My main reason for consulting a psychotherapist was the debilitating tendency I have to (1) assume that others think I’m a bad person and (2) adopt whatever attitude they have (or that I imagine they have) toward myself. After several intensive sessions with K, for which my insurance paid only a small amount, I felt that I had a much healthier relationship with myself and the world at large. At our last session we discussed whether I should continue seeing her; I made an appointment for another visit, with the understanding that I might decide to cancel.

On Monday morning this week I sent K an email to say that I would not be attending our Thursday session. When I got no response to that message, I called Tuesday morning and left her voicemail. It seems very unlikely that she didn’t get either message, but she has not responded in any way. This behavior doesn’t match her previous pattern of responding to all email and phone messages (plus there’s a small financial matter that she knows we need to resolve), so I’ve created various fantasy scenarios to explain her ignoring me:

  • She’s so angry with me for discontinuing therapy, and for giving her only 3 days’ notice of my cancelation, that she refuses to communicate with me.
  • She’s so greedy that she’s concocted a scheme to bring me back: she knows that I will create from her silence a worst-case scenario in which she hates me, basically undoing whatever good came of our time together, to the point that I’ll go running back to her for help.
  • She’s so dishonest that she figures she can bill me for the missed session and say she never got my notice of cancelation.

Then of course there’s the one in which she was run over by a truck and is therefore unable to answer anyone’s messages, but that one seems the least plausible. In all likelihood she’s merely exhibiting passive-aggressive behavior, and it’s better that I learned this about her now than after paying her another $1,000.

Next up: how to explain the sudden silence of a real estate broker that was going to help me find a house. It must have been something I said.

 

In Anne Lamott’s thoughts on turning 60 (posted to Facebook, of course), she writes: “The greatness of love and laughter, the pain of loss, the bearing of one another’s burdens, are all mixed up, like the crazy catch-all drawer in the kitchen.”

It’s one of those isn’t-life-grand-precisely-because-it’s-so-heartbreaking essays. At the end she writes, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”—presumably to God, who gets a few mentions earlier in the essay.

To me it all just seems exhausting, and it makes me glad that I pretty much checked out of life more than 40 years ago. I hate pain and burdens and things that are all mixed up. I especially hate catch-all drawers, with their rubber bands, expired vegetable seeds, mystery keys, and other dirty, useless stuff.

I keep remembering a sentence from a movie that I think no one besides me remembers or even saw. Permanent Record featured a pre-stardom Keanu Reeves as the best friend of a seemingly happy, successful teen who—spoiler alert!—kills himself. He has mailed his friend a note that explains, “I wanted everything to be perfect, but it wasn’t.”

One reason the movie stuck with me was that it evoked my own high-school days. Back then I had a catch-all-drawer kind of life, filled with friends, activities, ups, and downs. But after some particularly bothersome episodes, I started to keep everything and everyone at a safe distance.

And that’s why I’ve always remembered that line: I know perfectly well that things are not perfect, but, lacking the courage to make a clean break, I’ve spent 40 years in limbo, or purgatory, or whatever you call the place that’s somewhere between life and death.

My therapist seems to think that my lack of connection with people is a problem. She rarely has an original idea, so I assume that I’ve characterized it that way in my whinier moments. But it’s really quite comfortable here in limbo.

When I was caring for my convalescent sister, I would bring her each day’s pile of cards from well-wishers and say, in all sincerity, “I’m so glad I don’t have friends.” Then I made the mistake of telling a neighbor that I was turning 60, and I ended up with two cards, two emails, and an African violet. The email I can tolerate (though it’s embarrassing), but the cards went directly into the recycling; the plant will surely be in the compost bin before too long.