A Conversation Between My Therapist and I
THERAPIST: Are you surprised that when you started feeling better, it was all of a sudden?
ME: Well, yeah.
THERAPIST: You know what that means, don’t you?
THERAPIST: That you had it in you all along. Just the act of coming and asking for help holds 90% of the strength you need to feel better.
ME: I can’t help thinking of that scene at the end of The Wizard of Oz. You know, the one where Glinda tells Dorothy that she had the power to go home that whole time.
ME: You know, I always hated Glinda.
ME: I mean, what a two-faced bitch!
THERAPIST: Woah. Ouch.
ME: Come on. “You had the power all along.” What’s up with that? If Glinda knew Dorothy could go home “all along,” but didn’t tell her, that’s withholding information. And why the whole “follow the yellow brick road” quest, if she could go home before she started, huh? Look, lady, don’t send me “off to see the wizard,” some cockamamied fraud. Don’t risk my life with flying monkeys and drugged flowers and wicked witches. Don’t turn me into a goddamned murderer because you can’t be bothered to tell me to click my heels three times until it suits your purposes.
THERAPIST: Okay, then. Maybe it’s not like the Wizard of Oz.
Or, maybe it is.
Let’s start at the beginning, when a tornado straight-up ripped Dorothy from home and brought her to a strange and dangerous land, committing manslaughter by house in the process. Is it just me, or is that a bit much to bite off and chew? It just doesn’t make sense.
Like it just didn’t make sense that losing my job would spin me so far out of control. I was whipped around and around, transported to a strange, awful, dangerous place where my own demons waited to torment me. Unemployment was my tornado. At first, it seemed to take me to a technicolor wonderland where I could be anything, do anything. I had nothing but time to explore.
Not too far along the yellow-brick road, though, I faced the dark and shady corners of job hunting, overexposure and vulnerability, and near-constant rejection. Each job I didn’t get chipped away at my sense of self-worth. After a while, it began to feel like I wasn’t really as smart or as good as I once thought. Even in the midst of unlimited possibilities, all kinds of dangers lurked in that forest–monsters with familiar faces suddenly turned sinister: self-doubt instead of self-confidence, confusion instead of certainty, low self-esteem instead of trusting myself. Lions and tigers and bears.
There was that field of poppies that just made me want to lie down and sleep. It weighed me down with its negative inertia. YouTube spirals and Netflix binges/comas. Not moving for hours and hours. Knowing in my head and my heart that it wasn’t right to spend so much time doing nothing, but then using those distractions to numb me. The poppies almost killed Dorothy. Not because they were hurting her, exactly, but because they kept her from moving on.
Glinda sweeps in at the end of that movie, on a fucking bubble for God’s sake, with her bullshit about Dorothy having the power inside her (all along) to get back to a place that was normal and familiar, where she felt safe and loved. You know, not chased by crazy monsters and witches, and certainly not legit murdering a lady because of the color of her skin. Glinda could have saved Dorothy all of that, but you know, manipulating her to be your assassin before casually mentioning the whole click-your-heels thing, I guess that’s another way of doing it.
Is it any wonder that when my therapist said, “you had the ability all along,” it didn’t sit so well with me? If I had the power to free myself all along, why the hell did I let things get so bad? You mean I could have spared myself all that darkness? If it was as simple as asking for help, what was the point of the whole journey?
As if all that weren’t bad enough, Glinda had the gall to say to Dorothy’s face, “you had to find it out for yourself.” Excuse me, bitch? I think I would have listened if you said, “you cooooould walk zillions of miles (on high-heeled shoes, by the way) through a dark forest and almost die and then have to commit murder to exact someone else’s vengeance…ooooooor…try clicking your heels and no-place-like-homeing your way out of here.” I would have clicked my fucking heels, because even if it looked stupid as shit and didn’t work, it was looking stupid for like two seconds that could potentially save me from a whole fucking movie’s worth of trouble.
Yet, in the light of my depression, clicking my heels wouldn’t have worked at the beginning of my journey. I didn’t know what I needed help from yet, much less how to reach out and ask for it. And Therapist was right. Just going to the doctor, asking for help, getting some drugs–it all gave me hope. Hope that I was finally on a new path, not the same worn-out one that had failed me for months and months. Hope that wherever this led, it would be better than the darkness and self-condemnation and anger I inflicted on myself.
Hope wouldn’t have shone as brightly at the beginning of that yellow-brick road, where the sun was shining and munchkins were singing. I had to go through that terrible forest, find all those dark corners lurking within me, before I could admit how bad things where, how far I had traveled from home. Only after killing that witch could I truly appreciate the sepia-toned normalcy of everyday life. Battling those monsters, killing that witch, taught me more about who I am than any amount of heel clicking.
Okay, so Glinda’s still a bitch. But maybe Therapist isn’t.