In my mind I always envisioned therapy like I saw it on TV. I'd lay on a couch, smoke a cigarette. Or I'd sit in an oddly dark room with no natural light and get angry like Tony Soprano. Maybe I'd cry. I'd hear a lot of, "How did that make you feel?" Mayhaps deep, dark secrets about my life that I didn't know existed would bubble to the surface, and my life would be changed forever. So, in reality, my very first appointment with a therapist yesterday was nothing like any of that. Well, except the couch. I did sit on a couch, though it wasn't particularly comfy. We had a get-to-know-you meeting, devoid of "How did that make you feel?" In fact, the therapist (my therapist? weird) promised she wouldn't ask that. She doesn't coddle, she said. She takes more of a No Bullshit approach. But she was funny. And I liked her.
Right off the bat I told her I had no idea how therapy works. Do I cry? What do I do? What do I say? I told her I worried she'd think I was crazy. Because I thought that, obviously. That a therapist -- one who works with people with mental health issues every single day -- would think I was crazy. WHAT IF SHE JUDGED ME, you guys? She chuckled at me for that, and promised at the end of our visit that I was not, in fact, crazy.
You hear that, world?
She asked a lot of questions about me, which felt odd. I've never been asked so many questions about me. Personal questions. I felt like I had to tell her everything on earth ever because ALL OF THE THINGS. I'd tell her one thing, then digress into something completely different. She took a lot of notes while I rambled, and I wondered if she was writing the things I told her or doodling because boooooring.
I learned about her, too. Small things. It's important I feel comfortable with her, that we "click."
"You can absolutely tell me, if you don't like me," she said. "It won't hurt my feelings. I go to therapy for that," she added with a wink. You see? Funny.
As my neuroses tumbled out of my mouth, she nodded in understanding. She got it. She recognized my feelings, she's seen them before. I didn't feel odd or embarrassed or ashamed for one single thing. That, alone, is something I can never get by myself, trying to explain these peculiar anxieties to friends or family, even if they try really hard to understand. All I could think was, holy shit, this is going to work. It's made me excited for the journey. I felt relief.
"We're running out of time," she told me as the hour wrapped up, and I smiled because THEY TOTALLY DO THAT ON TV.