I’ll try another run at this.
Have you ever leaned back in your chair and leaned that bit too far and almost toppled over? But then you caught yourself in time and stopped it?
That panicked “OMG” feeling – that rush of fear? Normally people feel it for just a few seconds.
I feel it ALL. THE. TIME.
That “OH CRAP” feeling? It is AWFUL and I go about my day constantly on edge.
I thought breaking up with a boy was painful and complicated. So is breaking up with a Psychologist.
George has suddenly stopped texting me stupid cartoons, gardening advice, pictures of his tomatoes and Monty Python quotes. When I was obsessed in the last month with suicide, I texted George for help. In the past, he’s called me immediately: “Are you ok? Can you get to a hospital? What can I do?”
This time, his text read “I am fully booked for the next 4 weeks. I don’t need to remind you about all the emergency services and help lines available, you know that already. If you need to see a psychologist sooner than 4 weeks, I can refer you to someone closer to your home. Regards, G“
And he has NEVER ‘spoken’ to me in such a way before. Not ONCE in our 3 years together.
I cried over that text. Over how cold and professional it was.
He ended it with “Regards”…Really, George? After all these years of being so close? Really?
I tell George all my secrets. All my ugly dark thoughts. All my fears. All my triumphs.
Now “regards” and he’s fully booked?
No no no.
I tried again.
“I really need some help” I texted “Please could you let me know if you have any cancellations in the next week? I’d also rather NOT be referred to someone else, considering the history we have and how well you know me”
“Next Wednesday at 3:30pm has come up” he pinged back.
Okay. I’ll take it.
So I caught the train, biting my lip.
Usually when I arrive at the quaint 1900’s cottage where George’s new offices are, he is sitting on the step outside, waiting for me. I don’t know, there is something really special about that. Something warm and welcoming. It has blessed me every time in all these years. George will see me approaching and will raise his eyesbrows and smile – a silent “Hello Janet”. I roll my eyes in silent response “Hello George”. Like we have our own code. He’ll gently rib me about being late – because I’m always late to our appointments “Did you catch the wrong train again, Janet?” “did you go to the beach instead?” “Did you follow a rainbow and find the pot of gold?”
I normally groan “OMG. I’m here, ok? Shut up”
We go into his office. He has two fancy black leather office chairs facing each other. He sits in his and crosses his legs at the ankles. I like to sit cross-legged in mine and cuddle my handbag in my lap. I use my toe to nudge myself closer to George – 1) Because he speaks softly so I can hear him better 2) I secretly like being closer to him.
This time, I arrived at the little cottage – and there was no sign of him.
I had to ring the doorbell.
I didn’t even know George had a doorbell!!!
His voice came through the intercom (there’s an intercom???) “10 minutes, okay? I’m…uh…doing stuff”
This was so weird.
I sat on the step and played on my phone. When George eventually appeared, he led me to his office. The chairs were further apart than normal. George sat upright in his, not leaning back into it the way he usually does. He didn’t cross his legs. He sat forward with his favourite purple notebook on his lap. That notebook usually gets put aside so we can “really talk”. Not today.
I didn’t like this. Not one bit. The atmosphere seemed different. Colder. CLINICAL.
Going along with the extremely clinical mood, I didn’t push our chairs together. I didn’t sit cross-legged, I mirrored George and sat upright and professionally the way he did.
“So…what is your agenda for today?” George asked.
No jokes. No talk of planting our seasonal vegetables. No Monty Python quotes.
This wasn’t just weird…this was downright AWFUL.
“I have a suspicion that you’ve either been taken over by an Alien that wants to come across as ‘normal’ as possible and that’s why you’re so stiff looking or that you’ve hired a new receptionist or secretary and she does your text replies so that’s why no cartoons or jokes when I contact you…what’s going on, George?”
Even though I asked in a joking manner, it hurt to see him like this. To see us like this. As if we’d never met. As if we’d not spent 3 years carefully putting together my broken emotional and mental fragments.
George…who are you right now?
George smiled wryly “It’s option 3, Janet – I’ve been really burnt by someone just recently. Really hurt by them. So I’m taking steps back from patients I’ve grown close to. I’m hitting RESET and I’m putting up professional boundaries that should have been there a long time ago. No more cartoons. No more jokes. We can’t be friends, Janet. You are a patient. I am a psych. That is all”
Just like that?
BUT YOU DIDN’T EVEN TELL ME.
I feel like he dropped me.
I feel like George ‘metaphorically’ walked around with me, safe and happy in his hand…then without any warning – he just dropped me. Threw me, maybe.
And it HURT.
So what do I do now, George?
How is this ok?
We both forged ahead. I noticed as I was talking (cautiously and not telling the whole truth of the situation) that George looked very pale. He didn’t smile as often as he usually did and he had formed a new habit of rubbing his forehead sadly.
I told George about “Amos” and he made up a plan of action using the whiteboard.
He never does that!
His advice was so structured and reasonable. Rational and sensible.
I hated it!!!
There was no banter. No challenging. No arguing. No laughing.
2 weeks have gone by and I leave work in 10 minutes for my 2nd appointment with George.
I will know after leaving this one whether we can move forward together or if I need to look for another psych.
I’ll let you know.