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In Consultation

By Heidi Selig

PROMPT — Despite ...

* Dedicated to my mother; Shirley Averill Selig, presumably happily ensconced in Heaven, smacking the angels with her aluminum spatula.

Anytime anyone expressed a feeling in my familial domicile, my mother would scream, “What do you want from me? Go and see a psychiatrist!” This was not meant rhetorically. Despite the fact that we were one, six, and nine, living in a small town where such professionals were few and far between, and none of us children drove, legally that is.

Her response presented other problems as well.

Imagining I could or even should write about such things is one. As I stare at the computer screen, blank as a wall I presume is more appropriate to display than a clothesline airing the family underwear, I'm embarrassed by my impulse to reveal the thorny, puzzling, everyday occurrences of our household. Chagrined at my inability to fathom or parse them with clarity or generosity, without exposition, sadness or rancor, emotions of which I feel mightily ashamed.

And, Eureka! There it is, another example of the repercussions of my mother’s perplexing behavior. I realize I have become my own psychiatrist, one who doesn't accept my insurance.

I will pretend I am visiting her now, for about a forty-five minute hour, for which I will bill myself one hundred and say-thirty five dollars, a more discounted fee than some, because I am not yet a fully licensed practitioner, despite calling myself Dr. Potato-head, a moniker selected for its professionalism and suggestion of rootedness in heady reality.

As a person, feeling feelings, I require confidence in my professional role, as a calmer, more rational, thoughtful advisor to myself, someone I can look up to with respect, secure in the knowledge of her experience, wisdom and gravitas.

Mother, I have removed my pajamas, exchanged them for a white clinical coat with name badge encased in neutral plastic, pinned to the breast pocket over the heart, where pens are kept capped, not leaking inky secrets one should not express, messy spills of what must not be uttered: anger, helplessness, despair, longing, happiness, whispered sotto voce in an office with a couch.

Forgive me, Mother, again I've said too much.

But Mother, at last you can rejoice. Finally a doctor in the house.


Heidi is not a Kardashian. She writes, "That being said, it's difficult to imagine what people would want to know about me."


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