“I thought I’d be able to move past it,” I say, adding, “We aired it out, and it’s fine.” As definitive as I’m trying to sound, Lori is just as defiant.“I’m glad you feel that way,” she begins, “but I think you owe yourself some kudos.“When you said you’re attracted to me,” she continues. “That.” Back in session three Lori was trying to build my self-esteem, the lack of which is one of the reasons I’m in treatment.Within the confines of my family, I’ve always been the biggest target of ridicule.In treatment I came to realize that all people have contradictions to their personalities.There’s the insanely smart guy who can’t remotely begin to navigate a common social situation, the charitable girl who devotes all her time to helping strangers, but won’t confront issues in her own personal relationships.
My eyelids tighten, my mouth puckers to the left, and my head tilts, as though I’m asking her to clarify.Then she says, “And don’t think it’s not nice for me to hear that a guy like you thinks I’m beautiful.” Crippled by the eroticism of the moment, and combined with the prevailing notion that no woman this stunning could ever be romantically interested in me, I flounder through words that resemble, “Wait…what? But, as the dualities of life dictate, I’m successfully doing “the work” with a daring therapist, while at the same time not entirely convinced she isn’t in need of an ethical scrubbing.” “If we were somehow at a bar together, and you came over and talked to me,” she says, then flips her palms up innocently, “who knows? * * * I don’t have another session with Lori for nearly three months, because she took a personal leave from her place of employment.I’m angered when people don’t meet those expectations, and absolutely devastated when I don’t reach them.Lori points out that it must be “exhausting trying to be so perfect all the time.” I am much more comfortable than I was the week prior, and can feel myself being more candid.I’m relieved that the whole being-attracted-to-my-therapist thing doesn’t come up.Then, a week later, Lori mentions it, and I become tense again.I’ve barely looked into my therapist’s blue eyes at all, and yet I think the hour has gone very well. On the surface, when the patient has been highly selective of the discussion topics, therapy always resembles a friendly get-together.“Well,” my therapist, Lori, says, the millisecond after I become certain our time is up and I might be in the clear.We all throw verbal darts around as though we’re engaged in a massive, drunken tournament at a bar, but the most poisonous ones seem to hit me the most often, admittedly somewhat a consequence of my own sensitivity.I’ve been told it was historically all part of an effort to toughen me up, but instead I was filled with towering doubts about my own worth.