For the first time in my life yesterday, I spoke to a licensed counselor about my problems. (Well, maybe not the first time I talked about problems with an LPC, since one of my close friends is one, but the first time it was in a professional setting and I got billed.) It was terrifying. The appointment was at 4pm, and from around 1:30pm onward, I was dreading it, getting more and more nervous. When the time came, and her face popped up on the tele-health conference screen, she smiled and said that she was glad I’d chosen to take this first step. (I’d mentioned to her office person that I’d never done therapy before.) She asked a few normal “Tell me about yourself” type questions, and was easy to talk to. Over the hour, the questions got harder, and I started doing more of the talking, and crying. She was attentive, and during my pauses was ready with another question to keep the dialogue moving. Not once did she offer comforting words, or show a sympathetic face while I cried… and that was actually great.
I think I had been worried that a therapist would act more caring, more emotional. I don’t need to be coddled. I don’t need a hug. (That’s untrue. I absolutely need a hug. But not from my counselor.) I need someone to look at me objectively and say, in more professional terms then these, “You’re fucked up. Let’s focus on fixing this and this and this.”
Towards the end of the hour, she started offering some direction. Little things that I could try doing to improve my immediate situation, like grounding myself during panic attacks. After the session, she sent me some handouts, and a homework assignment. So far, I like how she’s handling this, so we’ll see how the next session goes.
Afterwards, I packed a bag to go out to my parents’ house to spend the night. Halfway there, I realized I didn’t grab distilled water for my CPAP, so I called to ask if Mom had any there. She didn’t. I stopped at a Publix off the next exit, since traffic was terrible and I figured this would give it some time to clear up a bit. They were out of distilled water. So I went to the next exit and stopped at Food Lion. Out. I backtracked to a Wal-Mart superstore. Out. I’m not religious… but somebody was telling me I’m not spending the night there. I’m going back to the empty house and suffering through the night. Funny enough, that’s the same advice I got from therapy. Sleep in your own bed. Don’t avoid this.
So I had dinner with my parents, and we watched Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, and some sitcom that was awful. We didn’t really talk about my situation much, but I noticed that when I did talk, I would mention her. Not out of context, though. For example. Mom made pork chops in her Ninja, and was talking about how she wished she could do the breading right, and I commented on how my wife’s gluten-free breading was on fried chicken, and how she didn’t bread pork chops in the Ninja. Stuff like that… stuff that drove home how integrated into my life she is, how huge a role she has.
Afterwards, I went back to the empty house and got there around 9:00pm. Rather than go to bed, which I really should have done, I started playing songs by The Smiths on my Echo device, and worked on making a modest lunch to take to work the following day. It made me think of how she would play her Amazon Mix Tape while she would cook. She would sing along in her beautiful off-key voice, and do little wiggle dances. I’d smile from the computer hearing her, not in a mocking way, but an honest appreciation that she was enjoying herself. So there I was in my kitchen, a room that I historically have no business being in, singing along to The Smiths while I made and boxed a sad-wich, and I started dancing. Not little cute wiggles, but full-on Morrissey weird-ass dancing. (On a side note, is it okay to like The Smiths, but not like Morrissey?) I know that sounds weird, and probably like wallowing in self-pity since it was The Smiths, and they don’t sing happy songs, but it was somehow cathartic. Once my lunch was made, I went back to the computer room and fired off the music in there, dancing in my chair for a little bit while I chatted online with Berix (a wonderful friend from college days). I told him good night, and stood up to go to bed, but instead I kept dancing. I danced until after midnight.
People who know me are picturing me dancing like Morrissey and probably giggling at least a little bit. But it felt good in the moment, felt like being young again, and care-free, and I needed to feel good so badly. I do hope that doesn’t become my grounding exercise, though. Maybe if I can just focus on the feeling and not the dancing… or at least learning how to dance properly. And that thought led me to one last thing before going to bed.
I sat back down at the computer and made a wish list. Things that I wish I had done with her, things I may yet be able to do with her if we can find a way to be together again after this. The first item on the list was “Learn how to dance with you. Real dancing. Ballroom shit. I want to look at your smiling face while the world spins in the background.”