Daughters of the Dirt / Sarah Higdon

She's Not My Old Therapist
by Diane Fleming

My new therapist is not my old therapist. My new therapist has sense. You know she has sense because she's not married, she doesn't have kids, she doesn't eat meat, and she is never seduced by my jokes. 

My old therapist was nearly 70 -- a New York Irish Catholic. She came to our appointments directly from her daily AA meeting on the beach. She dyed her gray hair blonde and rolled it in a coil on top of her head. She wore miniskirts and encouraged me to do the same. She dropped lumps of fishy tuna on Saltine crackers and ate them during our sessions. Once fed, she'd convince me to go outside and sit on the patio as she chain-smoked. She flattered me by saying I was her only client she could do that with. 

Most weeks, I'd walk in and she'd grab me by the scruff of my neck and say, "Don't give me that bullshit that you LOVE him. Did you call the divorce lawyer yet?"

The next week, she grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and said, "Don't give me that bullshit that you're not depressed. Did you call the psychiatrist? Did you get the meds?" 

She didn't fool around. She scared me. I believed her when she said, "Don't waste my damn time."

So I called the lawyer though my heart wasn't in it. I called the psychiatrist and took those damn pills, those antidepressants. I notified the authorities, just in case. I waited six weeks. 

I woke up on Labor Day and drove down Palmetto Park Boulevard and suddenly, through no fault of my own, I was happy. Zoloft enlightened me that I lived with a man who didn't work, who didn't love me, who never had sex with me, and who lovingly called me a bitch and a cunt in front of the kids. Zoloft and a 70-year-old rosary-wielding woman in a Wonderbra made me kick him out. 

My old therapist thawed me from a deep freeze. 

My new therapist tries to keep me from being too heated up. She tells me, "You know, you'll never be a tall blonde. And you know you're not ready for a boyfriend. And just think, if you decide to date women, what will your sons think?" 

I'd feel more comfortable if my new therapist was an alcoholic -- active or recovering -- or if she needed breast reduction surgery or if she had silicon implants and starred in a porn film and left her three illegitimate kids in a dumpster outside of a disco. But my new therapist, she's been trained in the science of what's right, what's wrong, what's healthy, and what's sick. She teaches me how to be normal. 

My new therapist is not my old therapist, who taught me how to be alive.
Diane Fleming is a local writer and an AustinMama.com favorite.  She recently won The Austin Chronicle's Short Story Contest for her story, "Valium."  Order her book of poetry, Trip to Normal, here.