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Just this week I overheard a podcast interview with a woman ( don’t know who) on a topic (don’t know what). Ralph plays them while he works and as my brain is usually occupied with empty plastic boxes and tiny pins and the best way to create privacy in your backyard during winter (thanks, clients) I don’t usually listen. But sometimes I hear.

And what I heard was this woman talking about how she had a terrible childhood and spent a lot of time in therapy to get over it and become the person she is today. A person with whom, one presumes, she is currently pleased.

My overwhelming reaction to her story was boredom. Someone else with a terrible childhood. Someone else who spent years in therapy. Someone else with a troubled past to resolve 20 or 30 or 40 years later.

It struck me, in that moment, as cliché. Would any therapist on the planet exist if there were not a stockpile of My Terrible Childhood stories?

It got me wondering. Do that many people have bad childhoods? Or has therapy, perhaps, taught us that to get to the root of our problems we have to look back and find some defining reason buried in the depths of our beginnings?

Nobody goes to a therapist and says I had a great childhood. Please help me get over it.

I decided that I need therapy.

I need therapy to get over my childhood because I figured out the problem. I figured out why I’m so stressed, why I live in a whirlwind of chaos, why I have panic attacks at 2AM – always 2AM, never at a convenient time like noon, when if you really thought you were dying and needed a doctor you could actually find one that didn’t cost a rent payment. Why I lay awake in bed at night and have imaginary conversations with people about imaginary things and why I occasionally drown those thoughts in bourbon and gingerbread cupcakes.

It’s because my childhood was too good.

Don’t get me wrong. There were some pretty dark moments. I was bullied relentlessly. I left a life I knew and people I loved when we moved from the Bronx to the suburbs where I didn’t understand a thing about anyone or why Jordache jeans mattered. I signed my own yearbook in seventh grade because I had no school friends except for the ones who wanted to copy off my math paper during a test. My best friend in fifth grade was my teacher, who sat with me on the playground so the evil Satan spawn that were other people’s children would not abuse me.

So that wasn’t great.

But it’s also not what I think about when I think about my childhood.

I mean…. I guess it is, because I just wrote a whole paragraph about awful things from decades ago that I can remember with crystal clarity. But just because I remember them doesn’t mean I think about them. Unless I’m drunk and crying about the ugly barrette I wore to weather my boy-haircut, but… let’s just leave that part out for now.

The point is that when I really think about my childhood, if you asked me about my childhood, I’d say it was fantastic. Charmed. Fortunate. Blessed.

Evil spawn of other people notwithstanding, I grew up surrounded by love and acceptance and support and help and fun and joy.

And getting yelled at for fighting with my brothers and getting stuck dusting the dining room furniture and getting lectured about staying out too late and about boys.

But also having birthday parties and cake and summer barbecues and badminton and Christmas presents and baking cookies and having Band Aids put on my scrapes and soup put in my bowl when I was sick and a mother who counted pennies with me endlessly even though I never could comprehend the fact that if I had two pennies and she took one away I would be left with one and a father who raked leaves into a pile over and over so we could jump into them and brothers who let me dress them up in my pink nightgown and curlers and who rode bikes with me and lay in a pile on the floor with me watching Smurfs on Saturday mornings.

Those are the things I think about.

The hoard of people around me on every holiday and for every event, whether I was getting my tonsils out or graduating eighth grade. The sleepovers at my grandparents watching Love Boat past my bedtime and eating cheddar goldfish. The sleepovers at my aunt’s house every summer with a freezer full of pizza and Klondike bars. The cousins I caught tiny frogs with and the nights that three or four or five of my brothers would drag their sleeping bags into my room so they could sleep on the floor next to my bed.

I think about how they would goof off and screech and wrestle and giggle and how I couldn’t get to sleep so I’d yell at them to calm down, and how inevitably my father would come in looking stern and say EVERYBODY OUT! And they’d pick up their sleeping bags and slink off until I begged forgiveness on their behalf and we’d promise to be quiet so they’d come back chastened and keep the goofing off down to snorts and scuffles and I’d be happy to have them back so I wouldn’t complain.

That’s what I think about.

I think about dinner tables so loud that you couldn’t get a word heard above the din and everyone yelling about how everyone was yelling.

I think about how I never felt alone. How I always felt, not merely Important but Necessary to the fabric that was our home. I think about how whatever happened, there was an abiding sense that it would be ok.

So I’d like to go to therapy. I need someone to help me work through that and deal with the fact that I had such a good childhood that it makes this adulting thing that much harder. I need someone to tell me how to put on my own Band Aids and make my own soup. How to deal with a trip to the dentist that costs two rent payments when there are no brothers in sleeping bags to yell loud enough to make dentists seem irrelevant.

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of great moments in my adulthood and even though Ralph doesn’t make soup he’s pretty good with a Band Aid. But I’m really not on board with this adult thing.

I want someone on a podcast to interview me and I want to talk about how I needed years of therapy to get over my childhood because I don’t understand when dishes started multiplying in the sink while I wasn’t looking and why fifty people don’t show up with presents on my birthday anymore. I want to understand how you’re supposed to manage the cost of groceries and who is going to rake up a pile of leaves and when the ratio of good fats to bad fats became more important than baking cookies. I want to understand how to do this adult thing when all I really want to do is sit in the crater on my couch and watch Smurfs.

But I have to go to the dentist tomorrow because I broke not one, but two teeth last week and by the time I’m done it’s bound to set me back three rent payments, and there still won’t be any brothers in sleeping bags and nobody will read me Eloise in bed while I frown about my teeth. And since therapy is kind of expensive I think I will manage this dilemma the old fashioned way.

I’ll eat a cookie and bury myself under the blankets with a couple of Hello Kitties. And think about my childhood.