it was actually only about this time last year that i began seeing clara-lou (not her real name). clara-lou ran a practice from a second storey room in her inner-west terrace. she had a wonderful curly-haired maltese x poodle whose name i forget, who sat pensively in the corner of all therapy sessions. i would coddle the puppy, and clara-lou would take this as a sign of my own submissiveness. “animals must be tamed,” she would say. did she love the dog? it’s hard to know.
my gosh i cried in that little room overlooking a bunch of other geometrical pavered squares that pass for backyards. the lines of the yards didn’t quite line up the way i would have liked to see, and i’d imagine pushing them into neat parallels as i cried and clara-lou watched. i could feel my face burning and clara-lou watched. then she’d say something biting, and i’d think “holy shit, she’s right!” she shamed me into sorting my shit out.
clara-lou was a visionary. clara-lou was the antithesis to my teenage counsellor who used to look at me with such wide eyes, clasp her hands and announce “oh that must be so difficult!” clara-lou was not interested in me, she was interested in her own study, in bettering her own practice by fixing me. i was a result to her. she charted my progress on a graph. and yes, i improved. there was a line on clara-lou’s graph that marked the point where i was no longer drowning in sorrow but had my head above water again (clara-lou’s cliche, not mine).
whatever. clara-lou and i had a disagreement. she wanted me to see a health specialist for an illness i was sure i did not have. clara-lou would not accept my GP’s non-diagnosis of said illness.
“if it was your dog, you would get a second opinion!” said the woman whose dog has a homeopath.
“nope,” i said, “if it was my dog i would trust that her vet knows better than i do.”
clara-lou pressed on. i did not budge.
“your face is closed, like you feel resentment,” said clara-lou.
“no,” i said, “i’m just finished with this conversation.” i was not paying her $180 per session to talk about blood tests. that was our last session.