She asks me another question that I’m not sure how to answer. “I don’t know” seems like a cop out and I don’t like saying it. She wants something definitive and lucid, but instead she gets a bunch of rambling that has to be sorted through, like a trash bag when you know you’ve thrown something important away.
I realize she has to think about what I’ve just said, but does she have to stare at me while she’s doing it? She examines me like a specimen under a microscope, and I wonder if she sees the pulse in my neck throbbing faster. The longer she stares in silence, the more anxious I feel. Should I say something else? Should I just wait for the next question?
“I feel like there’s something you aren’t telling me”, she finally says. Her brows are knit together and her head tilted to one side. I open and close my mouth like a fish. I’m not sure which something she means. There are a lot of things I’m not telling her. There are things I’m not telling her that I’m sure she wouldn’t deem relevant to the conversation, but that I want to say anyway. And there are things I’m not telling her because I can’t bear to part with them. I can’t have them shoved under the microscope. I don’t want them examined and pulled apart because I may never be able to piece them back together. I’m afraid to let go of the bits of myself that I think I understand, because there’s always the possibility that she’ll prove me wrong.
I shrug and give a half laugh. She scribbles something on her notepad and I wish I could snatch it from her. Not to read it, just to use it. To flip to a new page and jot it all down, just like this. To show her that I’m not as inarticulate as I appear to be…I don’t always ramble. Maybe we can just email each other instead.
“Do you want to remain in your current position”, she asks. “Is this what you want to do with your life?”
“No”, I say immediately, confidently. I smile because it's the easiest question she’s asked me today.
“What do you want to do?”
“Write”, I think just as immediately. But I don’t say it. Not yet. First I sigh and give her all the reasons I can’t do what I want. I tell her I need to go to school and pick a career that generates more money, as soon as possible, so that I can support my kid. I tell her that it’s not a question of what I want, but what needs to be done. I have a choice to make and, because I find it depressing, I haven’t yet made it. I’m in my current job, not making enough money, not going back to school, because I can’t bear to pursue something that may not pan out financially.
I overload her with information again. She’s got so many things to sift through that when I finally say, “I love to write. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted to do”, it’s weighed down and I know it doesn’t have the effect it should.
We touch on so many different things that I’m not sure what today’s objective was supposed to be. And I know it’s my fault. If I could just give her a straight answer, maybe she could form a valid opinion. Maybe she wouldn’t have parroted my own words back to me. “I don’t know.”
As the session draws to a close, I realize that I’m sweating. I can’t wait to get out of there and, maybe I’m projecting, but I feel as though she can’t wait to get me out of there too.
She says she’s going to give me a test to take home. Seventy questions to help her determine what sort of personality I have and in what occupation I’d fit best. I just barely manage to keep from rolling my eyes. Is this middle school? Is she going to tell me that I don’t work well with others and should be in a profession where I have limited contact with the general public? Will I fit into the “artistic circle” on the career wheel?
“Try not to analyze the questions”, she says. “Go with your gut instinct.”
I take the paper and note that it says “Temperament Sorter – different drums and different drummers” across the top, and I have the insane urge to laugh.
I’m wondering if I made the right decision, if she’s the right therapist for me. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to tell her all the things I’m afraid to. I’m wondering if this questionnaire is going to help. I’m wondering if she’s going to be able to sort through all the garbage I’ve given her and pull out the bits that need to be cleaned up and examined…or if that’s even her place. Maybe it’s mine. I feel more confused than I did before we began, and that worries me.
Then, in small letters off to the side, I see the words “please understand me”. They’re nearly hidden under the grey shadow of a hole-punch mark, from where they’ve been copied many times. I feel the sudden burn of welling tears behind my eyes and the suppressed laughter becomes a thick ball in my throat. The sudden change in my demeanor embarrasses me and I fight it back, hide it from her.
We schedule an appointment for the following Thursday and I leave quickly, walking through the hallway with my head down. Once I’m inside the elevator I breathe a little easier. I ride it up and up, out of the basement and past the next few floors. Once off, I make my way through the corridors, turning left and right, navigating the maze of the hospital on autopilot. And all the while I’m thinking.
1 week ago