Dr. Crane

Back in the 90s, Kelsey Grammar portrayed a psychiatrist named Frasier Crane. He was smart, witty, refined, and came from humble beginnings. I was attracted to this character because he appeared to be the epitome of success and, as such, a role model for a young man who was about to enter into the world. Dr. Crane had a radio show where people would call in to seek advice to problems and, prior to this, he ran a private practice. He would have heard it all. People's highs and lows. Their fears, faults, and failures. Their innermost desires. As a psychiatrist, he would have a front-row seat to the rawest aspects of human nature. Yet, despite the level of cognitive intimacy he would have with clients and the abject horrors he would have heard, he seemed normal and generally composed.

While psychology is a subject that I find incredibly fascinating, it's not something that I could do myself. Many years ago, when I still worked in a classroom, I would be exhausted by the end of every day not because of the workload, but because of the effort I put into pretending to be a normal human being. Despite the excessive number of words that spill forth from my fingers and the machine-gun-speed technical discussions I have with some colleagues, human interaction is something that I find absolutely exhausting. There is just so much that goes into it, from the body language to the context searching to the innuendo. This is something that I can manage in short bursts of a few hours but, after four or five hours of wearing the mask of an extrovert, I feel like a cornered animal in search of escape … back into the comfortable embrace of introversion.

Allow me to observe for a while. If needs be, I may opine. Afterwards, I will be silent to allow others the opportunity to speak and explore ideas.

This is not the case in every situation, of course. There are some people who I have built a modicum of trust with that allows me to be me in front of them. No masquerades. No pre-calculated sentences. Just an unfiltered version of me; a person asking questions. So. Many. Questions.

Can a person with such a thirst for answers temper the curiosity that often results in a wiki rabbit hole situation?

At this point in a blog post a reader might wonder where the article is going, assuming there is even a destination. Oddly enough, for this specific stream of consciousness at least, there is.

The last two weeks have been rough. Because of my flaws and inadequacies, I have brought an end to my marriage. I have questioned the value of my existence. I have not seen my son nor my dog for over 10 days. I have been incredibly distracted when I should have been working. And, to top it all off, I learned that my already immuno-compromised father has caught COVID. A veritable feast of negatives! Yet at the same time, I have learned from friends that I do have value. That, despite my flaws, I am worth their time and support. That I am not alone in this empty house where I assuage the silence by asking Siri to play various albums, never forgetting to say "please" with each request.

I'm not broken, but I am off-kilter.

A friend has suggested I go see a therapist to discuss these matters. I harbour no qualms about speaking to someone about some of the things that echo inside my head, though I will admit that I'm terrified to share my true thoughts with anyone. We're all human, but some less so than others. Or so I've been led to believe. If I were to find a someone like Dr. Frasier Crane locally who I could talk to, then I would likely be just as guarded as I am when talking to friends, texting to family, and writing on here. Some things are better left unsaid. Fourteen years of marriage has proven this fact time and again. Is it possible to be completely open with a psychologist without fear of … judgement?

Wiser people have said that they fear God, not man. This is because God is eternal whereas humans are ephemeral. A person who is afraid to reveal themselves to other people would have a hard time revealing themselves to the Creator of the universe. I can do this to a certain extent, and have done so with remarkable benefits at the day job. By investing less time into thinking about what people might think of me, I am liberated to ignore convention and solve complex problems. Talking to another person about my frailties, however ….

When I was growing up, Dr. Crane was a role model. "By the time I am in my 40s," I told myself, "I will have a nice home with nice furnishing and be a well-respected, cultured individual." This goal has become incomplete. I have a nice home … though it has been emptied of love. I am respected by some and have even gained a little bit of culture on account of the books I read. I'm no role model. I'm not refined or witty. Am I successful? Career-wise, perhaps … but not with the family, which is far more important than any job most people might have. Thinking through everything that I've done over the last 20 years, have I done the right things? Have I been the best that I could be?

No. Not in the least.

Is there someone that I would like to talk to about the past, present, and future? There is.

Will they lend an ear? There's only one way to find out.

For some time now I have been re-examining my faith, seeking answers to very specific questions that seem simple, but are nothing of the sort. The person that I would like to talk to is not a psychologist, per se, but instead a priest. I have questions. I have incomplete answers. I have a deep-rooted desire for absolution. Perhaps with this, I can begin to resolve the areas of my life where I have failed others. The list is long, but it's not infinite.