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Tem 22

Caught! Pt. 19

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Diagnosis

It was almost time for lunch when Jon received a text from Vanessa.

COME HOME. NEED YOU.

He called, and she was crying so hard she couldn’t speak. Telling his assistant he was leaving, Jon rushed to Vanessa’s house. It was Tuesday, the day she saw her therapist. Jon could think of no reason for her to be so upset.

She’d stopped crying by the time he got there, but she looked profoundly sad. Her face was puffy.

“What!? What happened?” Jon asked.

Vanessa found it so hard to speak that she held out a slip of paper. It was a prescription for a medication called depakote.

“What’s depakote?” he asked.

“It’s a mood stabilizer,” she said, handing him a pamphlet she’d gotten from the doctor recommended by her therapist. The title was “Living With Bipolar Disorder.”

It explained everything. Jon’s alcoholic brother had bipolar disorder. He’d engaged in all kinds of irresponsible, risky behavior before he was diagnosed and put on medication. But for years he medicated himself with alcohol, and he was an alcoholic by the time he got proper treatment. His symptoms of bipolar disorder almost disappeared when he started taking his medicine, but efforts to cure him of addiction weren’t as successful. The delay in his diagnosis ruined his life.

“I am so sorry,” Jon said, putting one arm around Vanesisa’s shoulder. “This must be a shock.”

“You should read this pamphlet. It’s like my biography. Everything in it describes my life,” she said.

“The people who take medicine for bipolar disorder say the same thing,” she said. “They say the medicine improves the symptoms. But it also changes the person they are, and a lot of the time they don’t like the new person. I’m afraid you won’t like me anymore.”

Jon understood. His brother said similar things. He didn’t like the drugs, but he took them anyway, because he realized he couldn’t keep living the out-of-control life he’d known before his diagnosis.

“I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing,” Jon said. “You’ve been looking for an answer. This is the answer. There are plenty of other medications for bipolar disorder. If you don’t like this one, you can try another one. We’ll find something that works for you.”

She opened the pamphlet and pointed to the list of symptoms. Her finger landed on the word “hypersexuality.” It said that people with bipolar disorder sometimes have an excessive, obsessive interest in sex. “That sure sounds like me,” she said. “It sounds like a part of me that is important to you. I’m afraid of what will happen if our sex life changes, Jon.”

“I will support you no matter what happens,” he said. “And I feel sure you’re worried too much. I remember my brother dealing with bipolar disorder. His symptoms were much, much worse than yours. I think that was partly because he was in such terrible shape physically. You’ve got the body of an elite athlete. Your lifestyle is excellent. There’s a very good chance you can get by with a very small dose of this drug, and that it will barely change you at all. We will deal with it together. I am completely committed to you.

“I’m glad your therapist was able to figure this out. The mystery is over. Now you can move on to whatever is next. And I’ll be there every step of the way.”

Vanessa still looked miserable. “I must have done something great in a previous life, because I never did anything to deserve the treatment you give me.”

“Stop beating yourself up. That’s an order. Take this one step at a time. That’s an order. Stop worrying so much. That’s an order. Don’t ever, ever, ever imagine I’m not completely committed to you. That’s the most important order I’ve ever given you, and you damn well better follow it, or I’ll spank your ass so hard your grandmother will feel it.”

Jon was trying to make Vanessa laugh, and he succeeded. “Yes sir. Whatever you say, sir.”

“While I’m giving out orders, do not use alcohol, weed, or any other drug while you are getting used to your medication. We’ll decide what you can do after we know how your drugs work for you.”

“Yes sir. I already thought of that,” she said. They sat there and held each other. Then Jon remembered something.

“You know, my therapist seems to think she’s got me all figured out. She’s suggesting that she’s getting ready for a final therapy session. I wouldn’t mind a bit if she told me to go on some medication, but I doubt they make pills that fix what’s wrong with me.”

“What has she told you so far?”

“Nothing terribly insightful,” Jon said. “She says most of my issues seem to stem from being repeatedly betrayed by women I love.”

“Like me.”

“Well, not to be mean, but yeah. Look, I’m a grown man. I’ve had one of the best lives a guy could wish for. Nobody says life is always going to be perfect. If other guys can deal with their baggage, I can deal with mine.”

“I’m sure that’s true,” Vanessa said. “I hope you like whatever it is she tells you.”

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Dr. Robins invited Jon to sit, then opened the kaçak iddaa folder containing her notes.

“I want to remind you that therapy doesn’t fix people. You are not a broken person who needs to be fixed. What therapy does is provide answers. Self awareness. I’m sure you’ll agree that you felt there were some big unanswered questions in your life when you started meeting with me. Hopefully, getting some answers will ease the concerns I saw when we began.”

“Answers are good,” Jon said.

Dr. Robins smiled. “One thing people forget is that there are two big influences that make us who we are. There’s the biological, and the environmental. We’ve talked a lot about the way your experiences trouble you. The relationships that ended so badly. The betrayals. I don’t think any more needs to be said. You’ve relived them all during these sessions, and it’s clear that you understand the role these events played in creating the troubling parts of your life. You know that’s true, right?”

“Of course. I think there’s been a lot of value in having me review the relationships I’ve had over the years. It’s a little easier to see how it all comes together,” Jon said.

“Well, that’s the idea. So that part is done. Congratulations. But the other part is more mysterious. You are the product of a million different biological components we can’t begin to understand. Someday there will be a blood test that will allow us to sequence your DNA and make conclusions about why you feel the way you feel and do the things you do. But all we can do today is look at your life and try to draw some conclusions.

“The most basic biological influence on the way people have romantic relationships derives from evolutionary factors. Natural selection favors individuals who do the best job of having offspring that survive long enough to have offspring themselves, passing on their genes. What this means is that men and women have opposing interests.

“Evolution drives men to have sex with as many women as possible because that maximizes their offspring. Women are driven to have monogamous relationships with a single man who’ll help her make as many babies as possible, and also stick around to help raise them, ensuring that they survive.

“It doesn’t matter what our culture tells us about monogamy. You’re a man. You are biologically compelled to have sex with as many women as possible. That certainly seems to help explain a lot of the decisions you’ve made and actions you’ve taken.

“But that’s a pretty basic male urge. It doesn’t go very far in explaining the things that are most important about you as an individual. In your case, I think it’s important to remember that most people turn into their parents. Jon, it’s absolutely clear that you have become your father. He had relationships with lots of women, and for almost his adult life he was involved with more than one woman at a time. And your mother was a bit like that, being with your father while being romantically involved with another woman. The genes you inherited from both your parents may be compelling you to fail when you try to be monogamous.

“I’d like to point out something. You say you were especially happy during the time in your life when Margaux Laurent was your girlfriend, but while you were also involved with Brenda. When I’ve asked why you felt so happy then, you claim that it’s because you were getting sex from so many different women then. That’s a sensible conclusion. But you are most animated when you talk about the emotional connections with Margeaux and Brenda. I’d like you to think about this. Are you a man who always needs to be in more than one intimate relationship? Are you your father’s son? If that’s true, it would explain a lot about the parts of your life that have caused the most hurt.”

Jon had spent a lot of time thinking about monogamy over the course of his life. It had almost always led to betrayal and pain.

“I’ll need to think about that,” Jon said.

“Yes, you will,” Dr. Robins said. “You’ll also need to think about what this might mean. This suggests that what you need is something difficult to find. Lots of people attempt to have more than one romantic relationship at a time. It’s very difficult, especially as we get older. Jealousy is almost inevitable. There’s a lot of clinical data about Mormon men who have more than one wife. The pitfalls are often overwhelming. Most of the people who do it are unhappy about something. Emotionally, this is like trying to climb Mount Everest. Most fail.”

“That part sounds like me. Failing,” Jon said.

“And you have a special problem, if you can call being rich a problem,” Dr. Robins said. “A lot of horrible women will say and do anything to be the wife or girlfriend of a billionaire. After your experiences, it’s not going to be easy for you to trust anything a woman does. The memory of Freya is relevant here. She was so greedy that she got pregnant! That’s pretty sick. But she fooled you completely, didn’t she? There are a lot of Freyas out there.”

“Don’t I kaçak bahis know it,” Jon said. “Vanessa came after me because I drove a Maserati.”

“I wish I could be more encouraging,” Dr. Robins said. “If you think about it, your chances of success are going to be higher if you can find a very rich woman who isn’t opposed to being in a relationship with a man who already has one girlfriend but wants another. That’s not a very big dating pool.”

“Swell,” Jon said.

“Obviously, what you want is a solution. I’ve given you information, not solutions. That’s the way therapy usually works. I hope it’s enough.”

Jon sat there quietly. He’d need to think about what she’d said.

Dr. Robins closed the file in front of her. “And that is that. Jon, your therapy is finished. Congratulations. I hope you feel it was worthwhile. I always thought you were doing your best to make therapy work for you. I sometimes have clients who see me because some court somewhere orders them to get counseling, and those folks don’t work nearly as hard as you.”

Jon laughed. “So I’m better than a felon. Good for me.”

“There’s one more thing. I am no longer your therapist. You are no longer my patient. Your next bill will be the last. Now that we’ve established the change of our relationship, I’d like it if we could have one more conversation. Not here. Not in the office. Not in a professional setting. I have some thoughts you may want to hear, and they don’t fall neatly within the structure of conventional therapy. It won’t take long.”

“Well, sure. Lunch tomorrow?”

“No. Too soon. You’ve got enough to think about. Let it marinate for a while. Next week is better,” she said.

“OK, doctor. Next week is fine.”

“And you can call me Theresa. I am no longer your doctor.”

“Whatever you say, Theresa,” Jon said. He called up the app for his appointment calendar, and they arranged a time and place. Dr. Robins watched as Jon walked across the parking lot to the Maserati he always drove. She could see why a car like that would trigger a predatory reaction from a woman like Vanessa. But it worked itself out. The relationship was good for both of them, and Dr. Robins saw no reason why it should ever end. She hoped that Vanessa adapted well to her new medication. She’d had a hard life, and deserved a break. She deserved to be with a man as caring as Jon.

XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Theresa picked an elegant cafe for the meeting. The staff knew her well, so they were quick to grant her request for a booth in the back where they could talk in private. “I’ve never been here,” Jon said. “This is very nice.”

They made small talk for a while, then Theresa got down to business. “Therapists are supposed to do a lot of listening and very little talking,” she said. “When we do talk, we are supposed to restrict our comments to the client’s issues. There are a lot of good reasons for therapists to reveal as little as possible about themselves. I reveal as little as possible.”

“I noticed,” Jon said. “Very professional.”

“That’s the idea. I wanted to talk to you after your therapy ended because I’ve experienced some things that I believe are relevant to your issues, and I’d like to tell you about them.”

“I’m all ears,” Jon said. “I’ve been thinking about what you said in our final session. Thinking a lot. It’s nice to have some answers. I just wish there was more of a chance that I could find a woman who wasn’t interested in me for my money. And who could accept my relationship with Vanessa. It seems pretty hopeless.

“It’s not hopeless at all,” Theresa said. “Just be honest. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s not hopeless.”

“I hope you’re right,” Jon said.

“The main thing I wanted to say to you today is that I understand part of your situation,” Theresa said. “Like you, I was born into a very affluent family. My grandfather was very well off, and my father had every advantage when he grew up. Like you and me. Then my father worked on Wall Street, and he did extremely well. He was a billionaire before I was born. I imagine that you know that people who grow up wealthy are very different from people who don’t. You know what F. Scott Fitzgerald said about this, don’t you?”

“As I recall from my college literature classes, Fitzgerald was talking to Ernest Hemingway, and he said something like “The rich are different from us.” And Hemingway said “Yes, they have more money.”

“Hemingway was such an asshole,” Theresa said.

“Totally. Great writer. Complete asshole. Talk about issues. I look completely sane compared to that guy.”

“There’s a theory that Hemingway may have been bipolar,” Theresa said. “Jon, you ARE completely sane. I understand that you’re joking, but it doesn’t help if you think of yourself as someone who isn’t in control of your life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. The things that happened to you could have happened to anyone. Your reactions are completely normal.”

“I think I know that,” Jon said. “When I start feeling like a victim, I find it illegal bahis helps to remember that I’ve been so lucky in so many ways. I have wonderful parents. I’ve had every advantage. My health is excellent. I know that Vanessa is a great blessing, despite everything.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that about Vanessa,” Theresa said. “You’ve been a great friend who has done great things for her. You’ve made her life better in every way. When we help people, it benefits us as much as them. She was lucky to meet you, but you were lucky to meet her. I’m sure there were times when you didn’t feel lucky to have her in your life, but you are.”

“I know. It’s taken some time, but I know that now,” Jon said.

“Fitzgerald was right. People like us ARE different from people who weren’t born into wealth,” Theresa said. “We have difficulty imagining the mindset of someone like Vanessa when she decided to embezzle money from you. Or when Freya tricked you into getting her pregnant. We understand that these are terrible things, but we don’t understand how any sensible person could conceive of something so awful. It makes us feel like there’s something wrong with us, not them,” Theresa said.

“Over the years I’ve been pursued by men who turned out to be interested in my money,” Theresa said. “When I was growing up, there were men who pretended to love me, but only loved my family’s money. It was very hurtful.”

“I’m sorry that happened to you,” Jon said. “Obviously, I know exactly how you must feel.”

“And you can understand that part of the reason I’m unattached now is that I am slow to trust men,” Theresa said. “I was very interested in the story you told about the advice your father gave you when you went off to college. To disguise your wealthy background. I wish my parents had suggested that to me. In retrospect, they made things worse by sending me off with my designer clothes and all my expensive possessions. I didn’t realize that I was walking around with a target on my back. I thought men liked me because I was smart. And pretty. And fun. Learning the truth was very painful.”

“I had no idea,” Jon said. “My story must have sounded very familiar.”

“It made it easy for me to empathize with your situation,” she said.

“When you were in college, you did something else that I did,” Theresa said. “You started off with relationships that were supposed to be exclusive. But each girlfriend cheated on you, and you eventually refused to be exclusive to any one person. That’s exactly what happened to me. Exactly. I know that some of the people you dated resisted that, but I’m sure I encountered more pushback than you. Men are more likely to view women as their personal property. I realize that both sexes do that to a degree, but I spent a lot of time listening to men scream at me about my refusal to be faithful to one person.”

“I’m sure that endeared them to you,” Jon said wryly.

“I was glad when it happened. It made it easy to dump those guys. I had no interest in being with any man who felt he could raise his voice to me.”

“I’ve known guys like that,” Jon said. “Some of my fraternity brothers yelled at their girlfriends. I don’t get it. I really don’t. I have never, ever, felt the slightest urge to yell at a woman. I’ve yelled at a few guys over the years, but even thinking about yelling at a woman makes my skin crawl.”

“Maybe you are just a wonderful man, Jon. Or maybe this is another example of the fact that both of us were lucky to be born into wealth. We were raised in ways that make it easier to treat people humanely. It costs us nothing. And it makes it harder for us to imagine that the people we meet aren’t just like us. When I heard you describe all the ways your girlfriends betrayed you, I knew that I could never do anything like what Freya did. Or Leah. Or Margeaux. But unlike them, there was never a second in my life where I ever felt insecure about myself. That’s one way people born rich are different. We don’t understand the insecurities and motivations of people who worry about money.”

Theresa took a sip of her coffee. Jon understood why she wanted to have this talk after their professional relationship ended. This was the kind of conversation one had with a friend, not a client. “This brings me to the next thing I wanted to mention,” Theresa said.

“It does seem as though you have a particularly strong need to be with more than one woman at a time,” Theresa said. “Evolution programs this need into all men, but you seem to need it more than most. Maybe the fact that both your parents were that way suggests that your genetics explains your romantic nature. As a therapist, I find this part of you to be especially interesting. There’s a lot of scholarship about polygamy. There are a lot of studies of polygamous cultures. These days, its fashionable for people who look at themselves as sexual mavericks to engage in polyamourous relationships.

“There are some obvious dangers, usually due to jealousy. Sometimes it seems that people want more than one sexual partner because they aren’t terribly committed to their first partner. Of course, there are problems with monogamous relationships too. The divorce rate is discouraging. Nothing about romance is guaranteed.

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