Sunday, September 11, 2016

All Psyched Out

In my younger years I really believed there were people who could help me be happier, feel better about my life, or life in general, and basically repair all my broken places through talk, talk, talk.  For many of those years my best friend thought the same thing and the two of us would compare notes on all the shrinks we saw over the course of our ten-year-long friendship. We both thought shrinks were the answer, and whenever I had my doubts Mary would remind me, usually while we were binge-eating donuts on a dateless Saturday night, that my life was a mess and I needed help getting it right. I always agreed heartily, and after trying several I settled on one guy who I quickly determined to be The Smartest Man in the World and saw him on and off for twenty years.  Whenever my life started to spiral downward he picked me right up and got me going in the right direction.

When he suddenly died in a mysterious way while still relatively young, I was devastated. How could I go on without my spiritual advisor, my life tutor and the brilliant guru who always had all the answers? I needed to learn more about him and so started doing some digging, begging several people who knew him personally for information about the events leading up to his tragic death. They were quite cooperative, to my later chagrin, and let me in on a little secret I never knew for all those twenty-five years: My Knight in Shining Armor was a debilitated alcoholic and had been for the whole time I had been seeking his advice on how to live. Each time he told me he was taking a month off to go to Italy or France or Hawaii he was really headed to the Mayo Clinic or the Betty Ford Hazelden Institute to dry out and try to get sober.

More recently, feeling blue for reasons I could not pinpoint, I sought the help of a therapist after having abstained for many years. He was a nice enough chap and seemed quite sharp, offering helpful insights right off the bat about how to get the most out of life. I returned weekly for about a month. But then one day, having lingered near his office after a session talking on my cell phone, I saw him come out and scurry a few blocks away, looking over his shoulder from time to time as he got into a car and drove off, then returning and parking in a different spot nearby. I asked him about it the following week and he said he always did that because his neighborhood was zoned for two hours of free parking, and so he had to move his car every two hours between patients or risk getting a ticket. He did this every work day from nine to five in all sorts of weather, and in Maine that's saying a mouthful come winter. I mentioned the parking garage a few blocks away and he said it was too expensive.

So really, when you think about it, we are all pretty much on our own.

1 comment:

  1. the end of this CRACKED ME UP! I didnt know where it was going . . . even as you told the story of the guy jockeying his car . . . and then your last sentence surprised . . . and captured how the failures of others makes us all feel!