Dating On Therapy [Single White Nerd]
I recently starting seeing a therapist. Not socially. Professionally. As in “going to therapy.” It will be helpful in the long run. So I’m told. In the short-term, however, I have learned that dating while on therapy, like dating while on drugs, is a poor idea.
Last week, I found myself sitting across from a fetching young lass. Things were going quite well. She talked, I listened and asked probing, yet witty, questions. We ate french fries and shared ketchup. We talked about how they really do need more varieties of ketchup in grocery stores. And then she asked the question that sent the whole evening into a tailspin:
“Tell me about yourself. What’s your story?”
Now, before therapy, this question would have been a no brainer. I had any number of easy deflections, self-deprecating asides, and conversational gambits. Now, however, I’m aware of all of these defensive tactics. Therapy has jackhammered into the well-laid sidewalks of my psyche to reveal 34 years of festering swampland lying beneath. It also, apparently, has given me a gift for torturing metaphors. Anyway, even starting to talk about myself starts me down a long, slippery slope into the quagmire. Of the swamp. Metaphorically speaking.
In the case of this date, it went a little something like this:
“Me, oh. . .well, you know. I’m employed. Which is good. The thing is though that I have this unreasonable addiction to stability but I also despise it, right? So I paint myself into a corner. Which is something that my mother always said when I was growing up. I guess that growing up, I never felt ‘loved,’ per se, though I also didn’t feel–”
As I talked, I could see her eyes widening. I had to shut up. But I couldn’t. Because the swamp was turning into a tsunami that could not be denied. I started making connections between my current behavior and my childhood. My goodness, I had never found myself so fascinating! I finally finished a sentence. She made a brief interjection:
And that’s all it took to set me off again:
“I know, right? So now I have this dream journal. It’s next to my bed and I write my dreams in it. Not while I’m dreaming, obviously. But afterwards. The dreams help me deal with, you know, when things get overwhelming and by writing them down I’ll learn to read their messages. Plus my dream journal wears pajamas, so that’s kind of cute.”
“No, really. A little creepy. I don’t want to be mean, but why are you telling me all this?”
“Well, because I’ve learned that I’m reticent in expressing myself and asserting my will. I admit that as soon as I started talking, I had a strong urge to stop. That I was over-sharing, you know? But then I thought ‘wait a minute, maybe this is just my reticence to assert myself asserting itself and I should go on because that’s what a functional person would do. And so I did because it seemed like the harder choice and I’m trying to be braver, you know.”
“I think you’ve been in Los Angeles too long.”
It’s possible that she had a point. Anyway, the whole evening was very stressful. So much so that I had a dream about it that very night. I know I dreamed about it because I wrote about it in my dream journal. Well, actually the dream was about being a pirate on a floating garbage barge and taking extasy while a gypsy danced for me. But I’m pretty sure it was really about the date.
The point is that the date was a bit of a disaster. I may take a wee break from meeting new people in a dating scenario until this bizarre urge to overshare passes. Until then, at least I have my dream journal.