Friday, February 14, 2014

Another father

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.


Andrew said...

It is purely a geographic problem. I saw my doctor in the street from afar but coming towards me. I chucked my cigarette into the gutter, lest he see me smoking.

He is not your father. There is no connection. I think the de riguer response is to ignore each other and pretend you haven't seen each other.

I understand how you would like him to see you as such a normal person in an outside context, but if he didn't, maybe he will next time.

Pretty good post, I must say.

Joanne Noragon said...

I took each of my grandchildren to a therapist when I first had them. She told each of them they could easily meet out in the big world, and she would say hello. They could say hello. If they were with friends, they should say "This is my friend, Kathleen." It all worked out so normally.

Jim Murdoch said...

It’s fascinating seeing people out of context. The first one I can remember was an art teacher. We were going into the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock and he—and his family—were on their way out. He seemed embarrassed to be seen by me. I don’t know why. It’s not as if I stopped and tried to engage him and his wife in conversation and it’s not as if his wife was a monster; she was just a wife. Whenever it does happen the poet/watcher in me immediately comes out and I do kind of want to hide behind a freezer or something and just watch how they behave. Not that I expect them to do anything out of the ordinary. Like you said, they’ll pay for their messages (Scottish word for groceries) and leave. But it’s still fascinating. I’ve always liked watching people when they don’t realise they’re being observed. It’s me looking for ‘the truth’ even if the truth’s boring.

The father thing I suppose I get to. I never had any need for replacement parents. Mine weren’t the best but I’d witnessed enough of other kids’ parents to realise that mine weren’t the worst either. I didn’t want a different dad. I more looked forward to the time when I had no dad. And when he finally died there was a part of me that was relieved. He was no longer around to disappoint.

River said...

My ex sees a therapist once a fortnight I think it is now, he told me when he once saw her away from the office, he quickly turned down a side street, said he didn't want her to be embarrassed by seeing him. I think he would have been embarrassed too, if she had stopped to say hello.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. The first therapist I (saw consulted, was at a theatre show I attended. I had no idea how to behave. I remember the rave in my head, all the things I wanted to tell her, who I am, what I'm really about, not this cripple she speaks to in her consulting room. As time went by, bumped her often, at bookshops, theatres, movie shows. It got easier to go over and say hallo. It's part of the becoming oneself. So what if one sees a therapist. Why not say hallo. The second one I went to (see) consult, saw her at the movies, Annie's Line I believe it was, and I specifically went over to say hallo, putting the awkwardness deliberately aside. Like here I am, a fully fledged human being. Present and accounted for. Not ashamed, thank you very much. Both were very friendly and accommodating outside consulting hours. I obviously didn't start talking about issues in these times.

Anonymous said...

I also remember having a dream about my therapist, as my mother. Told her about it. I still think of her. It has been years since I spoke to her. She moved cities, and I changed location too, so it's unlikely that we'll speak again. I tried consultation via telephone but it's not the same. She said as much. Miss her. My mother too.

Rob-bear said...

Intriguing the senses and sensibilities we have in relations to others. Thanks for your story.

Blessings and Bear hugs!