My Dirty Secret

Posted September 7th, 2011 by June O'Hara and filed in Therapy

Having been apprised of my unnatural preoccupation with ringtones, inability to choose a decently fitting bra and guerrilla warfare with discourteous parkers, you will most likely find this a dissonant truth.

By trade, I’m a psychotherapist.

If it helps to know, there are days that my shock equals yours. Still, despite our collective incredulity, the reality endures.

I feel as exposed admitting this as I do my fear of self-checkout at the grocery store (if I wanted to check myself out, I’d have become a cashier) and intolerance for self-expressive babies. It’s almost as hard as declaring myself a writer. Both give rise to an expectation that I’m somewhat self-actualized, have something intelligent to say, and avoid exclamation point abuse. There are days I can deliver. Others, I wish I’d gone into antiques.

At parties, when asked what I do, I say, “I’m a therapist,” then make a show of eating my deviled egg in hopes that the subject will be dropped.

It never is.

“You mean, like, a physical therapist?”

Suppressing a sigh of dismay, I say, ”No. The kind that asks, ‘how does that make you feel?””

“Really??”

“Yes,” I answer, stifling a desire to tack on twelve exclamation points.

Reactions to my admission cover an impressive range. Silence generally predominates, but in two distinct forms. Some people nod vigorously, lean in to ask questions, then freeze, confounded by what to ask. Others drop their eyes and focus on their own deviled eggs. Years have taught me that the nodder/leaners hope to extract scintillating nuggets that generally fail to exist. Eye-droppers are panicking that I have a special view into their private peccadilloes. For this bunch I have sympathy. ”Don’t worry,” I want to reassure them. “If you’re a necrophiliac or shoplifter, I can’t tell.” If it didn’t sound like an accusation, I wouldn’t think twice about it.

Should I meet you at a party, here are a few things you should know.

Unless you’re shrouded in a palpable air of mystery, I’m not trying to figure you out.

I feel entitled to be as dysfunctional as you.

If a cigar is really just a cigar, and that cigar is yours, I’m wishing you’d take it elsewhere.

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life dissecting my neuroses. Trotting them out on the world wide web is much more entertaining.

If I’m staring into space, I’m not ruminating on penis envy. I’m adrift in my internal world, absorbed with matters in parts unknown.

So, now that I’ve run naked through the blogosphere with my confession, and you failed to avert your eyes, care to share something you hesitate to admit?

 

31 Comments
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31 Responses to “My Dirty Secret”

  1. Nancy MacMillan says:

    Oh, June, I did enjoy your secret. It’s lovely to know you’re human like the rest of us as we try to figure out how we work and why. Some days it’s a mystery.

    “I feel entitled to be as dysfunctional as you.” Bravo for your stand. I’ll definitely stop by again.

    Nancy @ http://blogofavetswife.blogspot.com/

    • June O'Hara says:

      Nancy, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. As for feeling entitled to my own brand of insanity, I don’t see it changing any time soon. Thanks for dropping by. I’d love to see you again.

  2. Annie says:

    Wow…that is terrific. Glad you came clean and exposed yourself to the untamed neurosis upheaval in the blogisphere.

    So let me get this straight, if I run into you at a party and we are both shoveling deviled eggs to avoid the next line, will you eventually look at me and say, “Man, could you use some couch time!” I’m only asking because when I meet a dentist, he inevitably looks at my teeth…a dermatologist is analyzing my sun damage…and let’s just say I keep my legs crossed when socializing with a gynecologist. Love this post!

  3. June O'Hara says:

    Both shoveling deviled eggs–I laughed out loud, Annie. If your mouth was too full to talk, you’d be more than 100% safe. Regardless, I’d be too busy wondering if my hair looked okay to “evaluate” you. When I’m not at work, I’m not a therapist! (I’m not sure that’s relevant to whether your legs are crossed. But that’s a post for another day.)

  4. Brilliant! You had me laughing out loud, there.

    I promise to remove the cigar and not twitch. Not sure about the deviled eggs … :)

    I find it hard enough to admit to being an author. It’s the fact that you are massively rich (mmmm), and that you might be taking notes (aha!) that’s a bit worrying.

    My other secret – which should really be my cover story for what I do with my life – is that I’m a bit of a wiz at writing funding applications. This also leads to the idea that you are rich ( I’m not THAT kind of fundraiser) and that you might just have a little time on your hands for a good cause ….

    At which point I confess this is just the part-time day job I cram into as few hours as humanly possible, and I’m really a writer.

    Which, of course, then makes me doubly rich. JK Rowling, you have a lot to answer for … :):):)

    Sigh :)

    • June O'Hara says:

      Funny, Juliet, that you think saying you’re an author makes people assume you’re rich. Maybe that’s the difference between having published and not. My thing is, if I say I’m a writer, people want to know where I’ve been published (sorry, just lit mags so far). At that point there’s the possibility they’re thinking I have pipe dreams. It’s like being a waitress who admits her real vocation is acting. People don’t know what to make of it.

      From my scant knowledge, writing fund raising applications is no easy feat. Be glad you have a talent for it, even if it doesn’t earn you JK’s income.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  5. Brenda says:

    June – so unfair you waited until our third for forth instant message exchange to tell me your true profession because I would have been less me and more something else. Now it’s too late, all my cards are played. I have always thought it was my right by the way to be crazy regardless of the situation. After all, I do have friends that I talk to in my head. Since you made me laugh I dribbled my coffee while reading your post. Are you going to pay for my dry cleaning? Anyway, I liked you before your confession.

  6. June O'Hara says:

    That’s the thing, Brenda! You would have been less you, while I was being every bit me! Not how I want my relationships to be!

    About the dry cleaning, I’ll have to give it some thought.

  7. Nicky says:

    *Drops eyes, focuses on deviled egg in hand and giggles nervously*

    All I can say is THANK GOD you can’t tell if I’m a necrophiliac or shop lifter just by talking to me! *nervous laughter*

    Because that means you wouldn’t be able to tell that I’m a paranoid, obsessive-compulsive megalomaniac with narcolepsy, dissociative identity disorder and impulse control issues. And a nervous tic.
    *Rpeatedly plucks imaginary lint off of sleeve*

    Not that I am any of those things. But IF I was, I would be able to hide it from you. Which is a relief. Or would be…you know, IF.
    *Reaches for another deviled egg…*

  8. Bella says:

    June, I’m floored! I would never have guessed your profession! And that’s a good thing because if I had, I’d have been trying to bum free therapy sessions–not for me, but for the Significant Other! He’s a neurotic, obsessive disorder sufferer with the nasty habit of practicing the worst rituals. I’m just a control freak sufferer with a side of histrionic personality. See what you started! Suddenly everyone is coming clean about their neuroses and before you know it, you’ll personally be revising the DSM5! Loved this post! You had me giggling all the way through it!

    • June O'Hara says:

      Bella, control freak sufferer with a side of histronic personality! Too funny. I think we should all get together and draft a DSM6. Think how colorful it would be!

  9. Brenda says:

    I was lying about not being me. As previously discussed I am not all that fussed with what people do..I am more ‘into the person’ as a whole. I wasn’t lying about the dry cleaning. Smiles!

  10. June O'Hara says:

    I did scratch my head, Brenda. I’m so glad you were kidding! And about the dry cleaning, I’ll have to get back to you.

  11. Wendy says:

    Given your compassion, insight and all ‘ round wonderfulness, it makes perfect sense that you should be a therapist! Your posts are amazing June. Each new one is my favorite!

  12. June O'Hara says:

    I’m bowled over, Wendy. Smiling ear to ear. Thank you.

  13. cardiogirl says:

    I would LOVE to be a therapist, although I’ve spent so many years in therapy that I fancy myself an armchair therapist. I will admit that you are immediately more interesting to me since I know you’re a psychotherapist.

    And I am feeling anxious now, because I do feel like you can eviscerate my psyche. I have asked my own therapist, Paula, if she’s self actualized and she laughed. She said she feels more confident (in her late 60s) than she did when she was younger but she knows she has a long way to go since she’s only human.

    But I still think she’s super human.

    Hmm, onto my secret…

    Let’s see. I’ve been estranged (such a funky word) from my family for almost four years now — parents and siblings — and I occasionally check the obituaries online to see if my mom and dad have died.

    There’s so much more to this convoluted story but it’s much better this way even though it’s so messed up. Is that a dirty enough secret?

  14. June O'Hara says:

    Cardiogirl, you can find me more interesting if you wish. I don’t. Never, ever do I want to be “therapist-y” when I’m not at work. And even then, I’m pretty straightforward. Often clients tell me I’m not “like a therapist.” I take that as a compliment.

    I’m sorry to hear about your family, but glad you felt you could share it. I’m not sure how many people you tell, but to me it’s more as a sad situation than a dirty secret. If I was in your shoes, I’d really be struggling. I’d say I hope it all works out, but that may not be what you want, or in your best interest. Which leaves me with no real words of wisdom.

    If you want to share a dirty secret, you could start with something about your underwear…

  15. Oh June, that’s really delightful! I love this post. I was waiting for you to say you were a post op transsexual or something sort of juicy like that! We have a couple of things in common actually. First, we both like deviled eggs! Second, I’m frequently psycho and you are a psycho “therapist”. Dang, Woman, we’re almost like twins here!

  16. June O'Hara says:

    I’m so smiling right now, Linda. Deviled eggs rock! And there’s much more “psycho” in psychotherapist than many want to admit. But some of us do, and are able to laugh at ourselves. The way I see it, anyone too sane can’t be fun at parties!

  17. For a long time I hated telling people I was a writer, especially when I worked in television. Inevitably, someone would tell me that they had a great idea for a script that I should write for them on spec and we’d split the money.

    The good thing about being a therapist in this economy is that you’re in a growth industry. ;)

  18. June O'Hara says:

    I can only imagine how many people must have propositioned you, Jayne. How annoying and awkward. Color me foolish, but I bet you came to handle them pretty assertively. On another note, in this economy, I place my bet on undertakers. Thanks so much for your comment.

  19. Steve says:

    Not even a tiny bit surprised. Your writing is so adept at presenting the foibles of the human experience (including your own)that you would have to spend considerable time getting inside people’s heads. Your lucky clients get the benefit of a companion who can laugh with them at the absurdity of the game we all play.

  20. June O'Hara says:

    Thanks, Steve! What nice compliments. It’s great to hear from you.

  21. Ben Ellard says:

    Gave up the psychotherapy of youth for the medication of old age. Medicare covers it.

    Deviled eggs indeed.

    • June O'Hara says:

      Ah, I’m duly medicated. It’s what keeps me from scaring the neighbors.
      How exciting that to have Ben Ellard drop by! Even if he does belittle deviled eggs.

  22. Scrollwork says:

    Duh! No wonder you call your blog the Neurosis Files—we’d assumed (at least I did) you were referring to your own!

    Why hasn’t anyone so far ‘fessed up to any of their own dirty secrets?

    By trade, I’m a ballroom and Latin dance instructor. Which means no one asks me to dance at social events, and everyone cringes when we rotate in class and it’s their turn to partner with me. They won’t partner with me, but they don’t hesitate to interrupt when I’m dancing to ask me to show them a step (for free!)

  23. June O'Hara says:

    Scrollwork, I was most definitely referring to my own neuroses. Also, how I wish I could dance! I took a salsa class years ago and I was a disaster. I was an aerobics intructor for many years, so I’m used to big muscle movements. On top of that, I actually used to have to take Dramamine beforehand because all the twirling made me dizzy. It was a pathetic display. I envy the talent to dance in the worst way. Enjoy it!

  24. Jean Marie says:

    Love this, especially your diversion in hopes the subject of your occupation will be dropped. I did time serving as an Hospice Chaplain. THAT pronouncement pretty much ended the conversation at cocktail parties.

    “…so, what do you do?” “I’m a hospice chaplain.” I watch as the blood drain from their faces and a pallor sets in. An uncomfortable silence follows. I begin to suspect I may be called upon to perform my services in the next few minutes.

    Love your stuff!
    Jean Marie

  25. June O'Hara says:

    Jean Marie, how funny! I was a hospice social worker a lifetime ago and had the same experience as you. I wrote an essay on it; it was the first piece I ever got published. The fact that I liked the job is what shocked people the most. I found their reactions amusing. I’m so glad you commented!

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