Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, July 30, 2004

The Manipulation of Men

I have, since a very young age, been uncannily adept at getting people--men, mostly--to take a 'special' interest in me. Maybe it's because I'm small (5'1" at my full adult height) and I look younger than I am. (Even at 40, I still occasionally get asked for identification to buy alcohol.) I think I bring out the paternal figure in some men--and the old lech in others. OK, mostly the old lech.

Some examples, from days gone by: my 8th grade algebra teacher, who used to joke about wanting to adopt me, and liked to pick me up by the belt loops on my jeans and swing me around (perv), but who also used to sit next to me during algebra tests to help me through my test anxiety (which I developed because I sucked at algebra) since he just KNEW I was capable of A work; my 10th grade physics teacher, who let me and my friends have lunch every day in his lab because the lunchroom was so loud and jam-packed that we hated having to go there; and then of course there was my 7th grade science teacher, who used to give me and my friend passes out of class so we could come hang out with him in his lab and listen to music and talk about our teenaged angst and who I had a wicked crush on and who used to drive me home sometimes in his orange convertible Corvette and who used to have picnics in the park with us on the weekends. In fact, I remember one picnic where we got into an ice fight with the ice in the cooler he'd brought, and we ended up rolling around on the grass together, shoving chips of ice down one another's shirt. Can you imagine? I was 13, people. He was in his 30s. But hey. Free passes out of class! Rides in a cool orange Corvette! For a geek-girl, I was doing good...

There is a point here. And I'm getting to it.

Last night, I went to see the psychiatrist. And I liked him, I think. Hard to tell in just one visit, but he seemed sure of himself, and he was comforting, and he said to me, "You're going to get better, I promise." But as I left his office two hours later, my first thoughts were, "Wow. He was easy."

See, my goals going in there were several-fold: I wanted to name for what's going on for me (and I got it--I got three, in fact) and I wanted an educated plan of action for making it stop. But also, I wanted someone else to care as much as I do about getting this taken care of; I wanted someone--this guy, if he was to be my doctor--on my side fully, invested in my recovery, going above and beyond.

And so, without even thinking about it beforehand really, I did what I needed to do. I made sure to mention early on that I work in the public relations office at the same institution at which he is practicing. And then I made sure to mention that I "really do need to talk to you at some point in the near future about what's going on in this practice, because I don't think psychiatry gets the attention it should around here." In fact, at one point I even handed him my business card, urging him to let me know when the plans he was telling me about came to fruition. All of which was sincere, by the way.

Like I said, I was there for two hours. We talked about me for one hour, and then we talked about him--about his plans, his hopes, his career to date, the politics of where we work, the ups and downs. By the end, we had thoroughly washed each other's back: I had expressed great interest in making his group more visible on campus, and he had put in for permission from my insurance company to see me again next week to teach me some relaxation techniques, and was in the process of getting a list of qualified providers in the area who do cognitive-behavioral therapy (which is what I think I need, and he agrees), and promised he will make sure I get in to see one, and soon. He's going to remember who I am. He's going to want to make sure I get the best possile care.

This isn't nefarious, by any means. I didn't dupe him into giving me drugs I don't need, or trick him into a diagnosis that isn't true. I just did a little maneuvering, consciously and unconsciously, to get him on my side. Isn't it what we all want when we see a doctor or someone like that? Isn't it what we all want when we ask for help?

So why do I feel so dirty?

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