Thursday, September 13, 2007

Crooked Impressions

Well, I'm getting some personal counseling. The past five months have been exhausting and stressful, and I just need a good hit, OK? No, I am NOT addicted to a good listener, but there comes a time! Well, a friend of a friend recommended a place--and that place referred me to their local folk...so I was going blindly into this, hoping that She would be Good.

The basement of the BB&T in Vienna, VA is a Christian Services kind of multipurpose space. Looks like all sorts of meetings take place down there--not related to any denomination, as far as I could tell, although some of it is directed at the Christian Korean community. I am not, of course, Korean, so I was there for the Other.

Basements...they tend to be musty. This one was no exception; not the best first impression. I crooked my nose a bit, but reserved judgment. I was on time for my appointment but no one was there to greet me or direct me--there was a semi-inviting couch, an empty desk, which could also serve as a bar for the right event (I'm sure that would be a dry bar, but anyway...), and a few open rooms with conference seating set-ups. I meandered down the hall to try to find someone...and heard muffled conversation behind the last door, where an odd small cat graphic adorned the door at an off angle. OK. I think that's where I'll be in a few moments. I shuffled my feet loudly to make myself known, without making obnoxious fake coughing noises. It worked.

A woman emerged with hand outstretched in introduction, and the first thing I noticed was that the right side of her ponytail had fallen loose behind her ear, giving her a non-symmetrical appearance. To make the matter more interesting, she appeared to have maybe suffered a minor stroke, trauma or some sort of facial damage--her mouth opened more on one side than the other.

It was sort of like stepping into a Vincent Van Gogh painting...or maybe Klimt would be a better parallel...no, Dali? Whatever it was, everything seemed lopsided, which can be unsettling. She had to finish her current session, and I had to fill out paperwork, so I was left in the very cold musty room to write alone for a bit. Frankly, I felt like dropping the pen and running--not just because of the visual upsets to my Type-A visual-learner personality, but also because the questionairre had a check list that I always hate to stare at.

Emotionally abused. Check! Parents divorced. Check! Traumas/accidents. Check, check, check. Death of loved ones. Check...

Yuck. Who likes to evaluate her life through those kinds of labels? Anger issues? Check... Tantrums? ha ha ha!! Yes. Check.

Well,it isn't funny, is it?

OK, so back to my crooksided experience in Vieena, Virginia. Valerie emerged a few minutes later, and welcomed me to follow her into the small room at the back. There is a sweater there, would I like to put it on? Ummmm. A Sweater? Whose sweater? Yes, well it has been there for a long time... Ah, noooooooo, I don't think I'm interested in that. I'll shiver. It's OK.

The lampshade was half-cocked, her papers were disorganized to & fro in a stack on an otherwise empty shelf, and none of the three prints on the wall behind her were lined up with one another. Oh, good grief!

BUT...here is the great news! V is a VERY GOOD listener, and that is the first most important step towards being a good counselor. I felt her empathy, her understanding, and her gentle invitation to open up. She shared her own weaknesses and personal approaches to healing, and in the end she offered me a hug, which I gladly embraced. So the way for me to straighten up the messy stresses of my life starts, I guess, with the twisted environment in a dank bank basement.

There's a poem in there, somewhere, I can feel it!

For now I'm going with the old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover!" Feeling better, already. Stay tuned!

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