I have been to the psychologist! I am, disappointingly, not mad. On the plus side, I can now get my mother to do almost anything by saying, "...or I'll tell the psychologist I was abused as a child." I should mention, before entering into a scathing retelling, that the psychologist was a really nice woman, and that I would recommend her to anyone who wanted to go to a psychologist (no sarcasm): it's just that because I kind of didn't really need to go it wasn't a whole lot of use to me.
I enter. The psychologist is in her early 50s, plump, and with short curly hair, and there is no way that she's going to take a seat before I do, because choice of seat says such a lot about a person. I take the comfy one.
We chat a bit. I divulge my whereabouts over the past 8 years; she tells me that her son has just bought an organ on TradeMe. She takes notes. I briefly consider taking my notebook out and doing the same but decide it might not be very polite.
Karen, the Psychologist, comments that I am talking very fast. I apologise and say that I always talk fast, which I do. "Really?" she asks suspiciously.
"Can you remember a time when you didn't talk fast?"
"No." I have always talked fast.
"Do you think you talk so fast because you feel pressure, and that it's a symbol of anxiety? You seem anxious."
"No, it's because I think faster than I talk, and I want to get everything out."
"Here is some advice," she says. "Don't talk so fast at your job interview, it could come across as you trying to tell them that you're going to come in and try to run things, or that you're stressed." I laugh, but it turns out she is not kidding. Karen the Psychologist does not kid a lot. (Incidentally, I did talk fast at the job interview, apologised for it, and was told by the interviewer that she could keep up as she also talked extremely fast. As far as I know it was not a clashing of corporate horns.)
"So," Karen the Psychologist says, "tell me a bit about your mother." I tell her a bit about my mother, and my sister. She pauses and eyeballs me (turns out she does this a lot.)
"How about Dad? Is there a Dad?"
"No, I sprang fully formed from an egg!" This is not what I say.
"He lives in Nelson," is what I say. There is a Pause.
"Tell me a bit about your father. How's your relationship with him?" I am startled as the ghost of Freud lurches out from behind a fake plant. I talk about My Relationship With My Father. "How about," Karen the Psychologist says, "your relationship with yourself?" I am tempted to tell her that emotionally it's fine but the sex is crap, but instead I settle for saying it's fine. "Hmmm," she says.
"So," she says, obviously about to start The Analysis, "you're obviously quite intelligent, so you basically just cruise through life, really?" I am slightly offended.
"I work hard if something interests me." I pause. "Or if I'm getting paid." I am being a bit of a dick but I don't really care. I did try not to be a dick, but my innate dickiness won out.
"Hmmm. So the things that motivate you are interest and loyalty." Loyalty? Ha, ha ha ha ha! No, it is money.
"But you don't always work hard when it's in your best interests?"
"Not always," I say, "sometimes I am quite lazy."
"Lazy? Or unmotivated?" Perhaps in psychologist-land these are not the same thing.
Anyway, we work out that I need to be more loyal to myself, and then we go on to talk about Control.
"You like to be in control," she says.
"Yes." This is true. Well analysed, Karen!
"When you meet people, do they find you intimidating?"
Of course they do! I am amazing. "Sometimes, but I am aware of it and get rid of any initial tension by telling a funny, self-deprecating story, and then no-one's intimidated any more." This is also true. I can come across as a bit standoffish and/or overbearing when I meet new people, but if everyone has a laugh at me then we're all slightly better friends and I am not scary loud girl any more. See? See how clever I am? I should be a psychologist.
"Hmmm." She makes notes. I look at the plant.
She eyeballs me. "How about recreational drugs?" What, do they find me intimidating? These fast topic changes are confusing me. Maybe it is a trick.
"No, no drugs." (This is actually true.)
"Why not?" Well, lady, because they're illegal - are you encouraging me? Should I report you to the Psychologist's Standards Committee?
"Because I don't want to take anything where I don't know how I'm going to react, or how I'm going to behave."
"Ah! Control again!" I sigh.
"Do you steal?"
"What? No!" She eyeballs me.
"No! I do not steal things." She looks faintly disappointed.
"Well," she says after a bit more chat, "there are a couple of things which make me uncomfortable." I am worried she is about to over-share, but it turns out that the couple of things are a couple of things about Me.
"It seems like your mother and sister are both quite anxious people." This would be a more impressive feat of deduction if I hadn't given her that information earlier.
"So are you," she says, "but your anxiety manifests itself through a need for control."
"Hmmm," I say, having also told her earlier that I rarely get anxious, and that when I do I deal with it in my own little way (by remembering my Motivational Saying: "You can't do everything at once, but you can do something at once.")
"So," she continues, "when you first meet people, they see you as being tough and angry, or cold and hard, or prickly and arrogant, but actually it's just a wall of control."
Wait, what? Tough I am kind of ok with, but angry? Cold? Hard? Prickly? Arrogant? (OK, maybe sometimes arrogant.) What a rude psychologist. I am super fucking nice to people, otherwise there would not be so many haiku. (Seriously, I do make a real effort to be nice to everyone, and Karen the Psychologist had annoyed me.)
"People don't usually think that," I say pleasantly, "I've probably been a little more defensive than usual with you, because this meeting wasn't my idea and I came in with a few preconceptions." See how gracious I was?
She brushes this off with, "but you said you intimidate people - although," she smiles reassuringly, "I'm sure you're really a nice, warm person. Underneath all that control." I am tempted to shout, "Control this!" and give her the finger but good breeding wins through (my mother's side.)
"You are," she says, "like a bicycle tire." Great, lady. So now I am not just a complete twat on first sight, but a round one at that. (Round Twat - interesting mental image, not a bad band name.)
Turns out, though, that the bicycle tire is a Metaphor - because I like everything to be under control, I am constantly under extreme pressure (like a bicycle tire). When something goes outside my control, I suffer a 'puncture' and go - here she made a noise like a balloon losing air and waved her hands about - then I put a patch on it and carry on. Just like a bicycle tire. Her other concern, she said, was "what happens when I get my next puncture."
She explained this another way, as well, in case the tire analogy hadn't done it for me - I was like a juggler, she explained, keeping all these balls in the air at once. Karen to Psychologist was, and this is a direct quote, "worried about what happens next time one of your balls drops."
As I left, she said cheerfully, "Don't worry, anxiety is the common cold of psychology!" I was not worried.
After I left the psychologist, I went to get a coffee before my interview (more on that in another post). The woman in front of me at the counter had amazing boots on - a mix of lacing, pinstriped fabric and black patent leather - and I said, "Your boots are lovely," because I believe in giving compliments to strangers in the hopes that I'll get them back through some karmic wheel. She thanked me, and told me that "I don't know quite how to put this...they're stripper shoes." Turns out that she managed the strip club across the road, that one of the girls sold the boots, and that she didn't have a website but that I should pop into the club any time for a free drink and a shoe catalogue. Then she gave me a card, got on a phone call, and as I left the cafe she laughed the dirtiest hooker laugh I have ever heard. I like her so much more than the psychologist. If anyone wants to come to the strip club with me, let me know.
Incidentally, $140 can buy you the beautiful stripper boots, or an hour with Karen the Psychologist: I am quietly confident that I know which one of these will make me less anxious.