I had to go to my first group therapy session today. But I didn’t feel like being there so I showed up late. I mean, it’s my right to live my life, isn’t it? So why should I have to be somewhere when I ‘d rather to be somewhere else?
The courts ordered me into therapy. I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice it to say that every story has more than one point of view, and the courts didn’t consider mine.
So the group was supposed to start at three o’clock, and I showed up at ten after. Socially late, right?
But the therapist immediately started in on me about needing me to respect the rules and limits of the program.
The therapist threw out the word boundaries like fifty times. She kept saying, “These are the program’s rules. You’ll be asked to leave if you won’t respect these boundaries.”
So I told her, “Fine, I’ll be on time.” Just to get her to stop lecturing me.
Then she asked me to introduce myself. Then she said something about confidentiality, but I wasn’t listening. I was thinking of all the clever things I was going to say to this group. The therapist kept talking and eventually asked me to tell everyone why I joined the group and what I hoped to get from participating in therapy.
But it was nice to have the everyone’s undivided attention for a minute, so before I spoke, I looked around at my audience. All of them looking at me and waiting for me to speak. I enjoyed that.
I mean, it was only my first time in therapy, but already I could tell that this crew was thinking, “Maybe this handsome stranger will free us from this horrible situation. Even if he can’t get us out of therapy, maybe he can bring a little joy into our wretched lives.”
And I took pity on them. So I decided to joke, to bring some humor to the situation. Because it was so tense in there. I felt like I had to break the ice.
I laughed and said to the room, “So you’re probably all wondering why I called you here today…”
One guy laughed, but the rest of them just kind of half-smiled. I think they were scared of that Nurse Ratched therapist. A real shrew.
And they were all scared of her. I could just tell they were.
Well I wasn’t going to be pushed around like that. I decided it was time to start doing things my way.
I looked right at the therapist. “I’m here doing thirty to life for murder. What was your crime?” And then I laughed. Really hard.
This time none of my audience laughed.
I thought I’d look better to them if I acted nicer and make a funny movie reference. “Okay, okay. Let’s not be too hard on old Nurse Ratched here.”
I said, “You know. Nurse Ratched. From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. That movie with Jack Nicholson as the guy who’s only acting crazy to get out of trouble.”
The therapist said, “Maybe you can tell us a little about why you’re here.”
I continued. “C’mon. Everyone has seen that movie! It was Nicholson, for crap’s sake! And Nurse Ratched was this pushy dictator on the ward. And Nicholson ends up trying to strangl… well, anyway, the movie is really good.”
The therapist stared at me for a moment before saying, “Seems like we’re off to a rough start here. How about you just sit back and take in a little about the group and then contribute at the appropriate time?”
I wasn’t going to be bullied, so I gave her a dismissive look. Then I tried to sit there while this guy talked about his problems, but it was so boring.
I cut him off. “I don’t mean to cut you off, but can you just, like get to the point and wrap it up? I mean, there’s a whole room full of people here besides you. Just seems like you might want to think about other people. And along those lines, seriously? No one is going to back me up on the Nurse Ratched joke?”
The therapist started in about boundaries again and used the word appropriate about a thousand times.
I just sat there, annoyed, trying to keep my cool. I don’t know how the courts expect group therapy like this to work when guys like me keep being lectured about every little thing they do.
So the other guy started back in, and then this person, couldn’t tell their gender, started talking about something and got all emotional really quick.
I interrupted. “I don’t mean to interrupt, and but can you just, like, be cool? We’re just trying to get through this group and you’re dragging us all down…”
The therapist interrupted. “I don’t like to interrupt, especially to address an interruption, but…”
And then she used the words boundaries and appropriate again like ten thousand times.
So I spent the rest of the time staring at the wall and icing everyone out. I didn’t even answer the therapist when she tried to include me in the conversation. I wasn’t gonna bother saying anything if I was gonna be attacked every time I opened my mouth.
The therapist was talking when the clock hit quitting time, so I said, in a really lecturing tone, “Boundaries.”
And got up and walked out while she was in mid-sentence.
I don’t know what that therapist was talking about. I’ve got the best personal boundaries of anyone you’ll ever meet and don’t have an ounce of respect for anyone who thinks otherwise.