Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Back on the Horse

If there is one simple reason why I didn't marry The Man from San Antone it's that his family had a pervasive attitude that I could not reconcile: Without Me You're Nothing. I couldn't see any way for me to comfortably have children in that environment. So I ran off to New York City to marry Buzz Kill instead which was the right decision even though the marriage to Buzz Kill ended badly.

At the moment, it seems to me that my shrink also thinks: Without Me You're Nothing.

She firmly believes that I need to be in therapy twice per week to be emotionally stable. I've come to believe that is bullshit because even though she is a great therapist and I would never have gotten where I am today without her consistent support -- I'm the one who does the work of therapy. Most likely, I would have been okay if I had dropped down to one session per week a long time ago.

When I think of all the money that I've spent out of pocket to be in therapy, I have to remind myself that if I'd have traveled the world and the seven seas, I'd have driven everyone around me crazy. And truly, up until I got divorced, the depressions were crushing, but I don't blame the marriage. Even if therapy and a shit load of psychotropics were the main reasons I was able to stay married for so long, I'm glad I did because it was the best thing for Velvet.

It's not like Buzz Kill was abusive or anything. He's profoundly annoying, but he wasn't a bad husband except for all the financial irresponsibility that precipitated the divorce. He's paying me on time now, though, so who knows? Maybe we'll be friends again some day.

Since people play out all the issues they have in the larger world in therapy, I can't blame my therapist because I completely bought into the idea that it was best for me to see her twice a week. I'm not even sure I can blame her for not listening to me about not being able to afford that much therapy until I hadn't paid her for six months.

I can, however, be pissed because she seems to believe that without her, I'm a quivering, insecure mass of emotional goo.

Everyone is a quivering, insecure mass of emotional goo occasionally. And I was such a vibrating mass of unacknowledged rage that I was stymied. Hell, I wouldn't have gone to grad school at all if my therapist hadn't convinced me to register because my mother was against me spending the tuition money on myself. She said that I was putting my needs ahead of Velvet's - which is an express ticket to eternal damnation in my mother's book. Eventually, my mother saw that Velvet would actually benefit as a result me going to grad school, but she was opposed to it at the time. If it weren't for therapy, I would have surely followed my mother's instructions, resented the hell out of it and made everyone within 100 yards miserable.

Nevertheless, I am the one who went to class and got the degree. I am the one who has had a million and three conversations with my mother. Actually, my mother deserves a bit of credit, too, because some people get entrenched in their bullshit and never recognize the validity of other people's perspectives. Over the years I've come to see that as much as my mother might want to duct tape my mouth shut her own self, she'll protect and defend me like a Rottweiler.

And even though my therapist was immensely helpful with parenting, I'm still the one who dealt with Velvet. My therapist has never laid eyes on Velvet, although she did recommend Velvet's therapist and that man has been invaluable.

You know, when somebody makes a statement that her therapist isn't the one who parents her child although her therapist recommended the child's therapist - we can safely say there has been enough damn therapy in that house.

Thank G*d that I have no debts beyond my student loan and mortgage except to my therapist (and The Man from San Antone is taking care of that). Even if Buzz Kill and I had put all the thousands that went to my therapy into a sensible retirement account - most likely we'd have gotten screwed out of the retirement funds like so many responsible Americans.

At least I have all this self-actualization and individuation to show for that vast sum. The best news, though, is that after my session on Monday, I ran into my former riding instructor. I hadn't seen her since before my shoulder surgery - and while I was recuperating, the stable where I took lessons on West 89th Street closed down.

She'll be teaching out on Long Island very soon, and I'm going to dust off my helmet and start riding again. As it happened, until I took riding lessons, I thought that my mind was completely severed from my body so that I effectively had no mind-body connection. Not so. Through riding, I began to see that my mind and body are so acutely connected that I couldn't tolerate it. Riding changed all that.

Well, riding and The Ashley Madison Experiment - but since I don't discuss sex on the blog, that will have to remain another story.


Liberality said...

You have done what you needed to do to take care of yourself and that is good. Your therapist might be dependent upon you--financially and otherwise.

As for myself, I don't regret the five years I spent in therapy a bit. I could have went longer but just got tired of it--I had gotten what I could out of it and it was time to move on. If I ever feel really low or out of control I know where to go get help and I leave it at that.

I love reading your blog. I feel we could have been sisters or very good friends if we had met in the real world.

PENolan said...

Back at cha, Lib. Although there is a unique sort of camaraderie here in blogland.

Gail said...

Hi Trish-

I think you are SO ready to move on and away from your therapist. You have been tossing this around for a while now and it seems you know it's time. I also get that it is hard to let go, regardless ....... it is a loss of sorts.
And riding lessons? As in horses? in NYC?? Who knew? :-) ANd just when I think you can't delight me with surprise, you do and it is wonderful.

Love you girl

Holte Ender said...

Sometimes I think everyone I know should get some therapy and they probably think the same about me. Mental health is as important as physical health, one effects the other. If more people got help with their mental well-being the waiting room in the regulars MDs office would be less crowded.

chicago dyke said...

sounds like a long con, to me. sorry, but i take a very harsh attitude on therapy-for-profit. i don't even blame therapists all that much; our system is f*cked and we should have more jobs for therapists that don't rely on them seeing patients a certain number of times. and who the heck needs therapy twice a week? Sybil didn't get that much.

if you're not literally on the edge right now, and your pharmaceuticals are working and satisfactory (if you're still using them) i say pocket the money and take a trip instead, or just do anything nice for yourself.

i suppose some will say i'm being bitter, but to me the permanent indictment of therapy as a field came to me when i was about 30. it occurred to me how much better my life would've been if any of the several therapists i'd been sent to had figured out i'm queer, back when it would've made a difference. i can really appreciate the whole "but i'm the one doing the work here" attitude. i'm not at all convinced there is anything scientific about the way most therapy is practiced.

PENolan said...

Chicago Dyke, I've heard that a lot of shrinks miss the queer factor which seems odd since they are supposed to be trained to look closely at a person and ask the kinds of questions that lead to insight and growth. Not a bit scientific - but for me being in therapy has been helpful.

Even if it were free, however, there comes a time when you have to cut the cord. And you're right, Gail, there's a loss associated - but there is much to celebrate in evolution.
Holte, you make a good point. Depression and anxiety are at the bottom of many aches and pains, not to mention indigestion.

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