I broke up with my therapist a little while back.
Nice woman. Jaunty British accent. Gay. (She got good marks on all these fronts.)
But, we ran up against a topic that she just wasn’t able to hear me on.
I like to tell people that I broke up with her because she told me that she thought, perhaps, just maybe, I might have a smidge of ADHD. I told her that no, I did not, thank-you-very-much. And then promptly broke up with her.
But that’s only partly true. I mean, all those things did happen (we can explore the ADHD thing in more detail some other time). But I left out a chunk of truth. A significant one:
I broke up with her because she just couldn’t wrap her head around my marriage.
That’s right. My marriage. You know, the union of two souls and so on and so forth.
At first, I took all her questions about my marriage as a good sign. After all, Simon and I are… unusual. So, good on you for asking, Therapist Lady!
I was happy to answer her questions honestly and fully. I provided a lot of backstory, because I want to be the Valedictorian of Therapy. Duh.
But then the asking inched toward something more than open curiosity. And I started to get uncomfortable.
Here’s some background information to help put this in perspective:
- This isn’t my first therapy rodeo. I’ve found therapy incredibly helpful in the past (any ability I have not to be an anxious mess around all things regarding my child is the direct result of work I did in therapy when I was pregnant with her. It changed my life–and hers, although she doesn’t realize it). I will definitely go back to therapy in the future.
- Interviewing and choosing a therapist is as fun as having my leg hairs tweezed one by one. It’s a lot to be vulnerable (and chatty) for an hour only to realize that the therapist and I fit together as well as mustard on a banana. Which is why I do not yet have a new therapist.
- This (nice! gay! british!) therapist came into my world through a partnership between the booksellers’ charitable organization and Better Help. I chose her from a list of folks. And I did get to interview her. But our meetings were on Zoom. And I am a shell of myself on a Zoom meeting. And that’s just the cold hard truth.
Okay, now that you have the facts. Now I’ll tell you that, from a personal development perspective, there’s a whole list of things I’d like to work on, discuss, dig into. And in the past, being able to talk about my marriage to Simon with my therapist has given me solid insight and perspective that I couldn’t have churned up on my own.
But this therapist’s approach wasn’t about enhancing a good thing. It was about convincing me that deep down, I wanted something else.
I’ll pause real quick to say that one of the things I’m most sure about in my life is Simon.
I get that our relationship throws some people off. It’s queer (in every sense of the word), and that leaves folks feeling unsettled. But anyone that’s ever heard me talk about Simon feels pretty certain that I adore him. I mean, he can annoy the everloving shit out of me. But he can only DO that because he knows me so well.
A world in which I couldn’t see his sweet scruffy face every day would be a dark world indeed.
And, look, you can say a lot of things about me and Simon (I hope most of them are good!), but you can’t say we haven’t consciously chosen each other over and over and over again. Our marriage isn’t something we’ve just drifted through. It’s a conscious coupling.
So, when the well-meaning therapist started trying to steer the ship in an away-from-married-to-Simon direction, I tried to explain that I have literally weighed dozens of iterations of our relationship and family structure. So has he. Separately, and then together, we landed on the one that makes us happiest.
Is it perfect? Maybe not.
But I often, in the middle of the morning chaos when all three of us are home and bopping in and out of the kitchen to get coffee, make lunches, toast waffles, think how lucky I am to share my days with these two remarkable souls.
Family can be so fraught. I happen to joyfully embrace mine. That’s a tremendous gift that I don’t take for granted (except when Simon loads the dishwasher; that shit is whack).
Simon is my biggest cheerleader. My soft spot to land. He is compassionate with me when I’ve forgotten how to extend myself any grace. He makes me laugh. He knows how I will react often before I even know myself. We’ve spent 20 years building this life we have together–and some of it has been hard as hell. But no one is denying the challenges. We’re just over here celebrating what brings us joy.
What makes us feel at home is each other.
So, when the therapist couldn’t let go of what she imagined might be better for me, I had to show her politely to the door.
The right therapist is like a skillful guide, helping navigate toward your own truths. But they aren’t oracles. If they are bird-dogging down a path that doesn’t make sense, that feels wrong, it’s okay to say so. And if they can’t listen, it’s okay to find someone else who can. And will.
All of this is to say: trust yourself. Even if it means you have to break up with your therapist.