Who’s Afraid Of The Big Bad Therapist?

Photography by Bhumika Bhatia

Photography by Bhumika Bhatia

I have a horrible fear of therapists.

Whenever I’m advised to go see one (which happens more than I’d like to admit), I get hot flashes, tingling in my fingers, cold shivers down my back, and an invisible iron maiden suddenly appears out of thin air and closes tight around my body.

I faced one therapist in my life and I clearly remember sitting on her comfortable armchair in her lovely decorated office, biting the skin off my fingers, incapable of uttering a single word.

In the back of my mind I had this song rolling on repeat, Cigarette Burns from Flunk. I only remembered two lines that kept coming back to me, over and over again:

“Well, I guess the pills don’t work and the drinks don’t work

And in the morning it hurts like cigarette burns”

So most likely I was also humming like a broken record while ripping off little bits of my fingers and staring at the nice lady sitting across from me.

She kept looking straight into my eyes with a kind smile on her face, pen and notebook in her lap, waiting patiently. I assumed this happened before. With loads of other patients. Probably on a daily basis. Probably at every session even… Who am I kidding, I was just trying to make myself feel better.

I was probably a freak.

This kept going for a few minutes. I smiled nervously from time to time. She smiled back at me, moving slightly in her comfortable armchair, silently encouraging me to start pouring my heart out. But as far as I was concerned, my tongue was tied with no chance of recovery.

In the most polite failed attempt to look at the time without visibly moving her head, she finally pushed me past my limit. I felt stupid enough to start talking. And by talking, I mean lying. Lying like I was Pinocchio trying to get into the Guinness book of records for longest nose.

I have no idea why, but I was 100% certain that if even one single truth slipped out, I would melt under a flood of tears like butter in the sun. And if there’s one thing I fear more than therapists, it’s crying in front of other people. And large quantities of water. And heights. And shadows in my bedroom at night.

But mostly crying in front of others. Whether it’s complete strangers or my best friend in the world, I simply could not live with myself if I happened to burst into tears, almost literally raining on their parade.

I imagine them rolling their eyes, thinking: “Seriously, get a grip on your life for a second!”

No need for therapy to grasp the meaning of this one: it’s the little voice in my head telling me I’m the messiest mess on the planet. And yet, even though I’m well aware it’s all in my head, the thought of tearing up while being watched by The Others still makes me cringe.

So I keep telling my therapist stories about my childhood, my adolescence, my studies, my work… And my God, these stories are so boring that no one could have possibly lived this life without committing suicide out of sheer boredom.

Needless to say, she knew I was lying. And if it weren’t for my flat stories, then the color of my cheeks would’ve been enough to sound the alarm. To make it all complete, I’m a terrible liar, as well. Every time I think about lying, my face turns to this deep red color that could easily heat up a room on a January night.

So she can tell that I’m lying… and I can tell that she can tell that I’m lying. She’s still sitting there, smiling kindly and nodding her head, but that fact alone – the mere idea that I was caught in the act – triggered a 180 ° change.

I started crying. First, with my right eye. I was probably so freaked out, that my left eye had simply frozen and refused to snap out of it.

Just my luck, I thought. I’m going to tell her I have something in my eye. She can’t accuse me of crying, my left eye was as dry as dust. There was no proof to show. No tears running down my cheeks, just rivers pouring on one side, like taking Two Faces to psychotherapy.

It takes me forever to move my tingling hand from my lap to my eye, in an attempt to casually wipe the tears off. I’m shaking so bad, it looks like a hummingbird is trying to munch on my eyelashes. Say something, say something now, I think to myself, with Cigarette Burns still playing in the background.

“You know, I’m NOT crying. I just have something in my eye”.

Oh, God, you couldn’t just say something normal, like “Can I have a napkin, please? I think I have something in my eye.”

She smiles with all her teeth this time, nods as a reflex, grabs my Hummingbird hand, and stares dead in my eyes.

“You know what? Perhaps this type of session is too advanced for you. Come next time and I’ll make you play with some cubes and draw some pictures. It’ll be easy and fun.”

She hands me a napkin, I smile with my right eye and most of my teeth, unglue myself from the armchair and go out the door, straight on the melting pavement.

I stop to check: my left eye suddenly thawed and started catching up with the right one. I probably had something in each of my eyes and it hurt like hell. In the morning, it hurt like Cigarette Burns.

 “Well, I guess the pills don’t work and the drinks don’t work…”

Valentina Volcinschi is a full-time copywriter and a passionate full-hearted writer. She’d love to be Zen, but she’s totally Buzz. She calms herself down with a good dose of post-rock beats, a bucketful of ice cream, and the possibility of a whimsical parallel universe.