If you are an adult who chooses to live in NYC on purpose, you may find that you stumble on a rough patch (or 2 or 10). Some years ago, I decided that I wanted to outsource some of my angst, so I went for a therapy intake (I had also tried to go to therapy once before, but ended up dating the intake therapist for a few years. But that’s another story and unethical kettle of fish).
I wasn’t sure therapy would be for me, as I found it hard to complete one of the first tasks, which was to complete this sentence:
People who live in glass houses should…
· Make sure they have great home insurance policies?
· Well, what type of glass house are we talking about? Do you mean a glass structure designed by Richard Meier or Santiago Calatrava?
I suppose my answers led Intake Therapist to place me in a high-functioning group therapy session. What does high-functioning mean? That we can speak at least 3 languages, do aerials and bake the perfect soufflé? I agreed to try one session, which included a garden variety of typical New Yorkers:
· 1 grossly overweight and overstressed male Wall Street trader
· 3 women who were battling anorexia and/or bulimia
· 1 male with social phobia (which is not the worse thing to be in NY)
· 1 fidgety fidgeter (too much caffeine?)
· 1 Very, Very, Very Angry Person (rage disorder)
Clearly I was in the wrong group. I should have been placed in a group of people who loved architecture, fashion and refused to answer stupid questions (is there a DSM 5 category for this?) Anyway, this is what I learned from the first session:
· That 2 Tic Tacs can be considered a meal
· That the world of a Wall Street trader is very stressful, yet the rewards can be great (and obviously full of calories)
· When a very, very angry person bounces a chair forcefully off a wall, one should be very, very quiet.
Group Therapist managed to calm VVV Angry and urged us all to return for the next week’s session. Since most of us feared for our lives, returning seemed quite unlikely. Group Therapist assured us that the next week would be fun, as we would be doing a music exercise. I was curious as to what a therapeutic music exercise could possibly be, though I suspected it was some sort of ruse to get us all to show up again.
As it turned out, the exercise consisted of us all writing down our names on a piece of paper and placing them in a hat. We all drew names and we were to choice a song that reminded us of said name and person. I drew the name of one of the food+eating it challenged women. I chose a song I knew she would like (American Girl by Tom Petty), which she did.
When it came to be my turn, you can imagine my surprise when I read the lyrics that, in one girl’s mind, personified me:
Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton
Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of hay
Was this some sort of joke, Miss Anorexia #3? Who was she telling to pick cotton? I could have been in a French class or at the gym but I found myself in a dreaded group therapy session being insulted by someone who based her entire existence on laxatives and a piece of candy.
That was the moment I ended group therapy. I did learn something about myself, though: I learned that other people’s glass houses are nothing close in idea to mine.