Help on the Way

As a psychotherapist, I needed professional help. The thought seemed new, which surprised me. Couldn’t everyone benefit from someone listening to them every week? I’d chosen a difficult profession. I often felt that it had chosen me. I knew that the thought in the opening sentence had come to me a hundred times. Maybe this was the first time I was listening. I was walking toward my psychoanalyst’s office. Soon I would be lying on her couch, where I felt safer doubting the contents of what I said. That sentence didn’t sound better than the opening one. I might’ve said that I felt safer in my psychoanalyst’s office to say whatever came to mind without judging the contents, and that I was able to do this in good moments. How could I expect my own clients to risk feeling safe with me in a session if I didn’t continue to have the same experience with my own therapist? My analyst’s office was a block away. Another thought seemed to form itself, the sounds of downtown Seattle traffic started to push it away, I thought that maybe I should find a coffee shop and order a small coffee, and then the following sentence came to me: I’d been judging what had been coming and going in my mind during the last few minutes. I glanced at my watch, realized that I wouldn’t physically be in her office for another twenty minutes, and imagined myself writing in the hardcover journal that I held in one hand. I was a therapist who desired to write whenever possible, before and after sessions with my own clients, and before and after sessions on the couch with my psychoanalyst. As I stood in line and doubted whether or not I should order drip coffee or an Americano, I remembered thinking a minute or so earlier that I would have to wait another twenty minutes for the session, and the writer in me rewrote the sentence: I would have to wait before I could jump into her office. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to doubt what I assumed was the meaning of whatever I thought or felt at any given moment. I must have been more in a hurry to have someone else listen to me than I wished to admit. With the help of caffeine, I spent several minutes writing whatever came to mind in my journal. I somehow knew, without looking at my watch, when it was time to stop and cross the street for another fifty minutes of professional help.

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