“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!”
I’m watching him calmly as he tears up my office. It’s one of those days when all my patients are in foul moods and I can’t do anything about it. Except listen. I can listen to them and sometimes that’s all they need. Somebody to listen. Much of my time is spent sitting still and listening to people go on and on about their lives. Sometimes, I go off somewhere in my head and think about my own life while they rattle on. My life. I have had a good life. My father gave me everything I ever wanted and my mother, well, my mother talked a lot, rest her soul. I guess that’s why I chose this profession. Because I had a lot of practice from listening to my mother pour out her troubles. Years later, even before I started training as a therapist, I realized that it had been the wrong thing to do, to burden a child with all that information and all that worry but at the time, I didn’t not seen it as a burden. No. My mother needed someone to talk to and I was always there, ready to listen.
Like I am listening now to Mr. Dean, patient number 4 for today. Mr. Dean who has a wife and two sons and is cheating on his wife with his secretary who is dating his first son. Mr. Dean has troubles. That’s why he comes to me to talk because he can’t tell anyone about it and I can’t either. My patient has privileges that allow me to just listen. My job is to help him understand why he can’t stop sleeping with other women although he knows it’s the wrong thing to do. That’s my job. Not to judge him or tell him to stop, or call his wife, or his son. Just to help him understand. Mr. Dean also pays for his secretary’s therapy sessions. He doesn’t know she comes to me same as she doesn’t know Mr. Dean comes to me. She thinks he goes to a more expensive therapist and it annoys her that he sends her to a cheap therapist while he goes to the expensive one. She’s also ignorant about how much he pays.
Eventually, he stops screaming and throwing things around and calms down in time for me to end the session only 5 minutes late. In time for him to go back to work and pretend this never happened.
I get tired sometimes. Tired of listening to people like Joseph Dean rant about the injustice of life when they are causing all their own grief. But he’s just one of the bad patients. There are good patients. Like little Maria whose parents bring her to me because she doesn’t talk to them. Hasn’t spoken to them in 5 years. Since she was 7. They don’t know why she won’t talk. She talks in class at school so they know she’s not dumb but she won’t talk to them and she won’t talk to her doctor. She talks to me though and that’s a good thing. Not too much and nothing really important but she talks. About flowers and puppies and butterflies and what she sees in school or on her way to come see me. We have never spoken about her not talking to her parents because she doesn’t want to talk about that. She never mentions them. Refers to them as ‘they’ and ‘them’, and only in passing. Never as a subject on their own.
I worry for patients like Maria. The innocent ones. She saw something 5 years ago. Or something happened to her that she can’t talk about. I remember the one time she referred to ‘the incident’ as she called it.
It was during the early days, when we had just met and she had only been talking to me for about a month and then one day she was telling me about a cat she found near her home. “it had grey and red fur, like a tiger and it has really long whiskers! I think I saw a tiger like that once, on tv the day that…” *silence*I noticed immediately that something was wrong. She was hugging her knees and shaking like a leaf so I tried to talk to her about it. “What day Maria? What day was it?” she looked at me quietly and pushed her glasses up on her nose. “The day of the incident.” And she went straight back to talking about the cat like nothing had happened.
It’s the innocent ones that worry me. The ones like Maria.
Then there’s my third patient Silvia, this girl is out of her mind worrying about her boyfriend. Teenagers are… well, teenagers. Silvia thinks her boyfriend Mike doesn’t love her, and instead of just asking him about it she’s telling me about it. Last month, Silvia was complaining to me about wanting to break up with Mike but not knowing how to do it. The week before that, she was breaking up with George for Mike. I know, these are silly teenage issues that don’t need a therapist. But Silvia’s dad started paying for her to come to me three months after her parents got divorced and a month after she started cutting herself. Typical teenager.
I read something online about a new drug that puts humans to sleep for a long time. You don’t die, just go to bed for a really long time. Your body goes into a kind of hibernation and you can wake yourself up when you want to with an injection. It’s still in testing stages but it seems to be working so I’m going to try it. By the time you find this I should be asleep on the bed in my apartment. The wake-up drug is by my bed. Wake me up when humans are better. Wake me up when we get there.
A Fed up therapist.