Work is my therapy. Acquaintances are being frivolous when they tell me otherwise. Why would I need to talk about my so-called “issues,” when I have a full-time desk job in a field that you’d never understand?
Pre-preparing lunches to eat at my desk is my therapy. Small, plastic containers filled with neatly-arranged greens and grains ensure that my lunch hours are not tarnished by garish flavors. Hunching over the sink as I wash the empty box is my version of the “spa experience.” It’s like a hot tub for the hands.
Manually logging into email accounts is my therapy. Typing out the many characters of my predictable password reminds me that I’m human, that I’m flawed. It keeps me centered. I am not a robot.
Unplugging my subordinates’ earphones when they leave them at their desks is my therapy. If they are deluded enough to believe that music—or God forbid, a podcast—can improve their productivity, they deserve to have their embarrassing tastes exposed to their deskmates. Buy Airpods or deal with the consequences, Mr. Broadway Cast Albums.
Glaring at interns whenever they shoot a friendly, nervous smile in my direction is my therapy. You can see the blood draining from their faces, as they wonder whether this singular twitch of my visage means that they’re going to be subjected to imminent firing. I have no control over hiring and firing. They’d don’t know that.
Adjusting the height of my desk chair is my therapy. Nothing says self-care like taking small measures to prevent the arrival of repetitive strain injury. My shoulders are nimble and ready for anything that office life can throw at them. I am a real human being.
Sipping a flat white while it’s scalding hot is my therapy. The sensation of burning across my tastebuds doesn’t hurt me anymore; instead, it keeps my heavy, routined heart on its metaphorical toes. I don’t usually use metaphor, as my body houses a deep-seated loathing for the humanities. This is what happens when you spend too much time in the office kitchen with the Deborahs and Andys of the world. My brain is rotting.
Watching colleagues get promoted ahead of me is my therapy. Seeing their gleeful faces as they walk out of HR turn into ones of pity when they see me is a sensation I’ve known all my life, and one that a therapist would only revive.
Being the last to leave the office is my therapy. Between the hours of 6 PM and 8 PM, I remain alone, undisturbed by my peers. I don’t work during this time—I ensure that everything is completed during the day—but instead sit alone in bracing silence, measuring my own pulse and taking in the various shades of gray that make up my surroundings.
Recording the spread of my wrinkles is my therapy. I don’t have laugh lines—I forgot how to laugh in 1998—but when resting bitch face is your version of “trying,” some creasing is to be expected. I map them out in my neutral, black Moleskine notebook, which I keep in my bottom drawer (the drawer where you store personal possessions), along with a multipack of neutralizing breath spray and a photograph of a whimsical bouquet.
Missing my daughter’s football game is my therapy. The knowledge that she is out there on the field, learning the lesson that you can’t trust anyone in life but yourself, rocks me gently to sleep at night, better than the touch of a loving partner ever could.
Selling my house so that I can independently fund the construction of the new meeting room is my therapy. Sleeping under my desk with my child beside me is a small price to pay for the uplifting sight of my own name, engraved into a plaque above the door.
Seeing that my name is spelled incorrectly on the new plaque is my therapy. It keeps me humble. It keeps me alive.