There is a game I love to play on airplanes to try to pass the time away. In order to play, you take a piece of paper, and draw dots out in lines. Let’s say you draw twenty dots in a line, and then you go to the next line and underneath those dots, you draw another twenty dots, and so on until you have a fairly big box. Then, the first player takes a turn by connecting two dots. The rules are that you can only connect two dots at a time. Eventually, the board will become full of lines, and you will start to make little boxes. When a box is made, the person who drew the line that closed the box gets to put their initial inside the box. When the board is all boxes, you count the initials and whoever has the most completed boxes is the winner.
I like connections in life too. In the city we used to live in, my husband and I had a very active social life, and we knew a lot of people. I used to connect the dots between people all the time. If someone I knew needed a real estate agent, I knew who to put them in touch with, if someone I knew needed a sign made, I knew who to contact, if someone I knew needed a banquet hall, etc. I loved putting people together. Someone in that city once accused me (light heartedly) of being a name collector and they said they couldn’t imagine what my address book looked like.
Well, it has been almost ten years, since I even needed an address book, but I still love connections, especially “small world” connections. And I had a big one that was like a gift a couple of days ago.
I found out that one of my writing friends (I call her that because we mostly interact over each other’s writing, but she is a friend in all ways), is friends with my first psychiatrist.
I have been treated for a mental illness for over twenty years, and when I became ill, I lived in another state. What are the chances that a friend I have now, that lives in the same city I do, would be friends with my first psychiatrist who lives two states away?
My friend did a wonderful thing for me when we found out that we had a connection to the same person. She wrote to him and told him that we are friends, asked if he remembered me, and told him that I am doing well, married, happy, and that I have a good life.
The relationship between a psychiatrist and a patient is an odd one. I have seen most of mine (I am currently on number five) for such long periods of time that I come to rely on them. I look at them as an essential part of my wellbeing. My doctors have often been advocates for me in many ways for many different things. I look up to them, I trust them, and I consider them an important part of my life. I know it is different for them, because it is the work they do and they are trained how to remain professional and distant. Patients are not bound by any such teachings, ethics, etc. We feel what we feel and that is okay.
So, with all that in mind, I was happy, and thankful, and deeply moved to reach back in time and tell one of the people who tried to find the right cocktail of meds for me, and who listened to hours and hours of stories about my relationships, history, job, and life, that I had finally grown up, and all is okay in my world.
I have never been able to update (through a friend, or by any other means) one of my former doctors on my progress. In my life, those good-byes have been permanent and complete, because that is part of how it all works. For many reasons, those good-byes and the consequences of them – going to a new doctor and starting from scratch – have always been hard on me.
After all, I am a woman who loves connections, and severing a tie permanently is the opposite of connecting dots.
I feel like I was able to draw a line between two dots from two different games. And if I was playing against someone else right now, I think I would happily shout, “I won this round!”