Wednesday, 11 November 2009

I Went To Couples Therapy Alone

Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

My best friend was in town. He was staying less than 10 minutes away on Meeker at an old girlfriends house. He'd initially intended to stay with me and Marie, but when I called him a week before he was coming out and told him that I was sleeping on the floor at work, he made other plans.

We met up the first day he was in town, went and got coffee and breakfast at The Rabbit Hole on Bedford Ave and caught up. He told me that he'd applied to join a monastery back in Oregon where he's living now, and that there's a monastery up in the Bronx that he wanted to check out as well while he was here. Things change. This from the only guy that I ever tried to keep out of my cab when I was driving in Austin. He looked scary at the time. I didn't want trouble. He looked like a lot trouble - turned out he was, just never with me. Instead of hitting the lock button that night on my cab, I hit the window button. Ten years later I'm living in Brooklyn trying to become a writer and he's looking to become a monk.

When we met in Austin we were both going through a divorce and I ended up moving into an apartment down the hall from him, taking the lease over for the girl that owned the tattoo shop where he was working - True Blue Tattoo. He did most of my tattoos. We were drinking buddies. We spent a good year drinking our sorrows away after our divorces, and another year after that just drinkin'. And we talked. We talked a lot, trying to make sense out of life. He was a good friend and we had a lot of fun together. Eventually he sobered up, moving away a year or so later, trying to piece his life together. And I got married again, then divorced again. But we've kept in touch and remained good friends since. He probably knows me better than anyone.

It was good to see him and catch up.

The next day I went up to the Bronx with him to visit the monastery up around 142nd St on the West side. The monks were young, younger than us, late twenties. We sat and talked to one of them in the front room under a painting of the prodigal son. After my friend and the young monk talked for a minute the monk asked me to tell him about myself. I told him the short version of the last year, then had to excuse myself to make it to me and Marie's couples therapy appointment. I left my friend there and raced out the door, catching the B express train down to 34th, switching to the F, barely making to the office on time.

Marie text me saying that she would be late. She was stuck in her tax attorney's office trying to put some order to the last five years of her life. The therapist called me back and I started in on what was going on with me and Marie. I told her we were struggling, how I'd nearly moved out, and that I knew we loved each other but that sometimes I just didn't understand where Marie was coming from. She told me Marie was a wild card, but that she genuinely seemed willing to work on herself and the relationship. And that this was the first time that Marie was willing to listen to someone challenging her on some of her behavior. She seemed invested. That was a good sign. She was willing to look at herself. If she was not, then the answer of what to do would be simple. The door for growth for both of us was open, as long as were each open as too.

I felt better after the session, more secure in staying.

Marie didn't make it to the session, showing up just as I was walking out. That was fine with me. I sometimes feel that I can use as many therapists as possible to talk about Marie.

The day before my friend left, over coffee at The Roebling Tea House - the place where the blog got its title nearly a year ago (see first blog post) - he told me that the monk who we'd visited a few days before wanted him to pass on a message to me - that he felt it would be easier to clarify things with my relationship and in my life if I moved out.

My friend told me that whatever I decided to do, I should write the truth about what I was going through and not try to be salacious or pandering - just speak the truth - as I was just a guy trying to do the right thing. And wasn't that novel enough?


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