Still waiting on Simon’s contribution to Jerk Ethic. I’m a woman of my word, so here’s another tidbit about Mr. Goetz, other than his undeniable baldness:
He might miss shows, but he can’t use a broken down car as an excuse. For one, because he doesn’t have a car, he has a fierce purple Landshark instead, but also because he has an extra spark plug on hand no matter where he goes.
That’s right. Simon has a tattoo of a multicolored spark plug on his right forearm.
I want my post.
A lot of people believe that they are what they do. In this society, at least, there seems to be this need to identify yourself based on a title. This is better than actually having our little pulsing evolutionary mistake defined by what we actually do.
There’s Jason, the Late-Night TV Watcher.
Sarah, the Complainer And Passive-Aggressive Storyteller.
Ainsley. Man, she’s the best Sore-Loser-At-Boggle in this region.
It’s a lot simpler, cleaner, and self-aggrandizing to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Writer, Software VP, Stripper.
If Simon and I weren’t writers we’d be fighters. At risk of oversharing, I’m going to let you in on what we would not be: couples’ counselors.
After a year of romance, filled with board games, inside jokes, and comic store browsing, we’ve reached a point where everything we have done in Care-A-Lot is suddenly overshadowed by the fact that arguing has become our latest hobby.
Sure, a lot of the head-butting is petty bickering, natural for two only children left in the same room together, and for two people who are skeptical about commitment while being fairly full of themselves.
There have also been the stresses of moving, career changes, sobriety, and family strife that have churned bile inside the stomachs of a pair of already anxious individuals.
One could even speculate that our feuding stems from a need to express passion, that we’re just bad at communicating, that, really, underneath the raised voices, impulsive breakups, and mocking, sarcastic insults there is really a deep, pure love and desire to make one another happy.
Sure. Kumbayah. Peace and love. Puff puff pass. Whatever.
I am the product of parents who hated one another but had a child because, well, that’s what society tells a married couple to do. I was raised on schlock therapy sessions where “solutions” were presented. I remember leafing through self-help books on my mother’s bedside table, learning about transference, inner children (gross!), and “the blame game” during commercial breaks for Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. My parents finally split when I was twelve. I vividly remember my mom, waterworks going full-blast, gently grabbing my shoulders and saying, “It’s okay for you to wish daddy would stay. But we’re going to get a divorce.”
“It took you guys long enough,” I replied.
So, needless to say, when the mantle of instability settled upon the shoulders of Simon and myself, my first reaction was to cut my losses, pack my suitcase, and leave Portland behind, skinny jeans and all.
Of course, it isn’t that easy. It never is. Not only are we business partners, impassioned editors, and best friends, we’re also kind of in love. I mean, fighting or no fighting, at the end of the day, he’s the one I want to talk to, the one who understands my jokes about impalin’ Sarah Palin, who never makes me feel like I’m too weird, and who reassures me when I have nightmares about zombies and fucking John Mayer (no joke) that everything will be all right. That sort of connection isn’t worth giving up on, even if I’m tired of having to convince him that thirty isn’t old, settling down doesn’t mean giving up The McLaughlin Group and three day long stretches without a shower, that there are no rules.
Also, I’m five feet tall, he’s five foot seven. We’re sort of, er, built for dancing together. If you know what I mean.
So, in the face of relationship ruin, what did this mentally unstable, histrionic bisexual do? She began to research couples’ counseling, that’s what. Because no matter how hard my buttons have been pushed, I truly believe that what makes a happy union is the ability to mercilessly make fun of other people in a conspiratorial whisper.
To become an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist) you have to go to school for it, duh. Now, wherein I imagine that this school would have a dissertation that includes getting confronted by your insanely jealous ex-girlfriend in a room where a panel of doctors watches how you react, it instead is capped off by a certificate or degree, either a Masters or Doctorate, in marriage and family therapy.
If you’ve already obtained a degree in a mental health related field (no, art history doesn’t count, nor does women’s studies) you can get a post-graduate degree with a certification and training program. You are required to complete a certain number of training hours yearly to hold accreditation from groups such as the National Board of Certified Counselors, the American Counseling Association, or (shudder) the Women’s Therapy Project Northwest.
I learned about all of this through a Google search for How to become a couples’ counselor.
What I learned by Google searching for couples’ therapy Portland, Oregon was this:
- Some people still believe that Comic Sans and Brushstroke create a level of lighthearted intimacy on their websites. In truth, these fonts just make me want to wretch.
- Quotes from Rumi and Joni Mitchell do not make me feel like trusting you, no matter how many cats your bio says that you have.
- Pointing out that the word real is in relationship proves that you can’t help me sort out my mental state, but makes me soundly convinced that I can beat you in hangman.
- The people who write Hallmark cards are also the ones who do site copy for Pacific Northwest relationship counselors. The words “loving,” “love,” “intimacy,” “passion,” “embrace,” and “create” are all featured prominently, as are pastel colors and abstract clip art from the 1990s.
Nothing makes me want to fix my relationship solo more than the threat of sitting face-to-face with a counselor who looks like she might actually use the term “womyn,” or go to a drum circle that celebrates the moon and menstrual cycles.
Nothing makes me realize how petty and insecure I seem by getting angry at Simon for texting a Twitter post as I seduced him with a blowjob more than the idea of “finding a sense of belonging in this crazy, confusing, and painful world by connecting with others in heartfelt ways.”
And don’t even try to stop my blood from turning into antifreeze after reading these two words strung together: Movement Therapy.
Where I might never get my degree as a social worker or therapist, I do know a few key things that I can apply as “tools” towards “building a loving bond” with my “partner.” (Fire sale on quotation marks.)
I know that most of the time I would really benefit from shutting the fuck up for a moment.
I know that becoming self-righteously angry isn’t going to convince Simon that I, in fact, am right. Even when I am right. Which is, you know, always.
I know that most problems can be solved by a half-hour long time out where I go and listen to Tool, read web comics, and call one of my female friends to talk about how much better off pussy is than penis.
I know that when it comes down to it, I’m a writer, but I’m also a pretty big asshole. One of those things I want to succeed, the other I need to keep in check. No degree, certification, or graduate degree is going to make me treat someone the way I want to be treated. Common sense is. Well, that and a little patience if I apply it to playing Boggle.
Thank you so much for donating, commenting, linking, whatever. Attention is my Gatorade, only tastier, and less sexy when dripping down Kevin Garnett’s body.
Drop me a line, I’ll dribble it and pass it back. AinsleyDrew at the gmail one.
Give us something to agree on: work.