So, Funny Story: My Therapist Tried to Set Me Up with Her Other Client

People, I think it’s finally time to call a spade a spade. I’m definitely totally cursed. 

And I’m only half-joking. Maybe half is underestimating. I’m probably closer to quarter-joking. Perhaps even sixteenth-joking. Because if voodoo is real, it’s pretty clear someone has a doll with brownish-reddish-blondish hair, which is Amazonian in voodoo doll stature, and has 273 needles all sticking out of her itty-bitty black voodoo doll heart.

My first marriage ended with the famous brick. Many of you know that story, but for those who don’t — knock yourself out. 

My second marriage — let’s just say after a blissful beginning, complete with a surprise baby that he pinky-promised would never every EVER be raised by me alone — wellhe’s now in prison. For life. For horrendous crimes. 

(She writes, looking over the kitchen island at the remarkable, spectacular, challenging, awe-inspiring now-9-year-old whom she is raising by herself. Alone. Fucking pinky promises…

Two failed marriages notwithstanding, probably a year or so after ex #2 was arrested, I got brave (read: I had been binging season 1 of This Is Us and had 2 glasses of wine) and decided to accept an invitation from an age-appropriate, self-reportedly single, relatively decent-looking gentleman who worked in banking and had asked me out on Messenger. We were business acquaintances with several mutual friends on Facebook, which paved the path for some online small talk. Ultimately, he got up the nerve to ask me to grab a drink at a local bar. 

We met, we talked about life in Reno, and family, and career goals, and how nervous he was to ask me out. We talked a bit more, he kissed me at my car at the end of our date, we had a few conversations after — but in all honesty, there wasn’t any real spark there. 

Sure, we only ended up going on that one date. But between that date and now, decent-looking banking guy murdered someone. 

Murdered. Literally. With a gun. And as it turns out, because you really can’t make this shit up, I’m friends with his victim’s family. 

Obviously this had nothing to do with me, but when I learned of his crime, my blood ran cold. I’ve been through hell with men, but had I continued dating this guy — let’s just say, who really knows what could have happened. 

Learning about murdery dude made me question whether or not I should ever date again. (Hey guys, I can hear you through your computers screaming at me, “OF COURSE YOU SHOULD NEVER DATE AGAIN!” Simmer down, please.)

I mean, let’s just say what we’re all thinking here: I may be the worst person in the history of all persons to choose another person to date. 

Now let’s fast forward to just recently. I was having dinner with dear friends who are married, and we were reminiscing about some of the bat-shit craziness in our lives. And during this memory sharing, I enlightened the husband of this couple about a story he had never heard — that his wife, after my now-ex-husband had been arrested about eight years ago, had been kind enough to make me an appointment with her therapist.

I saw her therapist — who became my therapist — for a few years. While I didn’t really get much actionable support out of these sessions, I did treat it as an opportunity to talk about what was going through my head in those dark days when I was thrust into single mommyhood overnight while dealing with a broken heart and trying to mend a grieving family. I looked forward to the freedom to cry for an hour in the middle of a workday, because as a solo parent, there was no other time to really process my personal pain. 

One interesting side note: My therapist never charged me a cent. I saw her twice a month for about three years, and I never saw one bill. One day I asked her about this, hoping beyond hope that I wouldn’t be hit with a cumulative bill that would require me to declare bankruptcy. But instead, she told me she billed my insurance, which paid a small pittance per session — but that she had never met anyone with as many interesting stories (read: someone so fucked up), and she found the conversation compelling enough to not worry about payment beyond the pittance. 

Odd, right? 

It struck me as further odd that about a year into our professional relationship, my therapist began disclosing details — lots and LOTS of details — about her personal life during MY sessions. I learned about her ex-husband, his controlling ways, his fixation on material things, his obsession with superiority in their relationship, his affair. I learned of her current relationship, and her daughter’s divorce, and her subsequent agreement to watch her grandchildren while her daughter — who was also a therapist — saw her clients and went on dates. I learned when her daughter started seriously seeing someone, and her thoughts on the new suitor, and all manner of details about her personal life.

I even consoled her a few times as she got emotional about her own personal life during MY appointments. 

Here’s a screenshot with real-time social media proof:

I began sitting through these sessions and making psychological assessments about my therapist. For example, she always referred to her ex-husband by his first and last name together — a last name she had also kept (note to self: red flag. We’ll have to dig more into that interesting fact during our next session, because that indicates to me that… Wait. This is MY session!). 

She talked about her insecurities post-controlling-ex’s-affair. She talked about her concerns for her daughter, and how she was excited that she was dating someone, and her hopes for their future. She talked about her grandchildren, and their behavior issues, and helping them with homework, and her routine with school drop-offs, and picking them up from sports, and So. Much. MORE. 

Like I said, there were LOTS of details. 

So on what would become our last interaction, toward the end of our conversation, she surprisingly turned the attention toward me (plot twist: role reversal!) and asked if I would ever consider dating again.

“Maybe,” I winced a bit as I said it, because I don’t think I actually expected that to be the answer. “Despite the odds, I remain optimistic. And I don’t exactly know why.” 

“Well I’m really glad you feel that way,” she said, clearly relieved. “Look, I want you to know that I’ve done something. I have another client — a single father, a really kind and wonderful man — whom I think you should meet.” 

“Wait. Really?” I said, bewildered. I started thinking about how inappropriate this suggestion felt. I mean, shouldn’t there be some professional code of ethics with therapists, a component of which prescribes that you don’t fucking set your clients up with other clients, especially the super vulnerable ones?

But this is when the real craziness began. 

“And I’ve scheduled his session right after yours today, so when we go out to the waiting room, he’ll be there. Just so you can briefly meet him, and see if there might be a spark there.” 

Almost on cue, the *ding* of a bell rang loudly — the sound that signaled her next appointment was waiting for their time. Or should I say, HIS time. 

At this point, I started hyperventilating just a little. Did I look ok to meet the dude in therapy that my therapist was trying to set me up with post-my-own-therapy? I mean, I had pretty much been crying for the last 45 minutes, as per usual (I was in such turmoil at this point in my life, I even cried listening to HER tell stories).

I resisted the urge to climb out the window overlooking the park next to us. 

We walked out, and my therapist nonchalantly said hello to the nice-looking man in the waiting room, who was sitting beside a stately dog. He was a German shepherd I believe — the dog, not the client — though I was in such shock about what was happening, I could be totally wrong. We exchanged pleasantries, he asked me if I’d like to pet his dog, and I remember making a mental note about whether that was a euphemism, or did he actually want me to pet his literal dog, and think I remember uttering something about being allergic and going through allergy shot therapy, so maybe I could pet his dog after another therapy session. 

(That, by the way, felt just flirtatious enough but not totally trollopy, in case it was indeed a euphemism.) 

Anyhow, I walked out — and never saw my therapist again. You see, I couldn’t imagine going back the next week, and having her tell me the guy didn’t like the way I looked, or thought I looked too sad, or that I clearly read something entirely inappropriately sexual into his request to “pet his dog” so I was obviously a sociopath. I knew the set-up had been offered to him and to me, after all, so I knew he was instantly making a “spark” assessment too — and I was in no place to hear that my spark just wasn’t bright enough for the dude I had no idea I was going to be instantaneously judged by, post-therapy. 

Clearly, now I had therapy issues inspired by my therapist who tried to set me up with another dude she was counseling in therapy. 

Fast forward a few months, and I had recently published my first book. After the book had hit the streets, and I had done quite a few events and book signings and readings to promote the book, I occasionally got random emails from readers who had looked me up online. 

One day, I got this email: 

Mikalee,

Hi I’m Doug, after just a few seconds of reading your book I had to send you a note. I went to your website and saw I could contact you, I hope it’s ok… if not, I screwed that up huh? Lol. 

Anyway….You’re a kick, and the not trusting tapioca pudding cracked me up, I can’t stand it either… 

I’m not a stalker… that was funny too, just delighted to see a local author, single parent, and lover of good ole Reno. 

Great job on your book…yup I love the dot dot dot after paragraphs.

Keep up the great writing.

Best,

Doug McDuggerson* – transplant – parent (single and both my stalker positions are filled) ha that was good…jk.

(*name absurdly changed to protect the innocent)

I replied basically saying I was a fan that he was a fan, sent him my social media handles for my book (which feature all my upcoming events) and invited him to connect with me there, if he was so inclined. 

Then came the reply, which included the following: 

“I have a thought of asking you to lunch/coffee and ask you about being an author and meeting you; I am a single dad and love my children and a gentleman. 😬

Your wit seems keen and if your personality is that I think I’ll enjoy lunch!! (Is that selfish?)  

Anyway, I met you at our therapist’s office, I was waiting for the following appointment and you walked out… 

Doug McDuggerson

PS I laughed and was happy to see your reply.”

Holy. FUCKING. Shit

Here he was, the German shepherd owner (or perhaps a German shepherd who happens to be a REALLY gifted typist), now asking me out. 

At this point, sheer curiosity got the best of me.

I laughed out loud while reading this, shook my head in utter disbelief and thought to myself, “Well, at the very least, this will be a good story.” 

So I agreed to meet him. 

I shot off an email, told him I thought we totally should meet (resisting the urge to mention “petting his dog,” because that seemed a flirtation too far), and hit “send,” still laughing at the you-can’t-make-this-shit-up nature of this whole story. 

And then I waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And I subsequently never heard from him again. 

Seriously.

It was so bizarre. I mean, he reached out to me. Twice. We had built some pretty good email rapport, and I was actually getting excited about the prospect of at least being able to write about this story in a future book. 

And then the dude fucking ghosts me. Typical

That all happened a few years ago. So after recapping this story to my friend’s husband at our recent dinner out, I came home and decided to allow the walk down memory lane about Doug McDuggerson to come full circle. 

I looked up his email, read our quippy exchange, and thought to myself: Wow, that whole conversation is actually kinda witty, in hindsight. And you know, it’s been YEARS. And I’m still curious about why he ghosted me. I should totally look him up on social media to see what’s happening in his world. 

That’s when I typed “Doug McDuggerson” (not really, but at least for the purpose of his absurdly protected identity) into Google. 

And I was completely unprepared for the results. Because I was immediately served up his obituary

Doug died about a year after our email exchange at the age of 47 in a car accident. 

Yup. 

He’s fucking dead

________

This discovery broke my heart. He was so young, and clearly, he was doing the work and taking care of a beautiful dog and also (from my therapist’s account) a devoted single dad. 

I hate that this is how the story ends. And while his end certainly isn’t remotely about me, I couldn’t help but think to myself: 

  • I’ve been married to a guy who ended my marriage with a brick;
  • I briefly (not my proudest moment) dated my ex’s ex-ex’s ex. And that ended badly; 
  • I then married another dude, who is now in prison for life;
  • After that, I ended up dating a man who then went on to murder a man and is now in prison for life; 
  • And just recently, I learned that I flirted with and almost dated but was subsequently ghosted by a now-dead guy that my freakin’ therapist tried to set me up with.

If there is a God, or a universe that is meddling, or just a dude with a Mikalee voodoo doll (which we shall henceforth call a Mikaloodoo doll, because portmanteau is my favorite): It’s pretty clear any and all of these masterful controllers of the universe are trying to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I should never, EVER date again. 

Message received, Dear Universe. Loud and clear.

OK, so now, as usual, it’s your turn: 

  1. What crazy therapy stories do you have? Don’t be shy…I showed you mine, so now you’re totally obligated to show me yours! 
  2. Why do you think Doug ghosted me? There’s a part of me that absolutely hates the NOT knowing, so any speculation is appreciated.
  3. If he ghosted me BEFORE legit dying, do you think he’s somehow spectrally obligated to haunt me now? Just a thought. 

Oh, and just to wrap the story up nicely, I should conclude with this: I got a puppy. Isn’t he cute? (And also can’t lift a brick, or be all murdery, and likely won’t die after ghosting me because this dog is evidently made of velcro and literally won’t leave my side.)

Because let’s be honest: a fur baby with the best head tilt in the entire world is pretty much the ultimate therapy.

14 thoughts on “So, Funny Story: My Therapist Tried to Set Me Up with Her Other Client

  1. Elizabeth Lee says:

    Oh my gosh. That’s all so insane. I mean, I knew about the brick and the second husband and the baby, because I’ve been subscribed to this blog for years and years. (New site looks fabulous!). But the murderer? The man with the dog? Who takes a dog to therapy? That’s weird.

    Also, yes, it’s incredibly inappropriate and a violation of professional standards for a therapist to talk about her own life during your sessions. And introducing two clients is even more kinds of wrong.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Awww, so nice to see you around these parts again, Elizabeth! And thank you for the validation. I mean, it definitely *felt* all kinds of wrong. But that was just my gut. And we both know, we should never, ever trust MY gut.

      In German Shepard man’s defense, I want to say the dog was some sort of emotional support dog. Maybe even in training. I seem to recall a vest, but I was so dumbfounded at the time, I may be totally making that up.

  2. bridgetsl says:

    Holy moly, were you ever violated by your therapist! That’s really awful. Therapy is a space for vulnerability, and this was so wrong, so many levels. Your trust is not to be tampered with, and I think often people go into helping professions to help themselves. I’m sorry you got caught in this therapist’s crossfire with herself! So unfair, at one of your most vulnerable points.

    But man, can you tell a story. Please give workshops on how to work up to fantastic (and by that I mean, mind-blowing and not um, great for you). That classroom would be packed 😃

    You are a marvelous story teller and I was so happy to see this in my email today!

  3. Bob Barnes says:

    Glad to see you back with the blog. The new look is great. As always your story hits home, in this case more so with the therapist issue than the other. The marriage counseling therapists (yes, plural) we dealt with going through my last (and final) marriage while my ex continued on with her blatant affair left me feeling they had more issues than we did. One was a single parent whose partner cheated and left them to raise the child on their own. The hatred for the opposite sex was evidenced by the insinuation and innuendo in the sessions. No dating set ups, but less than professional behavior by the therapist. But… this is your blog and not mine. Just wanted to let you know it’s good to see you writing again and I look forward to your next installment.

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      Wow, Bob — that doesn’t sound like productive counseling at all. I often wonder if therapists sometimes become therapists to work through their own trauma. Sounds like that might have been the case in your situation. Thank you for sharing/commiserating, and I’m so grateful for your kind words of feedback!

  4. Richard Gonzalez says:

    Haven’t heard from you in a long time and it was so nice to get an update from you. You can’t make this shit up! Great byline for your life! I admire your persistence with life (and male relationships!) even though the craziness goes on. I will definitely buy your book, always look forward to read anything and everything you say and write.
    Good luck and many blessings to you!
    Richard G.

  5. Dana says:

    Nice to see an update! I’ve followed your blog forever (I found you over that story about the two newscasters marrying). Maybe one day you could update us on how your older kids are doing, if you talk to your ex that remarried his ex, etc. I wonder how you feel about all that now that so much time has passed, and if your older kids had any resentment towards their father and his new wife as they grew up. You should write a book about that whole ordeal!! Anyway, going to go back and read your old blogs now lol. Glad things are going well, your puppy is adorable!

    • Mikalee Byerman says:

      So good to see you around these parts again, Dana! I’m beyond grateful for my long-time readers, so thank you for being one of them. I’ll definitely have to figure out an update at some point. Suffice it to say, both older kids are now full-grown adults, and it’s absolutely FABULOUS and freeing now that I no longer have certain elements in my life!

If you do not leave a comment, you will further shatter my already broken spirit. If you can live with that guilt, so be it... ;)

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