I was back in the office seeing clients after several weeks of break, and I was shifty in my chair. Since hiring an office service, I was not prepared for my initial intakes like I had been as a one-woman-shop. In those initial scheduling calls, I gained a rapport from the beginning so when they arrived I could pull those conversations. I knew more what I was facing to begin with confidence. As I called the woman’s name, a couple stood and followed me. “Oh, a couple?” I assumed.
As they followed, they both towered over me in height, the woman meticulous, slender and her handbag of fine leather. He was equal to her height, but broad shouldered with a blue-collar swagger and appearance. They shook my hand and I detected a heavy Texan accent. They readily sat down, the man resting on the edge of my couch.
His face and agitation in his seat said he didn’t want to be here. After many of these type sessions, I knew men drug here by their spouses were performing a duty, so she will know he loved her enough to try. My break prepared me ready for yet another uphill climb. After ten years, one would think I would stop making assumptions, but I think it’s just part of my nature. I roll out the red carpet of my pedigree, my informed consent, my counseling paradigm and then turn the floor forever back to them with the infamous standard question, “What brings you in today, and I’d like to hear from both of you? Who would like to begin?”
She glanced at him and gave an answer as lovely as her appearance, a tear appearing and rolling down her check. She declared there was disconnect between them, and I assumed fighting that went unresolved, and the desire for better communication.
“Really?” I contemplated. This was going to be a piece of cake. A slam dunk. Then, he began.
“I don’t want to be here, but I came for her. I believe in the concept of counseling, but I don’t see how you can so quickly know what we need an hour here and there.”
He glances over mid-sentence at my bookcase and at my degrees as if looking for any possible means of discrediting me. As if a book would pop out of the shelf or the lack of expertise might give him the ammunition he needs to run straight out that door.
I reach out to engage and he suddenly pours out. Underneath that hard exterior lay a brokenness I hadn’t seen in along time. His heart has been wrenched in two letting me know, looking back wasn’t going to be an option. He dominated our time. He pushed. I pulled. He pushed harder with F bombs and a loud voice. With a slightly curved mouth, I closed my eyes and shook my head. He continued to out pour until he mentioned his mother and never measuring up.
The room fell silent. And I knew immediately this was like a little present right at the end of session. I knew where we needed to go. I comforted the lovely on his arm, and promised we would have more time for communication next time.
As the tall, strong man exited, he grabbed my hand firmly, and he knew I knew. A small piece of his load had lifted.
As I sat back with a few minutes before picking up the next one, I took a long deep breath and wondered how this shift arose out of nowhere. I should know our masks worn are not what lies beneath, sometimes removing it is the bigger fear. I hoped it was enough to encourage them to return with the hopes of lightening the load.