In my every day life I’m a psychotherapist. I love what I do and I am always awed by the courage and growth I witness in my practice. I am committed to my work and my clients, giving what I can to do the work necessary Even though I go for long walks, meditate, go to my own therapy, take vitamins, and do what I can to laugh, I tend to be exhausted by the end of the week.
Given my line of work, it’s ironic that when I go on vacation I tend to lie about what I do. But I have reason to lie.
Sometimes I make the mistake of being honest when asked, “What do you do?” This past weekend was one of those times. We stayed at a lovely B&B in upstate New York. Well, lovely for non-therapists. The manager and staff were so friendly. I like good service, but when I go away I don’t want to get to know anyone. I want to unwind.
When we arrived, we were asked how our trip was. We were told a lot about the sweets that were out, the complimentary tea and coffee, and more about the history of the inn and the area. I had to finally let the manager know that I needed a nap. It was a busy week, and I wanted to rest.
The following day, after a morning in which my amiable husband spoke with the chef, I walked downstairs and the chef, making conversation, asked me, “What do you do?” For a second I thought of saying I’m an actuary. It ends any conversation about jobs. Either people don’t know what an actuary is, but don’t want to admit it. Or, they don’t want to talk about statistics. Either way, I’m safe. But I told him the truth, “I’m a therapist.” Before I knew what happened, he was telling me about a hard time in his life.
This was my vacation. I didn’t ask him to come to my home on his day off to cook for me. This is not an unusual incident. The first time I can remember was when I was so happy to start my private practice. As a gift, I was being treated to a day at The Red Door getting spa treatments. The manicurist asked me what I did, and I told her. She then told me about her granddaughter and the trouble she was having. And, though I thought I was obligated to answer, she did not offer me any extra services. I left feeling resentment rather than relaxation.
So, after too many times giving solicited advice, and not getting the proper time off, I started my fictional career when confronted with needy people on my down time. I’m not proud that I lie, but I am relieved that I am not the confidant to strangers in strange places. I guess my vacations include a vacation from the truth. Being well rested gives me the relief I need to go back to my real job. In my office I can be the psychotherapist I am.
View from the jog I took alone on this vacation.
I hope the chef and everyone else left you alone for the rest of the weekend! And I hope that next time you’ll be an actuary.