At the risk of sounding dramatic (who am I kidding, I’m basically an honorary theater geek minus the billowy blouses and pirate hats), I think I’ve overdosed on therapy. As I result, I’m finding it increasingly more challenging to relate to, tolerate, or even surface-level enjoy the company of other lesser-psychoanalyzed individuals. This isn’t so much because I disapprove of other people’s antics (although my calculated selection of the word “antic” may imply a tad bit of uncontrollable bias), it’s more that I just can’t get behind the complete lack of self-awareness and introspection that seems so commonly accepted amongst most people my own age and extending into even older age brackets. So sue me if I want to surround myself with people who strive to understand themselves in a way that serves to make them better, happier, and more productive in society. Personally, I think it’s a good thing…but what do I know? (aside from all of the wise old adages and coping mechanisms that 462 million hours of treatment have forced down my throat).
Watching people figuratively walk into oncoming traffic drives my over-analyzed mind to the breaking point. Not intervening when I feel I have the power or insight to guide the train from derailing is incredibly counter-intuiative. Fifteen years of intensive therapy (more than ten of which have been with the same doctor) teaches you to speak in a certain language, and sometimes it feels like communicating with and observing those who don’t have the same training is a completely lost and foreign cause. But more than that, I just CAN’T comprehend why a human being would deliberately bypass the unique opportunity to question, challenge, or scrutinize oneself in the pursuit of personal betterment and progression, other than the fact that it’s probably much simpler, and because ignorance really can seem like bliss, and sometimes the more you know about yourself and other people, the more difficult it is to function in a world where others don’t see things the way you do, and where the cold, hard truth can be paralyzing at times. Come to think of it, those are all pretty logical justifications for pretending reality doesn’t exist. Now pass me Klonopin? JK!
While therapy, and the process of learning about your inner most thoughts and motives, seems all well-and-good in theory, the problem is that it begins to skew the way you see and treat other people; other people who don’t want to, or who aren’t yet ready to, deal with things as directly head-on as a therapy patient might want to. Another thing about therapy that isn’t awesome is that it is incredibly cost prohibitive for most/many people. Like, I’m pretty sure my father put all three of my therapist’s children through college just to make sure I didn’t end up eating my own hair and picking my face so badly that people wouldn’t hire me because I looked like a meth head. I think the fact that therapy is so financially and even socially (due to stigma) inaccessible to the people who need it the most, is a hugely problematic tragedy which I am unfortunately not in the position to change with this convoluted piece of advocacy.
While there are certainly benefits to my crusade that is spreading the gospel of psycho-babble, the difficult part is that my own inability to accept, ignore, or co-sign my friends’, loved one’s, and even my own, at times (and in my view), “destructive” behaviors, makes me appear judgmental and patronizing and slightly high-and-mighty, when all I’m really intending to do is speak the truth and tell it like it is, often overlooking the fact that a lot of people (those in favor of preserving sleep and sanity) don’t want to hear it. I guess I end up feeling like the perpetual bearer of bad news; and you know how people love to shoot the messenger point blank in the middle of the forehead and leave the corpse to be picked apart by vultures. Even though my opinions may be unpopular, my position is that there are enough disingenuous people spitting out bullshit through smirked lips and hair extensions, I don’t need to add to the pollution problem. And I’m not a hyprocrite either; I am the first to judge myself harshly and to call myself out when I don’t think I’m living up to my potential. Some say I’m so hard on myself that I’m an “emotional cutter.” I don’t disagree. Again, I blame Dr. C.
Yet, despite all of this “wisdom” that I’ve supposedly been bestowed with, what I’m learning the hard way (people hating me, me hating myself, etc.), is that unless my advice is distinctly solicited, and sometimes not even in that case, I need to hold my tongue in order to let people’s emotional processes evolve and unravel at their own pace. None of us are on the same path, and none of our experiences, however apparently similar, have routed us to stumble upon the same conclusions. Plus, I’m sure there are plenty of men and women (my married high-school friends who honeymoon at the Four Seasons Hawaii and pop out babies like sour cream pringles and put a cash down payment on suburban homes with their banker husbands, as well as my grandma) who would look at my life like it’s some sort of hipster comedy written by Woody Allen’s dyslexic third cousin. So who am I to judge?
Let me be clear, and if you can’t tell, I’m no saint. I’m actually quite Koo Koo Roo Chicken. I think my only saving grace is that I’ve been lucky enough to be afforded the privilege of intense, upper-echelon, overpriced therapy (thanks, dad.) But I am not without my own weathered track record that keeps me up at night full of regret and self-flagellation (self-forgiveness is not my thing). In my youth I crashed a car due to excessive alcohol consumption. I’ve cheated, flirted, and fucked away my feelings with those who were off-limits. I’ve told someone’s deepest, darkest secret to the very person I shouldn’t have confided in, and did it all for selfish reasons. I’ve done nasty things just to spite others and solely for attention. I’ve bad mouthed friends whom I genuinely care about. I’ve engaged in all sorts of scandalous shit I’m not proud of, and committed too many girl-on-girl crimes to count on both hands. I’ve made horrendous relationship choices. I’ve had a shameful amount of unprotected sex. I’ve slept with drug addicts and liars and celebrity children and girls with girlfriends and boys who would later come to have boyfriends (okay, that was just once, and we didn’t have sex, he just fixated on the perimeter of my butt). I’ve stayed in abusive relationships far too long after it was remotely justifiable and yet I justified it to myself, my parents, and my friends. I’ve cried night after night and cut myself with plastic knives and swallowed a whole bottle of anti-anxiety meds resulting in a trip to the hospital and drinking a toothpaste tube full of black charcoal and contemplated my complete and utter lack of value or contribution to this world. I am happy to say that I’ve never slept with a married person, though. I have my boundaries.
My point is that I don’t claim to be the picture of morality or perfection or even sanity, but what I do claim is that every day I try to be a better, more enlightened, more fulfilled, more in touch, more generous, more sensitive, more upstanding, more happy human being; and a lot of this is because of the work I’ve done in therapy and the coping tools it’s instilled in me, and I guess I just want a little bit of that personal and emotional drive for the people I associate with. Is that so wrong? I like to think that therapy has made me a smarter individual. A better friend and daughter and sibling and lover and girlfriend. I like to think its shown me how to take care of myself, or at least to acknowledge my body’s natural warning signs (anxiety, etc.) and then act accordingly (not smoke a pack of cigarettes when smoking makes me feel like I’m dying of gum disease/cancer). But it’s also created new challenges and expectations and obstacles that I never would have encountered had I not willingly opened the mystery door on the left. Sometimes I still smoke cigarettes. Sometimes I get too drunk and then punish myself for being a hungover waste of space the entire next day. Sometimes I’m jealous of people who don’t worry so much about the future, and who don’t put so much thought into everything, and who don’t put so much pressure on themselves to have some sort of cultural relevance. Sometimes it’s simpler to keep your eyes (and mouth) closed, but I guess I’m just not one for simple. I hope some of you like me this way.