“Say more,” my therapist often prompts during our Tuesday appointments. Let’s call her Sage.
“That’s all I’ve got,” I reply while her dog gnaws on a stick of beef jerky.
But there’s always more. I just don’t say it out loud, like how Sage’s voice reminds me of orange marmalade on a piece of warm, buttered toast. Imagine the questions that would follow: “Did you eat orange marmalade as a child?” (No.) “How do toasters make you feel?” (Uh, fine.) “Are you the tang of the orange or the warmth of the butter?” (WTF, weirdo.)
Look, I’m sure it would serve me well to shed my armor and unleash my inner monologue. It’s not that I don’t feel safe with Sage. If there were ever a person who could offer me harbor in the storm, she’s the one. But why should I endure 55 minutes of awkwardness on a gray couch with too many pillows when we could trade dog stories instead?
“Maybe you could try journaling throughout the week,” she once suggested. “It might help you with your process.”
Journaling isn’t my jam. But then it hit me: I would document my neurotic self-talk in the form of greeting cards to Sage. And I’d store them in the safest place of all: my sweater drawer.
1. Get Well Soon
Just wanted to wish you a speedy recovery. You canceled our appointment last week on short notice, so I concluded that you must be terribly ill or injured. Are you in the hospital? Did you fall and break your wrist while walking your dogs? Are you dying? Maybe I can bring you some homemade chicken soup. Cooking soup is part of my cultural heritage and a mindfulness practice, which you’ve affirmed is good for my emotional health. But since I struggle with boundary issues, I guess bringing you soup would be weird. Right? Besides, I don’t even know where you live. I could probably find out with a little Googling, though. (OMG, I would never Google you!) Sigh. Okay, forget the soup. Just remember to breathe. And feel free to call or text if you need anything. See you Tuesday?
2. Thinking Of You
… especially when I walk my dog because you have two dogs. And when I stroll through the dairy aisle of the grocery store because I know you love yogurt. I also sometimes think of you when I’m replenishing my supply of over-priced tea, reading The New Yorker, and buying a new pair of socks. Is that normal? Is it normal for me to think that’s not normal? Should I even be writing this? Maybe I should go for a run. Do I have attachment issues? Hope you’re having a nice weekend. Maybe you are gardening. Or buying an espresso machine.
Trying not to fixate,
3. On The Occasion Of Your Retirement
NO. Just no. You’re way too young for that. Your kid isn’t even in college! And don’t you want to remodel your kitchen? Consider the power and resilience it takes to embrace change. You’re not ready. You need more time. But if you decide to stop seeing all of your other clients except me, that’s totally cool. You understand my fear of abandonment. Looking forward to continuing the work next week.
4. A Heartfelt Apology
Last week I said something I can’t take back and it’s eating away at me. I made fun of your shoes. I’m not sure why I blurted that out, but I realize now that it was very insensitive. I don’t know anything about your emotional relationship with Crocs, and I’m sorry if my comment was triggering. I really care about you (and your footwear) so I don’t want you to think less of me because of my loose-lipped candor. I’m desperate to please people and I hate being misunderstood. Do you think I’m a nice person? Do you think I’m full of rage? Crap, I’m turning my apology into a plea for validation. I hate when I do that.
Bottom line: if you’re planning to break up with me at our next session, could you just text me to let me know? That way I’ll be prepared and can start finding a new therapist today.
5. Miss You
Right now you’re on a cross-country road trip with your kid. Based on the date of your departure, I’m guessing you’re somewhere near the Great Lakes, unless you got into a car accident. God, I hope you survived. I’m still worried you’re mad at me for insulting your shoes. Should we continue processing that together?
I have to admit: Tuesdays have been feeling kind of lonely without you. Your couch is like a second home to me, even though sharing my deepest insecurities while you stare at my face feels like torture. I do miss all of the therapist-y objects in your office: the peppermint oil, the fidget spinner, the stress ball, the unruly spider plants, and your snoring dog. Even that cheesy photo of the waves lapping onto the shore is a source of comfort. Is your office securely locked? Will you be reachable if someone breaks in? Did you remember to unplug your electrical appliances? I bet you forgot. Shit. I know I should focus on myself, not on your office or whether you’ll see a moose when you reach Yellowstone, but maybe you could send me a postcard?
Can’t wait to see you when you’re back.