The Details

In part one of this history, we left the brave Basque and the famous Don Quixote with their swords raised and unsheathed, about to deliver two downstrokes so furious that if they had entirely hit the mark, the combatants would have been cut and split in half from top to bottom and opened like pomegranates; and at that extremely uncertain point, the delectable history stopped and was interrupted, without the author giving us any information as to where the missing parts could be found. This caused me a good deal of grief, because the pleasure of having read so small an amount was turning into displeasure at the thought of the difficult road that lay ahead in finding the large amount that, in my opinion, was missing from so charming a tale. It seemed impossible and completely contrary to all good precedent that so good a knight should have lacked a wise man who would assume the responsibility of recording his never-before-seen deeds, something that never happened to other knights errant,

So many thoughts come to mind as Cervantes opens part two of his story. First, I’m amused at the fact that Cervantes felt compelled to stop writing his second-hand account of Quixote because the original version wasn’t sufficiently grizzly. Without the knowledge of where body parts landed after being hacked off, how are we to trust the narrator?

Second, I’m reminded of the numerous two-part episodes of “Batman”, and any episode of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” in the use of catch-up narrative and winking reminders that we are hearing a story from not entirely credible authors.

Third, with the introduction of Cervantes as the “second author” (or wait, is he the third?) of this story, I’m blown away by all the forms of the novel he created right out of the gate. There is no need for a postmodern novel, every technique meant to create a chilly distance between writer and reader began right here.

So Cervantes finds a copy of this secret history of Don Quixote, written in Arabic, and has it translated so that he has a reliable account of what happened, including this battle with monks that closed the previous chapter. It’s all very amusing, but it raises a serious point — who owns any story and how much blood must a writer shed to retain authority and credibility?

Yesterday, I began work with my fourth therapist in less than a year. Yes, self actualization has been my own exhausting Quixotic quest. And, dear reader, it is even worse than it sounds, because in between these four were numerous other therapists who have been interviewed and a Tavistock conference with triple digits of aspiring therapist in attendance. It hasn’t been entirely unpleasant, because I generally like therapists, I find them to be people with their hearts in the right place who are generally well read and good listeners. I enjoy spending time with them.

However, I have developed my own idiosyncratic list of pet peeves about therapy. First, I absolutely hate it when a therapist doesn’t remember something important that I’ve told him or her. I’m not going to get angry over something trivial, such as a mixed up name, but to forget an incident that drew blood when I mentioned it is nearly unforgivable in my book.

Second, I do not like when the therapist talks too much and, especially, when he or she repeats him or herself. It’s one thing to give an illuminating theory or quote, but to come back to that same piece of material in the next session I consider an insult to my intelligence. Get a better handle on what you said in MY 50 minutes, please, and never assume that I didn’t hear you the first time.

The third thing, which is crucial to me, is that I want to be in control of my stories. I see therapy as a way of gaining power over the past so that my stories do not dominate me and make me their victim. That means that I want to control the pace of therapy. I want to be the one to decide when traumatic stories are unearthed. I want to build a relationship to a point where I trust the therapist to hear these stories in context and understand why I do not feel victimized. Most of all, at least at this point in my life, I want the therapist to read this fucking blog.

It is here, in these pages, where I recount the stories that I consider most important in my life in the context where I want to tell them. I don’t expect my therapist to read everything, but if given multiple prompts to please read some of this to get an understanding of who I am before beginning a consultation, I expect you to listen to me and treat this relationship as one where I have some autonomy to define how I want to be treated.

In this regard, I have to give a lot of credit to my past two therapists for different reasons. The first of the two complied with my request to take the psychodynamic work at a snail’s pace, to let us get to know each other first and slowly ease into the stories at a time when I felt comfortable telling them. It’s possible that we got a bit too cozy at this time and did too much easy work right off the bat, but I still think this is a style that suits me. I do not want a first session interrogation about my most traumatic moments in life.

My third therapist — who has done an outstanding job and who I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone who could benefit from CBT — has always gone the extra mile to understand me and my thought patterns. She has read this blog and asked intelligent questions about it. Maybe she gave me a false sense of security that any competent therapist would do the same.

It’s possible that all of this is coming off as a lot of anger about my therapy session yesterday, and that would be fair. I am venting a bit and I tend to get angry about things in a delayed manner — my therapist probably has no idea that anything from yesterday bothered me and would be surprised by this reaction. Naturally, I should raise it with him and make it more “grist for the mill” (which, by the way, is another of my therapy pet peeves — whenever a therapist uses that phrase, pay special attention, because he or she is probably just trying to shrug off something that’s bugging you and may be really important to you.)

But I have to say, if I don’t receive some indication over the next six days that he has read this blog or will in the near future, I will soon be on the hunt for therapist number five.

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