This season on Couples Therapy, there’s a lot of drama in the house thanks to the incredibly diverse and occasionally divisive personalities that have been cast. One couple, reality veterans Simon van Kempen and Alex McCord, have offered to review and recap each episode of the season to tell us the truth about the way things really were and what they think of the therapy process. Today, Alex reveals exactly what it’s like to watch yourself get therapy on TV and why it’s unsettling but constructive all at once.
Buckle your seat belts, people — this ride is getting bumpier by the second.I warn you I’ll talk mostly about Simon and myself this week, but it’s the situation I’m closest to, so here goes. And Simon’s thoughts are on his blog here.
During the last four years on reality TV, we often hated what we saw, had meltdowns and wanted to throw things, and for the first time this week I felt that watching Couples Therapy. What’s different though, is that the things I wanted to throw weren’t aimed at the screen. I’ve been angry this week, but not at the producers or the network. They didn’t twist it; everything we saw this week was accurate.
People have asked us what it’s like to have therapy filmed. After we finished filming and our involvement was made public, some people told me about individual and group therapy they had done, that was also recorded. Not for playback on TV in their case, but for the participants and therapist to watch back to gain deeper perspective. Although we already lived the moments that aired this week, seeing it on the screen helps you gain a little removal and objectivity, as you’re no longer in the heat of the moment. Last week I spoke of stirring up a hornet’s nest in order to make things better, and we did a three-week round of that when we shot the show, and things were and are better. However, this is round two — watching it back on TV is like taking a baseball bat to that hornet’s nest.
Anyone who knows me well, knows that the “find your voice” phrase will set me off, just like Biff Tannen goading Marty McFly or anyone saying “Beetlejuice” three times. Why?Because my voice isn’t lost; I know exactly where it is. But when confronted with the same set of results, over and over, it’s easy to fall into the pattern of apathy, just not bothering to speak up.When I give an opinion, sometimes it’s listened to and agreed with.But too often for my liking, what I get back is “You’re being rude,” “You’re wrong because (insert list of reasons,”) “You’re argument isn’t sound because you forgot two details (what I called on RumorFix the “Simon van Kempen debate technique”) or he leaves the room or hangs up the phone.Sometimes the discussion devolves into such irrelevant minutiae that I get distracted, frustrated and say something really irrelevant and hurtful, and am then apologizing for that with the main argument completely forgotten.
Dealing with all of that is exhausting, and when it happens regularly, over both big picture issues and minutiae such as what to have for dinner, a destructive pattern I’ve fallen into is simply opting out.And frankly, I took that pattern to Housewives at first, because those arguments were so petty and inane that at first I couldn’t be bothered to engage with those people. Once I realized I had to because it was the point of that show, I started speaking up, got a few good points out and was then silenced.Forever, amongst those people.
So where are we now? Last night Simon and I discussed all this, and he listened to everything I had to say in the best manner I could have asked for. Prior to our relationship, anytime I ever hit a rocky road with a boyfriend I simply picked up and left. I don’t want to do that here. It may sound naïve, but I hadn’t counted on receiving a whole new level of therapy simply by watching what we filmed. I love Simon so dearly, and want to be with him for as many years as we have left. For that to run smoothly it takes two to tango, and I’m trying to get the steps right.
Are there other people on this show? Oh, in my navel-gazing I forgot. If we are feeling unsettled watching the show, I can only imagine the others must be as well. I was shocked this week by Courtney’s barely veiled aggression and anger. I wonder what happened to that little girl to make her so angry at the whole world. I don’t even mind her continuing to be angry at the world, but she has to stop taking it out on her husband at the very least. I really got to like Todd while we lived together, but this week I wanted to shake him to snap out of it. Nik and Shayne seemed to turn a corner this week and whether they are able to change the behavior or not, at least they recognize it and that’s a good first step. I just want to hug Tiny — she is so unbelievably strong and courageous — out of all of us SHE is the one saving lives.Did you see those coming attractions? Didn’t I tell you Armageddon was coming???