Sunday, June 19, 2011

Installment Four

Today was my shrink day.

For the thousandth time since I returned to Canada, I blessed a health care system that pays for my psychiatrist.

He insists I call him Larry instead of Dr. Wright (which I thought had to be a fake name when I first met him.)

Dr. Call-Me-Larry is not quite half my age but looks young enough to be a potential son-in-law. I mentioned Deborah to him almost before I had introduced myself.

Of course, I tried to be subtle about my matchmaking. I gave him this long song and dance about my daughter being a 'third culture kid' because she grew up all over the world.

TCKs, as they are known in the shorthand of the globally mobile (it has no cute translation from blogspeak), often have trouble sustaining long term relationships. I figured that would interest him as a psychiatrist.

I only managed to open a can of worms.

"You also grew up moving around, Joelly. Do you think that fact impacted on your relationship?”

No doctor, it was That Bastard Martin, my soon-to-be-ex-husband for whom I can assign a blog monniker, TBM, who impacted on my failed marriage!

I didn't say that out loud.

"Guess what I'm called?" I asked him. "I'm an ATCK--an adult third culture kid. Then there are TCAs, third culture adults..."

"I'm already aware of all those terms, Joelly. I actually read all those materials you gave me explaining the particularities of your global life."

Pregnant pause, the first part being a physical impossibility.

"So, how do you feel about the idea that moving around may have contributed to the breakdown of your marriage?"

"How do I feel? Or what do I think?" The wheels on the bus were going round and round. "You have asked me two questions."

"I think someone is trying to dodge both."

"Fair enough." I love that line. It shuts down any conversation.

His clock ticked on while we stared at each other. Bloody hell, how does this work? Why can't he just give me the anti-depressants I asked for at our first appointment?

"I think I feel depressed."

We stared at each other.

"I feel like a fish out of water here," I continued. "I feel restless and overcome with inertia at the same time. Weird, eh?"

"Go on."

If I only had the words. I only have this nagging feeling that the interesting part of my life--the travel, the conversations, the ability to indulge my cultural curiosity--is over.

I couldn't bring myself to say any of this without sounding like I was crazy.

Then it hit me: if I was going to get any drugs out of this guy, I had to behave like I have a mental health challenge. How easy is that? These days, every behavior is initialized, labeled a syndrome, and medicated.

"Sometimes I wonder if I maybe I shouldn't just vanish."

That was ambiguous enough to intimate I may be contemplating suicide. (Maybe I really could be a writer.) The truth is that I really do feel like running away.

But how do you run away from yourself?

"Joelly, I think you would benefit from _____," he said, reaching for his prescription pad.

Mission accomplished.


  1. Interesting how easy it was to manipulate someone who at first seemed so wise to the tricks.

  2. Oh Joelly, you know that drugs are not the answer in the long run, now don't you? I think maybe, just maybe, you should go back and reread those books you lent him. I hear that Moveable Marriage by someone called Robin Pascoe is pretty good. I have read it and think you may find that moving around can really impact a marriage. You have to be really strong to survive that much packing tape.

  3. Thanks for the advice about drugs, Lesley. I haven't actually filled the prescription because on my way out of his office, the doctor said no drinking with them. Party pooper!

    Funny, but I actually heard the author of that marriage book you mentioned lecture when she came to Beijing a few years ago. But most of my friends thought she was more a frustrated stand-up comic than writer.

  4. Yeah, I saw her a few times. She ripped into her old man a few times, didn't she. I think she thought we thought she was joking. Do you know if she is still married to the poor sod? Roger, or Robin or something wasn't it?

    Sod the pills, I'd rather drink Scotch. What's your tipple, Joelly?


  5. Lesley, I'm a Scotch drinker too but now reduced to drinking from cheap white wine boxes. How far we fall from lofty expat heights!

    But thanks for being so supportive. I didn't think anyone would actually read this blog, never mind post comments on it!

    BTW, I don't that author ever actually told us her husband's name. She kept referring to him as 'the guy who gave her his air miles to fly to China.' :-)