The Fool-Proof Guide to Failing with Flair

Everything you need to know about getting it wrong.

Relationships, Part I


Ah relationships. I figure if I’m going to do this thing I might as well start with a biggie. Relationships come in all sorts of fail-able categories: romantic, intimate-lite (my version of friends with benefits), marriage, sibling, parent-child, friendship, professional, and other miscellaneous, casual relationships. I have, at one time or another, failed at all of them. Go me.

The first type of relationship I want to tackle is one you may have with your therapist. What? Weird, right? Hear me out though.

In my opinion a relationship with a therapist is the trickiest relationship that has ever been invented. In a way it’s just a tiny bit like taking a lover. Hopefully it’s not one-in-the-same. I’ve had several therapist relationships over my lifetime and, if it’s not already obvious, I have failed at each and every one of them. I say it’s just a tiny bit like taking a lover because the chemistry has to be just right for it to be a productive, successful and satisfactory relationship. With a therapist though, the end-game is to get you un-fucked-up. With a lover, the end-game is simply to get you fucked. Often a therapist is needed because your lover was too good at his or her job. With a lover, if they don’t understand the best way to do their job, you can always give them pointers. Or not. Then you can use their ineptitude as a weapon in a fight or as an excuse to leave them. You can also leave a bad therapist but it’s more difficult to tell right off just how bad they may be at their job. And if you already knew how to get un-fucked-up on your own you wouldn’t need them in the first place, so giving pointers is probably out of the question.

I think my failure with therapy has had mostly to do with not having found a therapist with whom I share the right chemistry. I’ve really given it my all each and every time, except maybe with the family therapist my mother dragged us all to see when I was about ten. She decided, after one visit, that our family issues were mostly a result of my avoidance techniques when my sister and mother would fight. Huh? After that I wouldn’t talk in family therapy at all.

I have seen mostly female therapists because the one male therapist I chose to try out wanted me to see things from my husband’s perspective. I think he may have had relationship issues of his own. No, no, that’s not it at all. He was OK but I found that I was too guarded around him and that wasn’t going to do me any good. For whatever mysterious lady-reason, I find it easier to open up to a woman. Not that I have had any measurable luck or success with female therapists either but at least I don’t censor myself with them, and I am far less likely to cross that therapist-lover line.

The last therapist I had was a about as helpful as a hole in my head. I was separated from my husband and involved in an intimate-lite relationship that was causing me angst. I had also just lost my license to practice law and my house was in foreclosure. One of my kids was starting his own battle with substance abuse and I was certainly not living a life that would lend itself to the title “good example to follow”. Faced with all that information and more, the best advice she could give me was to use condoms with my lover. I got several lectures on sexually transmitted diseases. I stopped going to see her after the fifth session and I am fairly certain that she contributed significantly to my therapeutic PTSD.

I haven’t made any serious attempts to replace the STD lady but the moral of this story is not that you shouldn’t go to therapy if you’re as screwed up as I am. There is no moral. Maybe I have none (morals, that is). The thing is, I know what I need to do, I just don’t do it. I’m not sure any therapist can help me with that unless they know of some good motivational pharmaceuticals. No doubt I will one day venture out to try again, but not today. A failed therapist relationship requires some recovery time. No rebound for me, thank you.

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