The Importance Of Being Neurotic
By Tom "group hug " Waters
October 16, 2004
My relationships are usually about as healthy as Andy Dick on a weekend long methamphetamine binge at the Whiskey A Go-Go.
During an unprecedented surplus of good judgment, I decided to start going to a therapist again. This is my third. If you've traveled my essays long enough, or read anything of mine for that matter, it should come as no surprise that I need the counsel of a trained psychiatric professional. I'm a mess. A neurotic, obsessive, cynical, untrustworthy, commitment-phobic, spendaholic mess. There are a lot of loose ends to tie up and a lot of leaky pipes in my head, and it's always good to see what someone outside of my brain has to say. Therapy is a luxury that everyone should indulge in if they had the spare cash. There's no greater feeling than venting your problems to someone who's paid to sit there and listen to them and even, on occasion, offer to solve them.
My first therapist was a saint. Absolute perfection. He couldn't be topped. Then he went into another field and referred me to a senile woman with white hair who kept forgetting the names of my friends and family members. It didn't feel as if much got accomplished, so I stopped going. My new shrink is damned good. His name's Lou. He works out of his home a few days out of the week and has a ripping good sense of humor, so we make a good team. He's sort of tall with glasses and that vague sort of therapist look that reminds one of sweater vests, cigars, and pitchers of filtered water and kleenex provided for the subject. After four or five visits, I'm really starting to open up.
I guess that might have been a problem in the past. Being guarded in the past, I've never disclosed everything. I have an issue with being a hundred percent honest with anyone. If anything, I'm probably far too honest with my writing and not honest enough with friends and loved ones. I'd rather give separate truths to a number of people so that they don't have anything on me. This philosophy is not conducive to therapy. So I decided to lay it all out on the table. I've got a lot of issues to work through. A lifetime subscription, to be precise. So we chip away at them one at a time. Lou doesn't take notes. He prefers to let me sit down and start rambling on about whatever is bothering me in a given week. Work, love-life (or vacuum thereof), finance, etc. You'd think that writing two or three books would give me enough expression to work out my problems. You'd think that and be wrong. That's the tip of the ice berg. Woody Allen goes to a therapist three days a week. Say what you will about his choice of spouses, but he's a creative monsoon. Howard Stern sees a therapist three days a week. Go figure. I don't know where I'm going with this. Ah yes. It's perfectly possible to be a fully functioning, card carrying member of the world and still seek treatment. I'm aiming for the fully functioning part.
I'm an angry, scared, distrustful person. A lot of things piss me off for no reason. Traffic. Stupid people who don't think before they open their mouths. Pretentious people who make the assumption that they're better than me. Blondes who think that the world owes them everything on a silver platter. Any form of religion. I've got pet peeves about my pet peeves. My relationships are usually about as healthy as Andy Dick on a weekend long methamphetamine binge at the Whiskey A Go-Go. Until recently, I've never made it past a month with any one girl. I'm needy or distant. I either want to spend every waking second with someone or put them at the bottom of my priority list. Lou earns every penny of the king's ransom that he charges for his consultations.
I'm afraid and I worry about a lot of things. Growing old alone. Sinking into a long, detached depression and getting into a rut where I don't do much more than sleep and work. I've had massive anxiety problems in the past where I avoided ninety percent of the world at large and where I was one traumatic experience away from being a shut in. It's not a fun place, my head. There are a lot of kinks and wrinkles and pot holes up there in that gray cess pool of a brain. I worry that no one likes me or that friends like me for the wrong reasons. I worry sometimes that my writing is only of value to other people if it's funny, and that the serious stuff just won't cut it. I worry about my parents dying. I worry about things going wrong, period. I'm the sort of person who expects life to throw me a metaphysical sucker punch if everything is going astoundingly well in my life. Add to this dysfunctional collage in my brain the whole manic-depression diagnosis and a history of heavy substance abuse. Cook for twenty eight years at 450 degrees and you've got a psychological Mt.Saint Helen's. I smoked a lot of pot when I was younger and ingested whatever people put in front of me. I traded that up for the comfort of alcohol. It appealed to my Irish side. In case you were wondering, the Irish side of me is the side that gets loud and falls down after too much whiskey. I've really cleaned up my act, though. As a marginally successful writer, one has to make a choice: drinking or writing. I'm not very good at doing both anymore, so I decided to try the writing end of it for awhile. It's working out pretty well.
One of the few things that I retained from college was from a sociology class. Something about altruistic individuals. Those of us on the outskirts of our collective communities. Or perhaps it was from a creativity course that I only went to four or five times during the entire semester. Whatever the case, it stuck. There are those of us who don't participate much in the world at large. Those of us who, for some reason or another, write as a reason to stay in touch with civilization, or use it as a means to get further away. Most of the time, when I take a day off, I try and stay out of contact with the outside world in a healthy manner. I would rather keep my security net of close friends and confidants, but that's it. Most people are stupid, rude, ill informed, and half retarded. Unless something or someone comes along and drastically changes my viewpoint, that's the way I'll continue to feel about the vast expanse of souls beyond my driveway. Ignorance is bliss, and intellect is a curse. My therapist helps to shoulder some of that curse and for that I'm grateful. It saves me from walking the streets and ranting and raving to random passers-by. When you really think about it, everyone is fucked in the head.
Those of us who seek help are just a bit more honest and a bit less self-deluded about it. Or perhaps I'm wrong and I'm the craziest sonofabitch this side of the equator.