That hurt a little.
* * *
So Anette and I decided to go see a family therapist. We thought it might help ease the chaos in our house, maybe help us avoid some of those special Shouting moments.
So we get to the place on the appointed day, and we meet the good doctor. She talks to the kids for six or seven minutes, and talks to Anette and I for more than an hour. At the end of it, she says, “The kids are fine.” Then she looks at me and says, “But you, I want to talk to.”
I flashed on a close-up of Anthony Hopkins, wearing that cute mask, in The Silence of the Lambs. I never actually thought of myself as a fruitcake, but what the hey, everyday’s a journey, right?
But the doctor, who I’ll call Frau M., said some sensible things. She actually said some of the same things I’ve been saying about our family dynamic for awhile now. Anette smirked a couple of times and said to me, “You like her, don’t you?”
Still, the idea of seeing a shrink was a bit, um, daunting. Scary. I said as much. The doc put on her best quizzical face and said, “Why scary?”
“Well, you want me to talk about some personal stuff,” I replied, “And I don’t even know you, do I?”
I agreed to try it. I mean, back in the day when I interviewed that French performance artist who broadcasts her own plastic surgery operations, and she asked me to eat foie gras with her, I did it, didn’t I? Would this really be any different, any more scary, any more icky-squishy? No.
I went back to her office, alone, the other night. We had a very expensive 85-minute conversation. It was sort of exhausting.
But I think it was also…good.
We started off talking about some of the challenges of parenthood, then she took me back, back, farther back to my own childhood, and some of my challenges in those days. As we talked, she found something that happened to me—a little thing, honestly—and she started turning it over in her hands. Or, really, asking me to turn it over in my head. She asked me to go back in time and talk to my seven-year old self, to help him. That was cool. Because I could do that, you know? It was easy for me to be a dad, big brother, hero--whatever—to that kid, because I’m all grown up now. I’m a man.
Then she brought it all back around to me trying to deal with V. in a better way. Now I think I can do that too.
And it made me think about my Dad and my Mom and Adinah and my life in a different way too.
Today, I went back to work, and met the usual mix of good, bad and ugly. But I felt like Mr. Clint Eastwood—cool, glacially chilled, unmoved by both nonsense and aggression.
No. That was a cheap movie metaphor. Here’s a better one. I actually felt more like that guy in Office Space, who gets stuck in a psychiatrist-induced trance, and goes to work not giving a fuck. And everything is just No Big Deal, my friend. No problem, hey that’s okay, sure, that sounds…fine.