Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Couch Confessionals

We all have that picture of a person laying down on a couch, a therapist sitting slightly behind their head making their inner most confessions less scary since no one is staring at you.  I have been to therapists, my humble (well maybe slightly biased considering my master's is in psych even though I do not practice) is that everyone could use therapy once or multiple times in their lives, and never once has the couch 1) seemed that inviting, both time leather and nice but not quite kick up feet up on 2) have they asked this of me.  They usually like to sit watching you a bit because you see therapists are a bit on to us what we usually start saying is not really what we want .... most people who see a therapist try the "let me see what I can get away with because holy shit why I did come here approach".  They are on to us so they usually watch you and even though at first they will let you think you are fooling them, though at the prices charged not sure who is the fool for paying and not actually using the service at first, but you are not and eventually from their chair you will make eye contact and you will let go... or you won't in which case either switch therapists or really stop spending your well earned money and their time because you are just not ready.

As I ponder these things, and yes my mind goes non-stop, I was thinking of the couch as a place of good family interactions, peaceful times sharing a cuddle with a family member and of course as the place where when you first get a boyfriend (at your own apartment - before that it is usually a couch that is not in plain sight) and you snuggle, kiss, get adventurous.  

I have a lot of memories of times on the couch with my Dad.  He laying down on the couch, me on the floor next to him (my choice, I loved sitting on the floor and watching TV as a kid, did it even when no one was home).  We watched scary movies, past my bedtime on weekends, with Chiller Thriller theater - channel 9 and a 6 fingered hand coming out of the grave .... they were not brutal but they were frightening for my young self, we both could not get enough.  We spent time watching TV shows there, or him asking me to be the remote (you know if you are past 35 what that means - you got up, you changed the channel, you waited there until they found something to watch, you messed with the rabbit years - luckily there were only 2, 4, 5 (was not a real channel), 7, 9, 11 and 13 as channels.  Yet we found a lot to laugh at, we watched the news he made sure I was an ardent Republican with no ideas about those Democrats (one step away from the Communism he escaped from if you asked him ) until we watched TV and he was appalled to see me like some of those Democrats, probably why I will never be one party or another I see good in both, I see crap in both (there goes another therapy session - why daddy influenced my politics).   He paid me to massage his scalp and his aching calves (when he owned a deli and stood all day), capitalism at it's best supply and demand (those jeans I wanted were not an entitlement, work and reward still drives me).  I did not appreciate how good those two things felt until I was an adult.  Yet one of my poignant memories of my Dad and me on the couch is one that makes me well up.  He had been hit by a car, badly, and we were on his couch (the latest wife - who I did not dislike,  boring but she was good for him because she took care of him and let's be honest I always was grateful for the wives/girlfriends for being there for him because he was not easy even if some of them were people I was glad to see go).  She too had been hit by the car but he was a mess, he had lived as if the diabetes he had was not going to need taking care of after he and my mom (who managed it for him, who he fought against for managing it) divorced.  Until the last wife he had let the disease define him while he swayed between anger at any of us who told him what not to do and at us for not understanding he had a serious disease (very typical of diabetics - add in his other issues and well times they were interesting ... I did mention therapy right?).

So there we were my Dad, over 6 foot at his youth, always skinny, curly hair gone gray and sightly too long, his olive skin bit grey undertone, dark circles (family trait thanks for passing along to his mother ... thank you concealer) very dark,  cheeks slightly sunken, nose (thank you for not passing on) looking very prominent and me in my 20s and being there for him and hoping he would be ok.   We were listening to Ray Charles, talking music and suddenly my Dad started to cry.  Not something usual in my house with him.  I moved closer, held his hand and started to cry of course.  He knew he was dying, I did not and neither did anyone else, because it was a feeling he had.  He felt that the car accident had pushed him over the edge.  He talked about mistakes he made in not taking care of himself, about feeling badly about latest wife who now would be a widow and then he talked about how he had not always been the greatest dad.  How he was really proud of me, that he hoped I would find fortune in America and most of all that he loved me.  Yeah yeah I am crying writing this.  Ray Charles stopped and one of his favorite songs came on "What a wonderful world" as sung by Louis Armstrong.  We sat there, my Dad and me, me comforting him - and we were back to before I had grown up and to when I was a little girl and I loved sitting next to him, me on the floor, him on the couch sharing a moment.   He died not long after that -- a heart that could not recover from having worked so hard along with his other organs against the diabetes, the car accident may have pushed him over the top but he had climbed up to that edge for years.

The couch - it is where I kissed men I dated passionately and with abandon, where I just sat and was held or held friends and lovers during tough times.  It is the place I sit to discuss how to get over all that I worry and don't stop thinking about if I see a therapist.  It is the place where my boys and I squish together, not super comfortable but we wouldn't change it, snuggle time watching tv together.  All of those memories are my couch confessionals but that moment with my Dad stands out because we shared so much, some good and some just awful, but in the end on that couch we shared what was most important to the two of us music and knowing we loved each other.


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