The Wrong Counselor
Gus Van Sant made a film in 1997 entitled Good Will Hunting starring Matt Damon and the infamous Robin Williams. Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is an unrecognized genius employed as a janitor at MIT in order that his “simple” lifestyle be kept unmarred. After solving a difficult math equation posted outside a classroom, he’s sent to prison for starting a public brawl involving a group of childhood bullies and a few policemen. Professor Gerald Lambeau (Stellan Skarsgard) recognizes Will’s talent and strikes a deal with the judge that he should be released on the condition he studies mathematics under Lambeau and has weekly sessions with a therapist. Unrealistically, the first few therapists decline to counsel Will1 but the duty is finally accepted by Dr. Sean Maguire (Robin Williams) who successfully bypasses Will’s defenses after only a few therapy sessions. This movie deals heavily with the psychological trials of a young man who struggles to find value in reaching beyond his comfort zone.
A channel on YouTube by the username of “My Little Thought Tree” made a series that analyzes the numerous therapy sessions of the film through the eyes of a professional “psychodynamic counsellor.” He breaks down the deeper psychological themes throughout the movie and keys in on some of the motives behind either Will’s or Dr. Maguire’s actions. Their first session begins with Will stepping around Sean’s office and looking at the books as he smokes a cigarette. Will searches around the room in order to find something that would anger his counselor so he’d be less inclined to want to know Will and he even lights a cigarette to establish dominance. Dr. Maguire lets out a soft joke about how he feels about smoking but decides not to set restrictions so early as a way of not coming off as an authority figure. Both of these performances would have been recognized only as the simple lighting of a cigarette or a submissive counselor had it not been for Mr. Thought-Tree’s analysis. In addition to explaining the psychological motives like the ones listed above, the “Counsellor” drops several hints throughout the series on how the job of a therapist/counselor ought to be performed.
Not that I’d want to study it professionally but psychology is a topic that holds much of my interest so I’m particularly fond of psychologists and the like. I often feel a lot of emotion but I’d never like to assume that others would care enough to want to be bothered with understanding my burdens so I’d rather not talk about them. My burdens are my own and I’d like to deal with them similarly since some of those burdens are too embarrassing or personal to be shared with just anyone. Only friends of the “Platinum Class”-caliber are worthy enough to guard my deep feelings but the only two that have ever achieved this status have since either renounced or lost it. Who needs them anyhow? Everyone will eventually leave anyway! The only constant is myself and that is why I have concluded that the only counselor I need is my blog!
Writing is a very effective way for me to emotionally express myself in a non-judgmental environment so that I can work through my own issues. My sinful nature will usually encourage me to not think about my problems by entertaining my thoughts with other activities. Comedic videos on YouTube, aggressive video games or other sinful activities will only work to increase the distance between me and my Heavenly Father. I personally recognize my ability to write as a gift from the Lord as it allows for me to arrange my thoughts and work through them on my own without the need to bother others or resort to activities that’ll help me forget about my concerns. The problem with this strategy is when sin keeps telling me to ignore my issues and robs me of my ability to calmly express myself into a well-constructed blog.
To pull the analogy from my Within the President’s Office series, the second desk in my office is always occupied by either Joshua E. Skapes or Vic “the Commander” Antonio. Joshua will always help me through my deepest issues or encourage me to write when I need to express myself but I want to say his presence started to dwindle after I posted Inhibited in July. Recovering from Rampancy was definitely a wake-up call in September and What Am I Taking? was certainly a good reminder as to how I should spend my money in October but they were just short bursts of devotion in the Commander’s longer scheme. See, I’ll seek counsel from the Commander when Joshua doesn’t give me the advice I want but then he’ll turn around and tell his agents about the things I’m going through and play them like cards in a poker game.
“Luci, pull him away from his communications with Josh.”
During the nation’s lockdown, I didn’t apply for unemployment insurance until about two and a half months after I was furloughed which granted me a large sum of money just before my 24th birthday. I opted to use my vacation pay for the first two weeks after I was let go in confidence that the unemployment would only last a month or two. When my savings had been exhausted after two months passed, I messaged a coworker who was somewhat well-versed in the unemployment application process to ask for tips on applying digitally. A few people I know personally had made a mistake or two while applying and were forced to contact the overwhelmed unemployment help desk by phone. Their experiences with it were unenjoyable to say the least so I knew I didn’t want to mess up. Luckily, I was able to apply without a hitch and there in my UI debit card’s account sat more money than I ever had in a single bank account.
Because of the additional $600 added to my weekly paycheck, I was able to hide away some money after restoring my savings account with the bank and just a bit of splurging. I’ll admit I did use some of my spare change to buy things like a Samsung Galaxy A512 or a Nintendo Switch Lite. On June 7th, however, I bought a heavily protected safe where I’d keep some items of mine I’d rather keep hidden including the cash savings I pulled from my UI debit card after my reckless spending habits. See, I didn’t want to tell anyone but I began to think that everyone treated me just a bit “differently” simply because they knew about my past and what I’d been through. My ambitions to better myself in my responsibilities, my Spirituality or my career had more often than not been greeted with such high praises of accomplishment that I wondered if they’d react differently if they didn’t know. I fantasized of a life where I wasn’t congratulated for everything that I can do in spite of the complications I’ve faced but where my achievements would go unnoticed because I wasn’t anything special. Teeming with my desire to grow beyond my “small”-minded self from late December 2019, I hid away a good portion of the money I had and thought seriously about authoring a “fictional” short story to hint at my future plans.
During a trip to Oregon to visit a family friend, I considered the possibility that using the creative side of my brain to think up fictional scenes and characters may help in my struggle to silence the sinful nature. A song by Bo Burnham, Left Brain, Right Brain, describes the roles of either the left brain and the right brain and narrates the conflict between the two in order that both halves can agree on a common directive. Bo’s left brain is showcased to be logical and analytical (“He’s efficient… and a prick“) whereas Bo’s right brain creative and “sensory” (“He’s emotional… and an idiot“). “Left Brain” constantly talks down to “Right Brain” throughout the majority of the song by belittling his concerns, comparing their respective attitudes or even suggesting that his maturity level is at that of a child. Right brain is, in fact, portrayed to have a very innapropriate, emotionally-driven, childlike mindset that would obviously be inferior to the left brain’s professionalism. To settle the conflict, the two agree to perform comedy so that the right brain can still express emotion through comedy while the left brain can still arrange and structure the performance which are both very notable features in the entertainment he offers. Assuming that my right brain is the source of my sin for lack of more creative and emotional outlet, I could theoretically replace my sin with constructing a fictional universe that portrays my feeling through characters.
Since my Within the President’s Office series canonically ended in Autumn 20183, I would’ve started a new storyline that tales a gentleman that considers the possibility of attempting to vanish from the life he knows. How I would’ve loved to finish the episode and later reveal the storyline as a way to hint that it was something I once was thinking of doing but since it wouldn’t have been Mr. President’s storyline, no one would’ve suspected too greatly until the first episode was discarded from memory. I started writing about a man named Adrian meeting someone at a “modern”-style restaurant in the year 2039 on Kingdom Daft in the same fictional universe where Within the President’s Office and Double Crossed take place. Adrian would’ve mentioned to the right counselor, Ashley Dallas, that he’s considering jumping to another territory on Kingdom Daft with his small fortune because life is becoming just a little too predictable where he lives. Ms. Dallas, later revealed to be a projection of Adrian’s deceased sister, would’ve questioned why Adrian had to expend effort to meet her and tell her about this issue when he could’ve easily brought this up to a close friend where he lives. “To subvert expectations,” he replies. Everyone expects Adrian to stick around like he always has and this would be his firm declaration that he doesn’t want to be that person anymore. What’s more, he would describe that some aspects of his life have the possibility to grow in quality but mentioning that he wants to leave might affect their ascension in quality. Before the episode ended to reveal that the conversation took place in a simulation with his artificial counselor, Ashley would conclude that it sounded to her like Adrian had it so good where he lived that he wanted to escape to a life where he had nothing to fall back on except his small fortune.
Now, that wasn’t the answer I wanted so I symbolically allowed Lady Lucinda to aid me in the creation of the story instead of Joshua which swapped out the right counselor with the wrong one. Lady Lucinda persuaded me to completely trash the idea of even having Ashley in the story at all and let her be replaced with the waitress of the restaurant who I named Belle. The pair no longer needed to meet at restaurant either since the end would reveal that it was all a simulation anyway. I decided to have their counseling session be set over a brilliant mountainside view very similar to the one Lea and Kairi are seen on in Kingdom Hearts III. Fictional posts usually have a cover photo of an edited slide from Microsoft’s PowerPoint or even a personally-crafted architectural design but I wanted to hint that this story was non-fiction by using a screenshot from a video game. She even convinced me to think up an alternate ending that would lead up to a decision that alludes to hindrances in my Walk that were once thought defeated. Once Adrian presented his dreams and motives, Belle would incite fear by asking, “If you never have children or even get married, do you think you’ll live to regret it?”
“Penni, make sure Josh stays away from the office.”
As I let Luci drill this thought even deeper into my subconscious, my right hand distracted me long enough for more important matters to arise. Brainstorming about how to better move the story to Belle’s question instead of Samantha’s sound counsel motivated my right arm to practice its ability to move properly.4 Expending the effort to consciously exercise my right side has not been a large interest of mine since the limbs were retaught to do what they needed to shortly after their paralysis in 2010. Though if I could convince my subconscious to do it while I experiment with posting fiction to my blog in the hopes of preventing my right brain from wandering to sin, that’s essentially hitting three birds with one stone. Left Brain/Right Brain would then be outlined by starting with the comparison between my personality and various characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and presenting Banner’s remedy in Avengers: Endgame as a thesis. I’d then lead into my appreciation for Burnham’s comedy style and draw parallels from the song under the same name before leading into my conclusion that would introduce my fiction and the the positive effect it has on my right side. However, the conversation between Adrian and Belle would not be released until the completion of Left Brain/Right Brain as my goal was to trick everyone into thinking that the “fictional” tale was just a product of my imagination until I could vanish just like Adrian.
What Am I Taking? was written just before Luci succeeded in her plans to once again trick me into seeking a romantic relationship above seeking the Lord. One of my best friends had invited me to be a groomsmen at his wedding on the east coast and this moved to the top of my list of priorities because missing such an honor was not an option. Concerning myself with airplane tickets and dress suits was obviously more important than authoring either of these projects so I let them linger in the back of my mind while I scheduled a trip to Men’s Wearhouse and budgeted finances. Thinking more on the conversation between Adrian and Belle in order to keep my right side active caused me to constantly repeat her question to myself, thereby digging the fear of not starting a romantic relationship “in time” even deeper into my heart. Authoring fiction or writing blogs cannot be done (at least, not well) when my attention is divided between the content I’m writing and another topic of interest. I was only able to write What Am I Taking? because I didn’t need to worry about buying plane tickets or renting my groomsmen outfit as those two concerns had already been completed. During the time spent completing these tasks, however, Belle and Luci manipulated my focus behind the scenes and painted the delusion that I should chase after my own desires rather than appreciating all that God had already given me.
Near the end of October, I had no choice but to call upon “playful” Penelope as a more consistent visitor in order to distract me from the mental conflict between either the logical or emotional sides of my brain. My emotional right brain argued that I’d been starved of romantic affection and reiterated the fictional character, Belle, in that I needed to seek it out before it’s too late and I’m forever doomed to regret it. My more logic-oriented left brain suggested the many reasons that I’m not equipped to be in a romantic relationship. “What kind of person wants to be in a relationship with a guy like you, anyway? Beyond that, should you really want to just place some woman on that pedestal? How much money would you have to waste by going on dates in order to find the one that’ll stay? How many times are you gonna try to make something work before you finally give up? …because, again, no woman really wants to stay or even start in a relationship with you. You’re virtually a charity case! No one really thinks that you’re capable of romantic thoughts and then they scram the moment you start catching feelings. She’s probably just gonna leave like almost every other woman you’ve sought romantically. Our goal is to be independent and if you move into your own apartment, as was your hope in June, you wont have enough money to spare on such frivolous activities, anyway. What’s the logic in looking for a girlfriend if they’re just gonna waste money that you won’t have on a gamble that’s probably not in your favor anyway? A safer bet would just be to keep your meetings with Penni whenever that hole reappears since you’re neither financially nor emotionally prepared for serious relationship.” Left Brain/Right Brain soon morphed into a new outline in which I would mention the details of what LB/RB was supposed to be5 and detail how that led to the “Logic V. Emotion” debate. But this just stressed me out even more because Left Brain/Right Brain just became a jumble of thoughts and ideas that couldn’t be tamed to an actual outline probably because Josh wasn’t there but Josh couldn’t be there since I was constantly inviting Penni to my office to keep me from thinking about the war raging between the two halves of my brain because I wanted to maintain the illusion that I had it all together so that no one would suspect that anything was wrong because “no one really gets me!”
. . .
No one really cares if I have emotional issues. No woman wants to date an emotional train wreck which, according to my persistent right brain, was still a very deep concern of mine. Any casual guy friend would tell me I’m just being a girl about it which was the advice offered by the unemotional left brain. The few people I trust to help me through this stuff wouldn’t be bothered because this was my own very personal issue that they’d already seen me battle against in early 2019. I’d just be a broken record to them and there aren’t too many people I hold that close these days so I’d rather preserve the friendships I have with people that are already closer than I’d care to make anyone else. “I’m fine. I can handle this.”
“Dep. Reese, he’s at his lowest: take him down.”
Luckily, neither Lucinda nor Penelope joined me at all during my trip to the East coast to serve as a groomsmen in my best pal’s wedding as I instead chose to invite Joshua E. Skapes. I would not allow my mind to be clouded with either of their concerns while fulfilling such an honorable request and no one can help me prioritize others before my own selfish desires better than Joshua can. He’d ensure that both Lucinda and Penelope stay away while I thoroughly enjoyed each of the events I’d been invited to like Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, the wedding rehearsal on Friday and especially the wedding ceremony and subsequent reception on Saturday. All of these events and every person I met at the wedding or the events leading up to it added to what I consider to be the best wedding I could have ever been invited to! Man, that was a great wedding! I’m so glad I was invited and even more appreciative that Joshua was so kind as to tame my emotions the full three days I made social appearances. Perhaps it was being away from any romantic interests of mine that allowed Joshua’s advice to be heard because I quickly recognized Lucinda’s call to make a fool of myself and Penelope’s preventive hijinks soon after I got home.
However, this time would be different since I returned with the right counselor at my side who would not only help me spot their vanity but aid in my return to a life of productivity and holiness. A Christian should prioritize God’s will before that of others even before his/her own. Joshua helped me to see that accepting Lucinda’s invitation to chase after my own romantic aspirations only tricked me into looking away from the Lord in the hopes that I would find happiness in someone else. Penelope would then swoop in after my failure to find anyone that would satisfy my hunger for affection to encourage me to spend more time with her because she’ll never leave or reject me. Still, I’ll never be able to respect a woman I’m really interested in with Penelope around but I only fall back into her games because of the unfruitful harvest yielded from my endeavors with Lucinda! The only time I manage to escape from either of them is when I have time to request for Joshua’s return. Now that he was back, the Commander would have to send in one of his stronger agents to pull me from Joshua’s counsel.
On the first of January 2020, an especially difficult guest insulted me but it wasn’t the insult as much as the ensuing reaction that allowed Deputy Reese’s input to be accepted. Miss “Elless” made two reservations for her and her family through a third party but the second reservation was under the additional name. I tried explaining that the hotel can’t check in anyone but the main guest on the reservation but she wanted to hear that same information from the manager. I stepped aside to let the manager work at the computer and heard only the manger’s response to a “very rude” comment from one of the guest’s party members. She sent me in the back so that I wouldn’t have to endure such harsh bullying from a gentleman that firmly declared that he “[didn’t] care” about how rude the comment was. I still don’t know exactly what the insult was but Deputy Reese suggested that they may have insulted my mental intelligence since it warranted an eviction warning from the hotel on just the first offense.
Why should I care, right? The guest had no reason to believe I was actually mentally impaired which doesn’t make it okay but might explain why he thought so little before he spoke. It was the reaction that my job showed that hit me. Sending a front agent in the back is not uncommon when an aggravated guest starts insulting the agent but an eviction? Really? Do they think I care about that stuff? “Wait… do they think I am mentally impaired? Even with everything I do, everything I’ve done? Has it all been in vain? ‘Oh, look at that! Christopher is trying to act smart by pretending a few lucky keystrokes prove that he knows what he’s doing.’ Were my assumptions in June justified? Who can I trust? Does everyone think that about me? Even if I do take my savings and skip town, who’s to say people in the next environment will treat me any differently?” In hindsight, it could’ve been that my superiors just thought the guest’s insult was sincere and that I’d be particularly sensitive to the topic because of my right side’s impairment but the Deputy obviously didn’t want me to see that possibility because he wanted to introduce his favorite piece played by sorrowful Suzi:
“Everyone’s gonna think that way about you. There seems to be no way to convince them otherwise. They’ll treat you like they always have because you’re different. You can’t change that. You can, however, remove yourself from the equation if that reality becomes too bothersome.”
– Suzi, my delirious personification of suicidal thoughts6
A friend of mine that I messaged out of fear a week later managed to calm me down from this but the duo was able to force me away from Joshua. …again.
If Only I Knew…
Y’know, I can spend my time wasting away with Deputy Reese or seeking entertainment with Penelope or even just anticipating fantasies with Lucinda but I might just spend my time meeting with the right counselor if I knew when I’d have to face the Righteous Judge. Tron: Legacy was the film that got me to take my Salvation seriously by making me think about eschatology through the film’s symbolism. Making me think about what’s going to happen in the future is sort of how my Heavenly Father gets me to rethink the way I act. In much the same way, very convenient timing of the world’s current events concern me to a point where I may want to heed Joshua’s counsel and focus on resisting the Commander’s sinful temptations with just a bit more devotion.7
1 I understand that psychiatrists/psychologists or “counselors” are unlikely to decline a patient as the job isn’t about who is worth your time but about helping both the simple and the difficult clients.
2 Another reason I didn’t want to have to call the unemployment insurance help desk was because my Moto X4‘s microphone virtually prevented me from making calls. It had to be replaced!
3 There would be two years worth of development were I to proceed with my series, not to mention that I haven’t even finished writing Within the President’s Office.
4 For my readers that aren’t aware, I was involved in a bicycle accident in 2010 that paralyzed my right side which hinders my right arm’s mobility as well as causes me to walk with a slight limp.
5 I was really looking forward to expressing my appreciation for Bo Burnham and his psychological take on comedy and how that would lead in to fiction but writing fiction was the last thing I was concerned with at that point.
6 I might have insinuated that Suzi’s hair was black in Unwanted Company Returns and that is canonically correct; I just use Erica from Catherine to match the blog’s video game parallels.
7 I won’t mention the kinds of things that concern me publicly as I’d suppose they could all be written off as mere conspiracy theories but the effect of this thought process has made a difference in how I walk the Walk and that’s what I’d like to highlight at the end of my blog.