Hi all! Hope you are all doing well. Or as well as we can be doing in 2020.
I'd love to share a little venture into fiction writing. A very short piece that was dancing around in my head and I'd love your feedback on what you think about it. It's called Therapy and maybe it spurs some thoughts in you. Thanks.
"Good to see you, Betsy. How are things?"
Tuesday at three o’clock was the usual time for Betsy's appointment. Sometimes she needed to switch but, for the most part, her husband Frank would work late on Tuesdays, so she still had time to get dinner prepared. Tonight, she was making fried chicken cutlets and corn. That would be pretty easy. She hoped Frank would like it.
The office was small. A basic beige color on the walls but limited natural light. There were times when it felt a bit claustrophobic, but she was over that now. She took her seat, ready for this week's session.
"Just ok? What's going on?"
"I don't know, I still feel like I'm missing something. Things used to be so good."
"With Frank? Or with yourself?"
She always had a way of asking the right question.
"I don't know. Both I guess." Betsy looked down as she felt the first tear start to form. She spoke towards her lap and focused on the small coffee stain on her sweatpants. "God, I hope she didn't see that," she thought to herself.
"Well, let's talk about you first." Doctor Karlan awoke Betsy from her coffee-stained focus.
Betsy met Doctor Elizabeth Karlan a couple of years ago when she found out Frank was having an affair. That was an awful time. She thought about leaving him, but he convinced her that it didn't mean anything, so she stayed. At fifty-five, where would she have gone anyway?
"Have you looked at getting back to work like you said last time?" Doctor Karlan asked but already knew the answer.
"And why not?"
"I started to but, come on Elizabeth, I'm almost sixty."
"You're still young."
"No, I'm not. You're young! I'm not! What the hell am I going to do at my age? Drive a school bus?"
"You can do anything."
"No, I can't." She grabbed a couple of tissues that were always readily available.
"When I was younger," Betsy continued, "I never felt like this. If something wasn't going well at work, I fixed it. When the kids needed help, I took care of it. I was thin. I was hot. I could've cheated on Frank so many times. I could've done anything I wanted to. Sometimes I feel like I was so stupid."
"Stupid for not cheating on Frank?" Elizabeth interrupted the rant.
Betsy should have known better. "No. I guess I was stupid for not appreciating what I had and letting it all go."
"But you realize you didn't have to let anything go. You can still work. Your kids still need you. And I know Frank made a mistake, but you have to realize that was his shortcoming and not yours. You did the right thing and you have your honor. You are the strong one."
Betsy got up and walked over to the small window. "Do you mind if I open this up?"
"Not at all."
It was a beautiful spring day and the perfect placement of the sun at this time of year warmed her face. There was a slight breeze and she could hear a couple of robins were chirping loudly. She wondered if they were building a nest in the tree nearby. It felt good and she almost forgot she was on the clock.
"What would you do if you were me?" she asked as she turned and faced Elizabeth again. "I mean, just pretend you are me. You know me well enough by now. You know where I was. You know where I am. What would you do?" She sat down in front of her therapist.
“That’s hard to say.”
“Come on Elizabeth. I’ve been meeting with you for years. I tell you what I’m doing. I tell you my problems. And you listen. And you give me some things to think about. But you never tell me what you would do. I really want to know.”
Elizabeth stared back at her client. She knew what she would do if she was her. But she wasn’t sure how to say it. And she wasn’t sure if her client was ready to hear it.
Betsy’s eyes squinted ever so slightly. She was ready.
“Ok. If I was you, I would pick my ass up and stop asking for answers. Stop complaining about where your life is. Stop demeaning yourself. Jesus Christ, Betsy. You always tell me how hot you were and now you walk in here with a big coffee stain on your baggy sweatpants.”
She saw it. Betsy didn’t think it was that big of a stain. She opened her mouth to respond but quickly closed it back up. She sensed Elizabeth wasn’t finished.
“I’m not finished.” Betsy’s muscles tightened.
“You’re only fifty-eight years old. You have so much more life to live. You can have a whole other career. You can have a whole other life. You say you always knew what to do. You always took care of things. You can still do that. For some reason, now you want to be taken care of.”
“Why shouldn’t I want someone to take care of me?”
“Like the way Frank takes care of you?” She always had a way of saying the right thing.
“Betsy, you’re not going to like this. But you know what you need to do. You gotta leave that asshole.” Betsy couldn’t believe what she was hearing.
“I can’t leave Frank.”
“Why not? Betsy, you’re miserable. This downward spiral began when he cheated on you. And you didn’t even kick him out for a night. And things went right back like nothing ever happened. But something did happen. And you are the only one suffering. He’s kept his career while you quit yours so you can wait on him hand and foot. As if you, being a strong, successful woman, were the reason he had an affair. Look, you even schedule our sessions on days when he works late so you have time to make sure there is a nice little dinner waiting for him. What the fuck happened to you, Betsy?”
Betsy was sobbing uncontrollably. But it felt good. Like the tears streaming down her face were washing away years of pain and self-loathing only to be replaced with the confidence and self-worth that she once had. Finally.
Her thoughts jumped back to her childhood. Of the times sitting with her mother. Hearing stories of the hardships that her grandparents overcame. Dreaming of being the first girl in the family to graduate college. Grasping the diploma as she graduated medical school. Embracing her father, staring into his eyes, and hearing the only words she ever wanted to hear from her daddy……. “I’m proud of you Elizabeth.”
Betsy looked back up. Elizabeth was looking right back at her.
“Thanks, Elizabeth. I needed that.” She tossed the damp tissue towards the trash can. She chuckled as it bounced off the rim and landed on the white tile floor next to the toilet. She was also a damn good basketball player back in the day. Maybe she’ll play one on one with her grandkids someday?
She got up, picked up the tissue, and dropped it in the trash can. As she closed the master bathroom window, she took note that the robins were still chirping. She decided to go look for the nest. Chicken cutlets would have to wait.
Before she flicked off the light, she gave one last look in the mirror, and genuinely smiled for the first time in years.
“You’re good Elizabeth!”