Excerpt from The Sh!t No One Tells You About Divorce, by Dawn Dais
Chapter 6: All the Therapy (when your friends are officially tired of listening to your bullshit)
I tried a lot of different therapy at a lot of different times through- out my divorce. We tried couple’s therapy before we split, we tried co-parenting therapy after we split, and I did individual therapy with a few therapists along the way. I had mixed results with all of these experiences.
As you might have guessed, the couple’s therapy didn’t work out so well. And the co-parenting therapy had similarly unpleasant results. In fact, Elizabeth and I had the unique distinction of having broken more than one therapist during our attempts at co-parenting therapy. We are just that talented.
“Um, I think maybe you guys would be a better fit for another therapist. Let me not recommend anyone I actually know.”
It turns out Elizabeth and I were just a better fit not trying to fit together at all, in life or in a therapist’s office.
The biggest obstacle that we faced in our attempts at therapy was the fact that we were each really hoping (and expecting) that the therapist would simply take our side in every disagreement. I think this happens a lot, where each member of a couple sees the therapist as a judge of sorts. We are each secretly hoping to present the case against our spouse, to which the therapist will respond, “I’m here to tell you, you are 100 percent in the right and your spouse is an asshole.” It wouldn’t hurt if there was gavel involved as well, just to really bring it home.
Toward the end of our marriage and the beginning of our divorce, our communication had completely broken down to the point that all either of us said or heard were endless attacks on each other. We each agreed to go to a therapist at different points, not because we were really looking to heal, but because we were hoping this third party could talk some sense into our partner.
So, you know, starting off on really solid footing.
Our therapy sessions mostly consisted of more attacks, more blaming, and more screaming. And more than one therapist who looked utterly shell-shocked by our spectacle. You just know things are going well when your interactions with your spouse manage to unnerve professionals who literally sit around all day listening to couples argue about their problems.
After we split, I wanted desperately for us to figure out a healthy co-parenting relationship, but in the very beginning of our divorce it was clear that neither one of us was ready to figure out how to actually move forward. Every session seemed to be a competition to see who could fit as much of the past into the hour as possible. We were both exceedingly talented in this area.
I called off the co-parenting therapy, just like I’d called of the couple’s therapy, because I didn’t really need to pay $150 an hour to have someone listen to my ex and me yell at each other. We could do that shit for free.
After our failed co-parenting therapy, I sought out a therapist for just myself. I thought maybe working on myself might be the best way to get to a place where I could eventually work with Elizabeth again. But it was very clear very early on in my in- dividual sessions that I didn’t really have any interest in working on myself at all. I simply wanted this new therapist to listen to me bitch about my ex and assure me that of course I was right about everything.