Once upon a time, I spent my Tuesday mornings huddled on a couch with equally poor posture. I always favored the right side, which sagged a little less. That side was farthest from the window — farthest from the requisite fishbowl, the box of Kleenex, the potted plant. Interesting, to see something so green.
It took me months to actually go. I’d never worn a hood in my life, but I wore one then. The soft fleece against my cheek made me want to cry. It didn’t take much, in those days. I remember filling out a form in the waiting room, with a graying black dog dozing in a patch of sunlight. He looked very tired. I remember seeing someone I sort of knew, slumped there too, and how quickly we averted each other’s eyes.
I went because I didn’t know what else to do. I went because I was heartbroken and it was my own fault. I went because I was starving, and this was also my own fault, but I didn’t know how to stop. I went because I couldn’t keep myself from running — I mean that literally — and because I was so completely worn out. I went because I was graduating soon, and I was desperate to be done, but not as desperate as I was for four more years, somewhere else. I went because time was moving too slowly, and too quickly, too.
Mostly I went because I thought it might help.
It did, but I wasn’t prepared for how much it would hurt first. I walked home, drenched, and cried for the rest of the afternoon. At around seven I made a slice of my favorite toast, and I didn’t taste a thing.
It did get better. I went every week for four months. Twice a week at first, then only once, and then just once every other week. All I wanted was something concrete. This is what is wrong with you, and here is how to fix it. I wanted a list of things. All the things. She gave me a journal and a series of prompts. I liked her well enough, but I felt a little bit like I’d been left out to dry. Eventually I realized that she was doing just right. By leaving me clipped to a clothesline — still dripping.
By the time I ran out of things to say, it was spring.
Now, barely three years later, I’m thinking about going again. For variations on the same themes. (Which feels so unfair, somehow.) I’m thinking about going again, because while making a list in a bakery may be cheaper than therapy, I’m beginning to think I might be asking a lot of a chocolate chip cookie. (No matter how good.)
Did you know the three hardest things to say are I love you, I’m sorry, and help me?