January 12, 2022

Deep Inner Work is Not Sexy—it’s Messy, Ugly & Sad.


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There’s a woman who began to follow me on Instagram years ago.

It’s an odd “friendship.” We’ve never communicated, and we don’t interact with each other’s posts. I have, however, observed her life from afar.

From time to time, she will post these diatribes about the men she dates who are emotional Neanderthals, the men who’ve stood her up, and the few relationships that crashed before reaching significant altitude. Some of these posts make me quite uncomfortable, and I find it nearly impossible not to judge her for lacking boundaries. Obviously, a lot of the situations she posts about would be better left in private.

My sympathies tend to initially fall on the side of the woman in these situations, but having observed the same issues for years, it’s hard not to see her as the common denominator in all of these dramas.

Regardless, she never misses a chance to share a meme that reminds everyone how “sexy” she finds it when men make an effort to do the deep inner work.

It’s hard for me not to find that laugh-out-loud funny. If she could be a fly on the wall for the hour I spend with my therapist every week, I seriously doubt she’d come away feeling all hot and bothered.

When I found Dr. B, I was still reeling from a whirlwind love affair with a European woman who I fell madly in love/lust with. Our relationship lasted all of two months and 95 percent of our time together was virtual. Even though we only physically hooked up once, I came away feeling a hundred times worse than the relationship before it, where I saw that girlfriend every day. I almost think the fantasy aspect of the mysterious olde world lover made it a lot more difficult. Nothing is more perfect than a thing that exists mostly in our minds.

It took an entire month of unsexy misery to climb out of that hole. And it was in those first several appointments where I learned that Dr. B had a talent for communicating with me in such an intimate fashion that at least once every session she’d reduce me to tears. The transference began almost immediately.

Transference, for those not up on their Introduction to Psychology classes, is the phenomenon that happens when a heartbroken and f*cked up dude is being cared for and paid attention to by a woman for the first time. In all seriousness though, in a psychological setting it’s when clients start developing inappropriate feelings for their caregivers. This is a facile definition and it’s a bit more complicated than that, but essentially, in a nutshell, if you watched “The Sopranos” there’s a great example of transference between Tony Soprano and his therapist.

Luckily, I’m kind of slutty and I fall in love with everyone all the time, so it wasn’t too difficult for me to brush aside those feelings and re-dedicate myself to the task at hand—namely, my journey toward mental health.

So Dr. B and I spent a few sessions wading through my many years of Alcoholics Anonymous brainwashing. That was heavy and emotional, and I had to come to terms with the fact that everything I did in this life was not just because I was “an alcoholic.” It takes a lot of work to undo much of that malignant programming and it’s totally life-changing. But not terribly sexy.

Later, I had to accept the fact that a lot of what my parents told me when I was younger was straight gaslighting. At a young age, I’d push back when I felt I was being treated unfairly, but my parents convinced me I was wrong. Now, at this late stage, I’m learning that I really wasn’t. This was cathartic, although it really sent me for a loop, but still not all that sexy.

Then, my odd perception of myself needed to be worked on. I don’t know anyone else’s experience, but mine has always been to err on the side of beating the sh*t out of myself. I cannot explain what it felt like when my therapist looked me right in the eyes and assured me that I was not as terrible as I’d somehow convinced myself that I was. I felt myself expanding as a person when we worked on that. Still in all, though, I’m sure it was miles away from sexy.

However, last week, I left her office and walked down the cold New York streets to where the clothing shops are. I saw this army green Kangol in the window and immediately recognized it as the same exact one I always see Eminem walking around in. It was a little overpriced, but I didn’t care. I walked in, with my newfound belief in myself, and bought it.

Now if you want to see sexy—that, my friends, is sexy.


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