I’ve been thinking about going to see Deb again. Deb was my grief counselor who I saw from about December 2018 (three months after my mom died) till November 2019 (so 14 months after my mom died; this second parenthetical was unnecessary). I saw her roughly once a week, probably telling her the same three things over 400 times. She wrote things down, which I liked. My grief had notes! It was like a class for her!
I don’t know why I even went initially, but it seemed like something you do and my insurance at the time covered the sessions, not that Deb took insurance. After paying out of pocket, I had to submit a claim in a process that was somewhat akin to developing a new pen pal. I miss my BlueCross BlueShield family! Anyway, I went. It made other people feel better that I was doing it. I was “seeing somebody!” which made everyone more comfortable. I was about to careen off this Earth and into space if a professional didn’t take over soon, seemed to be most people’s take.
I’m not really into therapy. It’s fine. It gives people permission to talk about themselves, which is 1) pretty much value neutral 2) clearly something I don’t need! (If you want to hear some pro-therapy arguments, just open Twitter and read every Tweet.) In this particular case, I think counseling was helpful to navigate the transition between my mom dying -- kinda her thing -- and her death, which is mine.
Deb specialized in complicated grief which is basically what it sounds like. She explained it’s when the bereaved get stuck in the earliest stages of grief for years or even decades. “Like the Kardashians,” I said, which went nowhere, sadly.
It’s weird to have a favorite moment from grief counseling, but I for sure do. I was complaining about how people kept saying my mom’s death was unexpected or sudden. My mom had been battling ovarian cancer for almost four years. Had the people who were so surprised by her death seen, like, any movie? How were they so shocked? “Well,” Deb said with a sort of eye roll/shoulder shrug, “Everyone says that.” HAHAHAHAHA. The darkest experiences of human existence are repetitive filler in Deb’s work day. I really loved that. This was truly comforting. It made me laugh. It still does.
I understood what she was saying though: for whatever reason, people repeat that my mom’s death was “surprising” to them because that’s their emotional truth and I was thinking they were really surprised, which maybe they were or were not, but wasn’t the point. I was different from most people in that that terminology didn’t serve me and actually was actively annoying to me. Her death was the result of a lot of work, frankly. Dying of cancer takes a tremendous effort and it felt like people were breezing by that fact. Oh, maybe they were doing that on purpose because it’s sad. Oh.
It feels weird when your grief isn’t canon, when your experiences are not mainstream. You feel wrong. I feel wrong. Like the thing when people say “I go to tell [my dead person] this thing and then I remember they’re dead.” You’ve heard someone say that. It’s extremely common. That doesn’t happen to me. I’ve thought that exactly once, about a week after my mom died. That was the time. But it’s one of the highest rated grief talking points and if you’re looking to impersonate a grief-stricken person, try that one (why are you impersonating a grief-stricken person???). Why doesn’t it happen to me though? Why am I the person who always remembers that their mom is dead?
One thing I really respect about Deb is somewhere around November 2019 she asked me what I thought I was getting out of these sessions after a year, which I took as her pushing me out of the nest. I like that. Deb didn’t seem like she was in it to make money or provide me with a cherished relationship with insurance claims specialists. This made me really trust Deb even though it came at the end of our relationship, but it subsequently made me value the time we did spend together.
But that is another reason I can’t see Deb anymore. I don’t want to tell her I didn’t get this job we both thought I was going to get. Part of the reason why I couldn’t see her every week after that November was this job. Not that it was a “dream job” or “something I wanted to do,” but it seemed like a good full time job in my field and the type of job where people would be like “oh, cool!” when you said what you did and you’d say “it really is!” even as you think “it really is not!” One day people in entertainment will all stop pretending to love jobs that sound high-status and we’ll all be free. Today is not that day. We are not free. Cool!
The interview for this job was fraught from the start (a good indicator that I’d be hired, if you know my life). I was set to meet the would-be-boss-person at a particular address and then call when I got there. The request for a call is already a red flag because this place had security where employees could leave guests’ names and direct them upstairs. To me it was already concerning that the person I’d be reporting to didn’t know how the building worked. I knew how the building worked because I had actually worked in that building recently. So recently, in fact, that I still had a key card that allowed my entry to the building. That’s not unusual for me. At any given time, I have a minimum of five key cards on my person from various short term gigs. Rarely does anyone turn them off, which is great news when you realize you need to put on eyeliner and you’re far from home, but close to the bathroom of an office where you worked for eight months in 2017. I’m guessing. But rather than use that key card, I was outside calling a number that wasn’t answering (because needless to say, anyone who would set up this system to be called would also not have their phone on them at the appointed time.)
Eventually the person did pick up, but I can’t tell you what they said because I don’t even think I heard it at the moment. It was something like “SHUT UP!” or “I CAN’T DO THIS RIGHT NOW.” Whatever the words were, they were being hurled at me with a volume of anger that could only be described as Mel Gibson “Give Me Back Me Son”-levels. And then they hung up. And I was on the street in front of a building that I could easily access with a key.
These moments that are embarrassing and dehumanizing on a good day are harder when my mom is dead. It feels like when people are mean they are doing it because they know they can get away with it because I have no mom to protect me. That’s not true, but as we learned before with the whole “surprise” argument, that’s besides the point.
So I’m still just standing outside that building, emotionally spiraling. At this point, I can’t admit I have the key. After some back and forth between my representation, the office, and myself, I got in . The excuse the person used is that they were asleep. Guys, let’s talk about lying for a second. If you’re going to lie, feel free to make up a lie that makes you look good or is funny or complimentary to the person you’re lying to, not “I was sleeping at work.” I know you don’t want to embellish too much because then the lie will be less believable, but there’s got to be something in between “I just saved an orphanage from a fire-breathing dragon with my magic wand” and “I was sleeping at work.” There must be. And was this the person that screamed at me? It wasn’t acknowledged if so (it literally had to be the same person). So I had an hour long interview with this person and we both pretended none of that happened and we pretended he was asleep and we also pretended like that was a good lie. We honestly both should be commended. We killed it.
What’s weirder: that when I walked out of that interview I thought I got the job or that I thought I’d take it? I guess the former. We’ll all take any job: BlueCross BlueShield pen pals don’t pay for themselves!
Deb seemed pleased I’d be getting things back on track and taking the job. What if I go back to grief counseling and she asks me about the job? (remember: Deb! Has! Notes!) I’ll have to admit I didn’t get it. I was screamed at for nothing. I don’t think I told Deb about the screaming, but I feel she does know.
Another thing that stops me from calling Deb is knowing that I’d have to start back at level one like an improviser changing house theaters, but less tragic. You don’t really get to, like, keep your credits in grief counseling nor do you ascend levels like scouts. And that’s a problem for me. I’d love to be a junior grief cadet who could help Deb with her newer patients. Like, Khloe Kardashian or even a non-famous person. I always wanted to hear more about what other people are saying in grief counseling, but I guess that’s “unethical” and “illegal.” I wanted to be a bigger part of her community or gain access or prizes! This isn’t Dave & Busters and my grief tokens can’t be turned in for an oversized Taz doll (I’ve looked into it.) If I go back to Deb, I’ll just be another grief patient. We’re all equal in grief and that’s comforting and also the absolute worst.
But I also can’t go back to Deb because I wrote this. And she could find out. Which is okay, but also not. Deb can’t think I’m doing a dang blog about all our sessions! That’s not safe for Deb! And I like Deb and Deb was good. And another thing about Deb? Her name is not Deb. I changed it though I can barely say why. Maybe I just like typing “Deb.” I do.
So maybe I’ll find a new Deb or just keep bugging you because we’re all equal in grief, except Kim K because she’s got that hologram of her dad. She’s doing much worse.
Guys, let’s talk about lying for a second 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀