Addicted to Therapy

My last therapist was a Guru who wore a tunic and a turban on her head and handed out flower essences like candy to a hurt child. I’ve always been attracted to therapists with some kind of weird angle.

The first time I went to a therapist it was in hope of salvaging my second marriage. My husband was considerate enough to agree to attend even though we were now living apart and each of us were now seeing other people. I thought the marriage was fixable, but if it wasn’t, I was going to have a backup plan so I hung on to the boyfriend. After our first two sessions together, the therapist separated us. I suppose that should have been telling. We lived in Oklahoma at the time so it was not surprising that the therapist believed that reaching out to God was the answer for everything. I did, however, find it surprising that the therapist thought I needed a divorce. In the end I put myself in her hands, filed for a divorce and moved to Arizona leaving my husband and my backup plan behind.

In Tempe, Arizona I found a place called, The Body Works Studio. It was just a corrugated metal warehouse separated into several rooms of different sizes. Anyone who touted the creative and the odd was invited in to set up shop there. I went to those workshops like a moth is attracted to a flame. I hoped to be transformed. I wanted the old Peggy to be burned away and the new me to fly free. I went to scream therapy, goddess therapy, writing workshops, poetry workshops, artist way groups, dream therapy and dance therapy.

It was at The Body Works Studio that I landed in with a therapist and a group of women who were addicted to men. I felt at home there, although I considered myself above the other women in my group because I did not currently have a man that I was addicted to. I never mentioned the gay guy from my poetry workshop that I was super infatuated with. It was a real blow when I finally realized he was gay.

The therapist from the addicted to men group became concerned about me falling into tears all the time in group and told me a prescription for antidepressants might do me some good. I didn’t really think that I needed antidepressants. I could figure this out without going on drugs. But the therapist seemed rather insistent and I thought I would give it a try.

I remember sitting in the doctor’s office wondering how you go about asking a doctor for antidepressants. I thought about telling him about all the stress I was under raising two kids on my own. Or I could tell him about my job running a legal aid clinic while at the same time trying to pass the bar exam in Arizona. Or I could just tell him that the therapist recommended the antidepressants. It didn’t sound convincing to me. I was asking to be given a controlled substance after all.

These thoughts were still winding around my head when the doctor finally came in to see me. I think I got the words “I think I’m depressed” out of my mouth before bursting into tears. Big sobs started coming out and snot started to run. The doctor got out his pad of paper and handed me the prescription. I guess that’s how a person asks for antidepressants. I bawled all the way out of the doctor’s office and hid in the waiting room bathroom until I could get my sobbing under control. Maybe the therapist was right about the antidepressants.

By the time I moved to Tucson I had given up my addiction for men and I quit the antidepressants. But something was missing. I kept reaching for what it was but I could never really put a finger on what I needed. I found myself making better choices most of the time, but life felt hollow.

My new best friend found a therapist that she liked and I knew that this friend would have done her research so I was quick to sign up. The therapist’s office was in a little adobe backhouse across from where the therapist lived with her husband. The backhouse was old and painted in desert hues with sunset colors joined in. It was decorated with sea shells and stacked with stuff that looked like it was from a rummage sale. There was a pretty adobe fireplace that she lit on cold winter days. My new therapist always had a box of Kleenex and a cup of hot tea ready. She sat in a wicker chair with a large round back that made her look like she was sitting inside a halo. She was younger than me with long super curly hair and a cute face making her look angelic. I sat across from her in a comfortable cushy chair. It was in that chair that I spent an hour every week at first and then every two weeks and finally once a month breaking through to the secrets of my past that were hidden away in dark dank crevices of my mind and body. It felt like exorcism at times to reach them. Together we dug them all out and she helped me to normalize them. The day finally came when the tears stopped and I finally graduated therapy.

Graduating therapy was not what I expected. I still had problems that I needed to work through and it was not like my old self  burned away and a new me came flying forth. It was more like I became more comfortable in my own skin. I started to appreciate who I was with all the flaws and weird angles that I was made up of. I liked myself more just the way I was. I was just more “me” and it was just enough to hang onto out in the real world when things got tough.

I found Guru Ravi because I needed help with my youngest child who was proving to be a real challenge and I found myself turning into my mother. I had done fairly well tamping down the urge to scream and yell with my oldest daughter and I never reverted to spanking, but with this second child I had no resources and all my tricks were not working. I brought Daryl in for our first appointment expecting that the Guru would have a talking with her and figure out how to fix her. Guru Ravi told me to leave Daryl at home after that first visit. It turned out that I just needed some new parenting skills. I had been lucky with my first daughter; with this second one I needed some real training.

I went back to Guru Ravi when I got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. By that time she had became family. When either of my daughters, who were now adults, needed help, they turned to the Guru. I liked her turban and the joy she always radiated on her face. I needed to soak up some of that joy in a big way. It seemed natural to schedule an appointment to see her. I saw her for about four months to help me through the roughest parts of my recovery. We finally came to a place where I saw that I was going to make it. I would be OK whether I lived or died from this crazy disease. She could bring me to both these places and I could see that the real point was in living life while I still had it to live.

One year later, Guru Ravi would die from ovarian cancer.

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