After-Scare!


So, you might remember that I recently did an intensive five-week outpatient Dialectical Behaviour Therapy group therapy class. If you can’t be bothered clicking on the Wikipedia link I provided, which describes what DBT is, let me explain briefly: it’s therapy that teaches life skills to people who have trouble with emotional regulation. Or, as I like to call it, it’s “Anti-Crazy-Ass Bitch Therapy”.

Everybody who “graduates” from the intensive group therapy classes is entitled to free after-care – one session a week every Wednesday night for six weeks. Free health care?! In the US?! Well, hell, I was certainly intending to take advantage of that as was the new friend I met in the DBT class. So, off we both toddled to the after-care classes where I expected to learn how not to smash all the dishes in my kitchen when I’m pissed off to continue to utilize all the wonderful skills I’d learned about before.

The first session was fine. The therapist who led the group must have been approaching sixty, and she was small, cute and rotund. She looked like your favourite elderly aunt. The second session did not go so well at all, and upset me considerably, which was quite a feat on the therapist’s part given that I arrived in a perfectly good mood, as calm and level-headed as could be.

She pissed me off immediately by telling me that I shouldn’t be dating anybody ” for a year”. Now, I agree that I shouldn’t be rushing into a relationship any time soon, but, hell, what did she expect me to do for a whole year? Sit in my room for 365 days swearing off all contact with men, only to launch into the dating world on the 366th day? But, more to the point, why the hell was the woman telling me how to live my life? And in such a rigid way?!

At this point, I was still looking up to her as a sort of cuddly, granny-like figure, so I was only mildly irked, but things took an even worse turn when I started talking about how the most depressing thing about turning thirty-five is that my ovaries are getting old. My therapist – who clearly does not understand the phrase “rubbing salt into a wound” – agreed and said “Yes, they are getting up there”. Um, OK. Way to go to make me feel good about my rapidly declining fertility.

I know that I would be very sad if, ten years from now, I didn’t have a child just because a suitable man never came into my life. When I broke up with MM, my first reaction (well, for all of two minutes) was to think “Shit! I’d better get out there on the dating scene to find a baby daddy”. I soon realized that this would be the act of a desperado. I would like to find love and companionship again but I’m certainly not going to settle down with the first half-decent dude who comes along just so I can pop out a sprog before I’m over the hill. I have therefore decided that if I am still single at the age of thirty-eight that I am going to either (a) hit the sperm back or (2) seduce some handsome dark-skinned young man in, hmmm, say Brazil or Argentina. Please spare me the sanctimonious rants about how I’d be be using my white privilege to exploit somebody from a county where people are less privileged. Quit complaining, and stick a fucking condom on your penis if you don’t me to use your sperm. It’s that easy.

Anyway, I told the therapist all of the above minus the part about the sperm bank/my Latin American cougar dreams . You know what? I might never end up in that sperm bank. I might never get to shag some hot young Latino and shamelessly use his sperm for my nefarious purposes. But the thought that I could do these things to have a child if that’s what I want is a damn sight better than sitting at home every night, knocking back a bottle of red wine and bemoaning childless singledom (and a dearth of potential good mates). Hell, if thinking that gets me through this divorce and makes me feel empowered about the choices I have in life, then so be it.

Grandmother therapist had other ideas, though. In front of the whole class she said that I “should not” be a single mother: I “should not” do that to a child and that “a child needs two parents”. “Aye”, I thought to myself, “it would be nice to have a helpmate so that I could nip out for some cocktails of an evening”. Actually, that’s a huge lie. You all know how it’s easy for me to slip into guilt, and that’s exactly what I did. I thought that I must be a really selfish person to have considered being a single mother. I was totally bewildered and felt awful. Then this huge surge of anger rose up in my throat and I realized the woman was being a patronizing and controlling bitch! Therapy is not supposed to be about “shoulds” and “should nots”. Even if you don’t agree with a client’s life choices, you are supposed to gently (gently, lady, gently!) guide them to look at all angles. You’re not supposed to humiliate them in a room full of people.

So, um, I let the bitch have it. I did, mercifully, refrain from completely cussing her out, but I let her know in no uncertain terms what I thought of her so-called “therapy”. The tension was so high in the room that two men left the room. The women all stayed (we’re used to cat fights, haha). I have since heard from my regular therapist (who used to work in the same place as this woman) that several other group therapy attendees have had a similar experience with this person. This makes me very angry because a lot of people in these classes are extremely fragile. I am actually the only one who wasn’t committed to a psychiatric ward at one point because of a suicide attempt. Thankfully, I have a rapid return to baseline, so, after a wee cry and a cigarette, I had gotten over what she said, but her words really affected me for a few minutes. I’m just glad that I’m not the type to take BS and go home and brood about it later. I dread to think what could happen if she said the wrong thing to the wrong person at the wrong time in their life.

I’m toying with the idea of writing a letter of complaint, but I’m not sure it’s worth it. Thoughts?

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13 thoughts on “After-Scare!

  1. Doug Hart December 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm Reply

    Now you know the meaning of no free lunch. That bitch was extracting a fee. Just not renumeration.

  2. LazyBuddhist December 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm Reply

    I agree, it sounds like she was out of line for a supposed mental health professional. If I were you, I would write a letter of complaint. There’s a definite power dynamic between a therapist and the client, and it sounds like she is taking advantage of that to foist her personal beliefs on you. And I think because of that dynamic a lot of mental health professionals don’t get called on their shit. I would write that letter if I were you. Like you said, there are a lot of people who are far more fragile who can’t or won’t speak up for themselves. Speak up for them, and for yourself.

  3. Pandora Viltis December 17, 2012 at 4:37 am Reply

    This post is all kinds of awesome.

    My first thought is that, lady, you smoke? Please don’t wreck your voice. My husband is ready to buy your album. Me too.

    This also makes me upset about the state of mental health care. My therapist never told me what to do except “feel and don’t act until you know what you want to do” which is why I haven’t left my husband who at this minute has an arm thrown over me so I can’t move and is snoring and I remember everything I love about him.

    I’m so glad you let that bitch have it. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be an awesome mom if it happens. You think. You care. It’ll all work out.

  4. jstodberg73 December 17, 2012 at 3:29 pm Reply

    I didn’t tell the whole story yet after divorce I got married again this summer a half year later. Want to be a dad and all that my ex was 25 years older. Well sometimes it doesn’t always get better. I quit a good job to be here I hate my job I just feel like I can’t even put words to it. I have thought of hanging myself of the bucket truck if they tell me I live to far away to drive to work I just feel like life hates me. But I also know I love life too much to go through with it. I just feel like I have been taking crap all my life and just swallowing it all the time let it eat me slowly until all I can do is cry. I wish my life would just be more level and not so lopsided. Reading the pain you go through makes me feel less alone.

  5. williamx December 17, 2012 at 8:33 pm Reply

    That’s a good deed done, right there. A letter of complaint though? Only if that is what it takes to let it go, as I suspect there is a kind of agenda happening with the counselors message. I suppose you’d be doing everyone a favor by advising more subtlety.

  6. Foreigner December 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm Reply

    I feel your pain, my past was for 15 years being married to someone I didn’t love. I married out of guilt we were chatting online and suddenly she divorced her husband I felt responsible even though I know now I was just the ticket to her freedom. I wanted to end my life two Christmas ago but my doc got me on some meds for my depression. So last Christmas was my first one in 15 years I felt free. Then I got hitched again this summer moved out of state took a job I hate. I don’t why life does this to me.

  7. arekino December 19, 2012 at 6:12 am Reply

    Sorry, no thoughts on this. But you’re an adult who can make her own decisions so I’ll just leave this to you.

    I don’t like that old hag though 🙂

  8. arekino December 25, 2012 at 3:03 am Reply

    Merry Christmas!

  9. arekino January 1, 2013 at 10:37 am Reply

    Happy New Year!

  10. williamx March 4, 2013 at 12:49 am Reply

    It’s been like a whole year . . . is there anyone out there?

    • petrichoric March 23, 2013 at 10:08 am Reply

      You exaggerate, dear Williamx. It hasn’t been a year, just a few months – but, yes, you’re right that I need to get back into blogging.

  11. lifeismisery March 18, 2013 at 12:59 am Reply

    you didn’t kill yourself did you?

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