Happier Than You Know

Last week, my therapist asked if she could record our session. I said sure, and took my usual seat by the window. She fussed with the video cam, which was perched on a tripod next to her desk, then pointed to the chair by the book case.

Do you mind? she asked. Backlight.

I moved to the other chair. She made some more camera adjustments and then yelled ACTION with the force of a shotgun blast. Just having fun, she said, her faced flushed. Then she composed herself and asked about my week.

I told her I had to put down my dog, and I was very depressed. Hold that thought, she said, squinting at the tiny LCD display. Then she frowned at me and said, the glasses have to go. Reflection.

I took off my glasses and she got back behind the camera. I told her about losing my job and getting evicted. She darted over and patted some powder on my nose and forehead.

I told her how my best ex-buddy had run off with my girl, and stolen the cardboard box I’d been living in. Can you turn your head a little to the right, she asked.

I told her how my minor surgery to remove a hangnail on my little toe had turned into a bout with flesh-eating bacteria.

How does that make you feel? She asked.

Bad I said.

She whipped a red-nailed finger across her throat and yelled CUT, then chuckled. She pressed a few buttons on the camera and my face was projected larger than life on the white board behind her desk.

BAD boomed from the speakers. She replayed it. BAD. BAD. Then she paused the recording and, with three deft strokes of a dry-erase marker, circled my forehead and the corners of my mouth.

Micro-expressions! She cried. These are happy lines. You only THINK you’re depressed.

I’m not depressed?

Micro expressions don’t lie!

I’m happy?

See for yourself!

I looked at the happy lines on the pixilated image of my face and knew she was right. With a lightness in my heart, I rose from the chair and rushed from the room, by way of the window, to the street six stories below.

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