(Important note: This blog is not written by Marie Pettit! This is a blog which was submitted anonymously – from someone who lives here in the Missoula community. Thank you!)
I wasn’t sure what to think.
I had been going to my counselor for dang-near a decade, and it just felt like I needed to be in that office. It was warm. She had all these cool trinkets. And I was offered tea.
And then, Covid-19 came around. And my counselor, Ruth, offered me online therapy.
Ah, I took a deep breath. A lot of words came to mind. Annoying was one of them. Because I was used to going to her office.
But – because I loved her so much – I was willing to try it.
Friday rolled around.
She sent me the link. I clicked it. Pretty simple.
And there she was!
“You!” she said, laughing.
She was sitting on her couch.
“Where are you?” she asked.
“I’m on my chair.”
“It does. It’s a massage chair.”
“You want to see my place?”
I whipped the camera around. Gave her a tour. I actually have a skeleton replica in my house. I bought it to – now just hold on – to remind me of my own mortality, (I know). But it’s true.
“Isn’t it scary?” she asked.
“Well sure. Because it seems to kind of follow me around. It hangs out there, where the light hits it all strange. Looming over my bed. But this is what the stoics used to do.”
She laughed. It must have been fun for her – after all this time – to actually get a tour of my house. And it was fun to give her it!
“Here are my kids. Say hi kids,” I said walking through the house.
She just went with it. We only did this for about 30 seconds or so but it was cool because – we were having fun.
And soon normal therapy started. And it felt like a normal session. I couldn’t tell the difference.
In fact, it was actually easier to show emotion. I expressed my anger easier. My tears, it was easier. The distance actually allowed me to become emotional. Whereas before – I actually sort of held back. I’m not good at crying in front of someone. Even if it’s a therapist. And she got to see that inside of me. The rage, quite frankly, that haunts me. And so it felt good to let it out a little. (Usually I just do it when I’m by myself and things aren’t exactly working.)
So it felt good. And doing it online, again, gave me the distance that I needed to be able to express my emotions.
Now here’s one thing that’s interesting:
“When I’m talking to her,” I thought, “Do I talk to my little picture? Or do I talk to Ruth, my therapist?”
Obviously you want to talk to the therapist or whomever you’re talking to, right? One would think? Isn’t it a little “narcissistic” to stare at yourself? In your little square in the corner of the screen? And what if she, my therapist, “sees” my eyes kind of staring at myself? Is this just how we are fated in a Zoom or Telehealth world, now? To stare at ourselves like Narcissus? Or, are we looking at each other’s eyes? I kind of like to look at myself. But then here and there, you know, look back and forth.
Regardless, it’s really funny.
“Hey I notice you’re looking at yourself more than me on the screen,” I remember, telling my Dad. He laughed.
But what we get out of this is that the experience of being online is VERY intimate. And thus it’s hard to look someone in the eyes. Isn’t it? But isn’t this kind of what this is about? Connecting? And getting used to connection? Rehearsing connections, as well? So that when real life comes along we’re like, “Hey I already did that. And now I get a do-over.” Because sometimes for me going to therapy feels like journaling. I mean, for me, it’s many things. It’s an accountability mirror, where I’m put back on track. It’s a spiritual thing, too. Because this person whom you’re talking to, you tell everything to. If you just met them in real life – it would be superficial in comparison!
At Sunflower Counseling they have different counselors and so it’s nice to be matched up with a counselor who fits your own unique style.
This is just what I think about. And I didn’t like online at first – I’ll admit it. I had to get used to it.
But now, I am.
It’s like going “back to work”. I don’t go “back to work.” I like to work from my home, now. Is this the only good thing that has come out of Covid-19? We get to work from the house? Covid has opened us up, as a nation, to this concept of working from home! And thus, even doing things like going to therapy – is actually kind of fun.
Heck, I love it. And I’m not going back.