I started therapy on December 29th.
It was just after Christmas. I was back in Seattle, by myself, free again in the big city, and very lost and very alone. I’d made appointments with almost 10 different therapists, and I was on my way to the first, walking down from Eastlake to Lower Queen Anne just past the Space Needle, coming from lunch with a gay man in a mixed orientation marriage who was an elder at a church I was thinking about going to.
And I walked through a light drizzle of rain, with music in my ears, and I felt like something was happening, like we were moving forward, like God and I were stepping forth, and there was a path in front of us.
And I made it down to this boxy office that looked like an architecture student’s graduate thesis, and I walked around, because I was a half hour early, and watched the water of Elliot Bay from a nearby apartment parking lot, because I was too nervous to wait inside.
And then I went in and the appointment started.
And he was young, maybe only a little older than me, with good shoes, and a fledgling man bun, and it made me want to be cool, and urbane, and undefeated.
And he asked me to tell him what was going on. So I launched in, and he listened, while I walked through the story I knew by heart and had recited a dozen times, and written down twice.
And details and cuss words dribbled out of my mouth like mashed-up food, and I stayed—composed, impassive, detached, as I snarled out my story.
And I paused, to gather my thoughts or piece together a metaphor, and he asked me what was happening, now, inside me, as I told this story.
And I realized I was angry. It was like slogging through mud, dragging myself through his quagmire, all this muck that I had dredged up and dumped all over my life. And I was angry, livid with myself for doing this to me, for not being able to fucking keep it together and flinging all this shit all over what had been a great life. And I was angry with my parents, and with life and maybe still with God, for helping me build the framework and the rules that all fell apart so catastrophically.
I was angry.
Still, after all these years.
It’s just now I was angry at me.
And I fell apart, and in a second it was all bleeding to the surface, this rage and shame and anger that had always been boiling under the skin like the hot springs at Yellowstone, and was now flushing to the surface.
It was like I was tearing off scabs, scars, going over half-healed old wounds all over again, and scraping them raw.
And I dragged on, and he just sat there, non-reactive as Teflon, watching and listening.
And I forced a laugh and said every time I told this before I aimed my story, lined up the sights to “sweetly tragic” and pulled the trigger.
And he said it wasn’t a sweetly tragic story. It was just tragic.
And it fucking gutted me.
I wasn’t supposed to live a tragedy.
My life wasn’t supposed to be hard.
And when I got home, late Friday afternoon, for a day and a half I just cried. I cried because I was angry, I cried because this wasn’t suppose to be so fucking hard. I cried because I couldn’t just pretend that this was just going to flip around and suddenly get easy. I cried because I was starting to mourn for myself, for the life that could have been, for the experiences that could have been , for all the joys and little sorrows I should have been allowed to feel and didn’t. For the Alex that could have been. And I cried for the Alex who had to be instead.
And I cried because I was emotionally drained. Wrung out and bled dry, like a dishrag or a carcass. I cried because I didn’t know what I was feeling, and I didn’t know what else to do.
And then a week later I went back.