This post is dedicated to the therapist that was assigned to me on my first and second jaunts in rehab. For the sake of anonymity we will call him Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen. He would approve, I promise.
The reason I have decided to write about my interactions with him is because years later he is a friend and someone who takes in stride my ongoing madness and who appreciates me and my kaleidoscopic personality malfunctions. And, who when he feels like it (or doesn’t feel like it, to be more precise) ignores me completely because ‘drama’ is not on his list of fun things to do for the day.
When my folks and I arrived at the chosen rehab, they went in to go and fill in all the paperwork, and I stayed at the car to have a smoke and breathe in what would be my home for the next 6 weeks. The first person I saw was a girl that looked like a skin head sitting on a concrete bench not too far away. She was looking at me intensely and I remember thinking that she looked like she should be in a psychiatric facility rather than a regular rehab. As that thought had filled my head she got up off her bench. Her stride was intense. Her expression was slightly unnerving, and she was heading straight for me. I took a deep drag of my smoke, bracing myself for some sort of outburst. I was also unsettled, and fascinated at the same time that I could see her breasts through her tight sleeveless white top and I recall being confused as to what emotion I should be experiencing.
She was hot and terrifying at the same time.
She stuck her hand straight out and gave me her name. Again, for anonymity sake, I shall rename her ‘T’. I shook her hand and gave her my name.
‘What you in for?’
I felt like her eyeballs were boring through my brain. I obviously took too long to answer so she started guessing. Eating Disorder?
Because im fat? It must be an eating thing?
No? Okay. Depression?
Crack. Coke. Booze. The whole shebang. Happy?
ME TOO!!!!!! She was too excited for my liking, but from that moment on, I was ‘chosen’ as a friend. Which I later figured out could change as fast as the weather. She was in fact, in my opinion, a lunatic, but her outbursts and her nudity were a highlight. The next words out of her mouth were, ‘That means you will have Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen as your psych. He is mine. He is a hard ass but he is cool.
Not caring particularly, I just nodded and smiled and she strolled off. I had another smoke and then my dad came out to the car and he was beaming and so complimentary about some shaved headed girl who had come to introduce herself to him as ‘your daughter’s friend’. She has apparently told him that she would look after me and take good care of me and he had NOTHING to worry about. And with that, my folks drove away.
I was shown my room, which I was sharing with an over eater, a bulimic anorexic, and a girl who had a prescription drug problem. I was in hell for the first few hours because naturally – you get asked a million questions when all you want to do is find the highest point and launch yourself off of it. The pill popper took a shine to me, and as shiny as I may be, I was aware of the crazy that was falling off of her, and chose to avoid her.
The next day I was summoned to attend my first session with my assigned therapist. True as as nuts it was exactly who ‘T’ said it would be. I stepped into his office, and I was overwhelmed by the complete lack of anything identifiable to me. The first thing I noticed was his mustache. I hate mustaches. He had a weird hairstyle, seriously loud flannel shirt on, and proper ‘veldskoen’ shoes on. There were two dead plants on a little side table, a wicker chair which looked as uncomfortable as it was, and my OCD did not like how NOT symmetrical it all was, and how… disorganised and loud and colourful it was. My synesthesia didn’t like it. My brain didn’t like it – and I looked at him, standing in that ugly office and I thought: HOW the FUCK is this man going to get ME??
Being somewhat of a veteran even back then when it came to stringing shrinks along, I believed instantly that this man, with his mustache and his weird, totally uncoordinated colour scheme and seriously out of date clothes would be a piece of cake to lead along and give NOTHING to in terms of who I was.
A piece of cake it was not.
I am GOOD with body language and reading people. Better than most. But Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen had none to give away. And if you take away my ability to read someone, I am in the dark, in the deep end, and I panic. My knee jerk response is to be mean. Fight rather than show any weakness. So as I gathered my guns about me ready to fire, he said: I have three simple rules. 1. No trashing my office. 2. No trashing me. 3. No trashing yourself.
Still distracted by his mustache and the twang in his accent when he said ‘trashing’, all I could think of to say back was, ‘Then it is best we sit outside so I can smoke.’ A request that was denied for our first session.
I remember being disgruntled that I had already lost one battle so early on in the game. Because, at that time, it was still, just a game. The only thing I walked away with from that first meeting with Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen was that it was going to be a very long 6 weeks.
We had a particularly intense session after that and Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen had a punching bag hung in a tree for me. The crazy skin head girl wouldn’t let me punch it though, because there were birds in the tree. She was worried I would disturb them. I recall wanting to mash her head into it, and asking if she still saw any birds.
That evening I was sitting outside having a smoke and I heard the sound of the bag being punched so hard you could hear the swing back on the chain. I went meandering around to the area where the tree was, and there was Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen himself, letting off a little (or a lot) of steam. It dawned on me then that his controlled demeanor was a cover, for a short fuse, like mine.
I won’t rehash 6 weeks. But I will say that within a short time, he had pretty much ripped my intestines out and had me looking at things that I had refused to see for a very long time. But, in doing so, I had learned to recognise his micro facial expressions and the tell-tale signs of when he was being a dick because it ‘worked’ or when he thought he was being clever. For example, it came up in various areas of my rehab that I had an anger management problem. I knew that this tickled Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen because he brought it up in group therapy in amongst the girls who he knew found me intimidating and who would, in the safe confines of a group session led and guided by his truly, would ask their stupid questions and get to ‘share’ their opinions on my temper.
Then just to irritate me even more he would rephrase something that they had said, but change it slightly so that I would be death staring him and trying to remain calm (so as to prove that I COULD in fact remain calm). He had his whole Mona Lisa corner of the lip smile going and a look of ‘Woohoo, I just did something you don’t like…’ in his eyes.
In my second trip there, he told me I was ‘very bright’. I said ‘I know’. I was then told I was narcissistic. Playfully, but not, at the same time. So I called him egotistical, and arrogant. His smile didn’t disappear – and I think that is when our real friendship was forged. Or at least the knowing that in time, we would be.
In one group session, during my first time there, I wanted to leave three days early. Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen argued that I may miss something in that three days. I objected, with serious enthusiasm, and he decided to make it a group affair. If I could convince the whole group that I should be able to go – and they voted unanimously that I was in a good state to go home, then I he would grant me permission. Again, the floor was open to the floor for me to be interrogated. I was very angry that this was my only avenue out of the building. In that group were two particular people who REALLY did not like me. And I mean REALLY. A young man who had been placed on my team in paint-balling. We were put on the same team I think only so that we would attempt not to kill each other – but work together. This young man irritated me so much that I had no intention of being a team player. He shouted ‘COVER ME!’ and bolted for a nearby tree.
So I covered him.
He had welts the size of golf balls. I was very pleased with myself. He however, was not. So he was in that group session and I knew he would rather shove me into traffic than let me go home early – and the other person was one of my roommates who I accidentally (genuinely, it was an accident) face planted with a piece of chip board. Her head was in the way… and I didn’t see it until I hit it. She bled. It was all very…. dramatic.
I was allowed to go home, based on the fact that I had not lunged over other people to wrap my hands around the neck of the welted young man. That and the fact that it was a weekend and it had been WELL established that I DO NOT believe that nature is good for everybody. I had made that very clear on an outing to some dry stupid park and I had annoyed everyone with my complaining about the bloody bleating sunshine and the itching and the insects and the sunshine, and the dry, and the sunshine….. And the HORRIBLE sunshine.
The nurse with us that particular day was a nurse who I to this day believe is a slice short of a pizza. And she was the most determined to get me to ‘find something that inspired me’.
I just so happened to be in the right place at the right time when I saw Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen and this nurse interact. She was instantly ruffled and all he had done was calmly say something non-threatening. It pleased me… a LOT, to know that he had that effect on her. Victory by proxy if you will. And when I went back to that rehab the second time, that same nurse and I just picked up where we left off on our all out ‘I am not even going to pretend to like you’ mission that we had paused. It just got more intense, and she was joined by another nurse, and I made a point of demanding to see Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen every day because I believed I was under fire. I have a flare for drama.
When I wasn’t drugged out of my skull and falling off toilets, I was freaking out at the second nurse for denying me cigarettes and then giving Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen a blow by blow account of my version of my bad behaviour.
My second time around was harder than the first. I was in actual physical withdrawal and my temper had only become more colourful so I proved to be a challenge. Not only for all on staff, but for my still mustache wielding therapist who had the job of trying to persuade me not to start mass mayhem for my own personal point making pleasure. In one of the group sessions, when my anger was being discussed, the others were given free rein to say what they felt. I had a friend sitting opposite me who was fairly new to the whole thing and she looked horrified that it was happening – and then out of nowhere one of the other girls burst into tears and freaked out. I was so confused, because I was the one being shot at.
It later came out that I reminded her of her mother and she was in there for depression and anxiety – and much of the root of it was her inability to deal with her mother’s personality. Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen suggested that I pick a fight with her, to see if what he was teaching her would be effective. She looked up to me and was weary of me at the same time so it was a good combination. There were 5 of us in that smoking area when I started the fight. It made everyone so uncomfortable that they left – and the girl in the cross hairs didn’t say a word. I eventually could see that she was disappearing rather than fighting to be able to speak so I stopped and have her a hug. She didn’t talk to me again for a few days, and then came and hugged me, and wanted to role play – like I was her mother. THAT was a weird experience. But it was good for us both.
Karma, however is a clever cow. Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen and I were taking a walk out to a thatched seating area a way away from the actual rehab to have a session there and a giant Hadeda dropped a giant poop on his jacket. I of course thought that was very funny. So did he…or that could have been awkward.
Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen has a gift. I have previously tried to explain it to people this way. Some people can play the piano, and some cant. They both went to the same school, and had the same teacher – but some simply do it by ear and by passion and some do it by learned but not natural knowledge. My friend, Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen has a gift. He could be an asshole. He knew it. I knew it. But I find it endearing rather than obnoxious. It was always pleasant to see the effect he had on other staff.
It was also fun to work out when he was feeling uncomfortable with how well I read him. When we ended our last session on my last trip to rehab, he got up and walked away without saying good bye or giving away any emotion. I was so mad at him. But was not in a position to bleat out any expletives or share my sadness. We weren’t even officially friends.
But we have since met for coffee, and I have followed him around a mall while he pushed a trolley like a lunatic through crowds of people. I took it away from him eventually and he called me a control freak. I just call it ‘a better driver’.
So Dr. Jakobus I. F. Glitter Hoenderskoen, this is for you. You rock. Or better. You are a rock. Hahahaha. (You have to be South African to get that). But you have a gift, and being an asshole sometimes is what gets the job done. It worked with me and I have seen it work with other people. Because the rest of the good that you do and the seeds you plant and the impact you have will always go unmeasured – but it will never go unnoticed. I walked in a suicidal and lost emotionally retarded brat. Look at me now. NO more drugs. NO more booze. No more suicide attempts. Still working on the emotional retard part… but I have stayed out of jail. I also know NOT to come to you if I ever do commit a crime because you WILL report me. I also now know NOT to tell you when I want to kill someone because you will always assume I am serious and I will be arrested before I even leave my front door.
Your moral compass doesn’t always suit me but you ‘set my brain on fire’ in a way that inspired forward movement. I trust you and I love you and I am grateful to have crossed your path. Or that my path hit a pavement and I had no choice but to meet you and your obnoxiously endearing fearless way of challenging other human beings into being better people.