Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Get Therapy!!!

            Get some therapy!
            As a kid I always wanted to do two things go to a therapist and confession.  Both sounded equally fun.  On TV, whenever a kid had to go to a therapist’s office there would be cool toys and if you were lucky they would give you this silly doll with fur in strange places.  What’s not to like?  All the rich kids I knew went to therapy.  In my head it was a status symbol like getting an actual Ninja Turtle action-figure, instead of the off-brand Ninja Turdal I got, which was an action figure made of chocolate who was delicious but often melted in the sun.  The rich kids made it sound like having a good friend (in my head similar to an older sibling) to talk to.  As an only child, that sounded amazing.  Poor kids, we didn’t have therapy we had denial.  Besides therapy, I was always memorized by the idea of confession.  Therapy interested me because I have always been fascinated with how the it works and confession because as a Jew it always interested me.   Go into a booth tell a man all of your problems, say a couple hail-marries and call it a day.  I love that idea!  Jews, our guilt is a different kind.  We carry a sack of problems or guilt until it gets so heavy that we explode on someone cause it’s the Jewish way.  It’s an art really.  My grandmother once yelled at our server for making the food too spicy at the buffet even though the item he was referring to was “Cajun shrimp.”  There was a label above the shrimp with three little red chilies but that didn’t matter to grandma.  While server took the time to explain that Cajun meant spicy to my Russian grandmother she proceeded to lose her shit.  My grandfather joined in on the shouting and instantly turned the Sizzler into World War II.  He made the server, her manager and busses all cry for doing him wrong and then sold them copies of his book about his life as a Holocaust survivor.

            The one time I was in therapy as a kid was a free one at my public school in the 2nd grade.  My parents had officially divorced and I was seven.  For an hour a day, twice a week for a few months kids from newly divorced families would meet with the public school therapist-lady and talk about divorce.  The therapist had frizzy-dyed blonde hair and would constantly remind us that our parents divorces weren’t our faults.  I didn’t get it at all.  Some of the kids would cry.  I would spend an inordinant amount of time just staring at her dark roots.  I also daydreamed thinking about how I would figure out a way call-in sick the next day and watch “I Love Lucy”.  She would make us draw pictures of our families and say our parents loved us.  Most of the kids drew their mom, dad, sister, dog and other boring stuff.  I would draw my TV, and sometimes melted ice cream.  I would just stare at the kids waiting for these sessions to end.  After a few months of it, I asked my mom to pull me out of the school therapy.  I didn’t understand why anyone could think their parent’s divorce had anything to do with them.  At the time I thought of my parent’s divorce as a good thing.  I was happy they handled their shit cause their arguing was getting in the way of my Golden Girls watching.  My main worry as a child was being unnoticed, ignored or blending into the wall, not if my parents loved me.

It was during the beginning of my senior years of college, around the time that I was just friends with Elijah but post our year of on-off again dating.  This was then I took a second aim at therapy.  I found out that there was a therapist I could see for free for up to 6 sessions on campus.  Being the poor college student I was sold at FREE.  There was a period of time for about five months where Elijah confided in me about his HIV status mostly because I was one of his only friends in San Francisco.  This was also because I was there when he got really sick with flu-like symptoms while no one else was.  He made me keep his situation a secret from everyone.  I would leave the job at the café early all the time to take him to his doctor visits.  Sometimes ditch class so Elijah wouldn’t have to deal with his life change alone, at least that’s how I viewed it.  At first it seemed easy.  He also mentioned that since we have fooled around a few times over the previous year, that I should also get tested.  While I had already found out that I was HIV negative within 2 days of his diagnoses (I took a blood test faster than you could say “make it a double”), he swore me to secrecy about his status.  Friends would ask me why Elijah was out of school.  I would say it was because he found a sugar daddy that forbade him to complete college.  Truthfully Elijah was learning how to become a walking medical lab with as many prescriptions drugs he could get his big hands on.  After my test, the nurse said that even though I was negative that it could take months to show in my system if I in fact had contracted HIV.  While I knew deep down in the place where my soul should be that I was negative it was still a hard thing to carry silently.  It was the secrecy of the whole thing that really got to me.   I remember my mom calling me around this time, asking how things were and I told her that Elijah was great and that I was okay.  Being the Jewish mother she is, her spidey senses went up and she told me to tell her what was wrong.  I lied and kept lying about the situation for months because that’s what Elijah asked me to do.  I got to the point where I didn’t know what to do with my angst a keeping all my emotions on the HIV front quiet so I figured therapy may be a good thing to try.  Once I started my therapy session it soon became apparent why they were free.

            I got to her cubicle and she asked me to call her Dr. Lailani.  She was wearing a Phish t-shirt, had long black hair and smelled of patchouli.  She also had a touch of black armpit hair that I could see leaking out of her short sleeves.  This aspect put me on edge.  That should have been the first red flag.  She seemed nice enough.  Very much the San Francisco person we have all seen on TV.  I think it weird that she went by her first name.  Anyone that goes by doctor and then their first name is too hippy dippy for my taste but may be therapy will change that. I’m too cynical to take her seriously.  My first issue is that she seems very happy and chipper.  Let me rephrase that.  She seemed TOO happy and chipper, like a Starbucks barista.  I hadn’t even had coffee yet and there was Lailani being that.  I don’t trust anyone who is happy all the time because as my LA has-been actress teacher once said, I could “smell the acting.”  First thing she asks me is if I was named after Dr. Zhevago.  I quickly get defensive and explain that Yuri is a very common Russian name and was not invented by that movie.  I tell her that if I could get a penny for every time get asked that question, I’d be rich enough not to need free therapy.  She then gives me a pity laugh and then asks me about coming out.  She kept asking about how my parent’s divorce sculpted my coming out process when I couldn’t understand the relevance.  For the next 4 sessions she focuses on the topic of coming out even though I didn’t feel the need.  I got annoyed because for me coming out wasn’t that big of a deal.  I told my mom I was gay at twenty years old.  She cried onto my shoulder mumbling about grandchildren, dried her tears and then asked me if I was seeing anyone Jewish.  She then asked me to fix her hair a bit and we went to dinner.  That’s it.  I live in San Francisco.  My family did not disown me or anything like that.  It would take my parents years to understand my gayness but they tried to be supportive with the tools they had.  I told Lailani this and she stuck to the topic way longer than needed.  It was like watching the movie Titanic, at least two-hours too long (our sessions were 45 minutes).  Since it was November, at this point, she asked me if I was sad not going home for the holidays for “CHHHHannukaaaah.”  She spent like 30 seconds doing the hmmmm noise when I told her that it wasn’t a major Jewish holiday and I didn’t really care.  She looked at me as though I had single-handedly killed baby Jesus or something.  It was the same look many teen girls must have had when they realized George Michael was as gay as the day is something.  I then explained to her that while Chanukah is a Jewish holiday, it is a minor one that does not have the importance that Christmas does to Christians and those who have a tree just because it’s pretty.  She then asked me about the 8 days of gifts.  I then told her that I didn’t get that; it was an exaggerated thing to compete with Christmas.  She then asked me why I couldn’t have the holiday spirit and always have to be a bummer.  I then asked her realize that natural deodorant has never worked, to purchase anti-perspiring, to stop talking and left.

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