I have mixed feelings about it. The building façade is under construction as they prepare for a French restaurant to open next month-ish. The elevators are tiny and weird. The bathroom is locked. She said there’s normally a key in the waiting room, but it’s missing so I could use hers until then. Nope – that’s totally weird to me, so I nearly peed my pants during session.
The waiting room itself is startlingly bright – stark white walls bouncing fluorescent light all over my sensitive eyeballs. Classic huge “oriental” rug in the center. Pretentious magazines on cheap furniture and sub-pretentious artwork in cheaper frames. One of those water fountains with plastic spigots, but no cups (shall I drink from my hand?!). Endless doors all over the place (including a semi-secret hallway that leads to more doors) all with those circular white noise machines churning out endless “shhhhhhhhhhh” sounds. Presumably all with various psychotherapeutic dyads rattling away behind them. It’s very….sterile. And a sensory nightmare.
Her actual office is much less stimulating. There’s a lamp with a gentle glow and an overhead light that I could tell was attached to a dimmer switch. She chose a nice level of light. The window leads out into one of those weird openings where you can only see other parts of the building, but she’s high enough up that it allows decent light. Plus it’s exponentially less noisy than her last window, which overlooked a very busy intersection. She’d often have it open on warmer days and the sound was incredibly distracting. Especially on the day a protest rally was marching down the street. Also, Zooey’s office didn’t even HAVE a window, so I’m just excited to be in a room that isn’t entirely lit by artificial means. I never realized how oppressive that was until after I stopped going.
She has the same furniture, but it looks better in this space. It’s somehow more cohesive or something. She has the best chair to sit in. It’s an oversized armchair, so I can slide right to the back and pull my knees up to my chest. I feel very contained in that little cocoon I create for myself for 55 minutes.
Also, she sits in a matching chair. I really like that because it gives a feeling of egalitarianism. There will always be a power differential, and there should be (why else would I be paying her to help me), but having chairs on equal levels just feels nice. Zooey sat in this huge leather rocker-recliner across from the shorter microfiber sofa I had to sit on. I HATED it when she rocked in it – something about that was always very triggering. And to me, there’s a lot of symbolism in a scenario where the therapist is sitting in a much larger, more comfortable, and more imposing chair.
I knew this move would be happening, so it wasn’t a surprise. The new office is only about ten blocks from her previous office, so it’s in roughly the same area. This is good because I enjoy that particular part of the city and it’s a commute I’m used to making twice a week.
One thing I’ve never mentioned here is that her previous office building was roughly 500 feet from Zooey’s. In fact, I had to walk PAST Zooey’s office to get to and from sessions. I didn’t intentionally choose someone close to Zooey’s workplace, but it turns out there are a TON of therapists in that area. Also, therapists have this way of networking within their own little circles, usually related to where they went to school. So, for example, I found this current therapist through another therapist who’s office was also near Zooey’s and who went to the same school as both Zooey AND the therapist I’m seeing right now. Social Work is a small world, apparently.
It was hard to walk past Zooey’s office every week. Especially when I was going to session on Monday’s at 3pm. I would get out of the therapist’s office and then walk past Zooey’s at 4pm, which is the exact time I would have been in session with her…if I was still her client. There were times when it hurt so much to make that short walk that it would knock the wind out of my lungs.
But then it gradually started to get easier. I began making a deliberate effort to acknowledge the energy around that space and the emotions it invoked in me. I’d pause in front of the building if I needed to and just stand there, letting the grief do it’s work. Sometimes it was excruciating. Other times it was just a twinge of something – shame, regret, longing, curiosity.
And then, last week, something cool happened. As I left my session on Friday, I walked to the train. It wasn’t until I got one block PAST Zooey’s building that I realized I hadn’t even noticed it as I’d walked past it. I didn’t turn to look back, either.
Man, did it feel good to realize that.
Strangely, that was also my last session in the therapist’s former office. Seems like perhaps it was good timing – I was in therapy near Zooey’s office long enough to begin to let go and start this new journey. And now that I’ve emotionally distanced myself enough from her and from that physical space, I am literally moving my therapy to a new space. Although it’s only a ten block difference, it might as well be a different world.
This is good. New office, new energy, new therapist (?).
(Still deciding on that last part…one step at a time, guys.)
P.S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m Irish and I have a super Irish name, but I never remember it’s St. Patrick’s Day. Nor do I drink alcohol. Wait, so I’m probably not allowed to be Irish anymore….
P.P.S. My “sister” is having a baby tomorrow! I’m going to be an Aunt again! If y’all could send some good juju her way, that’d be awesome 🙂