I used to lie awake at night and think about him. Every day, all day, I’d wonder what he was doing. I’d think about what his female patients looked like. I’d imagine what his wife looked like and wonder how much time they spent together and if they still liked each other or had fallen out of love. One day, I passed him on the street, and I followed him and found out where he lived. After that I’d try to time it just right so that I’d see him when he was driving to work. I had already read lots of books on psychoanalysis and recognized that I was in a state of transference. It’s just another form of love, really, but the books explained how it wasn’t really love and that I was transferring all my feelings from the important people in my early life onto him. Actually, it’s one of the ways patients and therapists can gain insight that leads to psychological change, so it’s supposed to be a good thing.
Once on his birthday, I bought him a plant. I’d lie on the couch and watch the plant while I was free associating. You know, saying everything that comes to mind without censoring any thoughts. You just bounce from one thought to the next. Most of the time it doesn’t make any sense. So while I was talking and watching the plant, I realized that the plant was wilting. I wondered when he had watered it last because for sure it was dying. I should have known then, that if he couldn’t even care for a stupid plant, he wasn’t going to be of much value to me. But I ignored it because, as I said, I really loved him. And then I began to realize he was beginning to love me back. He would tell me I was attractive and intelligent and interesting. He said he would look forward to our sessions. He even gave me a list of his favorite L.A. restaurants. It was obvious he was experiencing counter-transference because he laughed at my jokes and smiled and even cried during all my sad stories.
One day he called me at home to tell me about this incredible dining experience that was taking place the next weekend. The chef from a famous restaurant in England, Michael’s Waterside Inn, was coming to Montecito to its sister restaurant, and he suggested I go. He was planning to take his son, and he invited me to join them. I can’t remember ever being this excited! I borrowed a dress from a friend that was so perfect — so English. I even wore a hat! It was pouring that night. Not a good day to travel. We had a seven-thirty reservation, and he hadn’t arrived. I had a glass of Sancerre but didn’t touch the hors d’oeuvres because I was so afraid he might show up while I was chewing, and I kept glancing down at my mirror to make sure my lipstick was just perfect. After about twenty minutes or so, I knew he wasn’t coming. I couldn’t eat my dinner, and that night I couldn’t sleep. It was before cell phones, and so all I could do was think about it all until my session the next day. When he greeted me at the door, he didn’t say anything about the night before. And when I sat down and told him how inconsiderate I thought he was, all he said was “You’d have to be crazy to go out in that kind of weather.”
“Freud realized that transference is universal, and therefore could occur in the analyst as well. He did not write much about this, except to say that ‘countertransference’ could interfere with successful treatment.”
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Previously published in another publication January 2016