Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gratitude, Day 20

James Mulry, Therapist Extra-ordinaire

Well, this morning, I'm grateful that there are only 9 days of gratitude posts left after this one. It's getting harder. But today is an easy one. I want to use today's gratitude post to honor someone who has been profoundly important in my life: my therapist, James Mulry. I've mentioned him in passing in these gratitude and other posts, but I finally asked his permission to share his photo and I thought I'd give him the acknowledgment that he deserves.

Jim is a very special human being and an awesomely good therapist. He survived having me as a client. That alone says something about him.

After my sister was murdered in 1988, I knew I needed help. I had lost my sister, my brother and I were newly estranged, my mother was very ill. My beloved pastor had moved away to California and my first therapist had died or was dying of AIDS. Someone recommended that I try getting a massage and I found a woman who was a gifted healer. While her work helped on one level, it also opened the floodgates of dozens of bleeding psychic wounds from my childhood. I needed help with a lot more than grieving my sister's murder.

Someone recommended a woman therapist (let's call her Dr. G) not far from my apartment and I saw her for a month or two, I guess. Turned out she was crazier than I am. I mean, she was kind of dangerously crazy. She got vindictive with clients if they didn't please her. Unfortunately, in the first blush of seeing her, I had recommended her to a friend who got hurt by her as well. But that's a story for another day. We all survived.

Mercifully, the massage lady knew Dr. Jim. I met him on Feb. 15th 1989. He had the kindest face (see above), twinkly eyes (again see above - are you blushing Dr. Jim?), and maybe best of all - a sense of humor. There had been no laughter with Crazy Dr. G. With Jim I laughed even at that first meeting. But there was much more to my work with Jim than laughter. It was safe to cry with him too. He is intelligent and perceptive as well as kind. Kindness didn't keep him from calling me on my crap. Gently but relentlessly. I don't know where he found the patience to just go over and over the same thing until I got it. I'm not one who lets go of my dysfunction easily. I clung to some things that were killing me as though they were the life raft and not the anchor. Jim never lost patience with me.

One of the first things that struck me about Jim - besides the kindness - was that he was there for me. Besides all the stuff about my sister and brother and my family in general, when I first started seeing him, I was in a job situation that was very bad. My boss was taking her own problems out on me and making my life very difficult. I mean REALLY horrible and telling lies about me and... Anyway, already, with only a few weeks of knowing him, I was able to push past every rule in my demented psyche and reach out between sessions. He had told me I could. He was wonderful. I didn't feel like I was imposing. I didn't feel like I was bothering him. I felt calmed and steadied.

There are so many thing to say about this remarkable person. In the end of my time in New York, only two things got me out the door. Therapy and getting medication for my cat Katrina, who needed daily fluid drips. Jim may not have been able to solve my agoraphobia, but he healed so many deeper wounds.

Towards the end of my time in New York, my brother agreed to come to a therapy session. Being in proximity to my brother was terrifying to me. Not because he was physically dangerous. - his Parkinson's was already pretty well advanced at this time - but because he was psychically and emotionally lethal. I booked a double session for the meeting with my brother. And I had booked a second double session because I knew I'd need it... Even that wasn't enough and Jim found a way to squeeze me in for a third one. Poor man... that's a lot of me in one day, especially if you add my psycho brother into the mix. But I needed that extra time and Jim knew it. You see, one of my issues, one of my problems when I went into therapy was that I had been so programmed to deny my feelings that I didn't quite know what I was feeling and I tended to second-guess myself. I could walk into the office bleeding and question whether I had really been stabbed.

Once in a while - maybe only once, Jim made a mistake. He apologized to me at the next session. He didn't make me wrong for his mistake and he didn't try to push it under the rug. You know you are safe with someone like that. You know you can trust him. And I did. I do.

Towards the end of my time in New York I ran out of money and I had to stop therapy. Then I went to Arizona for 18 months. Just before I left, I made a rare excursion out of my apartment to have a farewell lunch with Dr. Jim which is when I took the picture above. I was out of touch with Jim for a while after that. I got in contact with him again when I applied for my SSD and then when my landlady went crazy in Callicoon a friend of mine said, "why don't you call your therapist." I didn't want to. I thought it would be rude and unfair. I didn't know that he'd want to work with me by phone. But I was really scared and eventually I called him. Oh, how glad I am. He talked me through things, helped me to move forward on getting my house. He was on the phone with me one of the times Dianne came pounding on the door yelling. Long-distance, he got me through it and beyond it.

There's so much I could say about Jim Mulry, about his gifts as a therapist, his wisdom, his PATIENCE, his steadiness. Anyone in the New York area who needs a therapist, would do well to seek him out.

I don't know how to do this right. I love this man so much and I owe him so much. I think Jim is the reason my SSD went through so easily too. Rumor has it that almost nobody gets approved the first time through. I did. The Social Security people wanted to know the name of the doctor in New York who I went to when I hurt my legs. I couldn't remember his name, but he had been recommended by Jim. So they called him. I think it changed everything. I could be wrong about that but I don't think so. Lucky break for me.

Anyway, Jim - who isn't fond of phone sessions - calls me every week and keeps me grounded. I don't know who I would be if he hadn't come into my life. I know that I would not know myself as well as I do. I might have succumbed to the psychotic world of my brother. My spirit might have died a slow, tortured death. I would not have learned to have any compassion for myself. Maybe that's not true. Maybe I would have found some other way. I could not have found a kinder, gentler way. In Jim I found the parents I never had, a friend to my spirit, a wise guide. I can't say enough good things about him. There isn't enough gratitude in the universe to cover what a blessing he has been in my life. Thank you, Jim, for being you and for helping me to be me.


I was going to end with some squirrels since they are so popular,
but I thought instead, I'd post some pictures of the two other beings who help keep me sane.

Angel Joy, Naughty Cat Extra-ordinaire

Tara Grace, Bossy cat extra-ordinaire

Have a wonderful day!


Jeff B said...

Wow! What a beautiful tribute to a man who has obviously had a tremendous impact on your life. What a blessing it was/is to have found him.

Chatty said...

What a beautiful tribute! And, that is one of the kindest faces I've ever seen. What a joy to have someone like that to help you!

Sandi McBride said...

Yes, I know how we appreciate our therapists...they are angels after the pain they put you through is over, aren't they? And if not for my cats, in spite of the fact that my husband calls me the crazy cat lady, I'd be absolutely around the's their call that brings me back...

gabrielle said...

Raven, I am so glad that the angel of Dr. Jim was there for you. He looks so present and kind.

A toast to Angel Joy and Tara Grace, the spirits extraordinaire who keep you company and grace your days.

“I clung to some things that were killing me as though they were the life raft and not the anchor. Jim never lost patience with me.” Isn’t it the blazing truth that with good allies and courage, we are able to leap out of the deep grooves of habit and comfort.

“I felt calmed and steadied. “That is the key to recognizing healthy relationships.

“You see, one of my issues, one of my problems when I went into therapy was that I had been so programmed to deny my feelings that I didn't quite know what I was feeling and I tended to second-guess myself. I could walk into the office bleeding and question whether I had really been stabbed.”

Raven, you have spoken for so many of us who were taught to distrust our own goodness.

9 days to go. I’ll miss your gratitude posts. You have inspired me focus on the blessings in my life. Thank you.

Carletta said...

Wow Raven, a tribute extra-ordinaire!
Mr. Jim has a wonderful smile with kind eyes. I'm glad he's not only your therapist but your friend.
(If you're reading Jim - thanks for taking care of our Raven.)

The kitty pics are so cute.
Ms. Angel Naughty looks like she's saying 'who me?'
Tara Grace's attitude at being called bossy seems to be 'Oh Please!'

Askew To You said...

Jim sounds like a wonderful man. I am very glad that you've had him to talk to.

Your cats are beautiful. Those eyes on your naughty cat and the light on the grey kitty, wow. :D

Dianne said...

He does have an exceptionally kind face :)

a good therapist can make all the difference in the world.

love the kittie pics - their personalities come out and it is easy to see how happy they are with their person.

bet they're grateful too.