Therapy Session

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

An emotionally disturbed man has a visit with a therapist. Dialogue driven. I suck at titles.


A man sat across a table from a woman. The man had short, shaggy brown hair, a plain white tee, and a pair of baggy blue jeans. A sullen look was plastered on his face as he eyed the woman steadily. For her part, the woman was a tall, lean red head with her hair pulled up into a bun. She wore casual business attire and had a soft smile as she returned the man’s eye contact.

“What is the meaning behind this conversation? What purpose can I derive from the incessant babbling I am about to unleash?” The man asked. His voice had a tone of hopeless desperation to it, as though his question were merely the tip of the iceberg for the many ruinous thoughts locked away in his heart.

That’s what we’re going to find out,” She replied gently “You’re here because you want help, isn’t that so Charlie?”

“I suppose, but there’s so little to be derived from my pessimism. I suspect there is virtually nothing that can change the emptiness I feel inside; the abyss that is only on occasion filled with the bitter taste of revilement I feel toward myself. It’s a sour brew.” Charlie’s face winced slightly, his frown curling somewhat as he considered the words he had uttered.

Anyone would feel upset in that position, but, why are you inflicting more pain on yourself? Why do you feel this revilement?”

“Why? The list would be smaller were I to simply answer ‘why not’? I am a loathsome, contemptible coward; A creature born of uncertainty, insecurity, depression, and a crushing sense of hopelessness.”

Why do you feel hopeless?

“I fail at… everything. Everything I’ve ever done. I fail everyone. Anyone who has ever been foolish enough to hope for me or naïve enough to believe in me… I have let them down. I have failed them.”

Surely there’s something you haven’t failed at. You’re too harsh on yourself.

“You’d think that but… anything I’ve tried I’ve failed to some degree. It’s such a wide range of things that I just… I don’t feel confident applying myself. When I consider it, I’m bogged down with anxiety, it’s like this… this vice tightening slowly around my neck and all I can do is slowly struggle against it until I fail, and I collapse. When I collapse, that’s it; I’ve given up yet again.”

You see, just now you’ve described a perception, a fabrication of your own mind. You have this fear of things you haven’t done, because of bad past experiences that are unrelated. The key to a healthy thought process is to recognize that, acknowledge it and move on despite your misgivings.

“I know, I know, I’ve heard the whole spiel before. My ability to recognize my misconceptions has yet to actually change them, I’m afraid.”

What makes you happy? Is there anything at all you derive pleasure from?

“I like to help people I guess… I mean, I feel this strange sense of relief and dare I say, self-worth when I can be a positive force in the life of another. The capacity to that is difficult to define though, I’m afraid. To give someone advice, to help them persevere when they are feeling the way I do, that’s where the feeling really comes to light.” His face softened a bit as he let his gaze fall from the woman, slowly shifting to the floor as he broke their eye contact.

“What’s wrong?” The concern in her voice was apparent. The question had a tone of urgency. “You’re safe here, you can tell me anything.

“It’s just… whenever I try to do that realistically, it almost never happens. There’s this part of me that’s not sure if I genuinely seek to help everyone, or if I’m trying to compensate for the complete void I am.”

What do you mean by void?

“I’m a drain on everyone, every single person that has actually stayed in my life. I’ve become little more than a leech so utterly incapable of reciprocating any kindness given to him that I isolate as much as possible. Not to mention the absurd fear of taking advantage of people I’ve cultivated. I’m not sure if I truly have but I feel like I might have and that’s enough, you know?” His eyes began to water as he chewed at his bottom lip nervously.  “I’m afraid to interact with people… I don’t want to take advantage of them. I’ve been told in the past that I’m manipulative and I mean, I don’t want to be. I don’t want to do that to anyone so… if I can’t recognize it isn’t it better to just be alone?”

Is that really what you want, to just be alone?

“I don’t… it hurts. At the same time it seems better to just feel empty and unloved, so far away from everyone else, than to actively risk the scorn of others.” His voice began to crack.

“Why do you feel that way though, why are you so afraid of life?

“Because my life has been pain, a pain no other will ever understand. They will judge and scorn me, brush me aside and color opinions of me because my mind is so fractured that I brood over things that have long since passed. Depression has ruled my life, driven me to drink, driven me to do anything and everything I possibly can to escape the insane machinations of my mind. Two things have kept me alive thus far, my ability to numb my psychosis and… ” He paused, his face contorting in pain as he sought the courage to utter his words.

And what?” She asked, head tilting softly


“Fear… kept you alive?

“It sounds silly, I know but… people always ask ‘Charlie, if you’re so miserable, why haven’t you killed yourself, you must have hope things will get better’ and I don’t really know how to answer them. I mean, I know in their own way they’re trying to help but they just, they don’t get it. I don’t hope things will get better, I’m afraid things might get worse. As much as I want things to be over, I don’t want to suffer any longer… what if... what if killing myself just put me in a position where all the suffering I’ve felt up to now is just magnified exponentially?”

Like going to Hell? I didn’t take you for a religious man but if that’s something you can find comfo-

“Well, no, you’re not really understanding," He quickly interjected,  "I mean, you’re right, I’m not a religious man, but… I’m agnostic. I think it’s kind of illogical but what if I end up being wrong? All I really know is that I will probably never know. And that… that fear that rules my life, is the only thing prolonging it. Does that make any sense?” He reached up, rubbing his eyes lightly before allowing them to fixate on the woman once more.

Have you tried to kill yourself?”

“Many times. Often when I place the razor blade, I feel that fear overwhelming and I just I can’t dig it in deep enough.”

What’s the closest you’ve come?

“I tried to OD, ended up just sleeping a really long time. Didn’t tell anyone, why concern people? I’m enough of a negative influence without adding to it.”

“It’s good that you lived, even if you don’t think so right now. You just haven’t found your purpose yet.” Her face scrunched up a bit in contemplation. “Can you say anything positive about yourself?

“I’m smart… I guess. People tell me all the time but, it just makes me feel worse. Knowing I’ve wasted all this potential other people see in me. I wish that I could give my intelligence to someone that would use it in a genuine way. How vain am I that I hate myself so fervently? Surely I am among the most despicable of individuals.”

“There are people far more heinous in this world than the portrait you’ve painted me of yourself, Charlie. You’ve been wounded, surely. I can hear the fear in your voice, I can understand to some extent why you feel what you do, just as I’m sure there’s much you haven’t told me. Can you think of anything else you’re good at, you need to tell yourself positive things!

“I’m good at… keeping my temper in check, I guess. To interact with me regularly you might not even think so but… the potential for my anger to fly into extremes is tremendous. I struggle to keep it in check in nearly every interaction. It’s bad, I’m afraid to put myself into stressful situations, I can’t even try to have a real relationship because I’m afraid of what might happen. I saw domestic violence… I can’t let that happen to someone else.”

What happens when you lose your temper? What are you afraid will happen?

“When I lose my temper, when I really genuinely lose it I black out. I completely lose control, just kind of dissociate. When it’s happened, it’s like this... switch gets flipped and I want to kill. I’ve choked people, I’ve beaten people bloody, I’ve enacted feats far beyond what should be capable with my strength. Adrenaline maybe?”

So what do you do when you feel your anger coming on?

“I can tell I’m getting too close when I start yelling but, the real sign is the twitches, facial tics. My body starts to quake with rage and I can usually catch myself and I remove myself from the situation entirely. Sometimes I end up walking for hours before it subsides. I fear what I might do to another.” He grimaced a bit, a fist balling tightly as he rested it upon the table.

Well you know, it sounds to me like you care about people, that’s a good thing about you. You consider the needs of others, empathize and worry about their well-being, that’s an admirable trait in its own right.” She smiled softly in an attempt to offer some encouragement.

“I care enough to know I should stay away from them but… I guess that’s something yeah.” He mumbled softly, lips steadily curving into a frown.

What’s wrong? The ability to care is a good thing. Genuine empathy is rare.” She softly rested a hand on his fist, hoping to reassure him.

Charlie sighed a bit, his other hand reaching up to lightly scratch the itch from the imaginary touch. A lone tear slowly trailed down his cheek as he considered his surroundings in the dark, vacant room.

“Is it a good thing,” He asked himself solemnly, eyes fixating upon the dark wall across the table from him. “Or... is it just what I tell myself to try and gain some small peace of mind?”

Submitted: August 17, 2015

© Copyright 2020 zerohawk. All rights reserved.

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