These days I do two things: I go to work, and I feel bad about myself. Those two things pretty much fill my days. The work is interesting, but the depression is boring. It’s also urgent, urgent in the sense that it doesn’t allow space for anything else. It sends my thoughts in repetitive, painful circles, even when I try to meditate, even when I try to practice yoga, even when I take our lovely dogs out to the meadow on a rare sunny day.
You can’t escape me any longer, Depression says. You have got to deal with me.
I’m not sure what I have to deal with, but I suspect it’s what I wrapped up so securely inside the envelope. I would like it to stay in the envelope, but I think I won’t have any peace until it’s out. I’m not sure if I’ll have peace then either, but I know I won’t while it is in there.
I have been telling E. for weeks that I need more time with her. She heard me but I think she thought at first it was just a vague wish. Last week I said it more directly: 45 minutes is not enough to be able to do this. We get close, but then there are only 5 minutes left, and I am not going to open this with only 5 minutes to talk.
She told me insurance would not pay for a double session, and that is where we left it. But it continued to preoccupy me. I emailed her after our last session. It’s killing me (well, not literally) to get so close to difficult things in therapy, and then to stop without getting there. Then I spend half the week or more trying to contain the raw emotion, and I’m just about even-keeled again a week later, when we start the whole thing all over again. Are you sure insurance won’t pay for a longer session? I don’t mean every time, but just to get through some hard things. Or what if we met twice a week, close together.
I know, though, that she doesn’t do back-to-back therapy days. She does Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and uses Tuesdays and Thursdays for teaching and projects and supervision. And anyway I can see from her online calendar that she doesn’t even have any openings until sometime in March. This week we already planned to use Monday’s session to meet with a woman who does bodywork, to talk about how we might integrate that with my therapy. I realize there will be no opportunity to deal with the urgent stuff until February 29 or later. And this makes me feel worse. And more urgently needy.
E. told me I could call her. I never have, but she gave me permission. We have talked about it indirectly for ages and explicitly about a month ago. But still I haven’t called. I haven’t called because
- I don’t want to bother her on when she’s not working. She deserves a break.
- She’s such a support to me, and I am afraid of wearing her down so she won’t lose her enthusiasm for working together
- I’m afraid I will call when I’m at my neediest, and then a phone call won’t be enough to help, and I’ll just feel more alone
- I used to call Hannah, my first therapist, once every week or two, and while she was concerned and warm at first, after a while she told me I could cope on my own and didn’t need to call her; since then I have never called any therapist for anything but scheduling
On Saturday morning the burns on my arm are hurting but the pressure isn’t gone. I tell myself I can call. I can trust E., I know I can. She said it was okay. We can talk about this more. Finding a way to get some more time is getting my needs met, and that’s a good thing.
So I compose a text, asking if she has time to talk. It’s okay if you’re busy though, I add at the end of the text. I wait a long time before hitting send. When she doesn’t reply in 2o minutes or so, I consider sending another one that says Never mind. Then I remember that I am not really sure which number on my phone is her cell and which is her office. Maybe I accidentally texted her office phone. So she won’t see that anyway. That’s better anyway.
I take a short nap, but when I wake up the world outside and the chaos inside are still the same. So I send her an email saying essentially the same thing as the text. Then I put on my happy red rain boots and trudge through the mud and the puddles with my dogs. On the way home, my phone buzzes in my pocket, a text.
I can talk tonight, she writes. What time is good?
We arrange a time, and I’m relieved. But I’m also afraid. What if she ends up telling me, you know how to deal with this. You’ve been dealing with it a long time. You can hang on, and we’ll talk more when I see you on Monday. Then I’ll be more alone than ever. Then I won’t even have the hope of reaching out to her, because I will have done so and found there’s nothing there.
But she calls, and she is warm and caring, and doesn’t seem to think it’s an imposition. She seems happy to talk to me. She also thinks that the secret in the envelope really wants to come out. It must see how well you have been preparing the way for it. You’ve protected it a long time and wrapped it and tested the waters. So it’s getting ready to come.
I think so too, but I am not sure how that is supposed to happen. When? There is no time. And Monday we are talking to C. about the bodywork…
We can always cancel that, she says. C will be fine. We can reschedule. It is your time, for what you need.
She pauses a bit. Maybe it just wants to come out on the phone, right now? I mean, no pressure, I’m not asking you to do anything one way or another, just wondering if it’s ready.
I think about this, but no. I don’t think the phone is right. I have to see your face. I have to see how disgusted you are. I don’t want you to hide a reaction… I mean, I do trust you, but…
She laughs, but she knows what I mean.
We are both quiet for a little while. Then E. says, Tomorrow I’m going to be in the office, working on some writing. Why don’t you come in? It could be good for me to take a break. You can come in, and we can open the envelope, or not open the envelope, or whatever you need to do. It’s all on your timeline. I won’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to do.
I’m hesitant to take this generous offer. So she says, Why don’t you think about it for a while, and then I’ll call you back to see if you want to do that. When is a good time to call you back?
I feel so cared for. She seems happy to talk to me, happy to offer me time on Sunday, happy to let me think it over and see if it is what I need. When she calls me back an hour later, I thank her and say I’ll see her on Sunday afternoon.