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.I knew what I had to do."Hey Victoria," I mumbled into her voicemail, as nervous as if I had never met her. .action_button.action_button:active.action_button:hover.action_button:focus.action_button:hover.action_button:focus .count.action_button:hover .count.action_button:focus .count:before.action_button:hover .count:before.u-margin-left--sm.u-flex.u-flex-auto.u-flex-none.bullet. But stripped of all my bad girl armor, my self stood alone in cyberspace, and it turned out that my self was a sad little girl who would do anything to make people like her. Now totally sold on the concept, I jumped in gung ho, texting with Celeste throughout the day, bringing up every issue I had in my life. Every time Celeste answered, I'd have come up with three more unrelated life problems for her to take into account.But she handled it all gamely, pulling all my scattered concerns into big picture issues. And she seemed to empathize with me like a peer — while Victoria had felt like a mother figure who held all the answers, Celeste seemed the same as me, or at least, the person I wanted to be: another young professional, seeking work-life balance in the face of my stressful yet satisfying career.But her ability to go straight for the big things was what had made Victoria larger than life to me, what had made her both a savior and terrifying.
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.Trying to fill the void, I immersed myself in the world of online support groups.I subscribed to half a dozen — chat rooms for people with family members with borderline personality disorder, Reddit's thread devoted to the children of narcissistic parents, self-guided programs for people with low self-esteem.Eight years later, Victoria had molded me into a semi-upstanding member of society; a real grown-ass woman who had fought her demons, stared into her internal abyss, and learned that if you're more than 10 minutes late anywhere, you need a really good excuse.
Victoria had been like a second mother to me — a mother I had to pay by the hour, of course, but a much better mother than the one I had gotten for free.After a weekend of silence on my part, I texted Celeste:"There are many options, we just need to find the one that works best for you." That seemed like a referendum on the whole experience.