Don’t give up on therapy; it works

I was getting so upset because the therapy wasn’t working. So after a couple of months, my talk therapist suggested I try some alternative therapies. She referred me to a dance therapist. The whole idea was to explore what was blocking me, through music, through the movement that my body craved to discover. It worked for like ten minutes, but then I remembered that I never liked dancing. Or maybe I just felt too stupid dancing. The dance therapist was like, “Rob, don’t give up, you felt something, right? Tell me you felt something.”

And I was like, did I feel something? I couldn’t be sure. I definitely felt more awkward as the minutes dragged on, and finally she was like, “OK, that’s it for today. I’ll see you again next week?” and I said yeah, sure, but she could tell that I wasn’t planning on coming back, and so rather than pretend like everything would be OK, she referred me to an art therapist. I thought, OK, I like art, I like to draw and stuff. Maybe this one will work out a little better.

The art therapist was all about telling me to unlock stuff. I didn’t really understand, she’d be like, “Unlock the feelings within!” but we hadn’t even done any art yet, we were still just sitting around. And there were supplies everywhere. Was this just a really long introductory session? Finally I made a motion for some colored pencils and the art therapist scolded me. She told me that I “wasn’t ready for the what the pencils wanted to show me,” and that I had to start with finger paints.

And it was, you know, it’s finger painting. I don’t even know if I ever really finger painted, or if I just associate finger painting as an activity that all preschoolers take part in during some point in their lives. Either way, the consistency of the finger paints made it impossible to really draw anything. And the colors just blended together. This stuff wasn’t drying at all. It was a huge mess. I got out in a hurry and cancelled the next week’s session.

I tried just putting it all behind me but I couldn’t get a grip on daily life. Little chores piled up. I wasn’t functioning. I went back to the talk therapist, and that definitely wasn’t getting any easier. The first ten minutes were her and I just staring at each other, me not knowing what to say, her just not saying anything either. I wanted to be like, “Why aren’t you saying anything?” but I could just tell that she’d turn it around on me, make it like I was the one shouldering a hundred percent of the problem, and she’d be like, “What would you like me to say?” and I’d be back at square one.

Finally I started moving my mouth, motioning as if I were about to say something, before stopping. The first time I did it, she did it too, because she really did think I was going to say something, but that only worked the first time. After that, it was just me half opening my mouth, occasionally gesturing my arm out, like I’m going to do it, I’m really going to say something this time.

The therapist said toward the end of the session, “Rob, I’d really like you to explore some more alternative therapies,” and I really wanted to resist, to protest, but I hadn’t said anything the whole forty-five minutes, and so, I don’t know, in an effort to preserve continuity, I kept my mouth shut as she told me about horse therapy, a pretty niche area of practice, something about me connecting with myself through horseback riding. It sounded nuts.

But she handed me the information, told me she’d make an appointment for me and I took it and left. The session was scheduled for two days from then, probably to discourage me from canceling, not giving me enough time to think it through, to forget about it, remember it, and then cancel. Sure enough, the whole next day I didn’t think about horses once. And then the day after that, I thought about it in the morning, and by lunch time I remembered that I had to call the whole thing off.

I found the card she gave me and called during my lunch break. “Billiards therapy,” the guy on the other end said. Billiards therapy? I’d never heard of billiards therapy. I confirmed my appointment and left work an hour early to head to the billiards therapist. There wasn’t too much instruction. It was just your classic game of eight ball. The guy kicked my ass like five times, but I got a few balls in. There wasn’t too much in terms of advice, aside from one point where the billiards therapist had all but the eight ball to clear. He lined up his shot, paused, looked up at me and said, “Rob, it’s almost like your problems, they have you,” and then he sunk the ball in the corner pocket before continuing, “by the balls.” After forty-five minutes he was like, “All right, that’s it for today. See you next week.” I asked, “Really? That’s it? And this is all covered by my insurance?” and he was like, “yeah.” I asked him for a note to get out of work early every week. I asked him if he could make it two hours early instead of one hour. He totally did it. And it’s working. Billiards therapy, man, it’s totally working.

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