“I have a confession,” Randy says. “I’ve been sleeping around.”
A snide, why am I not surprised, goes through my head. I say nothing.
“I know,” he continues, “I was supposed to try not to, to think about my feelings before doing anything. But all I can think about is that there’s this gorgeous woman over there who I’ve never seen before and will probably never see again and why the hell not.”
I have been seeing 36 year old Randy in therapy for about six months. His wife got tired of his constant affairs and gave him an ultimatum – therapy or divorce. Whether she would have gone through with her threat I have no idea, but he chose therapy. Randy is neither the easiest patient for me to work with nor the easiest patient to like. His narcissism and his presentation of himself as God’s gift to women are very off-putting to me, as is his difficulty in self-reflection and his impulsivity.
“Randy, when you say ‘why the hell not’ do you think you’re feeling angry, like perhaps I or your wife shouldn’t be telling you what to do?”
He laughs. “Never thought of it.”
“Well, can you think about it now?”
He rolls his eyes.
“What were you feeling right then when you rolled your eyes?”
“Geesh! You don’t cut a man any slack, do you?”
I remain silent.
“Okay. Okay. I’ll think about it. What was the question again?”
I feel my anger rising and wonder if I am feeling my anger, his, or both of ours.
“I think you are angry, Randy. Can you perhaps tell me what you’re feeling angry at?”
“I think this is a waste of time. I’m clearly not getting better. I’m still messing around. You haven’t fixed me.”
“Wait a second. ‘I haven’t fixed you’ meaning what?” I ask, thinking about neutering a dog and wondering if that’s what he’s symbolically hoping and/or fearing I might do.
“Getting me to stop wanting to mess around.”
“And how do you think I’d do that?”
“I don’t know, you’re the doctor.”
“Randy, do you want to be different? Do you want to stop ‘messing around,’ as you say?
“My wife wants me to.”
“But that’s not what I asked. What do you want?”
“I have to do something if I want to stay married to her.”
“And do you want to stay married to her?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“I love her.”
“What about her do you love?”
“She’s a good person. She’s a good mother, a good wife.”
“Can you be more specific? What makes her a good wife?”
“I don’t know. She takes care of the kids, the house, she likes entertaining, she always makes a good impression.”
I’m ready to scream. He’s giving me one inane answer after another and telling me absolutely nothing. Is he doing it deliberately? Is he trying to thwart me? Frustrate me? A thought goes through my head. “Randy, do you like frustrating women?”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you like frustrating women? Perhaps tantalizing them? Perhaps never quite giving them what they want?”
Randy straightens himself in the chair. He stares at me. “What made you ask that?”
“You seemed to be enjoying not really answering my questions. Perhaps you enjoy not giving me what I want. Perhaps you enjoy not giving your wife what she wants. And what about sexually, do you enjoy withholding pleasure from women?”
“Whoa. We’re getting way too personal here.”
“That’s what therapy does, Randy, it gets personal. If you really want to change – which I don’t know if you do – we have to first understand why you do what you do, really understand it, not just play at understanding.”
“I don’t know if I can do that.”
“You don’t know if you can do what?”
“You’re saying you want into my world, my mind.”
“Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
He shakes his head. “I don’t know.”
“Well, at least you’re being honest right now. I appreciate that. I feel like at least I’m getting a glimpse into who you are.”
“I was my mother’s doll. She played with me. Not sexually as far as I know, but she might as well as have. She owned me.” Pause. “I hate her. You ready to deal with all that, doc?”
“I’m definitely ready, Randy. The question is are you?”
“I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it.”