No, these are not the days of the Star-ship Enterprise. This is me thinking about why exactly I signed up for the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Program. And it all comes down to space.
The first time I saw Igor I was astonished by how much space he created for me and still felt close, there and with me. The first session was especially palpable as I had never been in that kind of space before. And I had done a whole lot of therapy prior to finding Igor, through out my 20′s and 30′s and there had even been some back in the tweens and teens. I tell you that not to dig up the painful truth that I have spent as much money on therapy as I have grad school and I have likely spent more time in therapy than I have at the beach, parties, and or any other recreational activities( in my defense I must say that I am not big on recreational activities).
Soon after I began with Igor an old boyfriend came to mind and how whenever I left Igor’s office I never thought of this guy. This is where things get tricky so I will type slowly and expect you to read slowly, as it is going to be tough to follow this logic. Okay, so for the ten years that I saw the yellow toothed Jungian, after almost 80% of our sessions I would think about this guy. And as I was just married and wanted to stay that way I wasn’t all together thrilled about this guy popping up in my consciousness post-session. I thought it meant that I was a hot mess and that I was drawn to something self-injurious. Why exactly was I thinking about this guy who was as healthy a choice as a heroine-speed-ball-Oxycontin cocktail with a vodka-hemlock chaser? I told old Yeller and he never had an answer. He would say “interesting” and then go off about some obscure Minoan fairytale and how the Princess wanted to date a poisonous snake. I would say “uh-huh” knowingly and nod my head and pretend I had some idea what he was talking about. But the truth is that I didn’t. We kept up this farce for TEN years( feel free to laugh at me in the comment portion of this post).
On the way to Igor’s office each week I pass the condo of the parent’s of the poisonous snake. I can’t help it. They live in a condo on a main street and to avoid them like some kind of black cat would take a lot of traipsing around circuitous side streets. Driving L.A. is difficult enough without adding unnecessary side-streets. So I didn’t. And each week I passed their condo and each week I passed the church I imagined we might marry and each week after Igor’s I wouldn’t think about him. He just didn’t come to mind.
After several months of seeing Igor it came to my consciousness that I hadn’t thought about him and so I told Igor. As soon as he heard of my decade of post-session rumination he asked me what my associations to poison paramour were. I explained that he was VERY bad for me and yet when we had been together there had been enormous intensity. It was one of those toxic relationships that required me to keep a shot of adrenaline around as when I would hear his voice I would go into near anaphylactic shock. Igor, upon hearing my associations immediately had an interpretation. Your mind was trying to tell you something: 1)It was trying to tell you that the relationship with your old analyst lacked intensity and so it picked a symbol to compensate for the lack of connection. Secondly, it picked a symbol of a man that was clearly not a healthy choice. Your mind was saying: You need a therapist where there is more connection and this guy you are seeing is not a healthy choice. He was right. The yellow-toothed Jungian was highly-intensity impaired. His passion level never got about a Nordic high of cool, calm, collected and, perhaps, a bit constipated.
I remember one session with Yeller in which I was totally overwhelmed by all the things that I might chose to talk about and so I just sat there. I sat there for five, ten, twenty, thirty-five, forty, fifty-minutes, The session was over and I did not say a single word. Old Yeller never said anything. And on sessions when I did say something I never felt like we connected. There seemed to be this constant missing. I would say something and he wouldn’t get it and then he would go an scholarly diatribe about what Jung said or what the Greeks said or some other ancient culture said and he would carefully stay far away from what I said. Each week I would leave feeling confused, unheard and, to be honest, incredibly stupid. As I look back I don’t know why on earth I stayed so long. I guess that the truth is that I thought he was the best because he was so smart that I had no idea what he was saying. Note to all who are considering therapy: My reasoning was ridiculous. One should be able to understand their therapist. One should not need to speak ancient Greek or Aramaic in order to work on one’s father complex. I think that the other issue is that I thought be being there and sitting at his feet, I thought that it meant I was smart. It did not.
With Igor I feel a connection. He is there and with me and totally attuned and yet I have plenty of space. When we first started to work, I marveled that one could be connected and still have space ( this tells you everything you need to know about my family of origin issues).He gives me space when I need it and he somehow knows when he needs to interrupt my silences. Igor would NEVER-EVER-EVER let me get away with 50 minutes of silence. NEVER. And that is a good thing.
Almost as soon as I experienced the space that Igor created for me I knew that I wanted to create it for my clients. I wanted to learn how to do this and this is why I enrolled in the program. I enrolled because I want to became an inner architect. I want to create spaces that contain. I want to create environments where change can occur. And I wouldn’t hate it if I ended up getting some referrals out of it. I also wouldn’t mind some personal growth. And to be completely candid, I get a hunch that it will be good for my writing, but that isn’t something I admitted to on my application for the program. I don’t imagine Psychoanalytic Institutes like to think of themselves as memoir and blog fodder.