Did the cow fly over the rainbow?


Meet my client. Joe. This is him after 365 days of not drinking or taking drugs. This is him after 36 sessions of awkward, unenthusiastic, grueling self-exposure and soul searching. This is him at 35, having lived through the very first year of his life. Sober. This is him, a father and a husband trying to take his new life day by day, trying not to fumble, slip, break down. Trying not to go back to the haze that was his life.

And he is high. On his favorite drug. Pain pills.

I know this, he knows it too. And he knows I know. Classic presentation: pinned eyes, slurred speech, pale skin and of course: The nodding off. The famous nodding off. The one that comes in the middle of a perfectly normal sounding sentence just to confirm that what you’re thinking is true.

Yep. He’s high.

At first I’m angry. “He has worked so hard” I think to myself. But then I remind myself. This is a relapsing disease. This is a relapsing disease.

“But really, what’s wrong with you?!”

I try to “wake” him up. I ask him if he’s high. He swears up and down he isn’t. Probably believes it too. Before I get angry again, I say to myself this is happening for a reason. He wants me to see. This is it. This is not who he is, but this is what’s he’s been fighting for a year only to finally give in. He is asking for help. It’s bizarre and ironic. There are only two explanations. 1. He feels safe here to expose his demons. 2. He only cares about being high. I like to believe the former.

While he’s transported God only knows where, I’m left to think about what could have possibly gone wrong? And then it hits me.

Today is the 5th anniversary of his mother’s death. Today is a special day. Today is the day the reminiscences of being her son will silently parade in the boulevards of his consciences like the wild currents of a stream after a rain storm, drowning him. There will be acts of all sorts: happy ones, sad ones, funny ones, weird ones.

And he’s asleep for it all. He won’t get to talk about the pain of never being able to see her or talk to her again. He won’t get to talk about the joy of making her happy when he graduated from college with honors. He’ll have to live with the guilt of having stolen her pain meds and money when she was fighting for her life and he was at his worst. He will never get to say I’m sorry for not being there, for being a terrible son, for letting her down.

But most importantly he will not get to talk about the first time she touched him in weird places, leaving him feeling weird.

At this point I realize I’m having a session in my head. He is not present for it. “Oh Joe, I’m so good. Look what you’re missing”. And while I’m transported God only knows where, he wakes up and says:

“I’m sorry. Did the cow fly over the rainbow?”

I burst out laughing. On the inside. Because let’s face it, laughing at a client is not very professional, even when they’re drooling on your expensive pillows. And all I can say is:

“Yes Joe. It did”

P.S Confidentiality was not broken and no cows were hurt during the making of this blog.

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