During break-up number six of the 572 that it took to end my engagement, I decided it was time to see a professional. I found a decent, kind-hearted therapist who was a fine listener, but for two fatal flaws. One, she thought I was really funny. Two, she didn’t seem to understand that I’m at my dryest, my funniest, my drollest self when it comes to what really hurts.
After a month, I got tired of paying to serve as the comic relief in her day and we called it quits.
In the process, I realized that what I really needed was a do-it-yourself therapy kit. Since I’ve been mentally stuck lately on the lonely train headed nowhere good, it’s time to break it out.
First, throw a tantrum. I like to do this in writing. Writing it all out, blog about it, tweet about it, journal, create immensely bad poetry, graphic novels, operettas, whatever. Scream at a notebook, type until your fingers bleed. Write really badly. The more dramatic, the better. If, like me, you’re a fairly restrained person in your daily life, feel free during your tantrum to sound like a complete maniac, kicking and screaming about the pure injustice of it all.
Second, look at the patterns. When even you are sick of your tantrum, move forward. Some people may intuitively know themselves or have been in enough actual therapy to see what they’re doing. This is not me. I have the big picture self-awareness of a guppy in a paper cup. I also don’t have a car. While I sweatily drag myself the 14 blocks I added for “exercise” (read: torture) into my commute, however, I get slightly better at patterns. For instance, I might realize that if I keep saying “It’s ok,” and planning to marry someone who cheats constantly, it’s no wonder they think it’s ok. (Obvious to some, but remember, I’m a guppy).
In my current situation, the big picture looks more like:
- I’m mildly homesick and my family is spending a lot of time together with my new niece and I can’t be there.
- BC’s social life is a little more packed lately, so I’m low on the usual 27 hours of just hanging out that I’m used to every weekend and 3 hours a week on the phone.
- My TV died.
- I’m writing more, which is, by nature, a solitary pursuit.
- I’m single (on purpose).
“So,” Therapist Me asks, “in the last three times you felt lonely this way, how did you resolve it?” Aha! By getting into a ridiculous messy relationship with exactly the wrong person, letting that eat up all my time, and then spending months or years trying to convince them to LOVE ME by any means necessary while ignoring myself.
Third, determine from the pattern a better course of action. In this case, um, let’s not do that again, shall we?
Because he has great instincts or reads this (and I really don’t care which), BC – friend extraordinaire- proposed dinner at my place on Monday. After an hour and a half of eating, laughing, and a little undivided attention from a real live person, face-to-face, I felt better. Not take-on-the-world better or all-fixed better, I grant you. Just better enough.
And without the messy break-up three years from now that would be my usual. Imagine that!
So, what next? Thanks to the self-invented do-it-yourself therapy kit, I suspect that I need to be a little more proactive about spending time with people. I also suspect Therapist Me would encourage me to make those invitations myself instead of waiting for them to come to me. Step Four, the homework.
The hard part?
Therapist Me gives great advice. Guppy Me follows directions horribly.