FLASH FICTION | A Good Idea
Psychotherapy seems like a good idea until you actually do it. You think to yourself, I’m going to get my shit together. It’s time. The next thing you know, you are sitting on the edge of a couch, calculating how quickly you can bolt for the door before your therapist realizes you are gone. On the other hand, if you are like me, you can’t leave.
You can’t leave because you are having panic attacks in places like Rite Aid, or the vitamin aisle at Whole Foods, or waiting for a 2 percent, no-foam cappuccino at Starbucks.
You can’t leave because you are driving home and you hear that Barbara Bush has died and you lose it, which is ten times more upsetting because you never cared one way or the other about Barbara Bush, and on top of that, you aren’t even a Republican.
You can’t leave because you are beginning to doubt your sanity, your grip, your ability to keep it together, and if you really think about it, you have no other place where it’s okay to be crazy. I mean, come on, let’s face it, we all go a little crazy at times, but it’s usually in the privacy of our bathroom, the broom closet, or the room under the stairs. But when you start to freak out in public places, that’s a different story.
The world feels tilted, it’s hard to breathe, your head vibrates, and you begin to understand the guy on the corner with the foil cap, or maybe even identify with him. You think to yourself, Shit, maybe I really should talk to someone. And so, you do. You ask a lot of discreet questions, get a recommendation, take your time before you make the appointment, and finally, when you can avoid it no longer, you go. You let this person prize open your head and look about, illuminate the dark corners. It’s the hardest thing you may ever do. It’s the scariest thing you may ever do—especially if you are like me, and you pride yourself on your ability to keep relationships at a distance while attempting to control every aspect of your life. Unfortunately, distance does not exist in therapy, and control is exhausting and demanding and simply not viable. Which is a problem, because I’m really good at distance, and control is my meditation, my mantra, my best friend. If I’m in control nothing bad will happen. If I keep relationships at a distance, no one will know what a mess I am. If I juggle both at the same time, which I can do expertly, I can exist in my own padded cell: safe, protected, cocooned.
So, I go once a week, perch on the edge of the couch, stare at the diplomas on the far wall, which makes me crazy because two are missing though they are framed and ready to hang, and each week I look to see if they have been put up, and as of yet, they have not. My therapist sits across from me, pad in hand, legs crossed, patient, compassionate, brilliant. I fight to keep him at a distance, I fight to keep my emotions in check, I fight to keep my life hidden, but I’m coming to understand that this is a fight I cannot win. Life requires bridging distances, and life defies control, and there’s not a fucking thing we can do about it except close our eyes, fall back into the unknown, and trust that we will survive.
Wood Reede’s fiction has been featured in Quiet Lightning, (mac)ro(mic), and Cobalt Review. Her YA novel, Remy, was a semifinalist for the Allegra Johnson Prize in Novel Writing. A graphic designer by profession, Wood is also an avid cyclist and vintage clothing junkie. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, their opinionated, one-eyed rescue cat, and Watson, their Miniature Schnaupin. You can find more of her work at www.woodreede.com.