Robin de Voh
there's never enough stories

Nanoprep 2021 Day 4: Convince Me

By Robin de Voh on 2021-10-07

The video flickered on and a bespectacled man appeared on screen.

"So why are you here?" the therapist said.
"I'm here to learn what therapy is like, so maybe I can put my doubts, fears, to the side and be willing and able to commit to it," I said.

It was awkward to sit here, staring at a computer screen, having a one on one with someone I didn't know, with both a clear idea of what this conversation was going to be about, and also no clue whatsoever how it'd progress beyond the first few sentences.

"So let me get this straight, you're here for... Well, meta-therapy, in a sense? To learn about therapy and what it might be able to do for you?"
"Meta-therapy, I like it. Yeah, I guess I'm here to learn about therapy, more than work on any actual issues."
"That's... Not something I see often."
"I figured," I said with a grin. "So what made you make an appointment, then? This question of whether this whole thing might be something for you?"
"It wasn't sudden, to be honest, it's been something slowly percolating in the back of my mind for over 10 years by now. I would say from time to time that therapy might just be a good idea, and then never follow through on it whatsoever."
"That happens a lot, the threshold can be difficult to cross. But was there a more direct reason to do this now?"
"As you can probably imagine last year was a rough one. Being stuck at home for so long, I noticed I was being confronted with a whole lot of things I managed to distract myself from normally, by being out and about. But suddenly, I couldn't hide from it, and I really started to realize I needed to do more with those issues, however small they might seem -- or however small I told myself they needed to be. Then I saw an ad for your service, saw that a first consult was free, and it lowered the threshold far enough that I figured 'why not'. I saw it yesterday, booked immediately, almost forgot about it, and now I'm here. Sorry for the messy look."

The therapist laughed.

"Not bothering me, I'm just glad you're here. Without going too deep into it, could you tell me a little bit about what made you think -- for more than 10 years, no less -- that therapy might be a good step for you?"
"Oh, yeah, let's not go too deep there, because there's quite a bit of trauma back there. Let's just say that there's been enough that happened to leave me with some self esteem issues, family issues, etc. But for a large part I've been able to work through it."
"And how does therapy come into it?"
"I just kept thinking while fixing all these things that it was really difficult, actually. And that even though in many cases I got really far with fixing it, I probably could have saved myself a whole lot of frustration, time, and effort if there was a professional who could have guided me along the way."
"So how do you see therapy?"
"As a power move, really. I know too many people who think therapy is for the weak, those who admit they're not strong enough, and that that somehow shows they're not good enough. I see not admitting your weaknesses as the true weakness. Taking a step to get help for things you're having trouble dealing with is a much harder step to take. That's real strength."
"Yet it took you more than 10 years until you took that step."
"I said it was difficult, didn't I?" I said as I laughed. "You're right. Too long. Stubbornness, somewhere. A sliver of machismo in the back of my head telling me I'm no weakling and I don't need no help. Rationally knowing that's the dumbest part of my brain didn't really shut it up."

The therapist smiled softly and nodded.

"Is it okay if I share an opinion on what you just said?"
"So, you can probably imagine I've had that conversation a lot over the years. Traditionally, therapy was often seen as a crutch. A pseudo-science dealing with what many considered the 'weaker' among our society. Boys don't cry. Real men just deal with it. No matter what, no matter how."
"And see where that's brought us," I said as I rolled my eyes. "Masculinity as an excuse to be an asshole, emotionally impotent and unable to connect with anyone deeper than surface level."
"Obviously not everyone, but yes, the traditional 'man's man' is supposed to be strong enough not to need any of that."
"And I'm sure most of them would do well sitting in my chair right now."

The therapist took a sip of water, then looked straight at me. Or, at least, the image of me on his screen.

"So, my professional opinion at this point is that it sounds to me that you know exactly why you're here, and what therapy can do for you."
"Oh, doc, don't get my wrong, you're right. I know exactly what it could do for me. I don't want you to help me know that."

I looked away for a second, then continued.

"I want you to help me convince myself to allow it in my life."

Let's see if it works.