Okay y’all, it’s confession time. One of the things I’ve done, in my search for maximum happiness, is hire a life coach. I KNOW! That shit is so California, I can’t stand it. A life coach sounds like something some dickwad movie producer who drives a Porsche and date blondes twenty years his junior would do, right? You all know the guy: some gray-haired, leathery motherfucker sliding by you on the freeway with his top down, talking into his bluetooth, looking like he’s sweating lumpy gravy in that bucket seat, a disinterested blond trying to find a way to do that bump of cocaine with the top down.
So I set about finding one and started with Yelp. Now, if you live in Shitstain, Nebraska and try and Yelp “life coach,” I’m sure your choices are limited, but here in the Bay Area? Let’s just say you have choices.
And most of them look like bored Marin housewives who went to a continuing education class on life coaching, got their little certificate, and now they want you to come to their office full of bamboo plants, scented candles from Pottery Barn, and tinkly music.
Fuck that shit.
I’d been therapist shopping for a while. Y’all ever shopped for a shrink? Lord howdy, painful. You don’t want to make a snap judgement in that first session, so you hang in with someone you don’t connect with for three or four sessions to give it a shot. By then, you’re still not clicking with this person, but now you’re four sessions in and you think “Well, fuck it, I don’t want to go through all of this again.” So you stay. My last shrink was a neurotic mess in that special way that older Berkeley women can be and said she would prefer I not smoke before our sessions because she didn’t like the smell of smoke on my clothes. Let’s just say I knew right then this mousy woman in purple flowy pants was not the one to “unlock my potential.” So I did what any mah-toor person would do, and I called and left a message on her voicemail saying my company had sent me to Ulanbataar for the next six months.
And, honestly, I’d had it with therapy. I was at a point in my life where I didn’t need to talk about my childhood, my parents, my past relationships…I’d talked that shit to death. Look, Mommy and Daddy loved me, and I had an uneventful childhood, okay? What I needed was someone that was maybe a little bit shrink but was mostly someone who would help me set goals and help me achieve them.
Hence, the life coach. But I mean also, really? Doesn’t it sound like the epitome of white, yuppie angst? “Well my LIFE COACH feels like I can really unlock my potential through extreme yoga, so I ran out to Lululemon and bought myself just the CUTEST pair of yoga pants! You wanna see them? Come on back to my bedroom…it’s okay, bring your glass of Chardonnay with you!”
So I found this dude on yelp. I find I always do better with men in these situations. My first shrink was a dude, and I loved him. My first gynmonster was a dude, and I loved him (and crushed on him, which, ewwww, is kinda creepy when you think about it). But what I’m getting at here is that however you seek help from a professional, rule number one is find someone you connect with. Go with your gut, y’all. If you’re in there to talk about how you’ve secretly been smoking meth in your basement after your wife goes to sleep every night, don’t settle for some Prudy McPrudence mental health professional that will judge you. These people are here to serve you; you get to decide whether they are able to do a good job with that task. And the first step in that process is making a personal connection.
Okay so I visit this dude’s website, and I’m a bit put off because it’s all about comics and unlocking your inner superheroes, which at first I think is kinda cute just because it’s different from the other stuff I’m seeing out there–the websites that show a babbling brook flowing over smooth river stones and pictures of the ocean at sunset. At least this is different, right? And I am looking for unconventional because I know it’s what’s right for me.
But then I start to worry, what if he’s some nerd poring over his extensive collection of comic books with special gloves so as not to soil the pages with his skin oil? Or worse, what if he’s a Burning Man mystical, hippie weirdo? (Don’t laugh, in Northern California this is a prevalent subcategory of person.) I imagined him to be a white guy with dreadlocks (my own personal horror), sitting cross-legged, meditating with a large speaking stick in his hand. And just…ugh. What? We all have our prejudices, do we not?
But one of the things I was determined to do, on my road to bliss, was to keep an open mind. I am far and away the most judgemental person you’ll ever meet. Sweetbabyjesus, I have OPINIONS. But I made the decision that if I chose to do this and, more importantly, if I was paying money to do this, my ass better keep an open mind. So I went in with an open mind and said “Fuck it, I will do whatever this dude tells me, unless he tells me to make out with a white person with dreads.”
Turns out, I need not have worried. He had a very professional-looking office and was dressed professionally (no flowy, multicolored pants to be found). But most importantly: the minute I sat down and we started talking, I felt 100 percent at ease with him. I felt instant rapport, I felt comfortable with him and the surroundings, we made good eye contact, I was able to start talking to him immediately with no preamble. We just launched into my shit. I think I was crying within five minutes.
I was so deeply unhappy y’all. I was desparate, grabbing at straws in what I saw as my last chance for happiness. Therapy hadn’t been working. Anti-depressants weren’t working. Meditation alone wasn’t cutting it. I was stuck as fuck. I was in the goddamned Bell Jar, for reals.
And the first thing he did was tell me he was, above all else, my advocate. And the minute he said that, a wave of relief washed over me and tears flew from my face. I’d spent the last six years in chronic pain, seeing specialist after specialist and actually seeing on their face the moment they gave up on me. I could actually see the minute when they’d asked every question they could think of, mentally shrugged their shoulders at my case, and said “Beats me, try someone else.” I felt lost and alone in the shittiness that is the American health care system.
Advocate. Yeah, that sounded nice. Because who doesn’t need someone who is unconditionally on their side? That feels pretty fucking awesome, no?
And then we talked about why I was there, what I wanted from this experience. I told him my life lacked balance. What I wanted was some fucking balance in my life. I wanted to stop distracting myself with booze, drugs, food, the Internet, old TV shows, Facebook, you name it. I wanted to get down to the brass tacks of living life.
And to do that, I needed some balance: mental, emotional, and physical balance. I wanted to figure out my purpose in life; I wanted a legacy. Most people pinch off some kids and call it a legacy. I hate crotchfruit; kids were not going to be the way for me. I wanted to find my passion, leave my mark. I don’t need to be remembered 500 years from now or anything, but I want to do something beside take up space on this planet, which is what I’d been doing lately. I wanted to find the thing I loved, was good at, and that brought something to this world. And to do that, I wanted balance between all the key aspects in my life: I needed to be mentally challenged and have an outlet for my thoughts; I wanted to be physically healthy again and stop listening to the lazy, undisciplined person in me so much; I wanted better relationships with my wife and my friends. In short, I wanted to be happy, and balance between those things was my definition of happiness.
And he looked at me and said he could help.