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Monday, February 28, 2011

Hot date with my therapist

“Tell me this: are you talking to a therapist?” my aunt pressed. She was convinced I needed professional analysis.

“Umm, not exactly.” I changed the subject. I didn’t want tell her the truth: Yes, I do have a therapist. His name is Brad, and I see him on Monday nights.
Go ahead, laugh—my tongue is firmly tucked inside my cheek. But there’s a tiny nugget of truth in there. As a single, 34-year-old gal with daddy issues, what better way to analyze my own relationship trials and tribulations than through the televised dating adventures of a single, 38-year-old guy with daddy issues?

“What’s your biggest fear? Crazy Michelle asked Brad as they talked one night.

“Wow, that’s a great question,” he responded. “My greatest fear. Hmm. I guess it’s ending up alone.”

Gee, Michelle, maybe you're not so crazy. That is a good question. What is my greatest fear? I pondered it for days. Unlike Brad, I’m not afraid of being alone. I’m actually quite good at that. After a few days of thinking, I pinpointed my fear: picking the wrong person. I’m terrified I’ll sink my own ship by tying up with a vessel that’s leaky and full of holes.

My next lesson came from a phone chat between the hunky bachelor and his therapist as the selection process intensified. Okay, maybe I should be ashamed to admit it, but I literally pulled out my journal to jot this down because I thought it was so insightful:

“Don’t be afraid of making yourself vulnerable,” said the therapist. “There is tremendous strength in being vulnerable. Having the conviction to keep being real and to keep being present—that’s what strength looks like.”

Holy cow—there’s a lot of truth to that! It’s always easier to cut and run than it is to stand your ground and open your heart. It wasn't hard to realize which one I do more often.

Then there was this gem, when Brad was getting to know Chantal’s father during last week’s Hometown Dates. They bonded over the alienation they each experienced as sons of broken men. Chantal’s dad said this about his own father: “He lived a tough life. But if you live a tough life, that doesn’t mean you need to take it out on everybody else.”

Well, now. I’ll let you read between the lines on that one. But perhaps you don’t have to stretch out on the proverbial shrink’s couch in order to understand your issues. Maybe self-revelation can strike when you’re stretched out on your own sofa in your jammies!

All kidding aside, there’s certainly no substitute for being brave enough to sit down with a real therapist when it’s time to sort through the patterns that keep you firmly stuck in your past. That’s part of what drew me into this season of The Bachelor: here was a hot, muscular, successful guy who wasn’t afraid to admit on national television he’d spent years in hard-core sessions with a trained professional. And they weren’t working on his six-pack. They were facing his fears.

Don’t confuse my affinity for this show with a conviction that reality television is the path to finding true love. Going on group dates with seven (or more) other ladies won’t be the way to find the man of my dreams. But there’s just something lovable about a process that lets us all follow a guy who’s willing to be so open and honest with his heart.

I could go on. But it’s Monday night. I have an appointment to keep.


Neil said...

i think he also serves as a good example of not getting caught in certain expressions. "do you mind if i tell you something?" "it will mean more than you know." "can i just walk you out, would that be ok?" "watch your step."

he makes me INSANE. also: CAN'T. STOP. WATCHING.

Robin DuMont said...

funny- I have the same appointment tonight! And yes, there are such moments of clarity. But Michelle is still crazy.

Anonymous said...

lynsley, i haven't seen this show in a couple of seasons and, quite honestly, i haven't missed it one bit -- until your well-written musings came across my computer. very enjoyable and quite compelling! and, yes, inspect all boats carefully before any hitching takes place because sometimes those leaky spots are so well patched that you can't see them even if you think you are looking.

Vanessa said...
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