“I've been talking with a witch—she's a psychic, ” I blurted out in the last five minutes of my session with my psychoanalyst Dr. R.
“Now you tell me this,” said Dr. R. “What does she say?”
“Almost the same as you except she uses tarot cards and astrology. I've been consulting her for weeks, ever since Slim announced she wanted to break up with me.”
After 26 years together, Slim had a mid-life crisis and dumped me shortly after her 50th birthday. She told me that she wanted to “see what's out there.” I was devastated. I couldn't eat or sleep. I cried a lot and obsessively wrote in my journal.
“For weeks? Why didn't you tell me this sooner?” Dr. R asked.
“I was afraid to tell you for fear you'd think I was crazy talking to a psychic and a shrink at the same time.”
“Actually I'd like to hear what she said but we're out of time for today,” replied Dr. R. “I've heard amazing stories about psychics knowing things.”
I was surprised that Dr. R was intrigued. She had a traditional psychoanalytic approach and was an agnostic. She was not the least bit new age.
That night I wrote my shrink a two page single space email about what Lexa, the wiccan high priestess, had seen in my chart and cards over the past few weeks.
Both my shrink and my psychic charged the same hourly rate ($125) although Dr. R's hour was 50 minutes and tax deductible. Lexa gave me a professional discount because I had written her up in the Village Voice as “Best East Village witch” and Dr. R cut me a break because my insurance did not cover our therapy.
I first met Dr R two decades ago when she worked at a popular gay and lesbian therapy clinic. Then I saw her privately, twice a week for 10 years, working on issues related to developing my career and breaking away more from my conservative Catholic family.
After more than 12 years on the couch, it felt good to terminate. When I needed her help again, I'd been away six years. I was fine until my partner, Slim, began acting erratically.
So I called my shrink's old number, but it was disconnected and information had no information. I started to panic. What if Dr. R had retired early or was sick or had died?
I'd be screwed. I could not launch into this scenario with someone new. I searched the Internet and found her in Vermont. We scheduled a phone session for the next day.
As soon as I heard her soothing voice, I recalled being in her office on the Upper West Side. She was attractive, exactly my age of 56, but her frizzy dark hair had gone grey years ago. She had the same coloring as Slim, black hair and brown eyes. Both were tall and native New Yorkers from secular Jewish families.
Since Dr. R had left the city, we worked strictly by phone, which I liked better. For some reason, I was more comfortable talking to her from my kitchen table than the couch in her office. She too noticed the difference in our relationship. She said it felt cozier.
Dr. R had a Ph.D. in psychology and she worked with gays and lesbians in therapy. Her long term partner (now her wife) was also a shrink and they'd co-edited a book together. They had dogs and cats and lived in the country.
I'd met Lexa over five years ago when I did a profile on her for The Advocatenews magazine after she published a new book called Power Spells. She was the author of several books of spells that used commonly found ingredients. I had tried her spell to get paid and spell to get a good neighbor. Both potions had worked and I got hooked (granted the candle to get an agent did not work but that project wasn't quite right).
When my feature ran, Lexa thanked me and she said I really “got her” and maybe it was because we both had strict religious upbringings. She had been raised a Hasidic Jew and told me she was “excommunicated” for studying the kabala. I'd mentioned my traditional Roman Catholic background after we finished the formal interview.
As part of her training in witchcraft, Lexa had joined a coven and studied for a year and a day before she was initiated; then she did advanced work to become a high priestess; this meant learning the tarot, astrology, herbology, healing, crystals, and ritual magic. She knew her stuff and I saw her every January for an annual forecast. But when things went crazy in my relationship, I began seeing her more often.
Lexa was an attractive looking tall red headed witch in her 40s. She was also a tango dancer and teacher. I saw her perform at a lesbian theater festival and she was sexy. Dressed in a boxy man's suit, she played the male role and led a pretty woman across the floor.
The tango dancing psychic and the trail hiking shrink would lead me through this crisis. When Slim told me she wanted to break up, we stopped sleeping together but were still seeing each other socially. I kept trying to talk her out of this drastic move or convince her to see a shrink. Since she refused to seek help, Dr. R suggested an official separation.
“She's in a state of confusion, ” said Dr. R. “This isn't fair to you. You can't be living in this state of anxiety. She's hurting you, so why have contact now? She has problems with intimacy.”
At that time, I hadn't told my shrink about the psychic, who first made the same suggestion about the relationship. “You need to end it, so you might be able to restore it. Take a break,”
Lexa said as she analyzed the tarot card layout, “A separation is your position of strength. Withdraw in a caring way and she will miss you. You need to make a major change and free up something that has been lingering and not dealt with. The love is still there.”
Sitting across from Lexa was so different than talking to Dr. R on the phone, yet their thought processes were similar. Dr. R's connections often made mystical leaps and Lexa's interpretations often had a psychoanalytic bent. Both of them thought Slim might come to her senses if I cut off the friendship. I agreed. When I brought up the idea of a separation, Slim's eyes filled up with tears. We were still best friends and confidantes.
“If it gets too much, we can call each other, right?” she asked.
“No we can't do that,” I said, “unless it's an emergency.”
We agreed to separate for a month and then we'd check back in.
During my month alone, I talked to Dr. R regularly and consulted Lexa right before the separation ended. Once again, they were shockingly in agreement. “Slim does not have a life and thinks it is connected to being with you,” opined Dr. R.
“She is holding onto resentment towards you,” said Lexa. “She views having her own life as cheating. You managed to have a life independent of her. Slim feels she is making tremendous sacrifices to be in the relationship and you are not, so this creates envy.”
“It is great you are doing this and staying strong,” said Dr R. “It's not good for her to see you are willing to do anything to stay together. It's hard to imagine a whole month could go by and her not miss you.”
“Slim misses you,” said Lexa, “and thinks maybe she made a mistake. She fears that if you break up, you'll find another lover but she won't.”
“Wow, that is amazing,” I interrupted.” That is exactly what she said to me the last day we were together, and I told her I didn't want another lover, I wanted her.”
“Rather than dealing with her uncomfortable feelings,” continued Lexa, “Slim is caught up in this place where her heart gets hard. She is unhappy but can't get out. She is enslaved to a negative way of thinking—the devil card keeps coming up. The relationship is jammed up with anger and resentment, but she does not know how to fight to save it. “
While I knew I was paying this chorus of advisors to be on my side, the uncanny similarity of their interpretations gave me hope. The month dragged as I ran dialogues in my head practicing what I'd say when Slim and I spoke again. The last night of the separation I sent an email as soon as the clock went past midnight. After I hit the send button, I thought my message sounded too eager.
“Hi Slim. Welcome back. I really missed you. I hope your heart and mind are open after this hard month of separation and you have gained some insights. Let's talk. What was this month like for you? I lost weight, pants that were too tight fit me now. Love, Kate”
The next morning I woke up to find her reply. I was shaking as I hit the read button. “Hi Kate, The thought of talking about this is making me sick. I went to the dermatologist and have shingles. It's a virus brought on from stress. My feelings about us haven't changed. I love you but I need to be true to myself. Being in a relationship is not what I need now. I've been in one my entire adult life! I hope that you were okay. I have to go now.”
What! She did not even sign it? I started to cry and wrote back a few emails begging her to call me. Slim said she felt bombarded so I stopped. She kept citing the shingles as an excuse not to talk I called Dr. R. for an emergency session.
“I'm sorry,” Dr. R said as she went through her date book. “This is not what I thought would happen.”
“She has killed you off, ” said Lexa. “It's the shock of being the loyal subject sent to the guillotine. But you must have known she had that capability to be cold.”
Both my shrink and my psychic now wondered why I had dismissed Slim's mean side I wondered why my two main advisors had seemed certain the separation would bring her back. Did they just gamble with this concept to ease my pain? It turned out that neither psychoanalysis nor psychic energy could predict the path of love.