Thoughts on Therapy

Dearest Rachel –

So Daniel and I met with Pastor Scott last week. He reads these letters, so he doesn’t have to ask how I’m doing anymore. This, I’d say, was more for Daniel’s sake. To be honest, I think he needs to get out, and get involved with other people.

It’s not something he really wants to do. You remember how it was when the coronavirus first came down, followed by the “15 days to flatten the curve,” which is now wrapping up its first full year of existence. This was his perfect life, as he did what he could to see how long he could go without ever having to leave the house. He went what, five whole weeks? Yeah, that was idyllic for him.

But in those days, he had you to hang out with. Now, all he has is the dog and the internet, and neither of them make the best of companions.

So yeah, I think he needs to get out more, and get involved. Or maybe that’s the Martha in me?

Now, what I didn’t expect was for Pastor Scott to recommend that we both seek counseling, and not the GriefShare program they have at church (not that we could attend that anyway, as we have scheduling conflicts on Monday evenings. Between Sparks every other week, and recording sessions on the opposing weeks, it’s a non-starter regardless). According to him, that program is geared for those who are dealing with long-term grief issues, and our wounds are just too fresh and raw, and will be for some time.

So… therapy. Talking to a counselor, and… whatever else that entails.

It’s not that I haven’t seen psychologists before. When I was in third grade, I used to derive great satisfaction from calling out my teacher when she made mistakes – yeah, I was that “well, ackchully…” kid as far back as third grade. She took umbrage at my… rebelliousness? and insisted I get my head examined. I don’t recall much of the specifics of the session, aside, perhaps, from being somewhat fascinated by the typewriter in the fellow’s office, and using it to type out sophomoric jokes I’d memorized at the time from one or another of the many such books I owned.

The upshot was that the analyst didn’t appear to find anything particularly wrong with me, and my folks took those results and gave the school’s principal what-for about it. From what they tell me, he agreed with then, but acknowledged that the teacher had tenure and I was going to have to live with her for the remainder of the school year.

That’s when they pulled me out, and transferred me to the local Lutheran school, where I could engage in a battle of wits with the pastors on matters theological going forward instead. I think I got the better deal. At least, the teachers met me on my level, and the pastors tried to explain theology to me. That last, they found challenging when confronted with a couple of kids raised deep in the read-and-memorize-scripture ethos of Awana Clubs and all… yeah, Jen and I were a bit more than they were prepared to deal with.

Now in hindsight, especially when taking Daniel’s condition into consideration, I wonder if, given what the world knows about the autism spectrum, whether I wouldn’t be slotted somewhere along that continuum if that knowledge had been around in those days…

All of which is to say, I… don’t exactly have anything against therapy, but I can’t see myself having anything for it, either. Is the point to find solutions, or is it just to give me (and Daniel, separately) an opportunity to talk about what we’re going through? Because the only thing that could fix everything just isn’t possible – and given where you are wouldn’t even be fair to you if it were – and as far as simply talking about it, well, that’s what social media is all about, right? Even if we’re just shouting into the endless void, we are shouting… and that’s all that matters, right?

So to me, this seems like… paying for the privilege of a listening ear – just to guarantee we’re not just shouting into the void, I guess. Which just doesn’t sit well with me. That’s what you have friends for, isn’t it? So you can talk with them, and go over how you’re feeling about… this sort of thing.

Or is there something I just don’t understand about all this?

Again, I’ve been overly concerned about each of the processes I’ve had to deal with since you left (which, to be fair, haven’t all been because you left, but are not helped by your absence, let me tell you), and nothing has quite been as bad as I feared in actual practice. Cleaning out the house, while extremely deep-cutting, still leaves me the option to say “no, this you cannot make me do” in terms of discarding pieces of your memory that reside in certain things that once filled the house (although I admit, it’s frighteningly unpredictable as to what specifically will lead to such a reaction). The colonoscopy, while unwelcome, was necessary after all – and the actual procedure was nothing in comparison to what had to be done the night before. It’s entirely possible that this will result in some kind of breakthrough over time that will help each of us achieve some equilibrium in the midst of this awful readjustment to the new structure that is our current and future life.

But I can’t shake the nagging thought that this is nothing more than renting friendship. And I don’t know how that’s supposed to help anything.

I wish you were here to encourage each of us in one direction or another: either toward or away from this.

But of course, if you were here, this wouldn’t be necessary in the first place.

Well, for what it’s worth, Scott gave me an e-card last Thursday of a husband-and-wife team (that’s not going to make me envious in the slightest, no, ma’am) who he expects would be working individually with me and Daniel. However, I guess the ball is in their court, as he tells me that they are going to contact me to arrange a time.

It’s been five days now.

I want this to work – at least I’m pretty sure I do. I want everything to get better. I want to get back to my life, and I want Daniel to find fulfillment and happiness in his. If this is a means toward that end, then yes, let’s do this. We’re dealing with so much else, how wrong could this be?

But do we know what we’re getting into? Are we ready for it?

I really wish I knew…

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I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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