Psychology undergrads shouldn't enter into therapy. Especially if they’re undergraduates like me. My junior year of college I started to feel crazy. Crazy because all of the people who used to make me happy were starting to irritate me. Irritate me to the point that all of the sudden I started to hate them.
So enters into my life, my poor grad school therapist. Let’s call him Dan. Dan the therapist was a graduate student at my university (working in the exact department I spent most of my time). He came free with the student health package. It’s hard to reveal your soul to Dan when you’re consciously aware that he’s only a few courses of study away from you. This is the attitude I had in talking to Dan which is why therapy with Dan didn’t really work.
Dan wanted to talk about why I was feeling crazy. I wanted to talk about everything I knew about psychology. I wanted to talk about how much I wanted to be a therapist. And so I talked a lot about my research on sexual abuse in kids. And I blurted out that all of the sudden I was starting to see male/female interactions through the lens of abuse. And that I was becoming hyper aware of the guys that would use alcohol and pressure to get girls to sleep with them on campus. And laughable fraternity traditions my boyfriend engaged in, weren’t really so laughable anymore. And that when I tried to talk to my boyfriend about the things I saw that bothered me, he didn’t have the language or emotional capacity to understand.
I told Dan that I was starting to hate the boyfriend that I loved. And that I wanted to stop that because he was perfect for me. And also that I was starting to hate all of my boyfriend’s fraternity pals. And how that wasn’t going to work because if I hated them AND my boyfriend, things were going to fall apart. And that I was starting to care a lot about the guys in my psych classes who were sensitive to emotional pain. And since I’m a nice loyal girlfriend, this was also making me feel crazy.
One evening a boy from psych class told me that he was starting to care about me as much as I was starting (but trying not to) care about him. And then I ran straight to my boyfriend, crying, telling him I was starting to fall in love with someone else. And he looked at me and said “ok.” I told him I loved him and I didn’t want to fall for anyone else. And he said “ok.” And then the boyfriend never brought it up again. And I had to tell Dan because these are the things you tell therapist. He wanted to know why I had feelings for one boy over my boyfriend. And I kept getting angry because he was focusing on the wrong thing.
The funny thing about therapists you don’t respect is that you tend to end up unannounced in their office when your boyfriend breaks up with you. Which is what happened a few months into therapy after telling my boyfriend I had feelings for someone else. I wanted to get advice from Dan on proper methods for winning back boyfriends. I told Dan technically it was a “break.” My (newly) ex boyfriend explained that a “break” meant we could both “hook up” with whomever we liked. And that if I hooked up with anyone it was ok and he didn’t care. To which Dan, the barely a therapist blurted out “he’s fucking lying.” And when your therapist says “fucking” and “lying” in one sentence it is very jarring. Jarring enough that I said “Hey Dan, aren’t you NOT supposed to say things like that.” Dan shook his head and said “why don’t you go back to him tomorrow and tell him you slept with someone else and see his reaction.” And this was the first time that I ever really listened to Dan.
I’d like to tell you that the sun parted that day and all of the Dan wisdom seeped into my brain. I’d like to tell you that I didn’t continue to chase after the wrong boyfriend for another two years after the year of crazy. I’d like to tell you that I became a therapist. But I didn’t. I can only tell you is it’s really hard to get anything out of therapy when you don’t want anything to change.