Sliding Scale Therapy

“I wasn’t sure you were coming today,”  she was startled at the site of me when she rushed past with a bowl full of chili.  Smelt good.

“Margaret, just ring me when she’s done paying and we can get started,” she winked at me.

I missed my last appointment and I don’t blame her for being surprised to see me.  I thought about not showing up.

I appreciated the cheap sessions and her fresh university face.  The truth is, I need a bad, old heinous bitch to put me in my fucked up place, not some sympathetic college student.  And that’s exactly what she was, Rachel.

She was too young, too inexperienced.  She seemed to feel too much for me, the exact opposite of what I needed from a therapist, which is why I won’t be signing up with her again.  When I explained my life to her at times the only thing that would run through my head was, “Jesus, get a hold of yourself,” as she would fight back her own tears.  She was too fresh, too sympathetic, like I said, she felt too much for me.

Margaret, oh Margaret, front desk woman with way too many sweets on her desk for just broken hearted fucks like me.  I knew they were mainly for her.

Margaret swiveled around in her overly comfortable chair, “Did she say she’d come get you sweetheart?”

“No, she told you to ring her once I was done paying.”

She reached for my credit card while shoving a mini snickers in her mouth.

The credit card machine beeped and I knew she didn’t hear a word I had said or the beep.

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Every week the same thing.  I walk in, tell Margaret my name and my therapist as loud and slow as possible.  She fumbles looks through the files, pulls out the wrong file, and begins to scribble on it as I interrupt, telling her I’m not Melissa Moravitz.

I wonder if Melissa Moravitz has to deal with the same shit.  I also wonder if she knows that I am as “clinically depressed” as much as I know she is “anorexic.”

Margaret finally finds my file, reaches for the credit card I’ve already given her and complains about how slow the machine is being today…Everyday.

Then, I stand there like an idiot with my hand out, while the machine continuously beeps, until she finally notices me with a squeal and hands me back my credit card.

I sit down and watch her forget to call Rachel.  Ten minutes later either Rachel comes out wondering what’s taking so long or some other sappy therapist notices me and sends me back.  Meanwhile, Margaret continues stuffing her face with chocolate and absolutely no recollection of me or our painfully recent interaction.  I wonder if she gets free therapy, I think.  She should.

————————

Same thing happens today. Rachel comes out ten minutes later while I’m still waiting patiently, or so it seems.

“Come on back Melissa.  Sorry Margaret didn’t let me know you were ready.”

“She never does,” I responded.

Her room smelt of chili and all I could think of was her slamming her food right before our session. I snickered a little.

“Usually when people skip a session they never come back, that’s why I wasn’t expecting you.”

Girl you don’t have to explain lunch to me, I thought.

“Well I tried calling (lie), but the phone is always busy (truth) and there’s no answering machine (truth).”

“I’m just glad to see you here now Melissa.  How are things? It’s been a couple of weeks since we last met.”

“I’m ok.  Just working a lot.” Jesus, it’s like talking to a complete stranger.

“Have you been in contact with your ex?”

“No (truth).  I have been just focusing on working and getting used to being alone.”

“How are you feeling about being alone?”

“Um, I guess how everyone feels about being alone…Bored.  Seeking attention in all the wrong types of men, or boys, I don’t know.”

She put her pen in her mouth, “What do you mean by the wrong types of men?”

“Oh, you know, the kinds with girlfriends, or wives, or emotional problems.”

She seemed excited, “What types of emotional problems?”  Fucking therapists.

“Not entirely sure what kind of emotional problems, but the kind that wrap their palms around your throat while orgasming and finally let go once they see your turning blue and begin to cry in your groin…Those types.”

She looked uncomfortable and stayed silent, so I continued, “I think I’m over that though, I was just lonely.”

She shifted in her seat gathering courage, “M-Melissa, that’s extremely aggressive behavior, I’m glad you are okay.  Did you report him? He could have hurt you.”

“Since when do cops give a shit about protecting women?  So no,  I didn’t report him,  I didn’t even get his name.”  She continued to stare at me in horror, so I continued again, “Don’t worry I won’t be seeing him again.”

She finally took a breath, relieved of my loose epiphany, “Well it sounds like you won’t do that again.  How is everything else?”

I rolled my eyes, “Ok I guess, I laugh still so that’s good.  I’m lonely, like I said, but I think I’m just processing.  It’ll go away or I’ll just become accustomed to the loneliness.”

When I think about it, I’m pretty sure I’m already accustomed to loneliness.  Me and lonely have been friends for a long time, too long.  An old childhood friend that I’ve never been able to shake.  The friend that you clean up bleeding outside the bar because of their own stupidity.  An old childhood friend that you know, if you had met as an adult, you would have never given the time.  But because lonely and I have been friends for so long and know each other like the back of our own hands, we keep each other around.  Bad choice as an early childhood friend, lonely.  I wonder why I still get shocked with being alone, I guess there’s different levels.

“Have you been having any thoughts about hurting yourself lately?

Annoyed, I snapped back into our session,”I told you before, I’ve always had thoughts of suicide but I’m not going to do it, pretty sure those days are over.”

I’m too numb to kill myself.  I actually prefer feeling it.  I can feel comfort in loneliness sometimes, it is just more in gray scale rather than color.  Like I’ve accepted this destiny, like the calm right before drowning after all the pathetic flailing.

“Have you been wanting to contact your ex?”

Again, I snapped back to our session, “No (lie).  I just know that I can’t (truth).  It has been years of us torturing each other.  These two and a half months are the longest we’ve gone without speaking.  I’m okay with it, I understand that our relationship will never work and I forgive myself (truth).  Being lonely is worth it, if it means I don’t have to be with him.  I know what I need out of a lover and I know he’s not it and so does he.  There’s no point for us to be in contact, when in the past I didn’t think that.  I always thought there was a reason we should stay in contact.”

She looked proud, “Well you certainly seem more confident about this than the last time I saw you.  You were still upset with the outcome and with yourself.”

“Oh, I’m still upset with the outcome but not with myself.  I know neither of us did anything wrong, we just aren’t right for each other.”

“This is a very healthy realization and step for you Melissa. This is our last session, so what now for you?

She thinks she’s accomplished something, this simple bitch, “Hmm, well I guess just keep going as usual, trusting myself and my intuition.  Not letting relationships dictate my happiness. I feel stronger, lonely but strong.  I don’t regret my decisions and my progress in the last three months.”

She smiled, “Well I think you will do just fine in life Melissa.”

I fake smiled at her, “Well I think you will do just fine in your life as well Rachel.”

She stood up, “I have a survey that I’d love for you to fill out and you can begin sessions with me again in January if you like.”

I gathered my things, “For sure I will check it out after the holidays (lie), good luck in your career (truth).

I walked out of my last session feeling relieved and lonely, yet confident in my decisions to move forward in my new life.

When I got back in my car I turned my phone back on.

A text from my ex…”This might sound crazy, but I really want to have sex with you.”

“Come over,” I replied.

Tarot Bully

It was New Year’s Eve.

“Mom, just pick a card!”

She looked terrified.

“It’s just tarot, you can make whatever you want of it.”

She looked away from me, nose high, “I don’t want to, it’s just not my thing.”

“Well it’s kinda my thing. Don’t you want to step out of your box for a moment and try something different?”

“Mel, I don’t know why you stopped coming to mass, you know you can be forgiven.”

I sighed, ” I don’t need to be forgiven.”

“I’m just saying with all the men and the drinking, it’s not healthy for a girl your age. You should be finding a good husband, planning children. You don’t have as much time as you might think.”

“What about me screams husband and children? Besides, I’m a lesbian!”

Her mouth dropped, “Are you a lesbian?”

“Mom, no, I’m not! But what if I was? You could have really offended me.  That was fucked up how far your mouth just hit the floor.”

She relaxed a bit in her seat, “You know I would love you no matter what, right?”

“I know. Now just pick a damn card.”

“I told you I don’t like to play with this dark stuff.”

“It’s not dark. You do realize there are different forms and avenues for spirituality don’t you? Now, you spent my whole life shoving yours down my throat. It’s time for you to take a crack at mine.”

She hesitated and pulled a card. The devil. God damnit of course. The absolute worst card a god fearing woman could pull. She gasped and I began laughing hysterically. I couldn’t help it.

“I told you I didn’t want to pick a card Mel! Why did you have to push me so hard? This does not align with my faith!”

She stormed out and I still couldn’t stop laughing as I reached my hand for hers.

“Mom, you really think your god is that petty? Let me explain the card!”

The bedroom door slammed and I heard a muffled, “Fuck off!”

“Well that certainly didn’t go as I planned,” I mumbled to myself while pouring us two glasses of wine. Still giggling, I sheepishly snuck into her room.

She accepted the wine and we both shared a good laugh. Nothing more satisfying than hearing your mom awkwardly say “fuck.”

“Leave your Wife”

“Hey Mel.”  

You whispered in my ear from behind, I was alone at the bar writing.

I didn’t turn around.  

I shut my eyes and all our memories flashed quickly,  emotions tagged along.  

Excitement, fear, despair, resentment, longing.

I opened my eyes and reached for your hand over my shoulder.

Your touch, a wave of thick honey running through my body.

I rested my head over our bound hands.

Still.  I hadn’t turned around.

I almost didn’t want to, I almost couldn’t.

Years waiting, my eyes began to water and tears ran down my knuckles onto yours.

You immediately reacted and hugged me from behind.

I was dreaming,  I had to be dreaming.  I’ve seen this one before.  

Surely, all of this time living with lingering lost love was a reverie of my imagination.

I didn’t wake from this dream, it wasn’t a dream.

Still I hadn’t turned around.

Where have you been?  You hugged me tighter.

We met by chance as adolescents. You instantly illuminated the pieces of myself that were the hardest to see, especially at that age.  

I adored you.

I was always codependent with those that never seemed to fit the bill and as we grew we saw each other in passing with other lovers.  

The last time we saw each other you demanded that I tell you to leave your wife.

We had spent the summer together while she was away and fell in love again.

Once, you pleaded, only once

I couldn’t.  

I needed you to make that jump for yourself. 

You didn’t

and you resented me for not telling you those seemingly simple words,

“Leave your wife. I want to be with you.”

I’d spent years trying to ward you out of my heart.  

Sage, meditation, writing, drinking, begging,

it never worked.  

Some months easier than others

but still always had you floating in my dreams, my awake, my everything.

I touched my mouth to your hand and inhaled.  

You smelled the same as you always did, even when we first met.

Soaked with tears, I gripped your hand tighter

Still, I hadn’t turned around.

I almost didn’t want to, I almost couldn’t.

Years of reserving this abject space in my heart for you, I took a deep breath and began to turn around.

I woke up.  

Silence.

Dawn.

Birds chirping and I could still smell you and without a thought I said aloud,

“Leave your wife.  I want to be with you.”

My husband rolled over, eyes wide, “What did you just say?”