Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Did you know that Long Island was first inhabited by people from Connecticut? Bill taught me that.

Looking for a good counselor is kind of like dating. A first appointment is like a first date - you are forced into a one-on-one conversation about yourself even if it isn’t comfortable yet. You spill your guts and then hope they like you for who you are. You want them to reassure you and compliment you, but you also want them to be interesting and thought provoking. Otherwise they are boring (or in this case, unhelpful).

Last night I went to an appointment with Bill. This was my third visit. Two times, last fall, I went with Chris. Bill is our second counselor at this place. The first one stared at me. Not in a quiet-reflective-listening sort of way - it was more of blank-boredoutofherskull-slow death way. Chris was about 25 minutes late for the appointment and she apparently thought that since it was a marriage counseling appointment that we should wait for the other part of the marriage. It was a long 25 minutes. We got rid of her and asked for someone better. We got Bill. He’s from “back East” and has a strong New Jersey/New York type accent that accompanies his large belly and not-so-cool casual attire. I’ve tried to like him. He swears and mocks Mormons whenever he can, which is fine, but it gets a little old. He is blunt, which I usually appreciate, but not in a counseling setting. Well, not in MY counseling situation. I can be blunt to my clients, but I expect only complete empathy and strong compassion when I am the client.

I awkwardly sat down in Bill’s VERY poorly decorated office. He started the chit chat. “So, how were things back east? Where are you from again? Jersey?’ “No,” I stated. “I’m from Minnesota and my mom died.” “Oh.” Being the typical insecure female people pleaser that I am, I quickly tried to brush it off and make him feel more comfortable. I told him about Mom’s final weeks and the toll it took on me. “That’s why I’m here. I’m kind of feeling overwhelmed. Several people in my life think I need drugs. I don’t think I need drugs, but I thought that I should probably schedule an appointment with you to get them off my back.” We talked for about an hour. I gave him my laundry list of stressors – health issues, kid issues, marriage issues, weight issues, work issues, stuff leftover from my mom, etc. He agreed that I had a lot on my plate. For about half the hour, I dwelled on my weight gain. We discussed body dsymorphic disorder. He told me it wasn’t real - it was just distorted thoughts all in my head. I reminded him that I knew that - that I had introduced the topic into the conversation. I reminded him that I had written my thesis on the topic. His advice for my problem was to stop eating as much and to start exercising. Thanks, Bill.

I have been thinking about my appointment off and on all day. A part of me wants to demand that my EAP allow me to go outside of this consulting counseling firm and find someone better. Maybe even a psychologist. Another part of me wonders, though, if maybe Bill isn’t right. So I have a few extra stressors in my life. If I just made a list, and worried about them one at a time, things would slowly get back in control. As far as my need to figure out why I am so consumed with my body image – maybe I just need to forget it. Could it be possible that I just like to large amounts of unhealthy food? If so, then I have good reason to be unhappy with my body because I’m not taking care of it. What if I just admitted that if I want to be a size 4 I can only eat vegetables and Boca burgers along with vigorous exercise five to six days a week. If I choose not to do that, then I need to accept the weight gain.

I keep trying to find someone who has the answers. I know, from a psychological viewpoint, that the answers are within myself, but that doesn’t make them any easier to find. I continue to feel sorry for myself. I know a lot of terrible things have happened to me, but they are nothing compared to the real tragedies that happen to innocent people daily all over this world. Why do I feel so sorry for myself? When will I be able to accept that I have it better than most?

I’m having a particularly hard time this evening thinking about my mom. I talked to my dad in Florida and he’s pretty lonely. He told me that some of her friends down there are going to plant a tree in her honor. I am overwhelmed by that gesture. I have been on the verge of tears all evening, but thinking about talking to her about all of my recent anxiety makes me smile – my mom was actually a little like Bill in that her advice to me on my weight issue was also very matter-of-fact and simplistic. One time, a few years ago, when I was complaining about my body and what I didn’t like about it, she said, “Carol, you shouldn’t look at yourself naked in the mirror.” As she said over and over the last few months of her life, “What you focus on is what you get.” I just don’t know if I have it in me to diet again. I know what I want, but I’m so tired.

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