, shocking, frightening, terribly sad, and terribly crazy things. I listen, sometimes comment, empathize, challenge, explore, and comfort. Sometimes they trust me, sometimes they don’t; sometimes they lie to me, sometimes they are heart-wrenchingly honest. It’s a fascinating job on the good days, an exhausting and sometimes depressing one on the not-so-good days. Today was one of the latter.
I remember when I was in my twenties and began individual therapy for the first time. I thought my therapist was awesome, young, hip, smart, compassionate, and probably perfect. She was gorgeous in an understated, natural way, had the best bourgeois pseudo-hippie clothes I’d ever seen, smelled subtly like rare and beautiful flowers, and seemed to have it all together. I couldn’t imagine how anyone ever got to be so cool without even trying. I believed her life was charmed and magical in every way, and that she always had the right answer for everything.
Later I learned that she was in the process of getting divorced, which both shocked and comforted me. So she wasn’t perfect, after all. Her life contained messiness, mistakes, flaws. I had so idealized her, I couldn’t imagine that she was merely human.
Yep. My clients don’t see that about me, either. When they come to my cozy-yet-nicely appointed office, see me sitting in my attractive-yet-authoritative therapist’s chair, see my degrees and my license on the wall, the bookcases full of therapist-like-books, and the fresh bouquet of flowers on the end table near the couch, they probably think the same sorts of things I did about my therapist of long ago. And they could not be more wrong.
For the longest time I thought I wanted to be a therapist, but was convinced that my life was too messy and I was too screwed up to ever be invited into the club. Little did I know how the mental health field seemed to attract every kind of craziness, from good solid neurotics (I count myself among them) to alcohol and drug addicts to the mildly to severely personality disordered. A typical slice of life, actually. So when I finally scrambled up through the ranks, made it through graduate school, internship, and licensure, I realized that I was probably as sane as the next therapist, and in many cases considerably more so.
The clients I saw today had absolutely no clue that I was still emotionally hung-over from a rather painful weekend involving complex and confusing relationship issues that required copious amounts of tears on my part to purge my soul of its (admittedly) overblown angst. They had no idea that I, too, sometimes screwed up in my personal life, stumbled foolishly over my own feet and occasionally fell flat on my ass, to my great embarrassment and chagrin. Nor do they know that I will–on occasion–continue to do so, until I finally learn the lessons I have thus far stubbornly resisted having knocked into my Stonehenge-hard noggin.
Think you’ve got feet of clay? Wanta see mine?
Dunno why I’m posting so much lately, other than that sometimes I feel like talking just for the sake of talking. Cleverly? Interestingly? Deeply? Nope. Just enough to distract myself from myself . . .