When I first lived in Vermont some, um, many years ago, there was a poster that hung in a shop in the local mall. It had an ink drawing of a scrawny old guy with a three-day stubble, dressed in a woman’s undergarment. “Freud’s first slip” was the caption. I smiled every time I passed it.
If my generation isn’t quite on the cutting edge of accepting therapy as a normal part of life, we’re riding up fast on the lead party. My parents wouldn’t hear of sharing their innermost secrets even with their friends, much less with a stranger. I don’t know what my mom and dad must have thought the first time they found out I was in counseling, but I suspect it went something like, “good heavens, you don’t suppose she’s talking about us, do you?!?”
I’ve heard it said that psychiatrists are the most screwed-up people on the planet. I was a psychology major, which puts me a little farther down the ladder, but in need of some help nonetheless. I have not been shy in availing myself of it from time to time.
Over the last 20 years I have seen a number of therapists, all women, all social workers, some helpful, some not. Yet I still haven’t really found a professional who can get down in there in the mud with me and wrestle my demons into submission. So I’m trying again. On the off chance that I needed to go in a completely different direction, this time I chose a psychologist, who’s male. After spending all of 45 minutes with him, he put a name to something I’ve been trying to understand for most of my life. So we’re off to a good start.
We all have baggage, and much of psychological theory suggests that we started packing it about the time we left the womb. I could keep on struggling – I’m doing OK – but at my age, I figure if I don’t check my American Tourister now, I’ll be lugging it around until I die. I’m choosing instead to take my unpacking to a new level. I’m really tired of all that weight holding me back.