I just started seeing a therapist.
There, I said it.
I think it’s been a long time and coming. It’s not that I’ve been opposed to it and actually I’ve been thinking I’d like to see one, but I have a bad habit of putting everyone else first. Therefore, getting into therapy wasn’t a priority.
However, the Universe knew better. It set things in place just enough to make me feel like everything was happening all at once which, to me, it was. I was put on emotional overload making me so desperate for answers that I called a therapist.
Normally, I would just call a girlfriend. But that day I knew I needed professional help and I didn’t ant to unload on any of my closets friend who had all heard my complaints before. No offense to any of them, I just needed a neutral party to explain why certain events were making me feel so bajiggity.
(In Carrie terms that means “anxious.”)
Let’s start off with the first guy who made me feel bajiggity. He’s my neighbor. Over the last few years I have become friends with him and his wife. All of my neighbors are very friendly and, during good weather, we usually congregate outside after work. I’m there letting my dog run around with the other dogs and my Married Neighbors watch their 7-year old son play in their yard.
My Married Neighbors worked different shifts and therefore the husband would often be home alone with his son. A few times he asked if I wanted to go swimming with them at the lake. I ran that by his wife and she didn’t seem to mind the idea of me swimming with them, but I declined stating that I didn’t think it would be wise for me to be swimming with anyone’s husband in my bikini.
But it didn’t end there. Several times the husband suggested that we should go hiking together. We lived very close to a mountain and I had wanted to go for some time, but knew going by myself wasn’t a good idea, so I took him up on his offer.
Naturally, you do a lot of talking when hiking. I love a good conversation but his choice of subjects left me feeling a little uncomfortable and questioning if he was trying to give me subtle hints because how was I supposed to take his confession of being a big fan of redheads?
“You are?” I asked.
“Ya, didn’t you notice I married one?”
I didn’t want to think he was hitting on me, even after he mentioned how great I looked in shorts, because, after all, he was married.
The second time we went hiking, while we were half way up the mountain, he announces that we probably shouldn’t mention anything to his wife about hiking together.
“She didn’t mind the idea of us swimming together, why would she be bothered about us taking a hike?”
“The last female friend I got close to didn’t end well, because my wife got jealous.” he explained as if it were a proud moment of his.
That was the last time we went hiking.
Where I come from, if you are saying or doing something that you wouldn’t want your spouse to know about, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.
But, that’s just me.
A week later, I see my neighbor, the Married Hiker, at my favorite Irish Pub. I’m out for a pint because I’m in the midst of trying to get over my break-up with the Lumberjack, who I had been dating for the last 9 months. Needless to say, I was a wee bit of an emotional wreck and just wanted to have a damn beer, or two, and step off of the emotional roller-coaster he put me on.
The Married Hiker is sitting at the bar with another guy. He waves his hand to summons me over to sit with him at the bar. I go because he is after all my neighbor and I figured what can happen in a bar, right? It’s better to stand with someone than stand alone.
Clearly, I was down in the dumps, but if I wanted any consolation, it wasn’t going to come from the Married Hiker. In fact, he saw my break-up as a good thing and tried to explain to me that it was no big deal and to just move on. What he couldn’t understand is that when I care about someone, I have a hard time with the aftermath of a breakup.
“Carrie, you are so lucky. I mean, c’mon, you could have any guy here in this bar. You should just go have some fun. You’ll feel better if you do.”
I’m not sure what Married Hiker meant by that, because looking around the packed pub, there wasn’t anyone who I would even think about dating. Married Hiker had met the Lumberjack a few times and expressed that he wasn’t a fan of his, but he was never a fan of anyone I dated — not even my last boyfriend, who I dated for a year and a half!
It was suspect.
But typical me, I had convinced myself that his comments were harmless and he was just talking to me like a guy would talk to a guy friend. But that changed as soon as he said that he was leaving and insisted that I should leave with him.
You know, for “safety” reasons.
“I can’t leave. I’m waiting for one of my other friends (Mr. Popular) to come here and meet me. He’s just texted that he is down the street and is on his way…”
“Carrie, the last time I checked, any guy who is already out drinking and is coming to meet you, only wants one thing.”
Now I was definitely confused because it was only 15 minutes ago that he wanted me to just go sleep with someone? That irritated me so I tried to clarify my relationship with Mr. Popular.
“Look, he’s just my friend, we go out all the time.”
But Married Hiker wasn’t having it. “No, Carrie, I don’t feel good about this….”
He doesn’t feel good about it?
It wasn’t his to feel!
And just like that I went from being confused to pissed off.
The fiery red head that takes no shit was now wide awake and ready to push back by calling out the Married Hiker for what he was trying to do.
(Although, it could have been the beer).
I leaned towards him and spat out, “Would you stop trying to live vicariously though me, please?! If you’re not happy in your marriage, then do something about it. But I’m not going to let you do whatever it is you are doing. And no, I’m not going home and you don’t get to follow me home.”
I wasn’t going anywhere with him and made the decision that there was no way in hell that I would ever be alone with him again, either. I knew what he was doing. He was trying to manipulate me somehow, I’m not sure of what, but I knew it wasn’t good.
“This is ridiculous. Go home. I can do whatever I want. This is getting weird. You’re being weird and now you are making me feel uncomfortable!”
Without even saying anything, he just left. And just as Married Hiker left, Mr. Popular walked in with two friends.
And, by the looks of it, someone was half in the bag.
Less than a week before, I had met Mr. Popular out. It didn’t dawn on me until after that day of beer and football that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to be meeting him for a drinks anymore.
What I quickly discovered was that when Mr. Popular drank too much, he would start putting his hands all over me. That made Carrie *pointing at myself* feel very, very uncomfortable because I didn’t see him in that light and I was pretty clear about it. In fact, I had already had “the talk” with Mr. Popular that we are ONLY friends.
Sensing I was going from one bad situation with Married Hiker to another, I watched Mr. Popular walk up to me all smiles and acting giddy. Considering my Spidey sense were on high alert after telling off the Married Hiker, they were now sensing that Mr. Popular had an ulterior motive other than to just meet me out for a beer.
Naturally, I was right.
First he slipped his hand around my waist. Then, he introduced me to his two friends with his had still around my waist, as if we were dating or something…
Next, Mr. Popular leaned in and put his face in my neck.
“God, you smell sooooooo good…” he said, pulling back with a drunk grin on his face.
That pretty much was the end of my night and I quickly excused myself and went home.
The following day, one of my male friends, who had just been newly divorced sent me a text. He also knew that I had just broken up with the Lumberjack and texted that he felt lonely and if I was interested, to come over to his house so “we could watch TV together”.
I was starting to realize that men couldn’t be just my friend, so I politely decline.
Two days later, I’m downtown again, at the pub, trying to make up for the last time. As I’m sitting at the bar talking about politics to the person to my left, this guy that I’ve known for about a year, leans in on my right and suggests that we go somewhere else together.
What? In the middle of my conversation with my friend?
Again, I politely declined.
The following morning he sends me a text:
DUDE: I hope you had fun last night.
CARRIE: I did. Didn’t expect to stay out so late!
DUDE: Glad you had fun. We could have left the bar early and had more fun 😉 Keep it in mind for next time.
CARRIE: All I really want is to go out and enjoy a beer. That’s all. I just got out of nine months with living with someone…and I’m just trying to get my footing back with going out again.
DUDE: Pause. I’m not trying to move in. I like going out and doing my own thing. You wanna do your own thing too. Thats cool.
CARRIE: I didn’t imply that…but you were hitting on me pretty hard and I just want to be clear that I’m not into “hooking up” or the “hanging out” thing.
DUDE: Well that’s good to know. A wise woman once told me it’s ok to be free with your body. I was just expressing my desire for innocent adult fun.
Yes, I could have been that “wise woman” and told him that, but believe me, it was taken out of context. If I wanted him, it would have happened already. And let’s not forget that I live in a small town and this guy definitely knew the Lumberjack, who I had just broken up with.
Wasn’t there such a thing as Guy Code? Or was that just a thing of the past, too?
Whatever the case was, I wanted some guidance from someone I could trust, I so reached out to my brother:
CARRIE: Is there any way to tell a guy that I’m not into them, without them getting all defensive?
NATHAN: I would think the ‘straight-up-tell-it-to-his-face-and-be-honest’ method, is best. If he can’t handle it, then he is a boy.
CARRIE: I would think that in this day-and-age, guys are fully aware of when you are into them and when you are not. When they flirt with me and I don’t return the flirting, isn’t that enough? I hate men who just are incessant and make me have to spell it out, because I’m always looked at like a bitch in the end. I don’t want to be a bitch.
NATHAN: There are more boys out there, than there are men.
I wished that everyone had just left me alone, but they didn’t. Married Hiker kept asking me to come over to his house when his wife wasn’t there or just texting me, just to text me. He even left a hand-me-down jacket hanging from my front door right after I told him I wanted my space. If he wasn’t leaving me something on my door, for Halloween he sent me this music video:
I was so creeped out and angry that sent him back this text:
CARRIE: Let me be crystal clear, I have ignored you in the past and you just don’t seem to get it. So, I’m going to spell it out again for you: You keep at me.You keep contacting me. You keep texting me frivolous shit!!! I’ve told you that you are making me feel uncomfortable with how you’ve acted towards me. You are married. Act like it! I told you I want my space (I was trying to be nice because we are neighbors) and you STILL INSIST on making excuses to contact me. Did you forget that it was only YESTERDAY that you said you’d leave me alone? Yet, not even 24 hours later, I get an invite to your Thanksgiving party and then another text with that creepy music video. YOU’RE MAKING EXUSES TO CONTACT ME. PLEASE STOP. DELETE MY PHONE NUMBER!!!
That was the last straw that broke the camel’s back and put me on a therapist’s couch.
It took a week to get the appointment, so I felt that things in my life had settled down a bit. The Married Hiker was leaving me alone, I hadn’t heard from the Lumberjack and I had been choosing to stay home, rather than go out.
I noticed the two tissue boxes on either side of me. I wouldn’t be needing them. I had already cried enough. I was just going to sit there and explain why I felt I needed a therapist to my new therapist. You know, like an adult.
“So, tell me what’s going on, Carrie,” my therapist said to me in a concerned motherly voice.
What’s going on? What wasn’t going on?
“Okay, I’ll just start off with the most recent stuff that has been bothering me, and making me feel really anxious. I’m at a low point right now. I’m no longer seeing someone I was dating for the last 9 months. He means a lot to me and it’s just a really messed up situation.”
I paused to think about what I was saying and then felt I needed to clarify. “Actually, no it’s a really messed up relationship that I’m not ready to explain quite yet, but I’m trying to move forward. It’s been really hard.”
She leaned forward and handed me a the tissue box that was next to her chair where she was sitting.
I felt the betrayal of tears roll down my cheeks uncontrollably, one by one, and reluctantly, I took a tissue and dabbed my eyes.
“This is me not crying, okay?”
Why was it so hard for me to tell my story without sounding like a blubbering idiot? I wanted to be strong through this session and I found myself falling apart.
“I’m really trying to move forward and I realize these things take time. I get that and I’m okay with it. But, on top of that it seems like every guy out there that I’m friends with is trying to come at me and it feel like everything is all happening at once. What I need is friends. Just friends.”
“What do you mean by coming at you, Carrie?”
“I don’t mean it in the literal sense,” I said, “but for me that’s exactly how it feels. And look, I realize that the best relationships maybe based on friendship first, but I can assure you, all these guys just want me for sex. All they see is a pretty girl, but they don’t see me. I want someone to who wants to get to know me,” I said, pointing at myself.
My therapist nodded her head in an understanding way and continued listening.
“There are no dates being planned. I’m not being asked out. Nobody is asking me how I’m doing. They know who I was dating. They know we just broke up. Yet, I get this creepy sense that they are all just trying to give me the hard sell. I get it. They want to get me naked and in bed, but they don’t want to date me. And, if I’m being honest with myself — that in and of itself just really hurts my feelings.“
My handed me another tissue before leaning back into her chair, nodding in agreement simply pointed out something I had never thought of before.
“I’m sure they can’t understand that you are feeling objectified here.”
“No,” I replied in my little girl voice. “They don’t and just when I become single, it’s like all the guys can sense it. Even the last guy I slept with three years ago, starts texting me again. All my male friends start hitting me up and I know they all want the same thing. I like having guy friends. I like the male energy, but, seriously, is there something in the air men can tell when a woman is single again?”
My therapist nodded her head again and smiled at my comment.
“You know,” I said helping myself to another tissue, “I’m just feeling like I’m on overload right now. Nobody understands that having beauty is like a blessing and a curse all at the same time. It’s really a double-edge sword, you know? All people can see is what’s on the outside. I’m so much more on the inside.” I blew my nose and continued trying not mumble my words like a child, “It just hurts. On top of all that, I’m hurting right now over my break-up. I really miss him and it just seems like nobody cares. They’re not asking me how I’m doing, because they all have an agenda. It’s not about me. It’s about them. I’m just tired of it.”
I will say this about going to a therapist, she made sense and she did make me feel better about my situation. She validated everything I was feeling. I guess that’s all everyone really wants, right? To be seen, heard, and validated?
At the end of the session, she booked me for the following week. “Does eleven o’clock next week sound good, Carrie?”
“Yes, eleven o’clock is perfect.”
LESSON LEARNED: Guys will be guys, I get that. I also get that we all become, at some point, so needy, so vulnerable, so lonely, so everything, when we are at our most vulnerable that I know many of us have made convenient concessions.
Sex is not the answer, no matter how great we may think it is, it’s still not the answer.
Guys flirting with me is not the answer.
I want someone who will protect me, when I’m being vulnerable, not take advantage of it.
Going through a hard time such as a break-up is difficult. There is no easy solution. I’ve realized now that sometimes you just have to ride it out — alone.
Lastly, to those guys who circle like a damn vulture, when I’m at my most vulnerable, can go take a hike.