All this is to explain how, a month ago, I signed up for a text message therapist with the new service Talkspace.
Talkspace is a therapy website that, rather than setting up appointments for Skype or chat sessions, lets you text your therapist whenever you feel so moved, in a never-ending exchange that looks like the ongoing i Message chain you have with a friend from college.
And yet, despite all the ways that she had helped me, I began to wonder if it was time to leave the nest.
In August, I left her a voicemail, canceling our next session, and then never returned any of the subsequent messages she left me.
If nothing else, she definitely didn't sound like an AIM chat program: Celeste was a cognitive behavioral therapist — the complete opposite of hardcore old-school talk therapist Victoria — and our getting-to-know you exchange quickly turned penetrating.
It was a strange feeling, to get a push notification on my phone, like I would to let me know that I needed to update Google Maps, and instead, find this: I looked at this message and was genuinely shocked — I had never thought of myself as a "yes" girl before, even though I had always said yes to anything anyone ever asked me to do, from working unpaid overtime to having sex in a broom closet.
In person, I dressed myself up in so much smeary mascara, ironic detachment, and swear words, that no one had ever called my bluff before. I had had a revelation that had eluded me through years of talk therapy, in two days of text therapy. I filled my every waking moment with work so I never had to be alone with my thoughts.
The only problem was, like those Google Maps updates, I could ignore Celeste's texts when I felt busy, or overwhelmed, or just adverse to analyzing the ways in which I was responsible for my own happiness. After my initial burst of enthusiasm for the project, my work hours changed, and I no longer felt like I could spend a solid hour of my day constructing the perfect text to convey my inner psychological turmoil to Celeste.
I hadn't realized that much of what I was paying for, when I was paying for traditional talk therapy, was the accountability — I was paying to have an appointment that I would get in trouble for ditching, paying to feel guilty for wasting someone's time if I didn't show up.
I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that therapy saved my life.