‘There have been times when I’ve left the room, made a cup of tea and returned to find you still talking to yourself in the mirror’
You’re a strange bunch and I’ve learned over the years to ignore what you say. You probably think I’m the model of discretion, keeping all your secrets.
The truth is I’m not really listening. I’m running through my tax return in my head or writing a shopping list. There have been times when I’ve left the room, made a cup of tea and returned to find you still talking to yourself in the mirror.
Sometimes you tell me all about yourself and your complicated life, and then you might ask me what I think. But if I tell you what I really think – “He’s not going to leave his wife for you” or, “Perhaps you’re being unreasonable. If you stop telling your 40-year-old son how to live his life, he may be less snappy with you” – I’ll never see you again.
A few of you think talking like this is therapy, but it’s not. If I did ask a probing question or challenge your opinion, you wouldn’t like it. You just want to dump your inner demons and leave feeling better.
I also know those neat scars some of you have around your ears, that are perfectly symmetrical, were not caused by a car accident. I can spot minor cosmetic facial adjustments at 20 paces; sometimes I can tell which surgeon’s handiwork it is.
If I tell you I can’t do your hair because of a family emergency, you cry, “But what about my hair?” It stuns you that I’m a whole person with all the problems you have, not the two-dimensional cheerful person employed to make you feel good about yourself.