Standing On A Chair

Telling it like I see it…

Rants from the Chair: On What Happens When You Marry Your Shrink – Part 5

The Marathon had torn me down to a bloody stump.  Suddenly I was wide-eyed and aware of just how sick I had been.  Like a true twenty-something narcissist, I thought I had all the answers; knew everything; everybody viewed things the way I did.  I mean, just how mentally ill can a person be?

I was anxious to get started on my path to good mental health.

Waiting in the small, box-like outer room for my first-ever therapy session to begin, I was filled with excited anticipation.  My long-time love Marcus had been a patient of Andrew’s for a year, so Andrew had to ask Marcus how he felt about me also becoming a patient.  Did he perceive a potential conflict?  No.  Marcus gave his blessing.

The inner-office door opened.  “Hello, Jill!” Dr. Andrew Rosenberg said with a welcoming, booming baritone, which startled me so; I dropped my purse as I abruptly stood up.  He kneeled down to help me gather the items scattered about:  a lighter, a pack of Marlboros, my rabbit’s foot roach clip, two tampons, a bottle of Shalimar and my keys.  I was a nervous mess.

Thus began my psychotherapy. 

I trusted Andrew from the beginning.  As my therapist, he seemed softer, sweeter.  He wore a kind, caring expression.  I noticed the attractiveness of his face for the first time, and was struck by its symmetry, with wide-set brown eyes, slanted slightly in an oriental kind of way, full lips, a neatly trimmed dark brown beard and mustache. 

The most notable and important aspect of having a therapist, was that I could let down my barriers and fears, and be completely open, completely vulnerable, to another human being.

Of course we had to go through the details of where I was born, my upbringing, how my parents and big brother occupied themselves before I came along, and “all that David Copperfield kind of crap.”  Then we moved into discussions on my relationship with Marcus and other men before him.

How thrilling it was for me to be discussing such things with a therapist.  With a man-therapist!  I learned how all humans struggle with relationships, with communication.  How frustrated we all are by a lack of emotional intimacy, which we all need and want more than anything, and how difficult that is to achieve. 

The single-most important issue we worked on, as I recall, was my problem with feeling intimidated by men.  I stifled myself in such a way that Archie Bunker would be beaming with pride and approval.

In one session, Andrew said, “You’ve got to learn to defend yourself against men, Jill. Stand up to them.  Can they really hurt you?  If all they can do is get angry, then so fucking what!”

“Andrew, for one thing, all men are bigger than I am.  They look down at me.  Which leaves me looking up at them.”

With that, Andrew left the room, returning within seconds with a folding metal chair.  He pulled it open and placed it in the middle of the room.

“Stand on it,” he said.

“What?”

“Come over here and stand on this chair.”

I kicked off my platforms and stepped up onto the cold metal seat.  I turned to look at Andrew, who was looking up at me.

“See?” he said.  “You’re now bigger than I am.”

“Yay!” I beamed.

“And how does that make you feel, Jill?”

“More confident.  Maybe even a little powerful!”

“Use this when you feel you’re losing yourself, Jill.  When you’re afraid, pull up a goddamn chair.”

I can tell you after a few months into my therapy, Marcus didn’t recognize me anymore.  Apparently I so fully embraced my new-found courage and openness, my newly developed balls, so to speak, he sort of became the one who was a bit intimidated.

Andrew had me reading books, participating in Reichian exercises, digging into my emotional guts like never before.  I even enrolled in two classes at El Camino J.C. in Torrance.  The fact that I hadn’t gotten a bachelor’s degree always bothered me, and Andrew made me believe I could still accomplish it.  At the ripe-old age of twenty-six.  Duh.

I was absolutely giddy about my new self.

I guess that’s when the fantasies started.  Andrew was so smart, so caring.  He seemed to have all the right answers.  He was helping me feel better about myself.  I began to feel sexually attracted to him.  And it completely freaked me out. 

“It’s like I can’t get you out of my mind, Andrew,” I said after a month of disturbing thoughts.  “I have sex with you in my dreams.  This is so wrong.  I feel guilty about it.  I am afraid this will set me back in my progress!  Maybe you should refer me to another therapist?”

“It is called ‘transference,’ Jill.  It’s quite common for a female to view her male therapist as omnipotent, as a savior, perhaps.  It is natural, then, for a person to begin imagining herself with him in a sexual way, even in a falling-in-love kind of way.”

I felt relieved to hear that.  Andrew explained that the way to deal with this was to talk about it, work through it.  He had me discuss the fantasies in detail, and in doing that, they became hilarious and silly.  We laughed at them.

It was decided that he would not refer me to another therapist, that I could continue to progress under his tutelage.

Until one day things started to change.  That was the day I learned the meaning of the term, ‘counter-transference.’

Stay Tuned for Part 6.

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August 2, 2011 - Posted by | Psychotherapy | , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. This is a book waiting to happen, don’t you think?

    Comment by Becky | August 2, 2011 | Reply

    • Actually Becky, this is already a book. I’m using my blog to do a re-write. Condensed. Great exercise. Thank you so much for your observation!

      Comment by standingonachair | August 2, 2011 | Reply

  2. Jill you are so good at this writing thing. I wish these chapters were closer together. This stuff needs to be in a book. missy

    Comment by missy smith | August 2, 2011 | Reply


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