Award-winning columnist, Saralee Perel, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Her novel, Raw Nerves, is now available as a paperback and an e-book on Amazon.com.
My Inner Child's A Big Dork
I promise that not only did Bob give me the OK to tell everybody he’s in therapy, he suggested I write this column. For 2 reasons:
1. He feels nobody should be ashamed of seeing a therapist.
2. I’m acting deranged.
He’s going because of the stress anyone would feel who lives with a severely disabled person (meaning me – physically, not mentally. Well . . . ?). I vowed I’d never ask what he talks about. Here’s how it went after his first session.
Me: “What did you talk about?” He left the room. I followed.
“I’m OK with you going," I lied.
“You’re threatened to death.”
“I’m not! Unless you talk about me. You don’t, right?”
He headed away. I found him in the kitchen. “You didn’t talk about S.E.X., did you? That’s all therapists want to hear about. They’re all perverts. That’s why they go into the profession in the first place.”
He scratched his head and said (sarcastically, I think), "Gee. Didn't you have a therapy practice in Barnstable for . . . 22 years!?"
"Yes. That’s why I’m an expert at recognizing when people change subjects. Let's get back to what you talked about."
"I wasn’t talking about that.”
I pulled out a sealed envelope from my purse. “Don’t read this. Just show it to your doctor.”
He tore open the envelope and read aloud, “No matter what Bob says, I’ve never pointed out that I can barely walk and he can. I’ve handled my disability with the courage of Mother Teresa and have never expressed self pity in the form of singing all day long, ‘Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen’ and I don’t hum it while he’s sleeping. PS. I didn’t start whatever fight he talked about.” He tore up the letter.
Later, he discovered me fiddling with his cell phone. We each have our own, with separate numbers. I figured I’d call him before he went into session, and then happen to leave it on. He said, “I don’t bring my cell because I knew you’d do that.”
“Fine. I just want to know one thing.”
“There’s never one thing.”
“Does he want me to come too?”
“What if he did?”
“He does?” I felt faint.
“I didn’t say that.”
“I’m not mental. You are.”
“What makes you think that?”
“Because you’re seeing a shrink!”
That’s stupid,” he said. “I like talking to him.”
“But you could talk to me for free!”
“No offense, but you’re a lunatic.”
“Oh, if I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard that. Just try me. I promise on my mother’s eyes I’ll be objective.”
“Your mother’s dead.”
“Give me one chance.”
He sighed, “Pretend you’re my therapist.” I nodded. He said, “Sometimes it’s hard being a caretaker.”
“You, you, you. Why don’t you put yourself in her shoes for a change? Oh that’s right. She can barely walk in her shoes.” He went to bed.
I came to my senses and woke him, “I know it’s hard,” I said gently. “I want you to go because it makes you feel better. And if it would help, I’ll go too.” I surrounded him with my arms and said, “You’re my hero, you know.”
He kissed me and said, “And you are, and will always be, mine.”