Samantha, the analyst


I spent the summer of my 25th year in the grips of depression. My father said it was just the onset of adulthood ennui. My sister believed it was post-traumatic stress, after returning from my humanitarian trip to the Congo – that I couldn’t compartmentalize the human suffering I had witnessed. Jana, my overbearing-Swedish-grad-student-girlfriend thought it was her—that I was dissatisfied with our three-year-old relationship and endlessly tried to find new, thoughtful ways to cheer me up. She’d surprise me with home-cooked meals or a hand-written haiku snuck into the pockets of my jacket. Which was sweet, but in vain. And Samantha, my therapist, thought it was guilt due to my inability to love.

When she first revealed this hypothesis to me, I was incredulous. Nervously lighting another cigarette, I asked her, “How could that be? I’ve spent my whole life incapacitated by love.”

Cool as an ice pick, Samantha nodded toward the ashtray and said, “You’ve already got one lit, Knox.”

Samantha was gorgeous, earthy and confident. Since the beginning of our sessions, she’d exploited my attraction to her in order to get me out of my shell. She’d catch me off-guard, not only to peek into my psyche, but to attempt to re-align it. Once, as she was walking me to the door after a session where I’d confessed feelings of inadequacy because I was unable to seduce her, she grabbed my crotch, stared me in the eyes and said, “Don’t be so naive to think that a woman can hold your manhood in her hand.” Talk about masterfully mixed messages.

As time passed, I became convinced that Samantha was right. That even though I had been in love many times, deep down, I’d always believe that I was incapable of truly letting go. However, right when it appeared we were making progress, Samantha made the suggestion that I search for another doctor. She had come to realize strong feelings for me, and that it would be inappropriate for us to go on seeing each other.

When the sessions stopped, we began dating. The relationship became quickly serious, as she already knew my most intimate thoughts and I already trusted her more then anyone I had ever known. After three months, as we were taking a stroll along the boardwalk, I confessed to her, “For the first time in my life, I’m really in love, Samantha. Deep down, I never thought this was possible.”

She turned and gave me a warm hug, whispering into my ear, “I don’t love you back, Knox. I never did. I just wanted you to realize you could do it.” And with that, Samantha kissed me on the cheek and walked away. I suppose it’s possible she cured me, but I remain unconvinced anything will ever feel that real again.

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