I went on like that with him just nodding every time I added something else. Eventually I realized he wasn’t going to stop me so I just stopped myself. “So what?” he said. “So … a lot. I place a lot of value on being in control of myself. I’m looking for ways to regain control.” I told him.
He just looked at me. Then he said “you’re just in Wonderland for a while. Eventually you’ll get out of Wonderland. It’s OK to be in Wonderland as long as you eventually get out of it. Just go with it, right?” This guy was not doing much to improve my opinion of therapists. Eventually he got past Wonderland and we actually talked sensibly about what I was feeling. He had a few constructive things to say. He gave me some anger management techniques that sounded an awful lot like martial arts mixed with Jedi training but which, to no small extent, helped me cut that hour or so of calm-down time I needed after my ex left down to about ten minutes. It didn’t feel like I was actually dealing with the central problem, but it was not nothing so I went back to him four more times to see how it’d play out. There were diminishing returns. In the second session he explained his grand concept of “Wonderland,” and it didn’t exactly help matters. Wonderland, he said, was a place where people go when they are not themselves. When I was angry I was in Wonderland. When my ex-wife went crazy and decided to drive our marriage into the ditch she was in Wonderland. When people took Kalashnikov rifles into shopping malls they were in Wonderland. I asked him if he didn’t maybe see some differences between all of those behaviors. He waved his hand and said “it’s all a matter of degree.” In the third session he went into a biblical allegory which was leading up to something about how to best fix my soul. I stopped him and told him I didn’t believe in God and didn’t believe that people had souls so his allegory wasn’t helpful. He apologized and went in another direction. In the fourth session he really tried to dig down into my childhood and family life, seemingly convinced that there was some great pain I was repressing. I told him, nope, not a thing. Totally well-adjusted childhood. Never any problems. Get along great with my parents to this day. This bothered him quite a bit. Then he gave me a list of self-help books I should read. I told him that I wasn’t going to be doing that. He apologized and went back to his grand theory of Wonderland. In the fifth session he was back on God and souls. This time I just let him go on, nodded and waited for my hour to be up. Funny thing was, over the course of the month and change I saw Larson, I was becoming less angry whenever my ex showed up to get the kids. Maybe because I was more confused now thanks to him. Maybe because Larson’s real game was to create a diversion. Indeed, the larger problem in my life was starting to be the frustration I felt after leaving therapy. That wasn’t what I was expecting, but it was better than anger, so who was I to complain? But I did know one thing: less anger or not, I couldn’t see this kook anymore. I had set up a sixth session – this one was going to come out of my own pocket – but the evening before I went I fell off my bike while on a ride and hurt my ankle. I was fine. It hurt pretty badly when I walked but I knew from experience that nothing was really injured and I’d feel OK in a day or too. As I limped into the house I got an impulse to call Larson and tell him I wouldn’t be able to make it to my appointment because I had been in an accident and was confined to my couch. I hate lying more than I hate being angry but I felt like I had to do that for some reason.
Larson left me a message the next day telling me he understood and that I should call to reschedule some time. I never did. He probably assumed I was just content to stay in Wonderland.