There was a time when to catch sight of my therapist outside his consulting room sent my heart quivering and turned my legs to jelly. I saw him one day at the check out of a supermarket in Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn and hid behind the shelves to get a better look.
I wanted to take my place in the queue behind him. I wanted him to see me and my two small children. I wanted him to recognize me outside of his consulting room, but it felt wrong. I might trip over in my awkwardness, drop the shopping, stutter out words of greeting, flush red before the man in whom I had confided for several years, twice a week, in the dark safety of his consulting room.
Now here he stood in the glare of the supermarket lights, fumbling with his wallet to pay for the milk he had bought. I watched as the teller loaded his milk, two cartons into a plastic bag and handed him the receipt.
Did my daughters notice any change in me? The sudden spike in my sensibilities. The sudden urge to stop, to stand back to wait, when normally I rushed my way though the supermarket intent on the next task.
I had no one to tell, only to wait until the next session when I could tell my therapist that I had seen him in the supermarket, that I had spied on him from afar, that I would have wanted to talk to him but all courage had left me high and dry.
And he could then tell me how much he had become like my father, but a different father, too, one I wanted to avoid as much as ever but also one I wanted to meet.