I was seven months pregnant with my first-born when I met the sleazy therapist.
I wasn’t comfortable in my new-found pregnancy with all the sudden changes to my body, and my moods. I needed to talk about my fears with someone. In a small town my choices were limited: I would have preferred not to discuss this kind of thing with a man, but there wasn’t an option B.
He was middle-aged with grey hair and a neatly groomed goatee.
He had an air of authority about him, which he emphasised by looking down at me through his glasses, which sat on the end of his nose.
I got the immediate impression he was out of his depth, and fooling even himself.
He started the session by asking me what I was experiencing.
I gingerly explained my concerns. They revolved around how I felt about my sense of self, my body image, my ‘me-ness’, and how rapidly they were changing. He listened intently, nodding in the right places and gazing far too intently.
There was no doubt about it, this guy made me uncomfortable.
After I finished explaining where I was at, I looked to him, awaiting his take on what I'd said.
He took a long breath, leaned forward and said “You know, when my wife was pregnant we had the best sex of our lives".
“Those pregnancy hormones are WONDERFUL things, you really should embrace them.”
If I wasn’t already massively uncomfortable divulging my innermost womanly fears to this man, I had now reached next level.
I was frozen, knocked for six by his comment.
“Your body really does become so much more womanly at this point in your life, you need to embrace it, play with it, dress it up – HAVE the best sex of your life!”
He looked off into the distance as if reminiscing about the best sex of his life. I looked back at the door.
Now swinging lightly on his chair, he returned his gaze to me and removed his glasses.
“The only other time I had sex that good was back in my days of taking speed. Did you ever dabble with drugs?”
“No,” I said.
It was at this point I actually felt afraid. I found myself wondering if there was anybody else about in the building. What would happen if I just ran out of the room? Would he try and stop me? I decided my best bet was just to get through the session as quickly as possible then make a complaint.
“What do you love to do?” he asked
“Ummm… I love to write.” I said.
“How long has it been since you’ve written, really written?” he asked.
“A fair while,” I replied shortly.
“Is there a writers' group in this town?”
“Not that I’m aware of.”
“You are a bright girl, why don’t you start one up?”
“Yes, good idea,” I said, going along with him.
“I tell you what, next time I come to town, I am going to give you a call to see if you’ve started the writers' group. Then, I’ll take you out for dinner and you can tell me all about it, OK?”
“Ok,” I lied. “I need to go now."
Watch Robin Williams as Matt Damon's therapist, give his famously improvised monologue in Good Will Hunting. Post continues after video.
As I got up to walk out the door he said “turn around.”
I turned around.
“You really have nothing to worry about, I think you look beautiful."
I have never felt more relief leaving a room. As I walked out of that tiny little office I felt violated. I took a deep breath and noticed that my hands were shaking. I was furious, more shaken up then when I had arrived.
I immediately rang my children’s health nurse and told her what happened. She was shocked.
Weeks later I received a phone call at home. It was him. I hung up.
More weeks passed and I received another call, I hung up again.
His boss then called one day to ask why I had been hanging up each time he called to make a new appointment. I explained why. She was apologetic and shocked. She asked if she could ask me some more questions, I obliged.
I’m not sure what happened from that point on, I said I didn’t want to know. I trust that things were dealt with appropriately.
Without the help of any therapist going forward I came to utter peace with myself. Once my beautiful baby boy was born my new sense of self was absolutely delighted with her new place in the world.