My Therapist Says

I Thought A Single Therapy Session Would Fix Me Instantly

And it did, kind of — just not the way I wanted.

By Edith Zimmerman
Photos: Shutterstock

The first time I went to a therapist, my plan was to go once, for a single visit. I was in a relationship that was falling apart, and I desperately did not want it to fall apart. I just wanted to learn how to “handle my anger,” so that I wouldn’t get so upset in my relationship. One and done, right? I just needed to get a grip on myself so that he would love me again, so that I would be happy, and so that we would get married and have a baby and live happily ever after. I was hoping that a single session would fix me immediately. And it kind of did, just not the way I wanted.

So I made an appointment with a therapist I’d found on Google. This was several states over from where I lived — I was visiting the boyfriend at the time, because he had literally moved into a different time zone (that’s how good the relationship was going). Anyway, so I go to this therapist and tell her my story. And I wrap up with something like, “... So I have all this anger, and I’m so frustrated. How can I not be so angry?”

And she said, and I quote, “It sounds like anger is a healthy response to the situation you’re describing.” And I was like, “... …. …… Huh.”

And that’s basically the end of the story. It was like I’d been stabbed, but in a good way.

But the longer version is that I then told her what I kept telling myself, which was: “Yeah, but — I’m old” (I was 35), “and realistically I have very low chances of meeting someone as good as or better than my boyfriend in time to have children.”

She said, “You’re going to hate him by the time you’re 40.”

I almost laughed. She said it with such pure, baffled certainty.

She also told me I was beautiful, which I don’t know if you’re supposed to do, but it was part of the fear I had expressed to her — that some time-sensitive part of me (my youth, my fertility) was fading, and that this was my last chance to cash in on it. To someone who felt like the crypt keeper, it was like she was ringing a bell reminding me that I wasn’t dead yet and in fact had plenty of time, because you never know what life will hold if you go into it with good intentions and an open heart. And I felt so ugly at that point. She also said: “It’s arrogant to think no one else can make you laugh.”

Not too long after that, I left the relationship (well, technically, I hedged and slithered, still hoping to be pined after and begged for, but that didn’t happen). And then I got into a whole other series of relationships, and life went on.

I also eventually started seeing a “real” therapist, in the place where I actually lived. After our first session, she suggested it was ideal to see each other every week. I still thought that sounded too expensive and like an extreme amount of therapy, but also I really liked talking to her, and she said she was negotiable on rates, and it’s now been three years, and I’ve seen her almost every week since. And then I did meet someone really great, who does make me laugh, and we did get married, and we did have a baby.

I know going to therapy isn’t about finding a husband and having a baby. But I wanted those things so badly, and I was in a relationship where I wasn’t even comfortable saying so out loud. And I couldn’t see how twisted that was.