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Coming of Age Contemporary Creative Nonfiction

You stood me up. Or at least Freud would’ve said you stood me up. 

Me, a former client forking over a check in the high triple digits every week hoping that I’d hear a different existential interpretation than my own, expecting that somehow your take on things would open my eyes to something new, like some kind of salubrious psilocybin trip. 

I decided to terminate therapy because you disclosed something you perhaps shouldn’t have. 

“I took ayahuasca in the Peruvian jungle, four years ago,” you confessed. “When I was under the mind-expanding influence of that shamanic substance, I had a vision.” 

You slightly shifted the cross-legged position you were sitting in and ran a hand through your immaculately coiffed hair. 

“First, money rules everything. In the absence of monetary transactions, anarchy reigns. Second, humanity has become a cancer on the Earth, and, lastly, teenagers are committing suicide at unprecedented rates because of global warming.” 

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. There might have been elements of truth to what you were saying. But that truth was only partial at best. How was this any different from my own fixation on black/white race relations and my monomaniacal belief that phallic obsession is the root of all evil? 

However, I wasn’t about to argue with you. The vision you had was about as valid and equally crazy as my own. When I got home, I texted I no longer felt the need to be seen by you and recommended you never reveal what you told me about your ayahuasca trip to other clients. 

Although I knew I would miss the friendship I felt toward you, there was no way I was going to allow my parents to keep paying more than I could make in a year working at World Market to someone who’s take on life was as delusional as mine.  

I felt we were more like peers than we were therapist and client. And a peer doesn’t pay another peer for chit-chat and advice. 

After I stopped being a client, I hoped you'd be able to keep making the payments on the new car you had bought with your ill-gotten gains but you probably had to take it back to the dealer to work out the terms of a shameful return.

Early this summer, I thought of texting you a message about an art show where I was going to exhibit a painting. Although you claimed I was stuck in a starving artist narrative that would hamper my ability to earn a living from my creative efforts, you also repeatedly requested that I give you one of my paintings. Free of cost. In appreciation of your invaluable wounded healer’s wisdom. I still haven’t sold a work, but I also don’t regret not having gifted you one.

Despite all the evidence stacked against the advantages of continuing to have any sort of dealings with you, I was pleasantly surprised when I received a text from you about a year after we had last seen each other. In the text, you invited me to celebrate my fifty-fourth rotation around the sun with a breakfast or a lunch. 

I suggested going Dutch, but you insisted on paying for a meal at the restaurant of my choice. I opted for a morning meal at an upscale café not a block from the location where I was arrested for breaking and entering and assault on a peace officer. 

Although it wasn’t considered for purposes of my release, you gave a convincing testimony on my behalf in court. I ended up getting a mental health diversion after waiting two years in the county jail where you came to see me twice, charging my parents seven-hundred dollars above the hundred and fifty the county paid you on each occasion. 

You told my mother that if for whatever reason I wasn’t able to see you during these visits, you would charge her the full amount anyway. The world is ruled by money indeed. Or is it more like your world is, Mr. Ayahuasca? 

But it seemed that you were willing to atone for your shortcomings by taking me out for my birthday. Perhaps we could put the past behind us. 

On the agreed upon day, I waited at the restaurant, and when you hadn’t arrived at ten past nine, I asked to be seated. At twenty past nine I texted I’d be ordering without you. When I moved from table to bar counter, I noticed a pretty blonde, blue-eyed woman who also seemed to be waiting for someone. 

She sat four stools down from me and I contemplated planting myself next to her and starting some conversation. Who knows? Maybe, just maybe, we’d hit it off and she’d be the one to bring an end to my many little miseries. Maybe she’d be the one to satisfy my need for a woman who is an embodiment of both Mother Mary and Mary Magdalen, a woman who could devote herself to me like I did to her, and fuck me similarly. Clearly, you would’ve called me out on the savior complex this desire of mine makes manifest.

I wanted to take the chance with this woman and see where fate would take me, but fucked me didn’t make the Mojo move. 

As my mind aborted this course of action, my phone rang. It was you on caller ID. I surmised you were calling to apologize, and that was exactly the case.  Your excuse was you had been suffering from insomnia and had slept through your alarm. But what would a cynical psychoanalyst say? 

Whatever they would’ve said is what my mind told me. I could hear Sigi’s Austrian- accented English echo in my mind's ear, “Your former doctor’s carelessness is an expression of sublimated hostility or passive aggression, at the very least.” 

The person I assumed was the date the woman at the counter had been expecting arrived and I was tempted to tell him, “Never keep a lady waiting.” But I didn’t want to be a schmuck to a schmuck, so I’ll be one to you, oh, wounded healer who is also an oblivious fool. Unless you do some soul-searching, I’m through with you for a second time and for good. 

Although you texted me additional “sincere apologies,” you had ruined my day. All I did was reply with another text calling you “a wreck.” I also wished that you take care and farewell. 

In my book, love is the heavy antidote to madness and to receive it you’ve got to be worth its weight. You are light as a feather and warped like a board. Goodbye and good riddance, indeed, Doctor D.

September 09, 2023 19:46

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36 comments

Mary Bendickson
00:07 Sep 10, 2023

Ouch and good riddance indeed.

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Marty B
04:37 Sep 22, 2023

Freud would have a whole disertation on this Dr. D! He seems to have no boundaries or understanding of the therapist role. I really liked the 2nd person perspective- I thought it was a good choice for this story. thanks!

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Mike Panasitti
16:30 Sep 23, 2023

Thank you for reading and commenting, Marty.

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Belladona Vulpa
22:34 Sep 21, 2023

While I was reading this, I saw a myriad of red flags about the alleged "psychoanalyst". As a person who sees a therapist, I understand this is not the "relationship" any therapist is supposed to have with patients, so unprofessional of him and taking advantage of the power position exploiting the patient's vulnerabilities. I got so angry at this injustice that at the end I was relieved the central character was going to finally finish this toxic relationship that was wrong on so many levels because the "doctor" was not a good professional o...

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Mike Panasitti
02:47 Sep 22, 2023

Thank you, Belladonna.

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Michał Przywara
21:09 Sep 21, 2023

Great to see another story from you, Mike! And this one's vibrant. There's an energy here, driving things smoothly from scene to scene, and a down-and-up emotional journey. To me, it reads like a story of betrayal, acceptance, and ultimately forgiveness. There's a bit of anger and resentment along the way, but by the end it dissipates. The betrayal is a realization that the narrator is being taken for a ride, by someone who might not be as qualified as they claim. No doubt that stings, especially in a patient/doctor relationship which na...

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Mike Panasitti
22:18 Sep 21, 2023

Thanks for the extensive feedback, Michal. Yes, there is healing here - not to spite the doctor - but, as you accurately point out, *despite* the doctor's bungling. Something tells me his desire for a birthday breakfast was genuine, but equally genuine may have been the resentment he felt at a cash-cow patient's abrupt decision to terminate therapy. I'm just glad the prompt gave me an opportunity to get the experience off my chest and that it generated empathetic commentary. Thanks again and take care.

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Philip Ebuluofor
19:59 Sep 20, 2023

I like that combination of Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene. I think any woman with such a combination can't fail as a good wife.

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Mike Panasitti
20:58 Sep 20, 2023

…and deserves an equally unfailing husband. Thanks for reading, Philip.

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Danie Holland
23:30 Sep 18, 2023

“love is the heavy antidote to madness and to receive it you’ve got to be worth its weight.” — such a beautiful line

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Kevin Logue
11:56 Sep 18, 2023

Damn Mike you put a lot of soul on the page there, such a unique yet darkly wholesome voice you have. I have always held a disdain for the world of therapy and this tale only heightens that. Hope life is better now. Thanks for sharing.

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E. B. Bullet
13:38 Sep 17, 2023

Ah shit, I typed out a whole comment and then the page froze .. TLDR, I love your characterization! I feel like you built such a story solely from one character's perception of another, which is fascinating. I loved the flow! Great job ~

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Mike Panasitti
15:46 Sep 17, 2023

Thanks for reading, E.B. I've lost comments here as well, so I feel for you. Thanks for typing out a second one.

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Helen A Smith
07:26 Sep 17, 2023

Good to see you back Mike. Your absence was noticed as I gain from reading your stories. I got bugged reading your account of Mr Ayahuasca. Clearly a messed up person who prioritises money over everything. There was a glimpse of an interesting backstory as to how and why Mr Ayahuasca was drawn to the role of therapist. Somehow a bit heartbreaking that he didn’t turn up to the restaurant. It was the least he could do under the circumstances. Incredible that he wanted to be given a painting for free, but then many don’t appreciate the time ...

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Mike Panasitti
15:33 Sep 17, 2023

Thanks for reading and the kind words, Helen. I've missed interacting with my Reedsy cohort!

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Helen A Smith
15:59 Sep 17, 2023

✍️

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Delbert Griffith
10:46 Sep 15, 2023

First - great to see you back, my friend. I have truly missed your tales and your insights, Mike. Yours is the rare mind that sees way more than most, and can also write about it with verve and clarity. Since this is creative nonfiction, I'm assuming this happened to you. Fuck! The man is a leech, and leeches should be dealt with appropriately. That's all I'm saying about the matter. I think money (the love of it, anyway) is the root of all evil. Put another way, the lust for power is the root of all evil. Everything boils down to control....

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Mike Panasitti
19:38 Sep 16, 2023

Yes, healing leaves scars, Del. Fortunately, I can say none of this was traumatic. Memorable, yes, but nothing that left an open wound. I also could've been more forgiving toward Dr. D., but the indignation made for a better story. It's a pleasure to connect with you here on Reedsy again, and thanks for reading.

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Aoi Yamato
02:07 Sep 13, 2023

Always good.

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Mike Panasitti
07:48 Sep 13, 2023

Thank you, Aoi. I hope you have been well.

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Aoi Yamato
00:57 Sep 14, 2023

bored but well. stories help.

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Mike Panasitti
17:37 Sep 14, 2023

Bored usually means staying out of trouble, and that is good. Boredom is a symptom of being good, a condition that more people should catch.

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Aoi Yamato
00:56 Sep 15, 2023

boredom is trouble.

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Mike Panasitti
16:02 Sep 15, 2023

So is fun, sometimes. Stay out of trouble, Aoi!

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Graham Kinross
09:29 Sep 11, 2023

A lot of people get into psychiatry and therapy hoping to work out their own problems, including someone I knew. I'm not sure it works for them but hopefully they are at least self aware enough not to put their problems on other people. Breaking professional practice to tell you they took drugs is a bad sign though. Then again, everyone's human.

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Drizzt Donovan
13:15 Dec 15, 2023

You have a great way with words Mike. The journeys are deep.

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Mike Panasitti
01:31 Dec 16, 2023

Thank you, Drizzt. Does that rhyme with "tryst?"

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Drizzt Donovan
15:12 Dec 17, 2023

As near as it can I suppose. Hadn’t thought about that one. Have you heard of Drizzt do Urden? My favourite literary character.

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Unknown User
15:14 Sep 15, 2023

<removed by user>

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Jill Murphy
10:50 Oct 11, 2023

Whenever it reads “UNKNOWN USER” it means user was removed from this site, either by choice or by force. User did not remove comment, even though it reads “REMOVED BY USER.”

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Mike Panasitti
18:34 Oct 11, 2023

Thanks for letting me know, Jill.

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Mike Panasitti
19:53 Sep 16, 2023

I could've been more forgiving toward Dr. D., but, for me, indignation is more literary than cheerfulness. Maybe I need an attitude change. Thanks for reading, Joe.

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Unknown User
22:03 Sep 16, 2023

<removed by user>

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Cassie Finch
00:20 Jul 02, 2024

Great story Mike. Keep it up.

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Mike Panasitti
20:42 Jul 02, 2024

Thanks for reading, Cassie.

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