I regret these heels. So badly. I know shoes are made for walking, but these were made just to make a girl look good while sitting down. I felt the effects of my deep regret almost immediately after I sat on the sofa of Dr. Shaw’s office. To feel comfortable, and not be distracted by the pain in my soles, I asked Dr. Shaw if I could take off my heels. I don’t know if she felt sorry for me, or if she gets a lot of weirder requests from other patients, but she simply smiled with those thin lips of hers and nodded, “of course.” Her voice spilling out sweet and tender.
This was my third visit to Dr. Shaw’s office on Park Avenue. Who knew good therapy was so affordable on Park Avenue? On my first visit, it was all introductory. A consultation, if you will. I wanted to size Elizabeth Shaw up so I grilled her till she burnt and burned out. But she never complained. I remember fidgeting the whole time, feeling so nervous asking her about her qualifications and her background and her methods as if I were interviewing her.
My second visit was a week after that and I remember it so well because I barely spoke. I practically said nothing at all. I just analysed my nails, the light blue of which was chipped at the tip despite my regular use of top coats, now the colour completely removed. Then I rolled my eyes over her office. It was a large space, with a sofa on one side and two armchairs on the other, both set in the middle of the room with a glass coffee table over a fluffy, beige carpet and light hardwood floors. The sofas were a beige colour, super-comfy and big. Then her desk lined the far corner of the room, with a laptop and papers piling up on the oak. Her white desk chair had her coat slung over it, I guessed she finished late most nights but I never asked. I didn’t want to pry. Then, there were the windows that were so large and plastered wide on the two walls facing the streets, drawing in bright light. On my first two visits I felt like I was being attacked by the sun; sudden exposure implemented on me made me feel like, without her having to hound me with questions when I didn’t speak much, she was reciprocating the burn.
Today, I was sucking on a lollipop shoeless. The soles of my aching feet deep into the furs of the cool carpet, and cooled by the hardwood floor. I alternated between the two while sucking on a blueberry lollipop, my eyes landing anywhere but on Dr. Shaw. Dr. Shaw, whose brown, straight hair reached her shoulders and always had one leg crossed over the other. Dr. Shaw, whose tanned complexion made her seem youthful while her approach to me revealed her maturity. Dr. Shaw, whose black-rimmed, square glasses allowed for her brown eyes to see a sharper version of me. Today, she opted for a white buttoned-up, long-sleeve, collared shirt with the first button untouched at the top, and pastel, beige, three-quarter, khaki pants. White flats completed her summer look. Yes, white flats, a casual-professional.
I held the white end of my lollipop with my forefinger and thumb and sucked it out, the remaining juice swallowed with all the force of my deep hunger for a burrito or the likes of it. I should’ve eaten before I came.
“Where do I start?” I asked, peering up at Dr. Shaw.
She shrugged. “Wherever you want.”
I took in her words, thought about them for a moment, and smiled sheepishly, returning my gaze onto her. “I’m not sure where to start.”
“How about we start with the simple question and reason of why you’re here.”
“So…why are you here?” she tilted her head, awaiting my response.
I knew she knew why I was here, but I guess my glitch of remaining catatonic these last few weeks have rendered me mentally inept, and she wanted something to spark in me. So I started.
“I’m here for myself. And for Daniel.”
“Daniel who is your boyfriend.”
I nodded. “I guess—” shrugging, avoiding her eyes and staring at the glass coffee table, floor and carpet “—I guess I’m just worried about me and us. We have a habit in testing our breaking points.” So to speak.
“Why do you choose not to say he’s your boyfriend?”
I bit my bottom lip, feeling my cheeks burn. “I guess I’m scared to.” Even though he is my boyfriend. There’s no denying it; why am I suddenly caught up on this word?
“So what happened the last time you broke up?”
I thought back, squinting my eyes into one corner of the room. “Daniel wasn’t opening up to me. He wasn’t letting me in and it made me realise he wasn’t giving me all of him just yet. And I had invested so much into the relationship that I didn’t want to come back out on the end of a few months with us not evolving and him, I guess, not trusting me. I suggested we go to couples therapy. He wouldn’t take it. So we ended it there.”
Dr. Shaw cleared her throat. “And then what happened?” she asked, urging me on, tilting her head to the other side.
I furrowed my brows and swallowed an almost unbearable heap of guilt and hurt. “He got into an accident. He broke his leg.”
“And how did that make you feel?”
There it was. I was waiting for those generic, stereotypical words that therapists say to their patients. Through conditioning I had always thought those words to signify a therapist’s lack of education or commitment to their patients. Yes, I know. It’s ridiculous of me to have thought so. Now, sitting here in this room, being asked that question after so much context, I realise it’s valuable. And it’s perhaps the hardest question I’ve been asked. Where do I start? How much do I take in? What variables, exactly, do I consider to answer this question? Maybe the whole point of the question is for me to forget the logical side of things; close my eyes, breathe, and just answer.
“It fucking scared me,” I breathed out.
Dr. Shaw nodded, giving me a sympathetic, slight smile. “And how did you get back together?”
“After I told him I was thinking of moving back to California—” I stopped short, looking up at Dr. Shaw and shrugging “—I was only thinking about it. Not really entirely invested in the idea of moving back, I guess, I just wanted to see…” I trailed off, shaking my head and looking back at the floor. Putting it into words, saying it out loud, I’ve never felt more like a villain than I do right now.
“Go on,” Dr. Shaw, encouraged.
I cleared my throat, shuffling the hair out of my face with the shake of my head. “He opened up to me then. Made me understand what his aversion to therapists was. He let me know and I found a spark of the evolution of our relationship if I continued. And I do. I want to continue so badly. I love Daniel.” Daniel, my boyfriend.
Dr. Shaw uncrosses her legs and leans in. I’ve taken special note of this move these past few visits and have come to realise this means she’s about to spit on a beat and drop the mic. This is the moment where she gives me her educated, professional opinion, perhaps some comfort whenever she sees the look on my face churning from eager to guilty. I continue to await this move with equal parts keenness and nervousness as her vision of my transparency is translated by her mind and flows out from her tongue. Her words landing on me either beamed with the line of fire, the soft rays of sunshine, or a combination of the two. Most times it was a combination.
“First off, it’s great that you’re giving another shot at commitment,” she says. “There’s no expiry date on love; there’s no number you’re supposed to hit when breaking up and getting back together before it all seems tedious. There’s no such thing. It all depends on the two of you and how you handle those situations. That being said, you seem to be overlooking a simple personality trait of his. He’s sensitive. And currently, he’s vulnerable. Vulnerable after the accident, and vulnerable at the thought of losing you that even the mention of moving back to California may have landed on his ears as an ultimatum.”
“Mmm,” I mumbled, brows cinched in the middle, “I never even thought of that.”
“It’s fine. What I want you to do when you go home is for you to let Daniel know of his positive qualities. Vulnerability tends to stem from lack of self-confidence, self-esteem and what you input mentally. When he acknowledges you affirming his best qualities his mind will pick up the new messages and recycle them as behaviour and emotions. I want you to do this to yourself, too. You can even suggest this to him; as a fun little game. A back and forth of getting to know each other deeper. I also suggest that you each make a promise to each other. A realistic promise that you both can uphold. He sounds like a great guy,” she leaned back.
Hmm…a promise? I nodded vehemently. “He is.”
Dr. Shaw chuckled. “See, even as we mention him now, you’re beaming. Just remember that this is a fragile moment for you both. You both need to digest each and every thing to do with each other. Don’t over-analyse, but just be aware. I’d love to see him some time. I do couples therapy, you know.”
I stood with Dr. Shaw and followed her towards her front office door. “You’ve mentioned several times,” I smiled.
Dr. Shaw opened her door and stood off to the side, smiling widely. “I’m just saying, I think it’d be great for you both.”
“I want to ask him to do couples therapy, but I don’t want to push him,” I explained. “How do I do that?”
“Easy,” Dr. Shaw shrugged, “you just ask, and don’t push it.”
I stared at her for a moment, and simultaneously we both giggled. Jeesh, I don’t know why I just over-complicate things.
“Thanks, Dr. Shaw,” I said.
Dr. Shaw nodded once. “You’re welcome. See you next week, huh?”
I slung my bag over my shoulder and began walking out, realising there was something missing halfway and doubled-back once I found out what. I knocked on Dr. Shaw’s door and waited a couple seconds.
The door opened and Dr. Shaw smiled. “Yes?”
I felt my cheeks flush red as I bit my lip and smiled awkwardly. “I forgot my shoes.”
Dr. Shaw giggled. “And here I was thinking you were gifting them to me,” she joked. I couldn’t help but laugh with her. She made me feel at ease and, to me, that’s the most important thing I can ask of a therapist.
I trust her.
***WELCOME BACK! I’ve missed this blog and I hope you are all excited to get into Anna’s story again! I must say, though, that I am actually quite downhearted with the news of some of my favourite blogs either ending their blogs or going on indefinite breaks forcibly. It sucks; and to all of you writers who put yourselves out there and continue to encourage courage, I wish you the best of luck! As for my awesome readers, I hope I continue to pique your interest with all my blogs and you find entertainment just a technologically assisted step away 😉 ! Now, onto CaliforniaSoulBlog, if anyone wants more of this post in the form of a BONUS, please let me know. This was much longer before I decided to cut it (much longer compared to how much I usually post) and post the first half, but I’ve been going back and forth on whether or not to post the full version considering you might want more after the long break. Otherwise, if not, then I’ll just post the next half as the second scheduled post in a couple of days. No biggie; let me know! P.S. I’m about halfway through my rom-com! Lots of Love ❤ Soul xo!***