images-1The Worst Therapist in the World sat across from me carefully enunciating into a brown, push-button land-line telephone with a comically short, curly cord.
“Yes, Sharon, I……………OK then is 6:30………………No? Then why don’t we………………”
She had to lean from her chair in a sciatic-tingling angle to keep her face three inches from the cheap plastic casing on the desk next to her, the shiny earpiece clutched in her hand like it was a live snake trying to writhe away.
“Good-good-good let’s say 7…………….I have to go………….I have to go…………I’m with a client I have to go………Ok……Ok.……..I have to go………”
I adjusted myself in the chair to distract myself from that feeling you get when someone cuts you off in the middle of a sentence, like trying to stop a stream of urine mid-flow. She wouldn’t remember that we had been talking about my husband’s punishing, dismissive, frostiness I feared would break me, and therefore wouldn’t see the irony in taking a call while the words “I don’t feel like a priority” still hung in the air.

“Sorry” she said as she hung up, “I just needed to…….Anyway let me turn off the ringer.”
She said this every week, after the phone rang every week.   In the beginning we would just stare at each other impassively as the alarming, clanging shriek cut into the session, waiting patiently until the click, followed by a muffled out-going message of an answering machine located somewhere behind where I was sitting. It was like a psychopath mumbling murderously in the closet after he cleared the building with a fire alarm.   I showed her the off-switch she had no knowledge of despite using the same phone since 1986, but she never remembered it until after the heart-stopping interruption and a brief, fragmented conversation.  Then, she would turn with a “So, Where Were We?”
“So” she said, taking a breath, “where were we?”
The exhaustion I always kept in my pocket crept over me like a thick goo. The effort of pushing air through my voice box seemed a ridiculous expectation, but the isolation of being home alone all day with a toddler and an apathetic partner spurred me on. Surely there was something I could say that would unlock my happiness, I just had to try one more time.
“I was making Max a shake…..” I began, trying to formulate what had happened the night before, when he had come home from work and hid in the bedroom, pretending not to hear me, pretending not to see I needed attention, pretending that a grown man hiding in the bedroom is legit and probably what Obama does after a hard day at the White House.
“Oh yes you make those vegetable drinks for your son, right?” The Worst Therapist in the World interrupted, “Are you still using kale? I was at the store the other day, I saw kale. How do you cook it?”
“I don’t cook it,” I said quickly,  swatting the conversation back to the point, “I just throw it in the blender, and last night when I was in the kitchen…..”
“I read where you can sauté it,” she slapped back, winning.
I took a peek at the clock. Time to go.
We both jumped as the phone barked to life, as always at top volume.
“Oh! I thought I turned that off” she said, looking at it, upset that it pulled her from her vegetable reverie.
“Go ahead and take it,”  I said, already rising from my chair and putting my headphones over my ears. The best part of therapy was the walk home along the beach, and usually I would go further than I needed to, walking until the soles of my feet ached.  After tonight I might need new sneakers.
“See you next week” I said, pulling the door closed behind me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *