Other clients. Ugh.
Does anyone like to acknowledge their existence?
Towards the end of my session ; maybe ten minutes before the end, Sienna’s phone started vibrating on the desk. Clearly she’d forgot to put it on silent. She ignored it, but it kind of distracted me whilst I was in mid-flow about something quite painful. I felt a bit like…. “are you going to get that?” But she acted like she couldn’t hear it and eventually it stopped.
And then it started up again just as I was getting ready to leave. This persistant (or insistent?) vibrating. It sounded like an angry bee! She grabbed her phone as we walked out her office and when we walked out into the foyer, there was the source of the buzzing phone. This girl/woman standing there, all tall and slim and pretty with smart business clothes on, holding her phone to her ear. She saw Sienna and started walking towards her and saying really loudly in that super confident way ” Oh hi! I was just phoning you… blah blah blah…”
I didn’t hear anything else, I was too busy walking ahead, feeling awkward as hell. I hate seeing other clients. I mean it’s okay if it’s very in the passing and not super obvious who each of us is. But this was a head on face to face meeting.
It’s awkward for a few reasons. Firstly I’d just walked out of a session with my make-up halfway down my face. (is it even real therapy if you don’t walk out every session like this? ) But I really don’t want someone seeing me like that. Especially her, in her smart work, shift dress and pretty shoes and cute bag. When I am walking out like Jabba the hut in yoga pants.
Second awkward reason- What do you even do in that circumstance? Look at her? Acknowledge her with a smile or a hello? Give her her privacy and walk head down away?
Third awkward reason – Where’s my fucking privacy? Maybe I don’t want to see anyone else, is she feeling embarrassed or threatened by seeing me? Cos let’s face it, no one likes the existence of other clients. We know they’re there, we know they exist…. but we don’t want to come face to face with it.
Although maybe ” Miss loud and confident” doesn’t care about that shit.
Isn’t it funny that there’s no camaraderie between therapy clients? There’s no conciliatory knowing smiles of ” hey, you picked her as your therapist too? Awesome, well done, you have really good taste. Like me. You are in therapy, I am in therapy- with the same therapist… we are in this together, dude, Solidarity!!!”
Nope. There is no solidarity fox. It’s more like a sideway glance of “She’s mine, bitch.” Suspicion and downright dislike. A moment of sizing each other up and how we compare, who is better. Who is therapist’s favourite? (Me, obviously.)
When you see another “client-sibling” it’s all out war. We have to fight to the death, our therapist is a limited resource and we can’t have these weaklings take our place in her affections. Hell. No.
Of course, we don’t really do anything, we bow our head discreetly and walk on because we are too mature for that, we are too busy adulting to be so petty and jealous and possesive. But in our heads it’s like ;
Fuck you, other client. Fuck you for exisiting. Fuck you for showing your smug, better than me, face! I was here first. (probably.)
And you know, as I headed to the stairs, eager to get away from all the awkward, I heard Sienna direct “Miss Loud and Confident” to her office and she came to say goodbye to me properly and remind me of our Friday check in, it felt better. Because it kind of felt like at least Sienna wanted to say goodbye, that I wasn’t instantly forgotten about for the new and shiny and fucking loud next client.
But really, what am I supposed to do in that situation? Stop and hang around briefly while this other client talks to Sienna, like some sort of socially inappropriate and clingy child?
Walking away felt a bit abrupt and rude, but I didn’t know if Sienna would just take her other client straight away or if she’d finish saying goodbye to me. What is the etiquette here? UGH!!!
And you know…. just as I was sizing up “Miss Loud and Confident”… seeing where she rates in comparison to me, I bet she was doing the same. And it’s just uncomfortable, man! Was she thinking ” phew, at least I’m better than her. Look at the state of her.” ?
Seeing Sienna take a client immediately after me, with barely time to take a breath, just feels dirty.
C’mon Sienna, where’s your therapeutic hygiene??? At least give yourself enough time to change the bedcovers.
That room still had my energy in there, it was still my space, we’d just left it literally 2 minutes beforehand. The words I’d spoken, the tears I’d shed, were still in there, hanging in the air. Sienna was still emotionally *with* me. Her attentions were still on me, my words and emotions were still being processed
And now Miss Loud and Confident is going in there to sit amongst it. *Shudder*
It feels intrusive to me, like sitting in someone else’s bath water or something. Yuck.
And I feel sad I suppose, that somehow I am immediately replacable and forgotten. That what I felt and spoke about in that room only minutes ago, and which impacts me for at least the rest of the day if not longer, is so easily put to the side by Sienna.
I don’t often bump into Sienna’s clients. But it has happened more often that I’d like. And normally it’s okay. And I acknowledge that she has clients after me. But part of me likes to imagine that after my session, she honours that space we just created. Just by taking a few minutes to process, to sort of decompress and allow the energy of the room to settle into a neutral zone again. Just something to cleanse the energy, to clear all remnants of me. And maybe even give herself time for a ” Pee-break” !
Maybe not everyone feels energy the way I do. If I was a therapist I would need time between clients. I’d have little “energy cleansing” rituals, simple things like lighting a candle or opening a window, or spraying some lavender…. just something to separate one client from the next. A way of honouring the work that just took place.
So maybe Sienna doesn’t need any of that, maybe she doesn’t feel energy and maybe ” Miss Loud and Confident” client won’t feel it either, so maybe it doesn’t matter to them.
And as the evening wore on, I began to feel quite angry at “Miss Loud and Confident”. WTF?? We came out on time, which means she was there at least 10 minutes early. Why did she think it’s okay to constantly phone Sienna? Is it not obvious if she doesn’t answer that maybe she’s with another client? So why keep trying?
Send a discreet text and let her know you’re outside then sit the fuck down and wait your turn!
Maybe she’s a therapy newbie, I think to myself. Or maybe she just is an anxious type of person and didn’t think that maybe she had another client in. But then the bitchy side of me thinks ” No, she could see Sienna’s door was closed. She doesn’t look intellectually challenged, so I’m sure she could deduce that ” Sienna is here. Her door is closed, so she’s busy. I’ll sit here and wait.”
I’ve decided, I don’t like Miss Loud and Confident. I hate her brash, over confident demeanour. I hate that she can’t even conceive that maybe someone else who is still within their allocated time with Sienna is just as important as her need to be seen.
I am aware I probably have this all wrong. She’s probably a very nice person. She’s probably not even that loud and confident, it just felt that way as I came out my session half-dazed and emotional, I wasn’t ready for that level of noise and bubblyness.
But you know there’s therapy waiting room etiquette, how can you not know that?
And I know that I have no reason to feel threatened, I am a long term client, I will see her come and go, like I have many others. I know I have Sienna’s love and care in a way many shorter term clients may not. What Sienna and I have, is unique to us and can’t be replicated.
But she is another client and therefore my enemy.