Yesterday, my therapist threw me a surprise birthday party.
One of the issues I have with my husband is that he never takes the initiative in social planning, so it was nice of my therapist to step up to the plate.
I haven’t been in therapy very long, so I don’t think my therapist knew exactly where to throw the party. He organized it in a bagel shop in Litchfield, Conn., which was fine.
I’d taken to getting a half-dozen bagels there after our weekly appointments, because there aren’t any bakeries in the town where I’ve just moved. I mentioned the bagel-buying habit only once to my therapist, but he’s attentive. His name is Sean.
There was cream cheese walnut spread and pimento cream cheese spread and low-fat veggie spread and a platter of bagels cut into slices, and there were also some fruit cups — it was unclear who had paid for what. I mean, I doubt my therapist had paid for everything. Maybe I was paying for it, actually, and the charges would be tacked on to my next office visit. I kept myself from asking about the financial logistics of the party while I was at it. One of the things that I’ve been working on is not assuming the worst from people. Sean was trying to be nice.
I just moved to Connecticut from a small town in the Berkshires, which is one of the reasons that I’m in therapy. Moving house is difficult. The state motto of Connecticut is, “He who is transplanted still sustains,” so fingers crossed I do. Sean is a Connecticut native who wants me to feel secure and comfortable in my new town, which is why he invited so many people I don’t know.
There were eight people at the party, not counting myself. There was Carol, who runs the children’s room at the library and who is always trying to get me to sign up for a massage because she’s a licensed massage therapist when she’s not in the children’s room reading books to kids.
There was also a nice man, Chris, who runs the circulation desk. I go to the library a lot. One awkward thing was that my therapist invited my riding instructor, which made me anxious, and feelings of anxiousness are something the antidepressants I recently started taking are supposed to help me squash.
Too bad they didn’t function in the bagel shop! My riding instructor is German and she doesn’t talk very much. She has huge hips and three dogs.
The whole horse riding thing is part of a personal treatment plan I devised with my therapist. He said I need to do nice things for myself so that I feel loved. Well, when I was little, I used to ride horses and I loved it very much. I felt sure that an animal connection would be good for me, as well as the focused athleticism of trotting, which isn’t as easy as it looks. Basically, I just wanted to move forward on a giant horse. I found a trainer in Litchfield through a new acquaintance and my first lesson really felt like I was on to something. I had very pure feelings of joy and achievement from riding on that horse. I should have had three more lessons under my belt by the time of the bagel party, but the German riding instructor cancelled my second lesson because her horse was sick, and cancelled my third because she had a rotten tooth she had to get extracted, and cancelled the fourth because her horse got sicker and she had to put him down.
So the riding instructor spent most of my bagel birthday party looking forlornly at the walnut cream cheese spread, mourning her dead horse. It was so uncomfortable. There’s no way Sean could have known all of this backstory. I have a lot to get out of my system, and you can only share so much in a 50-minute hour.
There were two contractors invited who have done some work on our new house. They are German and Turkish and they seemed really happy to be there. They’re actually a good influence in my life because they’re always cheerful and optimistic that there is a solution for everything, and because I struggle with negative thinking and negative self-perception, I understand why Sean invited them. He’s only 28, my therapist, but he has intuition.
I don’t think a lot of my actual friends could make it, or maybe Sean doesn’t know who my actual friends are because when you’re depressed, you pull away from people, so I haven’t talked much about my closest friends. That’s why I can’t blame him for inviting my new Primary Care Physician, whom I talk about a lot, instead of say, my buddy Todd, whom I don’t.
Now, I’m not a Doctor, so I don’t know exactly, but I think there’s something wrong with my Physician. When I mentioned the symptoms I was experiencing at our first appointment, he Googled them on his phone, in front of me, one symptom at a time. It took 15 minutes before he said something. Even though this new Primary Care Physician doesn’t seem to have some of the core skills that a Doctor should, I do think he’s able to grasp the simple truths of life. For example, when he finally looked up at me after the research on his cellphone, he said, “Maybe you’re just not happy.” And who can argue with that?
The great thing about life is that if you keep your head up, you learn new things every day. For example, yesterday I learned that my Primary Care Physician likes raisin bagels a lot.
My husband was at the party although not for very long — he had to drive the half-hour back home to pick up our daughter before her daycare closed. I don’t know why Sean didn’t emphasize that my daughter was welcome, or maybe organize the party closer to a place we actually live, but Sean isn’t in a relationship and he doesn’t have children, so it’s complicated, isn’t it. Maybe he thought that the party was during nap time, or maybe it had to do with the session in which I said that my two-and-a-half- year-old was destroying me. Things with my toddler have been better since then, but I haven’t mentioned that to my therapist and this is an example of why I should be more vocal about the positive things that are happening in my life.
Anyway. Although the party didn’t flow, really, because we had to keep shuffling back and forth so that customers could queue up for their food, it was awfully generous of these new acquaintances to come out and celebrate my birthday.
At the end of the party, which coincided with the bagel shop’s closing time at five, Sean wrapped up the extra bagels and leftover cream cheeses to take home with him, so maybe he was paying for the whole thing after all.
I purchased three whole-wheat bagels, a half-pound of honey ham, and a container of full-fat veggie cream cheese and that is what me, my husband, and my daughter had for dinner that night. My little girl stuck a birthday candle in my bagel and my husband set the wick on fire with an electronic lighter, and right before I leaned in to extinguish it I thought, I hope that I’m all right.
Image Credit: Flickr/CLender.