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I enter her comfy, cozy office, sink into the comfy, cozy couch and we get all the small talk out of the way. She knows I don’t want to talk about anything, I’d much rather babble on about current events or the weather, so she tries to get me to relax so I can share how I’m really feeling so I can feel better. She asked me to close my eyes. Yeah right, that only took five minutes for me to stay in, and then she asked me to imagine

…..sitting in the deep woods, woods filled with pine trees the breath of the breeze filling the boughs that made them sway, the scent of pine taking me away… I opened my eyes and said, “Yeahno. Nope. There’s bears. There’s bears and there’s yellowjack nests in the bottom of that tree. You know I have spheksophobia, I can’t go there, no bears, no hornets, no.”

May be an image of nature and tree
photo by Elisa Torres

I’m stiff on the couch again and she asks me to imagine the green hillside where Julie Andrews sings “The Hills Are Alive” amidst mountains and a beautiful blue sky, a scene she knows I love and helps me get to sleep. She asks me to sit down on a blanket and watch the moment. But the hills are alive with flowers and things that want flowers like bugs and bees and oh my god it’s all covered in bees and Nope. No. No thank you. I’m stiff again on her couch really wanting to talk about the ballots being audited in Arizona by Cyber Ninjas. She slowly brings me back to where I can see my sneakers on the Berber carpet, and I want an iced coffee in the worst way.

My therapist takes a sip from her coffee mug and returns it silently to the coaster on the side table. She says, “I want you to close your eyes again,” which takes another five minutes and she says “Imagine yourself floating. You are floating in the jade green waters of the Chesapeake, the place you love. The sun is warm but not too warm, the breeze is present but not assailing, you are floating, floating free and safe…” And I cut her off. “Nope. No. There’s jellyfish. Jellyfish. They’re all over. And things that touch my calf and and I don’t know what the hell that is because I can’t see it. I mean, if I can’t see it, then what is even the point of being here? No thanks.”

My therapist sighs and smiles, adjusting tactics and says, “Well ok, that’s fine. Close your eyes again please. And now you’re floating in your bathtub at home. Your apartment where the only sound is the air conditioner. Day in and day out, the world is quiet, as you like it, your most sacred safe place. You are floating in your bathtub, relaxed, thinking about the day, and …” I interrupt her. “Nope. No. I just washed the tub. I mean, I think I got all the cleaner out, but I’m not sure. I rinsed the tub out really good, I probably used more water than I should have, I mean, I really try to conserve water, but I’m not sure all the cleaner is out, so if I try to soak in the tub with that stuff still in there my labia might swell up and my vagina will follow suit and my uterus will *eject* because who the hell knows what’s really in those chemicals, so how about if I try again tomorrow after I rinse the tub out with scalding hot water for like 24 hours, it should be okay then, right? …. Right?

There’s bears in them woods and jellyfish in that water and it’s okay. My friend wrote about her time away and my current being had hackles up, red flags, fear which I throttled back slowly as I imagined myself there faced with a bear in the ferns, or maybe it was a deer, or nothing at all. After putting out my fear fires I felt amused because I can be a dork who can look at my real inside self and hear, “Well there you go. You got some shit to work on.” So thanks, Elisa for your allowing me to live vicariously through ya, and there was probably no bears. I doubt I will ever get over the yellowjack thing, but I’ll hit the water and the woods with you anytime.

*This essay was filled with exaggeration, but….