So I was in my therapist’s office last night. He sat next to his faux fireplace, which was on high, seated comfortably in his leather chair. He was relaxed as usual. I was on the small couch across from him with only a coffee table between us. Scott Lennox is in his seventies and as frail as he is, requiring the room be kept warm, I wouldn’t dare test him physically. There is an essence, a strength about him.
I do that often, size people up. It’s an instinct born out of years in police work. Scott is what I call a true believer. What he believes matters little; true believers are simply not to be screwed with. Their actions are pure and without hesitation and they can kill you if you are unprepared or not paying attention.
By any reasonable assessment of Scott’s life experiences, he should be dead. In fact, he physically died between four and five times over the years, only to have been brought back. I suspect that some of those “resurrections” were against his will. But these and other things he has walked through are subjects for another time. Suffice to say I have often wondered when speaking with him if he is, in fact, human. I still don’t really know but I can tell you I have nothing but an incredible respect and love for this man.
Scott and I spent a few minutes catching up before coming to the heart of the matter. I was there to talk with him about what I thought was a minor issue; I was struggling with some residual anger that recently resurfaced after many months. This anger stemmed from two old Facebook messages my wife had received from two different men not long after the fact she was going through a divorce had become widely known.
These guys were both married to other women when they sent them, and they were local. One was a juvenile thread of crude attempts to flirt and the other was simply a single message sent late at night by someone who was obviously drunk. I wasn’t angry with Amy years ago when she told me about the messages. She couldn’t help what these people had done. No. I was angry with the senders, but I got over it, or so I thought.
When one of these people was brought up indirectly a few days ago, it really pissed me off. I mean it sent me over the edge. Amy and I talked about it, and it became pretty obvious that I needed help in understanding why I wanted to rip the lungs out of two people I had never met over some ridiculous messages they sent to her two years ago. Messages she simply deleted, sent to her by people she has never considered to be anything more that Facebook friends. By the way, our “talk” about it was more like Amy saying, “you need to let that shit go because I am sick of hearing about it!” But I couldn’t and I was sick and tired of my reaction to something so ridiculous. It was time to see Scott.
So, there I was on Scott’s couch last night. I told him why I was there. I told him how sick and tired I was of reacting they way I did whenever the names of one of these pitiful souls or their poor spouses or businesses were mentioned by Amy or by someone else. Scott pushed me on it, in his ever so kind way, and he pushed me hard. He never stopped with the question of why.
“Why does it bother you?”, he asked. “It just pisses me off!”, I snapped back. “That’s not an answer! Why does it piss you off?!?” He moved forward and sat on the edge of his chair, watching me intently. “I don’t know! That’s why I’m here. So you can tell me!” I smiled wryly. “Oh no!” he said. “Nope! You tell ME! Stop looking for the words and just feel it. Why does it piss you off?” I bowed my head. The silence lasted only a few seconds but felt like eternity. “Because I am afraid.”, I mumbled. Scott sat back in his chair but remained very upright. “Yes.”, he said softly. “Yes you are. But what are you afraid of?”
I looked up and out the window. The wind was picking up. A storm was moving in from the north and the limbs on a tree outside his office were shaking up and down as if they were laughing at me. “I’m afraid the she likes the attention, that she enjoys it.” I shifted my gaze again and stared down at my hands.
“That was two years ago, Trey. Did she like it then?”
“Does she get anything like that now or would she like it if she did?”
“Then I will ask you again, what are you afraid of?”
Tears welled up in my eyes as my mind had trouble processing the information it was being fed from my heart. “I’m afraid that I’m not enough.” I damn near choked on those words. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t hear you. What was it you said?” I looked at him hard, dead in the eye, almost defiantly. “That I’m not enough for her.” Tears were streaming down my face. Scott never broke our gaze but his faced softened. “And why, Trey, do you think you are not enough for her?” I was at a loss. I was still reeling from what had welled up from somewhere deep inside of me after he ripped off the tattered bandage that was apparently keeping all of this in check
He waited patiently while I searched my thoughts and feelings and that’s when it simply appeared in my mind’s eye as clearly as the raindrops that were now falling on the window. The tree limbs were hanging still now as the heavy rain started to fall. They were no longer laughing at me. I looked at Scott and said, “For many years, damn near every day, I was told I was the reason for everything that was wrong in someone else’s life. I was yelled at almost every night when I got home. I was the reason for all of the pain, all of the unhappiness, all of the misery, all of the suffering. I was told many times that I was the worst mistake of her life. When it’s screamed at you over and over again, through tears by someone you care about. You start to believe it.”
Tears were now flowing uncontrollably. It was all I could do to keep my composure. Scott moved to the edge of his chair and leaned toward me. “You realize that this anger you feel when you hear those names. The anger you felt when you found out about the messages. You understand now that none of it has anything to do with those people, what they wrote, or anything at all to do with Amy.” I nodded silently. “This is about you, Trey. This is about you and nothing else. You’ve been carrying this with you since you first walked into my office two years ago. This is about you and now that you know this, we can begin the process of letting it go because this is holding you back.”
We talked more. The heaviness in the room lifted. We laughed and hugged, and parted ways. It was the most intense session I had ever experienced, and it looks like I have a couple more ahead of me. This is as real as it gets, people. This is real life. There are so many misconceptions about what therapy or counseling really is and how it works. I don’t see Scott every day or week or month. I see him when I need to see him. I see him when I need someone to ask the hard questions and help me peel back the layers I am unable or unwilling to peel back. I walked out of his office feeling lighter and for the first time in my life with respect to everything I’ve talked about in this post, I saw light at the end of this rabbit hole.
I know that for many people, these are “private things” and “things we don’t talk about”. They feel as though they have to maintain an image, a perception of perfection, and that’s what they choose to show the world. That is, of course, their right. For others, they may acknowledge the pain to a degree and may even seek help in resolving it, but they don’t “plaster their private lives all over the Internet.” They also have the right to feel that way.
So for a lot of people, these are things we just don’t talk about and I have a real issue with that. We don’t talk about it? Really? Someone out there right now may be reading this and going through the same thing I went through or experiencing something very similar. Don’t you think they appreciate knowing they aren’t alone, knowing they aren’t the only one who has ever dealt with this kind of thing? If you experienced something similar, wouldn’t you have appreciated someone reaching out to you in the midst of it all to let you know everything was going to be ok? That you were not alone and that it was not going to be like that forever? I want people to know that it’s going to be ok, that they are ok, and that there is help readily available if and when you need it.
We’ve all been walked through some dark times. I think everyone would benefit if we were authentic about it and supported each other so we could move past it and on to pursuing our goals and dreams. But that’s just me and as far as the small part of my story that I’ve shared with you today, I had a choice. I could have kept on being angry. I could have demanded my wife never mention certain people or businesses. I could have gone to a bar and had two, three, or ten drinks to take the edge off. I could have alpha-maled it and talked about how I was gonna kick those guys asses for messing with my woman and called them all pussies. I could have done all of that, OR, I could have talked with someone, looked deeper within myself, and discovered the reason behind that anger and dealt with it. One of those choices leads to a prison of bitterness and self-loathing. The other leads to freedom. I choose freedom.
I have far too much I want to do in this life. I have a dream and a passion to pursue. I have an incredible wife that deserves an evolved and loving husband. I have kids that deserve a loving and attentive father. I have an obligation to myself to build the best life possible. I don’t have time for masks, for pretending, for suffering, or for my own bullshit. So for me, the choice was clear. What about you? Which will you choose? What do you have time for? Think about it, choose wisely, but don’t take too long. Our time here is precious and limited.