Sometimes I do feel like I’m cursed. I’ve lost track of the number of times I had reason to believe my ship had come in, only to find myself running off the end of the dock and falling into the frigid sea. At this point, I have zero reasonable expectation of success in my lifetime, and yet, even when I know that failure is imminent, I can’t seem to shake this stupid optimism that tells me, no, this time it will work out. This time you’ll get where you want to be.
I have a lot of respect for people who manage to work as therapist 40 hours week (maybe not for Freudian analysts, although you have to hand it to people who manage to hold onto a perspective that’s long been discredited) because it’s really emotionally draining work, listening to people whine day in and day out, most often about the same thing, week after week, with no intention of actually changing their circumstances. For a while, I thought I would be happy doing that job, but 2 internships and a practicum in mental health convinced me otherwise. Now I just give advice for free. People seem to think I’m good at it. Even strangers on the internet thank me for my insight, and if you’ve been on the internet, you know what a big deal that is.
Another thing I was thinking about was transference/countertransference. To do therapy, a therapist has to get the patient to like them in a certain capacity. I’m frankly astonished at the number of people who go to therapy for months or years and are afraid to tell their therapists the truth. I know it’s a goodly percentage of people, because people tell me things, and then, pretty often, add, “I’ve never even told my therapist that.” And I say, “Why not?” Because therapy is freaking expensive and it seems silly to pay someone $150 an hour to not tell them the truth (and then tell it to me for free). But people are filled with shame.
Anyway, you have to get your patient to like you, in a sort of parental way, where they trust you and feel safe with you, and you have to like them back, but not too much, because you can’t be emotionally involved with your clients, even if your entire relationship is about your emotions. You’re supposed to develop feelings for one another than you can then use to open up discussions about those feelings and how similar feelings affect their lives outside the office. But pretty often people aren’t that comfortable with their therapists, and I think it’s safe to say that some therapists don’t like their clients, and sometimes it shows. And people get discouraged and assume therapy doesn’t work, when it’s really the therapeutic relationship that’s not working, and they should just cut their losses and find a more appropriate therapist.
I can’t afford a therapist. But if I could, I would definitely be talking about the 101 examples I could give of moments in my life when I had every reason to believe things were going to unfold in a way that would improve my life, and instead didn’t unfold at all. I swear, it’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy. That’s why I drew this comic, instead of not drawing a comic.