on quirky psychologists
I estimated her to be in her mid-50’s. Her energy felt very ‘naïve’ to me and I was immediately not comfortable with her.
Ignoring that, I began to verbally answer a list of thirty or so questions she began asking about my childhood. As if prospecting for gold she grew visibly more and more excited with my answers, in a happy sort of way, as I grew distraught with her reaction. I had not yet told her why I was there.
I was upset at this approach because I felt my childhood was ‘resolved’ so did not feel any need to go back and ‘revisit’. My eyes started to water while my voice started to shake so she grabbed a box of tissues and handed it to me while she started to cry. I felt outside of myself. She literally pulled her DSM books from her bookshelf and began scanning the pages, while crying, and telling me what she thought I had. She asked if I agreed. I thought, “How long have you been doing this?” I told her I needed to leave for another appointment and she got up to give me a hug. “What just happened?” I thought. I never went back.
Her office was very upscale and while I believe the intent of the furnishings were to illicit comfort, it felt cold and arrogant to me. Turns out she was a match. Her first question was, “How long have you been overweight?” In my head, “You’re kidding right?” Out of my mouth, “Eh, well, first when I was nine, but I’ve not always been overweight. In fact, I’ve been fit and muscular before too.” Her reply, “You probably ate a lot of soul food as a kid, right?” I laughed. I looked around for a hidden camera. In my head, “Why not just call me an ignorant nigger and get it over with?” Out of my mouth, “Sure, I guess, maybe. What would you consider soul food?” She replied that if I was fed soul food as a kid that I probably had difficulty changing my eating habits as an adult and that she had lost 60 pounds ten years prior and had kept it off. Further, she had a program where she could coach me into ‘health’. I laughed again. She had to be in her early sixties. I wondered who paid for her office, more, her education. I told her I needed to go to the bathroom, walked out and never went back.
The Gentle Mystic
After The Crybaby and The Judge, I thought I might be more comfortable talking to a man. He was in his mid-60’s and very soft spoken. I sat down and explained that I might be depressed and was having difficulty concentrating. I explained that I did not want to take medication and just needed help identifying the issue(s) so I could do whatever work was required to resolve them.
He turned to his computer and pulled up a meditation center. He walked me through the website to explain the history and benefits of meditation. He suggested I make an appointment at the center and employ practices of meditation and mindfulness. Based on what I had told him, which was nothing other than why I had come, he did not think I was depressed. He said, “You are fine”. I stared at him without saying a word. I wanted to cry. He said he would book another session with me in two weeks. I thanked him and got up to leave. He got up and as I walked towards the door to leave he approached and hugged me. I froze and thought, “Serious? Another one? Isn’t there some line being crossed here?” I never went back.
My pain doctor (more on the pain here) referred me to a psychologist in his late 60’s, head of the board, well known, well liked and world traveled, if that mattered. This man was a listener unlike any other. First, as far as body language goes, he would take his shoes off and rub his feet together while I talked. I found it odd, especially since there was no furniture separating us. Second, it was around our third session where he would appear to nod off while I was talking. He allowed me to audio record them. Occasionally, I would wait until he appeared to sleep before asking a question. Never failed that he would respond with some supremely simple yet insightful response. Proof that he really was listening.
What am I grateful for?
The Sleeper. Although his mannerisms were quirky I felt comfortable with him. He helped me understand that everything I felt was normal, and more than that, manageable. He assisted in helping me mentally re-purpose various choices I had made and understand why they made sense at the time I made them. He helped me unearth the source of what if’s and re-frame them into identifying worst case scenario’s.
Over that year, I determined the illuminations all seemed to point to a theme of ‘Self-Empowerment’.
Later, I listened back to some of those sessions. In doing so I realized that some of the decisions I had made in life that I thought I would need to live with for the remainder of my life could in fact be changed. It would take me several more years to claim my courage and act.
No fancy building. No fancy furniture. No books. No judgement. No pretense. No advice. Just listening and honest feedback. He ‘graduated me’. Like The Gentle Mystic, he ended our last session by affirming that I was doing fine. This time, I knew the statement was true.