Why I Am a Glutton for Punishment…or, Couples Therapy, AGAIN


Bless me whatever/whoever for I made the appointment.  Without undue external pressure.  Because though in hindsight I must say that the Sheepdog was certainly certifiable, I did feel guilty for my inability to get along with her.  I often feel guilty when I can’t get along with people.

Being raised Catholic is a bitch.  If you beat the shame, the guilt will get you every time.

So, another appointment.  With a predictable result–mostly after we leave couples therapy I want to get a divorce.  Even if, as with this appointment, I walk in kind of liking my partner, who has shown up for me lately in ways that make me so grateful I literally can’t speak.  Even though we’ve had those laughing so hard moments this week in the midst of the aftermath of death, the undertow of grief.

Why do I want to get a divorce after couples therapy?  Because the couples therapist TAKES HER SIDE.

It’s like this.  She sits there with this angelic look on her face that basically shouts, “I am innocent of all wrongdoing in every moment of my life.”  I sit there looking at the couples therapist thinking, “I’d really like to kill you for just being a therapist in the first place, but I’ll make an incredible effort to be polite instead.”

Who would you like more?

To give this particular couples therapist some credit (a straight man, because hell, I might try every flavor of poison out there), he actually copped to feeling protective of my partner and taking her side, which destroys my chance of getting out of jail free.

This is what you call volunteering for prison, walking into the cell, then throwing the key out through the bars.

This therapist said that there is no room for criticism ever, that criticism kills love, and that the purpose of life is to experience greater and greater states of love.  Then he reads from Eckart Tolle, the favorite of Mr. Don Foley.  (Otherwise I might have screamed out loud.)

Does this therapist have a pipeline to Don?  Or is Don trying to tell me something?  Or are New Age philosophers ubiquitous?

Regardless of the answer to those questions, I still can’t look angelic like my partner, and I am definitely not feeling keyed into this whole greater states of love thing without having Don to talk to.  SO, I think I may just explode into a million pieces if I can’t criticize my partner because SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY.

The therapist says I am supposed to understand that human beings don’t fully mean the shitty things they do to each other.

I don’t buy that.

Of course, my partner does, because she likes things to be nice, and she believes in good intentions.  Well, she believes in her own good intentions and other people’s good intentions, though mine may be in question.  Because I am doing John Sarno and admitting I hate everyone and am afraid of everything because if I don’t my back starts to hurt again.  Besides, I am more or less the Queen of the Dark Side.  Which means that when my partner and I sit down to discuss our interactions, I’m all about examining the shadow.  I like to tell on myself, but I like even better to tell on her.  I like to examine our unevolved brains and our competitive hierarchical natures.  I like to think about how we are embattled within our own psyches, basically living out the archetypal wars represented in Greek myth and sometimes in Biblical stories.

My partner is like, “I just had to pee.”

You might wonder how she has stayed married to me for twenty-four years.

I have an answer:  Time flies.

But, seriously, I have been thrown on my face unexpectedly in the last weeks, and sometimes I think I want a divorce after couples therapy just because grief is such a storm.  There are waves of such darkness.  I don’t have to go searching for archetypal battles and I don’t have to contemplate the meaning of life.  It’s right here.  How short everything is.  The emptiness where my friend used to be.  And I feel alone with it.

Until my girl in New York calls and we start riffing on menage a trois jokes.  And then I tell her about sitting with Don while he was in a coma and telling him my romantic history from 6-21 years of age (someone came in the room and interrupted, which I’m sure Don appreciated).  I realize then that I don’t tell anyone my romantic history and I haven’t told her either.  It’s like we’ve both been married for eternity.  So we confess to our past ridiculousness, and laugh some more, and then our unevolved brains take control and bitch about our partners and how everything in the world and then some is ALL THEIR FAULT.

Oh, to be a girl.  I felt so much better after that phone call.

So, I will drag myself back to the Straight Guy for another couples therapy session.  He didn’t even say, “Sorry for your loss,” which might be a deal breaker right there.  Plus, I feel like a novel in a language he just can’t read, which is predictable because he isn’t trained in certain ways I like.  I will suffer through another hour, and I will want a divorce again, and then I will go to the gym and watch football bloopers on the very large television while my partner goes to her thing, and I will wonder if martyring myself in this way makes me the real saint in the relationship and I will decide that yes, it does, and the fact that my partner has done my dishes for three weeks is only what I deserve.

Or not.

It goes on.  In its absurdity, more than its drama.  Though it is short.  Though it ends without warning.  In theatre newsletters and short plays, in sneezes and nights without sleep, in the hurlyburly and the ashram.  It goes on whether I am here watching or not.

Metta for me, and for my partner, and for Don, and for all sentient beings, on any planet, in any imagination, or anywhere at all.  May we be well.  May we be happy.  May we be safe and protected.  May we be at peace with what is.

Even if that’s a couples therapist reading to us from a book by Eckhart Tolle.

Yes, Don, I know it changed your life.  I’ll go buy the damn book.

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