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. This week, Alex discusses going rogue on Dr. Jenn, and that therapy staple, her mother issues.
So this is the episode where I go rogue. One thing that is completely consistent about me since I opened up my life to reality TV in 2007, is that I call it as I see it. All eight of us in the house were completely, 100% done with the fake, phony, BS attitude of Courtney, and Doug’s head-in-the-sand denial of same, and Simon says his piece here. Doug opened up about his life and psyche, and joined us on the spectrum of damaged people trying to figure life out. Courtney, on the other hand, was a completely aggressive cartoon character. As the eight of us were being asked to push ourselves to an emotional place we would never have felt comfortable with in private, let alone on television in front of the world, this teenager was coddled and enabled to be as delusional and aggressive as her parents allowed her to be from birth. Simultaneously, we were asked to sublimate our own emotional recovery, because we constantly had to take care of the bouncing, rollicking, delusional freight train in the house. When you are asking everyone to go to very uncomfortable, private places, while being filmed for dissection by the world, it is just TOO MUCH to also be asked to accommodate ridiculous, infantile behavior. Frankly, the network, producers and therapists are all lucky we didn’t hurt her.
When Dr. Jenn asked me to invite my mother to join us, I was initially resistant because I felt that the good therapy most of us were doing in the house was being undermined by the freak-show. It took many conversations to make me feel safe enough to even make the call to Mom to ask her. Upon arrival, mom said one thing that was so true, it made me laugh. Throughout four years of her daughter being on reality TV, she did not appear on camera. She was beyond horrified by the reality docu-soap process and the satirical manipulation used. She agreed to join us in Couples Therapy only because “It is run by doctors, not con-artists.” I really can’t add anything to that statement — it speaks for itself. Next, I will give everyone credit for beautifully handling the process of getting mom from Texas to our treatment center in California, and taking great care of her and us. We had a long session where we took on and obliterated all the issues either of us could think of. It was simply amazing and we are both better for it.
What else did I feel watching this episode? Most of us agreed to open up our lives, our pasts, our childhood, our everything…to not only get therapy but to share it with the world on television. I felt that it was way too much to ask for us all to simultaneously parent a child (whom none of us gave birth to) in our midst. Although Doug joked that he was raising his wife, he reminded me of the parent on the playground who is completely checked out and texting while their child beats up every other kid on the monkey bars. Did we all act out once we finally got the teenager out of the house? Absolutely yes. Did I feel that Dr. Jenn and team asked all eight of us to bend too much to accommodate two people, to the detriment of our own therapy process? Absolutely yes. I am sorry that they came back. I wish they wouldn’t have. Unfortunately, because of the TV aspect of this project, it had to happen. The saving grace is that the group understood that as it was happening, and we grabbed hands and tried to make the best of it. Stay tuned for the aftermath…