The first thing I noticed about the new lady psychiatrist was that we were wearing the same sandals. I took this as a good sign and said cheerily, ‘We’re wearing the same shoes!’ She glanced briefly at my feet and said sternly, ‘Similar. Not the same.’
As I don’t not like do be corrected so early on in the conversation, I took this as a bad sign. True, her shoes were Birkenstocks and mine are Mephisto’s but really…tomato, to-matto. My old shrink, with her homely black ankle socks would probably would have acknowledged the similarities. But unfortunately she’s not around anymore because I fired her.
There was nothing really wrong with my old shrink, apart from her socks, but I didn’t feel like we had a connection. And, she said a few things that I thought were more hurtful than helpful and I stopped enjoying her company. I wish I could say that I stood up and screamed ‘You’re Fired!’ but I politely called her secretary and hesitantly told her that we weren’t a good fit.
But I was game to try someone else. Those who I trust say that the year following canceritis treatment is often more difficult than the treatment itself, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to have some back up. And to be perfectly honest, I sort of enjoy talking about myself for fifty minutes. It’s like dredging a lake – if you do it long enough, something is going to come up.
But I couldn’t get past the shoes. Take any two women, anywhere in the world who have matching footwear and they are going to have a bond. (Even my radiation technologist wanted to talk about shoes. She almost peed herself when I showed up in a pair of Geox sport shoes). But this gal was going to make it very clear that this was not an even playing field. It was sort of like trying to break ground with the cool kids from high school. Wasn’t going to happen. She just sat in her chair cross-legged, notepad in her lap, one silver foot on the ground, and one silver foot swaying gently in the air.
The rest of the hour didn’t get much better. I felt too uncomfortable to get to the nitty-gritty stuff, so she might have been a bored. However I did tell her that I was having difficulty settling back into my real life, and I wasn’t feeling very joyful. At this she perked up, and asked if I ever had suicidal thought. I assured her that I didn’t, and she seemed somewhat disappointed.
No matter how hard I tried (not very) I couldn’t get to the heart of the matter. How can I explain what it’s like to be in my shoes, when she won’t really acknowledge my shoes at all.