“I have some handouts I wanted to give to you,” Richard said.
We sat at opposite ends of his cramped office. I accepted the papers without needing to stretch. “Thanks,” I said, though it probably sounded more like a question.
“Have you given any thought to what we talked about last time?” he asked. His eyes were eager, hopeful.
I scanned the wall to my left, lined with filing cabinets and banker’s boxes filled with so much paper, before my eyes finally and reluctantly rested on him. “Not really,” I said. “I mean, it makes sense, but I’m not really sure how it’s supposed to help.”
He nodded to the papers, now rolled in my fidgeting hands. “Take a look.”
Self-conscious, I unrolled them and tried to scan the information. There was a heading. There were some bullet points below. But I wasn’t absorbing anything. This wasn’t why I’d come here.
Listen to Mia Freedman's chat with Maz Compton on No Filter. Post continues below.
I was 26 and in my fourth year of teaching kindergarten, and I didn’t really have any problems, except for one: My mind just wouldn’t stop. Since I’d begun my career, I didn’t feel like I’d got any rest at all. I’d go to sleep at night, have one seemingly continuous and lifelike dream, and then wake up the next morning more exhausted than ever.
I was short-tempered with the kids, and could think of nothing else but going home and going to bed on any given day.
But I couldn’t rest, because I was constantly thinking about something, mostly how to design and teach the lessons I was responsible for delivering to the room full of five-year-olds I’d been charged to care for and educate. I lesson-planned in my head as I drove to and from work, as I worked out at the gym, as I showered, and as I fell asleep at night. I couldn’t even escape my thoughts long enough to have good sex.
And so, I thought, maybe there’s something I need to look at. I threw a dart at my insurance company’s list of approved mental health providers, and Richard was the lucky bullseye.
In our first session, I’d run down my list of grievances from a childhood that I felt had failed me. After hearing me out, Richard had tossed out a phrase and asked if it resonated. “Have you ever heard of Adult Children of Alcoholics?” he’d asked. I hadn’t. He’d gone on to describe some characteristics of Adult Children as I nodded along. And here he was today, giving me a stack of literature about it.
Sure, I fit the description. But I hadn’t come here looking to heal from my childhood. I’d turned out just fine, after all. I could hold down a job and pay my rent. My relationship was mostly okay. Sure, there were some things in my past. But that was the past. I didn’t need to go back there. I didn’t want to.