Playing Catch

You can’t always jump right in.

I walked over to my therapist’s house after a heavy rain had fallen. The dark clouds loomed large in the sky, as if they might change their mind, and the humidity was with me every step I took. It’s been a strange stretch of weather, one where you feel sticky the moment you step outside. It reminds me of living in New York City. The best you’d feel all day was the second you finished your shower, before you stepped out into the high temperatures of the afternoon, and sweat would come shortly after that. This weather makes me oddly nostalgic for for the days I spent in the big city, but I don’t miss being out in that heat.

It was warm my therapist’s house, they type of warmth that’s conducive to an afternoon nap. Despite my lack of sleep, I was feeling determined and energetic. I’d been holding back the past few weeks. I was afraid that there was nothing to talk about, and that we’d hit a bit of a rut. I’d confessed this fear to my therapist the week before, and I told her how it’s been nagging me and making me uneasy. This fear makes it more difficult for me to open up. It makes for repetitive and pointless therapy sessions, sessions where I’m not sure if I make any progress at all. I was ready to get out of my own head stop thinking so much.

Despite all that was swirling around in my head, today, I was at my manic best. I was able to overcome the mental block that had been holding me back, and my brain was bouncing around like the pinball it’s been my entire life. I stopped every now and again to apologize, and to make sure she was still with me, as my train of thought is never linear, and is more likely scattered. I was freely flowing and digging deeper. I realized during our hour together that I’ll never be done, and even if the appointments become less frequent, I know that there will never be a time in my life when I don’t need to talk it out. For some reason, that gives me comfort.

Today, I was able to go right into my spiel, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes, it takes poking and prodding, and sometimes I need to warm up like a runner getting ready for a race. I need to go and jog for a mile before I’m ready to delve into my deeper issues, to unearth the things that have been weighing me down that I didn’t even know were there. Therapy is a wonderful tool. You keep talking and talking, and every so often something will pop into your head that you haven’t thought about in years, or you’ll have a revelation that’s completely new and possibly life-changing. It’s these epiphanies and light bulb moments that keep me coming back every week.

Keep talking and bouncing around. Mentally wander and let yourself cover new territories. Of course, this freewheeling approach is easier said than done, and so many of us can’t jump right in. Maybe that’s why so many of us spill our guts after a drink or two. The alcohol lowers our inhibitions, and it gives us the ability to say what we want, without worrying about the judgment, whether it’s the listener’s or our own. When we’re sober, we hold ourselves back, rather than telling people what’s really happening, or we dress up our problems, and make them sound better than they are. We dispel the tension with a laugh, not wanting the full weight of what we’ve said to land, knowing that the person on the receiving end might not be ready to hear what we’ve put forth. You never know what someone is truly ready to hear, and sometimes what you say will make the listener recoil in shock, even if they’ve known you forever.

When I think about warming up to the bigger conversations, I’m reminded of a drill I saw the baseball team do high school. They’d stand close together, and throw the ball back and forth. With each catch, the person who caught the ball would take a step back, until both players were on opposite ends of the field or gymnasium, and they were throwing long tosses to each other. To me, that’s how you have to approach a deep conversation with a friend or family member. You have to start slow, warm up the vocal chords and build up the rapport to make sure that you’re both ready for the conversation. You have to develop that sense of comfort with each other, and make sure that an atmosphere of trust is established before you get to the real issues.

Warming up is important, especially when you’re letting go of something significant, something that could potentially impact someone else. If you can’t trust the listener to handle the information with discretion, you shouldn’t be confiding in them in the first place. It’s not an exact science. You’ll think that you can trust certain people, and they may let you down, but you have to believe that you’ve made the right friends, and you have to believe that your true friends will do right by you. Trust that the person will catch what you’ve thrown, even when you throw the ball with some added zip. It’s a game of catch and release, so make sure you’re willing to catch the ball as well. The game doesn’t work if you throw the ball and walk away.

These conversations take practice, and some people are more adept at them than others. Sometimes I need to say something so urgently that I forget about conversational pleasantries. Try not to knock someone over with what you’re divulging. Give them some time to make sure they’re mentally prepared, or as prepared as they’re ever going to be. There’s no way to be ready for everything you’re going to hear, but if you’ve warmed up, and the person across from you is willing to listen and not judge, then throw the ball as hard as you can. Thanks for reading.


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