What Can Dr. Brown Do For You?

by marinashifrin

I started up the steps to Lewis’ apartment, I hate ending things, I really do. Why isn’t this 2002? I could just do it via AIM, but NOOOO I have to be responsible and do it to his face…ugh. After over a month of seeing him, I knew things weren’t going to work out.

I grew up in an upper middle class home where everything was handed to me on a golden platter (my dad is a jeweler so we had the good stuff), my parents were in love with each other as well as me, and I never heard the word ‘No’. It took 23 years for me to ask myself why the fuck wasn’t I in therapy yet? It was, after all, for rich white people who didn’t have real problems, right?

When my hypochondria shifted from a funny Woody-Allen-like quirk into a full blown, debilitating disorder, I decided it was time to find a psychologist.

“I don’t understand, Marina,” Vladimir sounded concerned. “In Russia therapy is vodka with your best friend. Do you need money for vodka?”

It’s true, in Russia there was no such thing as therapy, only alcoholism. But I realized my incessant whining was driving my friends crazy. It was time to pay someone to hear about the weird spot on my leg.

I wanted someone I could connect to, someone I could see myself in; Dr. Lewis Brown, a black man between the ages of 45 – 80 was the perfect fit. His office (apartment), located above Happy Cleaners, was only a block away from mine so I could wash my underwear and my conscience at the same time!

My meetings with Dr. Brown were not worth writing about really; he asked me questions about my childhood, I told him to mind his own business. I was there for one reason only: to stop thinking I had a brain tumor whenever I had the hiccups. One particular session, though, stood out in my mind.

I had a worksheet where I needed to complete different sentences. One answer that piqued Dr. Brown’s interest was my response to “My biggest fear is ____________________________.”

I briefly considered answering truthfully, telling him that my entire life I had a deep-seated fear of deer. I know, I read it too. It’s stupid, weird and embarrassing. Luckily, in New York City I didn’t have to confront it as much as I did growing up (if you don’t believe me ask Rachel Schroeder what happened when I saw two baby deer cross the road my junior year of college).

I decided to construct an answer that I thought would be more sane (yeah, I suck at therapy). “My biggest fear is not being remembered.” This was cause enough for Dr. Brown to stop his skimming of my answers.

“Elaborate on number 17.”

“Uh, well…” I stuttered, how was I supposed to elaborate on a fake fear? “Um, I want so much in my life. I want to be known, I want to change the world, I want my name to be printed in newspapers, history books. I guess, my biggest (fake) fear is that this wont happen.” What I wanted was true, but I didn’t have a fear it wouldn’t come true. You see, I am still naïve enough to think that I can achieve my wildest dreams. This is where Dr. Brown disagreed.

“So many people want to be the next Michelangelo, Einstein or Oscar Wilde. I see a lot of writers, musicians and creatives that want to become famous, but the thing is, it’s highly improbable. The mavericks have already made it. You’ll spend your whole life unsatisfied if you are chasing an unattainable dream.” It was after this session I decided therapy wasn’t for me.

I’ve had people tell me I have an unhealthy relationship with reality. I’ve had friends tell me I’d  forever be unhappy if I wanted my life to be like a movie. But I’m not unhappy, I am just always looking for the next big thing.

The thing is, I am sure Michelangelo, Einstein and Oscar Wilde had someone, multiple people, tell them to give it up. It’s not only talent that emblazoned their names in history books, it’s the fact that they didn’t listen to anyone.

Lesson #22: There is nothing to fear but deer itself. 

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