When Is It Time to Break Up ... with Your Shrink?

Last night, I came close to severing what is arguably the most important relationships of my adult life. And then I either wimped out or came to my senses.



Oooh. I am so so cranky this morning. Right about the time when I was 45 minutes away from a very good night's sleep, I was woken up WITH YET ANOTHER ROUND OF CAR HONKING. I don't mean one honk. I mean repeated and very insistent honks.

If I'm startled into complete wakefulness so close to my usual get-up time there is no chance I'll nod off again. And when this kind of thing happens a couple times a month--OR TWICE IN ONE WEEK--the feeling of injustice* becomes so overwhelming that I begin to have visions of myself as a machete-wielding vigilante.

As it happened, the only thing I was wielding this morning was a head of hair that was not quite Medusa-like enough to turn anyone to stone (although certainly cockatoo-like enough to make people giggle and point).

I leapt out of bed, wearing nothing but a striped tank top and underwear--and, oh yes, a very attractive pair of Pippi Longstocking striped socks with a hole in one heel. I grabbed a pair of green shorts from out of my bureau (because somehow bending down to get leggings out of the bottom drawer seemed like too much work), threw on the red rubber rain boots that were near my door ... and bolted out into the 25-degree weather without bothering to put my contacts in. My prescription is so bad [ -6.75 ] that I must be legally blind in some states. But there was no time! I had to act fast, before the culprit made a get-away!

Once I hit street-level, I looked for the offending car ... but saw nothing except what seemed to be a fuzzy patch-work quilt of red, gray, orange, black and brown squares. Hmmm. How was I supposed to locate a car amidst this smorgasborg of what appeared to be enormous carpet samples?

But then ... another blaring honk! Mother eff-er! I knew exactly which carpet sample--i.e. motor vehicle--was causing the problem!

I glanced both ways, saw nothing (although I probably wouldn't have seen a tankers coming at me), and charged across the street to the offending vehicle: a silver sedan.

The driver cracked his window, looking a bit alarmed--knowing, I'm sure, that if any woman left the house looking like I did, it had to mean trouble. Clipped to his windowshield visor was a walkie-talkie which clearly identified him as a car service driver.

"Sir, please!" I said, with my face about two centimeters from the window--the only way I was capable of making eye contact. "Some of us are trying to sleep! And you, sitting here honking! You're waking me up all the time! Twice this week already! Please, stop! Please, please, please--for the sake of my sanity--will you please stop?"

The driver, with glasses so thick that his prescription must be far worse than mine, asked me how the client he was picking would know he'd arrived if he didn't honk.

"What about sending a smoke signal?" I suggested. "A telegram? Or ... wait! Have you heard of this crazy technological advance called the cell phone?" (Well, I wasn't quite that bitchy in person. But I wanted to be.)

He said even if he could promise me not to honk, he wasn't always the one picking up my neighbor--that different drivers did it on different days--and BESIDES, it was against company policy to call clients. In fact, he said, it was company policy to HONK.

I wanted to tell him it was, in fact, my policy to moon him. Instead, I got the name of the car company.

The dispatcher I spoke to was sympathetic, but she told me the best she can do is call the driver in question and ask HIM personally not to honk--but that she won't be able to tell every driver not to honk.

An hour later, feeling completely incoherent and unable to type, I called her back and begged her to do anything within her power to MAKE IT STOP.

What I'd like even better is a pill that makes it easier to deal when I don't get enough sleep. Or should I just ask my doctor to double my anti-depressant dosage? Anyone? Any thoughts?

Why is it sometimes so very hard to live in The Big Apple? As LCD Soundsystem would say: "New York, I love you, but you're bringing me down."


Yesterday, I had a late-afternoon coffee with an editor friend. Since I was heading to my shrink afterward, I began telling my friend how I was SICK to death of the way my shrink was constantly encouraging me to dwell on my miserable childhood. And perhaps even more sick of the way that the very method of therapy seems to put me in a position where I am always asking myself: What's wrong with me? In what ways do I suck? And how can I maybe suck a little less? That I was at least equally sick of talking about life more than I was living it, it seemed.

I told her I wanted to stop trying to prevent unhappiness and start trying to make happiness.

I wanted to lighten up!

Anyway, after I left my friend, I waltzed up the 20 blocks to my shrink's office, feeling invigorated to the point of Mary-Tyler-Moore-ness by resolve: After 8 years, I was finally going to tell my shrink it was over! I was going to get that albatross off from around my neck!

And this time, unlike a few times in the past, I knew I wasn't motivated simply by my frustration over my lack of progress or because I was pissed off that my shrink had never suggested I take anti-depressants--which as I've said repeatedly, have really changed my life.

No, I was going to quit because I felt ready to move on, to take the reins, to take more responsibility for improving my life rather than passively depending on her to guide me through it. What's more, I was going to put the money I saved on my sessions to take myself out once a week: to dinner, or to see a performance at Brooklyn Academy of Music, or jazz at Lincoln Center, etc. Woo-hoo! Brilliant! Why hadn't I thought of this before?

And then I got to the office ... and I didn't want to start right in with the bad news ... so I started telling her about the awkwardness of the Saturday night dinner ... and about how I bumped into someone I used to care for a great deal over the last few days and how even just the quickest hug from him as we were both leaving an event tugged at my heart-strings (but is that only because I once thought his love could redeem me, if only I could win it? and is that healthy?) ... and ... one thing and another ... and I didn't go through with it.

Have any of you broken up with your shrinks? How do you know when you're ready? How will I know when I'm ready?



This is my favorite song of the week: "Sweet About Me." But what the hell is up with the video? Is it actually a bottled water commercial? An advertisement for S+M services?


dear IRG: Fall for me! And I'll help you escape your dreary life. Maybe? Or ... do you think there's any way I can help?

and dear Jack: good point about movies. this is why i read books! because they paint a realistically bleak picture of life! (who could ask for more?) ... ha!


*I feel quite sheepish making mention of a feeling of injustice, considering what has just happened to the poor people of Haiti. They're in my thoughts. This NYT op-ed makes a good case for donating to Partners in Health, the non-profit I mentioned yesterday.