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Lewis, M. (2011). One of the Good Guys. Psychoanal. Perspect., 8(2):297-312.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(2):297-312

One of the Good Guys

Mindy Lewis

“Hi, kid. want to meet for lunch?”

The smile on my face could be that of a teenager being asked out on a date. But it's 2006, I'm 54 years old, and the voice on the phone belongs to my former “shrink.”

Dr. L. is the psychiatrist my mother sent me to in 1966, when I was a 14-year-old in the throes of adolescent rebellion. From my mother's point of view, the change in my behavior was unfathomable. I'd morphed from her well-behaved little girl with a blond ponytail to a scraggly, unkempt, pot-smoking insomniac; an alternately silent and foul-mouthed stranger who wandered around Greenwich Village with bare feet.

In junior high, after school and before my mother's return from work, I'd pop open one of my stepfather's beers, or tipple from the bottles in my mother's liquor cabinet, or inhale a cleaning-fluid-soaked rag. I passed out in stairwells where tough boys fed me barbiturates and forced their hands down my pants to “revive” me, and for days afterward I was depressed and ashamed. To atone, I memorized the sayings of the Buddha and vowed not to speak anything but the truth, which was impossible for one who was increasingly prone to telling small, impulsive lies. Anything to put a barrier between me and my mother.

Like the fiberglass drapes that hung in the living room, my mother was stylish, artificial, and prickly.

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