As part of my treatment after my little... freak-out... Trudy's got me in therapy on Tuesday nights.
I want to play along, but it's hard. She can't really understand where I'm coming from, so I have to go over all my little problems as Ellie, but even when I'm talking about them I come off as being totally uninterested. I mean, what can I say? This time next week I'll be in Maine. Hell, I could be myself again by then. How can I bring myself to care about all the stress I've been under as Ellie?
Dr. Westphal clued into this, after two weeks of "Um, well, I was really hurt, when I had this fight with Leanne I was really bummed out..." and laid it out for me.
"Ellie, it seems as though you think of your life more as a spectator than as a participant."
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Why do you think that is?"
I smile and look around the room. She's got a bunch of degrees and fancy books and really, she's in no way prepared to learn the truth about me. I just shake my head. "I... guess I just can't explain it."
We dance around it for a while and she keeps asking me why I seem to care so little about my life. Finally I decide, maybe she can handle it, so I ask if we have "doctor-patient confidentiality," and she says basically, unless I express a desire for self-harm, and I say good, because there's no way she can explain this to anyone else anyway. She asks what it is I have to say.
I took a moment to think about it, and took a deep breath and said, "Imagine there was... a place you could go. Like a hotel. And if you stay at this hotel, one morning, when you wake up, you're... someone else. You look like someone different than what you think you are. And there's nothing you can do about it, and you can't choose who you become..." suddenly I start to realize that my voice is shaking and my eyes are watering and I try to explain it as best I can in terms she'll understand, "And you just... you get told who you have to be, and you can't do anything about it, except be that person. Suddenly, your whole life is out of your control and there's nothing familiar, and there's nobody you can talk to... nobody who understands you. It's.... that's stressful."
"Are you saying you don't feel like the person you look like? That you'd like to change who you are?"
I sniffle a little laugh. "Yeah, I guess you could say that."
With a little bit of sympathy in her voice she tells me a lot of teenagers feel similarly, isolated from their peers, at odds with their bodies. I can't explain that's not exactly what I'm getting at... it was just nice to unload a little bit.
I couldn't say to her "I'm going away for a month, and when I come back, you'll be talking to a whole different person." I couldn't explain that whatever she's learned about me in the last few weeks, won't really apply anymore.
The last thing she said was "I know you don't want to seem like you care. I know for whatever reason you don't seem to want people to think you care about life, but I've seen the way you get worked up when you talk about yourself. I know you do care, and I want you to know that it's worth it. You only get one life, Ellie, and it's important to enjoy it."
Well, I guess someone who'd never been to the Inn might say that.
I don't know if it worked, or what, but like I said, it was nice to get all that stuff off my chest, even if it zipped way over her head. Stuff I've been waiting almost a year to tell someone.
Two nights from now, I'm in Maine. holy shit.
Good luck to both of you.
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