Well, I did it. I went to a therapist. You know what made me pull the trigger? The 90’s Rom Com movie “French Kiss” starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. Let me explain:
I hold allllll my emotional shit inside. I am perfectly aware that I do this. Maybe it’s the stoic Irish in me. I hold it in because every time I go to talk about why I’ve been feeling depressed these past few years- BAM!!- waterworks like crazy, and extreme hopelessness and general emotional anguish ensue. It’s awful, and I hate it, and I do my best to avoid these breakdowns like the plague- so I repress, repress, repress.
Which brings me to “French Kiss”:
So, if you’ve never seen the movie (SHAME), this is the gist: American Kate (Meg Ryan) has flown across the ocean to win back her tool of a fiance and makes an unlikely friend/accomplice in the French thief, Luc (Kevin Kline). In one scene they are taking a train through the stunning French countryside when they come upon what she finds out is Luc’s charming hometown. She goes on and on about how beautiful it is and why isn’t he exclaiming about the beauty? And he replies in a sour, crotchety voice as he blows smoke out his nose “ehhhh…I was born here.”
I was born in San Diego. I grew up on the beach surrounded by stunning natural beauty, and yet every time I think about going home I can feel myself more and more having that same sour, crotchety version of myself focusing on the stress of traveling home for the weekend rather than being excited to be in the sun, by the ocean, with the only member of my immediate family I have left.
The scene goes on and Kate calls Luc out for being such a Debbie Downer:
KATE: A healthy person is someone who expresses their feelings: “Express, not repress.”
LUC: In that case, you must be one of the healthiest people in the world.
You know what happens to people who shut everybody out?
They lead quiet, peaceful lives?
No. They fester.
Fester? I am festering?
Inside. Fester and rot. I’ve seen it happen. You’ll become one of those hunchbacked, lonely old men sitting in the corner of a crowded cafe, mumbling to yourself. “My ass is twitching. You people make my ass twitch.”
I heard those words and I thought: Oh my God. That’s about to be ME if I don’t do something about this. I’m gonna “Fester, fester fester. Rot, rot, rot.”
So I went to therapy.
Honestly, I don’t really know how I feel about it. I guess a small sense of accomplishment that at least I found somebody and pulled the trigger? It’s hard after just one session because so much of the work in therapy is getting to know someone’s back story and how they operate versus how they present themselves. It’s like dating. The first month you’re on your best behavior, then something real as fuck happens and you see a glimpse of how someone really acts when no one is looking.
I hadn’t even said “hello, my name is-” before I started crying. Just knowing I was going to have to talk about my pain literally made my body explode. It became unbelievably and unmistakably clear to me that whatever I’ve been doing to process my grief and stress (nothing) wasn’t going to end well. If I don’t figure out some tools to process this stuff, I’m going to end up a nervous, tired, depressed shell person. Fester, fester, fester. Rot, rot, rot.
But hey, who knows. Maybe if I stick with it I can end up like Luc and Kate on my own vineyard in the South of France. But honestly, anything is better than the alternative of never knowing what it’s like to be really happy.