I got to Vesta on Wednesday at 12:50, and read my Kindle until about 2:40. It was all right- the intake process is a first-come, first-serve sort of operation, and I was lost in Obama’s Wars. Now that I know a lot of soldiers, I was looking for their pictures, even in text. I found them. Every single base is somewhere that a friend was stationed. Then, when I got home, I scared the absolute bejesus out of myself by watching Zero Dark Thirty… but that is neither here nor there. We’re talking about intake here.
The therapist was a lot better than the one I saw in Rockville. She told me to stick to facts, because she did not want me to flood out. I thought it was so sweet, but I said, “I’m on Neurontin and Klonopin right now. Nothing will rattle me at the moment.” She laughed her ass off and said, “ok. Let’s get started.” She took almost an hour and a half with me doing a complete H&P (History and Physical, for those not in the know). I just rubbed my left ring finger (right now, not then) knowing that something was missing and then realizing what it was and saying, “OMG. Duh.” The indentation is still there after seven years, and I can’t believe that I still rub it… not to get it out. Just to remember. I probably did it because the first thing I told her was that I’d just gotten divorced in February and it was a disaster of a situation. I also told her that I’d lost a good friend at my own hand at the same time, and it bothered me just as much… mostly because I believe then and sort of believe now that it was all my fault. I had a breakthrough in therapy that convinced me that perhaps I was wrong, and for the first time in months, my stomach settled from the ever-present clench I’ve felt since then. It’s something that’s private between Argo and me. The point of the story is that I had a breakthrough that I thought would never come.
I also got some relief when she asked me if I’ve ever committed any violence against anyone, and I told her about the fistfight where Dana pushed me and I reacted by punching her. She told me that didn’t count because it was a reaction and not an action. I am sure that several people will raise their eyebrows at that assessment, but at the same time, I can’t help but believe her, because that’s what I felt in the moment. There was no way I was ever going to be bigger than Dana, but I thought I had to prove that I could be if needed. Just went off like a Yorkie with a God complex. It was a breakthrough to realize that Dana and I had done an incredible amount of emotional violence to each other, but it did not mean that “she needed hitting” was a valid defense.
It stopped me from leaving the house. I stopped going to church. I stopped everything in my life because I did not want to have to explain the bruise under my eye to anyone at any time. The flip side of this is that I still miss Dana, I still reach for her in the night because I am expecting her to be there because I’ve just dreamed that she is. When I wake up, I have a half-second of wholeness before I realize that I am whole within myself without her, and that is how it needs to be.
I am still furious with Argo that she made my move all about her, because it wasn’t and she wouldn’t listen to me. She just assumed the worst because we were already mad at each other- first children who couldn’t let the other one win under any circumstances. I’ve often thought about what a “win” would have looked like to me, and it would have been this: “I love you, but I cannot deal with you right now. I feel threatened that all of the sudden, you’re moving close to me… but let’s cool off and see what happens, even if it’s years in the future.” The real reason I came to DC is twofold. I already had friends here- real ones- and I didn’t want to start fresh. Like, there was no way I was just going to take off for Minneapolis and hope for the best, you know? The other thing is that Dana’s parents live here, and I liked that even more. That maybe, years in the future when we are both settled in ourselves, our paths may not be parallel, but certainly perpendicular…. crossing at a time when we could sit at a cafe with a cup of coffee and not ruminate on the past, but tell each other what we’ve done with our futures. It would delight me to no end if that meeting ended in kisses, but I’m not counting on it. We might fall into old patterns and that would be a disaster for both of us. Plus, I always got the feeling that she was hiding something from me, and I want a woman who is not afraid to kick my ass into next week when I need it. I think that’s why I thought Argo was so perfect~ she wasn’t afraid to tell me I was being a “judgmental dickhead” when I deserved it. Another funny memory I have of her is that she helped me solve an issue with Aaron and when it was over, she said “tell him he owes me a fucking drink.” That’s my girl. :P It is my eternal hope that one day, he’ll be able to buy it for her.
And as I was thinking all of this in my session with the therapist (whose name I cannot remember), everything came in waves. Nothing was chronological in my thinking because it never is. I work in a Minority Report kind of computer, where everything is on the x, y, and z axis. Some things are closer, and some things are further away, but they all combine into one narrative. Dates and times are not my specialty, but details are. I may not remember your first or last name, but I guarantee I will remember if your shoes were untied the first time I met you and if you wore perfume I did or did not like.
Dana was wearing a George Mason sweatshirt that her godmother had given her, a detail I remember because when I lived in Alexandria, I worked for ExxonMobil at Gallows Rd. and there was a branch of George Mason right down the street. I let Argo scare me into not moving back to Alexandria, and I will never forget that fact, either. It was something I also told my therapist, because if there is a definition of unfair, I thought that was it. But Black Friday became Easter as I found out that Montgomery County was way more equipped to deal with me and my shit than NoVA ever would. But I still miss my old house, my old Metro stop, my old everything.
Maryland was new and exciting, but at that time in my life, I don’t think I was prepared for it. I told my therapist that as well. I also still remember flying down Little River Turnpike in my little white Mercedes because the freeway was always a nightmare. I remember driving 395 into the city and having tears come to my eyes as I passed the monuments nearly every single time, because I was so overwhelmed by their beauty.
It was never about Argo, but feelings are feelings and hers are just as valid as mine, fair or not.
It was about me trying to find myself again, after Kathleen and Dana, the people I then considered to be the closest people to me in my life, and how I needed to be single now, because I’ve found that I just do not function well in a relationship. I am too insular, I don’t share enough because I am scared that no one would love me if I did, and I disappear for hours at a time with my reading and writing. I think INFJs are programmed for it- not necessarily the unworthiness bit, but especially the disappearing act they are wont to do.
I also told my therapist that Dana and I grew apart because of Argo, because Dana couldn’t believe that I loved her more than anything despite loving Argo to the ends of the earth AS WELL. It wasn’t polyamory, or at least, it wouldn’t be once I got my act together and stopped feeling all my little kid shit. It was that Dana had always been my best friend, and the way I viewed it, she got a promotion and Argo was there to take her place. She wasn’t my best friend because best friends let each other cry on their shoulders with a good bit of tears and snot all over, but she sustained me in a way that I’d never had before, and Dana’s jealousy isolated me from it so that I’d never have that relationship with Argo at all. It was all Dana, all the time, or she was out.
We were allowed to have friends severally, but not individually.
The relationships between all of us became toxic and when that happened, I couldn’t get either one of them to understand where I was coming from. That I needed time, because this wasn’t all going to get solved in a day.
I needed my time with Dana on the ground. I needed my time with Argo in the cloud. Neither one of them got what they needed from me, and it was pulling me in different directions so that I was forced to choose. I didn’t want to play anymore. I picked up my toys and literally “went home.” Houston had nothing left for me. It was the right decision at the time to move there, but the mission was over and I aborted. I went to a mental hospital because they both meant so much to me that it was tearing my heart apart to an enormous degree and I got so far down I thought I couldn’t save myself, and I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t gotten a message from Argo that changed my life. She said, “why do you think it’s everyone else’s job to fix you?” When I heard that, I had my dad drive me to the emergency room and checked myself in.
What happened was a miracle. By the end of my stay, I didn’t feel worthless anymore… partly because my cohort had plenty of people in my exact situation- unworthiness- and all of the love that poured in for me as I recovered. I never should have gone back to my house after that. Not ever. Dana mentally thrashed me with everything she had, and I found myself locked in my office with lots of sedatives so I didn’t have to face her. I just slept, disappearing into dreams of happier times, the ones where I didn’t have to worry that Dana and Argo weren’t going to be a part of my life because in my dreams, there they were… saying and doing all the right things, giving me the responses I knew I wanted because they weren’t really there to say differently.
In my waking hours, Aaron was there to wipe my tears and give me Kleenex for all the snot. I felt a little less anxiety because at the hospital, they’d given me gabapentin to take the edge off the physical reactions to anxiety, but I knew I needed to talk to someone and now, I’m getting them.
There are 30 therapists at Vesta, and I’ve been encouraged to keep trying until I find the one that feeds me, not to just take the first person I get if I don’t have the right chemistry with them. I’ve already been through four in the past that have cooked my noodle in all the wrong ways:
- Therapist #1 said to me on the second session that I was so interesting she told all her other patients about me. Dealbreaker.
- Therapist #2 didn’t talk at all, didn’t offer suggestions, didn’t do anything except look like he was half asleep. Dealbreaker.
- Therapist #3 said that she didn’t want to take me on because she was so near to retirement that she didn’t want to take me on because she thought that my therapy would take years. I respect that, but it came across as “you are way too fucked up for me to help you…. after I’d paid her $225 because she wasn’t on my insurance. Such a fucking dealbreaker that I couldn’t decide whether to cry or take a chunk out of her drywall.
- Therapist #4 ran a battery of tests on me that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was more fucked up than most people and gave me some books to read- all very good- and then when we finally got somewhere, dumped me because he said that he was too close to my family to listen to anything I had to say. Dealbreaker, especially after the MMPI, because I thought he was the first person who might ACTUALLY be able to help me.
After those four experiences, I told my intake counselor that it was a miracle I’d showed up at all. She agreed with me, and told me she was proud.
I wonder how I got this fucked up, and then I remember that it wasn’t one thing. It was emotional abuse, it was being in show mode and having a dark personality behind it, and after the emotional abuse, I got a severe case of detachment disorder from everyone I really loved, because I was convinced that because I was gay, no one would love me if I told them…. but she did….
I also told my therapist that I was great at one-on-one, and great at being in front of a crowd, but I could not do large parties or anything close to it because I was so afraid. She said that was very typical and she understood- that being in front of a crowd wasn’t personal. It’s why I’m going to be an excellent minister someday, because after the amount of therapy I will undergo myself, I will be able to handle so much more than just standing in front of a crowd.
And that’s where I’m choosing to end. All of this therapy has a point. It is to be my authentic self no matter who is in front of me. No show mode allowed.
I’m in-Vesta-ing in my health, one appointment at a time. My next one is on Sept. 15th at 8:30 AM. By then, I’ll be a year older. Maybe not any smarter, but at least beginning the process.