We believe in their innocence, we love them as beings enticed into maturity against their will, and it is our aim that they should accept our compassion and understanding, admittedly an incomplete fulfillment of their hopes, for the time being, until life offers them something better.

– Sandor Ferenczi, 1988, describing the analyst’s mindset toward clients. [I couldn’t have said it better myself.]

Advertisements

Resistant clients are the best! (not)

A little background on me: I’m a 24 year old chick living in Chicago, about to start her second year of graduate school in social work. I had a pretty rough day yesterday at my internship, which is in the counseling center of a family medicine center. A few thoughts:

I decided to study social work mostly because I like engaging with people. I thought, “cool, a job where I get to talk to people all day and help them solve their problems!” I didn’t realize that there was a whole lot more involved in the process, certainly a lot more than just “talking it out” or giving advice. SILLY ME.

Flash forward to the second year of my grad program, a month and a half into my new internship. Things had been hunky-dory with the first 7 or so patients I’d had sessions with, solely (I realize now) because they were there on their own accord. I’d never experienced a resistant client before, and it didn’t hit me until I was sitting in the exam room across from one. This 15 year old was literally snarling at me as she “answered” each of my questions, looking like she was ready to spit on me at any moment. 

I felt offended. I wanted to shout, “WHY DON’T YOU LIKE ME!? I’M A NICE GIRL! YOU’D PROBABLY EVEN WANT TO BE MY FRIEND IF YOU JUST GOT TO KNOW ME!” I let my emotions get the best of me, and for a moment I selfishly made the session about me. I don’t think she realized, but maybe she did if she noticed the way my hand was shaking or the way my voice was quivering. All of these things matter in therapy; the way you present yourself, the tone of your voice, the way you sit, fold your hands, cross your legs. It can get overwhelming, and I found myself noticing what my body language was saying, creating a lovely snowball effect of FREAKOUT. Which is not ideal, especially when you’re completely out of your comfort zone sitting across from someone who absolutely “despises” you for what you perceive to be no reason. 

But then it kicks in. You figure it out. You realize you can show this person who you are, and help them let you in, by being yourself. WHOA, CHEESY. No, calm down. All I meant is that I cracked a joke, got her to laugh, and BOOM. I was in. I think I’m a funny person (Okay. Sometimes. I’m not trying to toot my own horn here), and it felt good to be able to use that part of my personality to make this kid a little more comfortable around me. 

Therapy is a strange beast, and it’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities of it, focusing on the unspoken messages you might be sending or worrying about what the patient might think of you. The fact that a joke was able to turn this session around helped remind me that even a small, normal, human interaction can be MUCH more powerful than the way my body is positioned in relation to the client or the way my head might be tilted. It sounds like common sense writing it out like that, but trust me, in the moment, it’s a whole nother story.

 

Weekly Writing Challenge turned Story-Telling Time

“MAYONNAISE.”

A spoonful of the slimy yellowish crap whirred past my head, landing on a blue tarp, draped over the fence next to the stoop we were crowded on. Mayo splattered scenery. 

“FUCKING. MAYONNAISE!”

Another glob flew by and I stared, half in awe and half in loving confusion, at my good friend E who had apparently lost his mind.

I didn’t really know what to expect that day when I got to their house. It was finals during college and I guess E had taken his last exam earlier that day. Walking up to that yellow and white house usually brought up a mix of emotions for me, since crossing through the doorway usually brought you into an alternate universe (depending on what mood the guys were in that day) and once inside, you had little control over what was going to happen. You could feel the wear and tear these boys had on that place as soon as you walked in. The smell, first off, was of the pungent variety, you know, the perfume of stinky guys with poor hygiene combined with cigarette smoke and spilled alcohol from the night before. The kitchen was falling apart, literally; the ceiling had caved in over their kitchen table. Ashes everywhere, empty bottles, dankness. On this day, however, after letting myself in, I was greeted by the scent of burning paper, and a cloud of smoke in the living room.

There on the couch sat my good friend E with a binder sitting in his lap, the looseleaf paper and handouts inside completely aflame. 

“CAITLIN. KAT-LEEEEEEEN. IT’S OVER! FINISHED!”
“Dude, are  you insane? You’re going to light yourself on fire, you moron, how much have you had to drink?!”
“Oh, you know…I was just catching up with Old Granddad earlier…so…a nice lil bottle o’…him, I guess…”
“Jesus. Can you put the fire out already?”
“HAAAAAA! I probably should do that shouldn’t I.”
“Yes. Please.”

It was about then when JL, another insane inhabitant of this place, roused from his cave and came to the living room to see what the fuck was going on.

“JJJJLLLLLLLL!!!!! GOD DAMNIT, GO GET GRANDFATHER!”
“E I’m trying to cut back, man…”
“J…L…..”

The flaming lap-fire had since been put out and E had gotten up and started his pacing, with a little more swagger than usual due to his extreme level of fucked-upness. I’d never seen him like this before and was enjoying the show that was being put on, yet was starting to feel more and more uncomfortable as the minutes passed and as things got weirder. It was always a struggle for me to know what to embrace and what to beware on days like these. But once JL started jumping around the room like an actual fucking ninja, I decided I should embrace. Those were good times. (How many dudes do you know who can go from a squatting position on the floor to being perched on the arm of a couch in one leap? Not many, would be my guess.)

“Goddamnit, E. God. Fucking. Damnit. I just can’t stay away from him, I guess, goddamned Granddad, ol’ pops…”

JL was swigging from the bottle of whiskey while crouched on the armrest, quickly getting hammered (it never took much for him), while E was in the kitchen rummaging around and shouting indecipherable babble.

“KAT LEEEEEEN! GET IN HERE!”

I rolled my eyes and hesitantly got up, excited to see what the fuck was about to happen in the kitchen. Lo and behold E, slouching, slack-jawed, with a cigarette hardly stuck in his mouth and an opened jar of mayonnaise in one hand, a spoon in the other.

“JL! T! MAYONNAISEEEE.”

The third roommate, T, was in the kitchen with us now, and we all moved out onto the back stoop. There was a blue tarp hanging over the fence next to the stairs, and I sat my ass down in a chair, watching as the three of them schlopped spoonful after spoonful of mayonnaise onto that tarp in some sort of manic display of…christ, I don’t even know. Maybe a manic display of mania is a good way to describe it; these guys got off on being the craziest ones in the room. I was forced to take a photo holding the spoon and the mayonnaise next to my face, making me feel like I was a part of this bizarre “inside joke,” if that’s what you want to call it, but I still felt like an outsider. Those boys have their own language, in which mayonnaise means something that only they truly understand, and which I only somewhat do.

This was supposed to be a writing exercise focused on dialogue, and for some reason I immediately thought of this afternoon as something I wanted to write about. But it wasn’t too long after I started writing that I realized how little was actually said that day, and how much is conveyed between those guys in short quips and code that is basically impossible to explain in words. I could try to explain my understanding of “mayonnaise,” but it just wouldn’t be right. I sound like an insane person, and these guys would laugh so hard at me if they ever read this.

Either way, I didn’t spend many more days hanging out over at that house and I don’t think they did either. The lease was up pretty soon after that bizarre day and they moved onto different places, places that weren’t crumbling to the ground around them, thank god, although I do think they’re still working to pick up some of the pieces, pieces they’ve lost and left scattered along the way.

link to weekly writing challenge: dialogue

 

Erryday

As I sit on the couch in my pajamas at 1:58pm, drinking my diet coke and eating reduced fat Cheez-Its, I stare out the window at the leaves blowing lightly in the wind and think, “I should go outside.”

That’s all.

well it’s a marvelous night for a blog post -van morrison

last night a few friends said i should start a blog. i forget the exact context of the suggestion at this point; the whole conversation is kind of a foggy memory, shrouded in the bottle of wine i drank + pot and incense cloud that basically made up our living room and evening. you know, the kind of night where you’re in a bad mood for no apparent reason, and you keep finding yourself saying really uncharacteristically assholey things to people, and even take a step outside your body while you’re saying these things, wondering, “why the fuck are you being such a douche?” yeah, it was that kind of night. the kind of night that then blends into the kind of morning where you wake up and wonder “why do i continue to do these mean things to my body?” my lungs don’t like the smoke! my body doesn’t like the alcohol! fucking stop it! …i won’t.

anyway, so yeah, they said i should start a blog. maybe i’d gone on a funny assholey rant, and then i made an assholey response along the lines of “::scoff:: GOD, starting a blog, how fucking narcissistic. who am i to think that the shit i have to say is worthy of anyone else reading.” and you know what, maybe it was assholey but even as i’m writing and thinking about it now, i still fucking agree. who the fuck is going to read this and give a shit?! i just feel like assuming or expecting people to read what i write and get something out of it is just…cocky. but who knows.

maybe there should be some sort of “theme” for my blog. fuck themes, though! i’m gonna blab about my life and the people are gonna LIKE it. (that’s the spirit, right?)

what’s been going through my noggin lately? well, let’s see. i’m a 24 year old girl who was most recently burned by one of her best friends after professing her feelings for him (and of course sleeping with him, because why WOULDN’T he jump on the opportunity to bang, and why WOULD i suspect he wasn’t being sincere, being one of my closest friends and all..) whoa, bitter resentment, sorry. that’s the only thing i’ll say about it, but anyway, i’ve been taking the clearly healthy route of joining okcupid and trying to shift focus onto other probably fucked up individuals, in hopes of finding…i don’t know what. something, though. 

so i scheduled 4 dates in a row with 4 different guys. wednesday through saturday. i made it to friday night before making a second date with one of them, and cancelled mr. saturday, taking an open-ended raincheck on that one. i have yet to redeem it, despite the one “promising” candidate already having gone from FALLING FOR ME (his words, not mine) on date #3 to just wanting to be friends by date #5 with truly very very little explanation. 

oh SHIT. see, now i’m feeling like an ass. some guy just messaged me on the stupid shitty cupid messenger with a tip for a good 80’s night (my “you should message me if”), and i’m looking at his profile, he’s pretty cute, makes electronic music. then-BAM, he’s 5’3″. i’m 5’5″. and i hate that that makes me suddenly disinterested. i feel like a piece of shit yet i’m not sure if i love or hate the ability this website has given us to be so goddamned shallow, picky, and judgmental. in one aspect it’s great, because so many of us have those “deal breakers.” but at the same time, how many people am i just passing by because he had a grammatical error on his page? for chrissake, i dated a guy for 7 months who couldn’t address an envelope or write a check. oh, that’s embarrassing on my part? yeah, i know. HE FOOLED ME WITH HIS GOOD LOOKS AND BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN KARAOKE SKILLS, that was it.

i really didn’t intend for this to turn into a diatribe on okcupid and online dating, nor did i intend for this to become a forum for me to whine about my love life. and i’ve done both of those to an overwhelming degree here. so i’m gonna cut myself off right now and go to sleep, because i’ve been staring at this screen for too damn long and my eyes are gonna fall out.