I’ve been seeing my therapist for a while, pouring out my emotions to him, baring my soul. As a child of divorce, it’s rare for me to feel as heard, accepted, nurtured, and loved as I do when I’m in a session. But very quickly, my fondness escalated to affection, which escalated to full-blown romantic and sexual desire.
Finally I had to admit the truth. I am in love with my therapist, who, by the way, is an adult coloring book.
Our sessions started out normally. I’d sit for the usual 45 minutes (roughly three mandalas) and just let it all out onto his pages. But recently, as I’d try to process a hard week at work or attempt to unpack my frustrations from a fight with a friend, I’d notice, “Wow. The sunset colors I chose are beautiful,” and I’d get butterflies. And by page 29 (the butterfly page), I was feeling like he may have gotten them, too.
In retrospect, it makes total sense. Dr. Watkins (what I call my adult coloring book) knew everything about me, and was full of empathy and brightness (mostly from the birds I colored last week). But how could I go on with our sessions feeling this way? Sure, I could tell him, but I know what he’d say – he’d say I was “transferring my emotions” onto him. He’d say that my “feelings of desire were merely an externalization for the emotional primordial soup within me.” More likely, he’d say “[paisley design].” But I just couldn’t shake the feeling… my love felt so real! And I may have been imagining it (much like the clouds I freehanded on the landscape page) but the love felt mutual.
I’ve read that these kinds of feelings are not uncommon to have for your therapist, who may or may not be a bound stack of paper in my living room.
Suddenly it felt like the person who was my refuge from the world had become my only world. This adult coloring book, was someone I wanted to discover everything about: he was so complex it took me hours to complete one intricate tree! He was so profound I was at a loss for pencils – what should I color a parakeet? And, on top of that, he would sometimes say exactly what I was thinking but couldn’t quite articulate. Once, I was thinking about my mother’s second wedding, sobbing for my lack of paternal guidance, and lo and behold, I flipped to a page of realistic ducks, which I frantically colored until completion. Talk about reading my mind!
One day, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I had to confess to Dr. Watkins how I felt. Before my session, I was tingling with anxiety. Would this ruin our relationship forever? What color should I color a parakeet? That’s when I turned to Google for answers, and boy, am I glad I did. It turned out that Dr. Watkins – my adult coloring book – had been purchased by many other people. And they were saying some of the same things I was about him. Wow. I guess this is just a thing that happens to people. Suddenly I felt so…common.
This man I had judged as being warm and empathetic was actually just a dime-a-dozen quack, who just happened to be a coloring book with complex patterns and adult sensibilities. And that’s when I realized, I didn’t need him anymore. I could grow without him. I could muster the courage to heal on my own, or even with my regular psychiatrist, Dr. Bernstein, who is SO understanding and actually not bad-looking, either.