“I’ve got two things I want you to do this week, Trevor.”
Therapists are always trying to challenge you.
“I want you to take anything that your mind can’t let go of and write it on a piece of paper. I want you to take that piece of paper and put it in a shoe box and put that shoe box in the top of your closet.”
What I need is more people telling me what to do.
“And I want you to start a conversation with someone that you have never met before.”
What I need is someone else with expectations of me.
“Do you think you can handle that?” she says with all the sweetness in her voice of a cup full of saccharine.
“The other day I talked to the girl who carries out groceries at the market.”
“Really? And what did y’all talk about?”
“I to…” I told her I could carry them out on my own, and I thanked her for her offer to help. I don’t think that is quite what she is looking for, so I’ll keep it to myself.
“What was that? You trailed off.”
“Nothing, forget it.”
“So do you think you can do this stuff?” She asks again, with a bit more verve in her throat.
“Write things on a piece of paper? Hell yeah, I can do that,” I spurt out with humorous optimism.
She narrows her eyes to lightly scold me; she is obviously more concerned with the other task. “Can you talk to someone?”
“I saw my aunt in the grocery store the other day. I talked to her for a while. She asked me to tell my parents about her daughter, she’s sick,” or something, I stopped listening after a few minutes.
“Trevor. Focus with me, you’ve got to stop avoiding.”
That probably makes it sound like the only place I ever go is the grocery store; but it’s not. I go to work everyday. And my parents are always inviting me over to eat dinner. I never go, though. I don’t go a lot of places.
“I don’t know. I can try.” I’m always dodgy. One good way to get nothing out of me is to try to pressure me.
“Okay. Well, if you aren’t going to do it, I want you to do something else for me.”
If you let people down early in your relationship with them, they learn to expect very little of you. That way one might avoid moments like this. The problem with therapists is that they are always hoping for the best. They are always thinking people will change.
“I want you to come to a group therapy meeting Thursday evening.”
“I – I really can’t afford that. And my parents want me to come over for dinner Thursday night.”
I’m twenty-six and I live alone. I haven’t always, though. I mean, of course I haven’t always lived alone. What I mean is that I didn’t start out living alone. After university, when I moved back here, I got an apartment with a friend of mine; who ended up being the only person I know in this town anymore. He got married. Now he’s dead.
“Are you going to your parents?”
He’s not actually dead. He’s – well – he’s married, like I said. So he might as well be dead. I don’t ever see him anymore. I guess he has new friends now. Married friends.
“It’s at seven o’clock, here in the big meeting room. We’ll have cookies and soda.”
That isn’t for me. Getting married, settling down. Mortgages and matching dishes and babies. I want more. But I can’t even hold a conversation with someone I do know, and like. I don’t know how I am supposed to talk to people I have never met. I don’t know how I am supposed to try to actually live with all of this going on in my head.
“Trevor, are you listening to me?”
“Yeah, I’ll be there. I’ll come.”
“Good, there will be about ten people there. All who struggle with the same kinds of things that you do. It will be a good opportunity for you to meet some people.”
“Yeah, I guess it will.”
I haven’t always been this way. I haven’t always been so closed off. There was a time when I had hope that things could be better. There was a time when I even tried. I haven’t ever been good with people, at making friends; but I have always managed to have friends.
“Okay, then I will be seeing you on Thursday, and then again next week.”
“Yes, thank you. I’ll see you then.
I walk out to my truck. I grab an old bottle of water sitting in my cup holder and a prescription bottle. I take out two klonopin and toss them in my mouth. That makes six for today: two this morning, two before the session so I could concentrate. At first these things set me free from my swirling thoughts. Now I have to keep taking more and more just to keep my thoughts straight.
The past few months... I sleep a lot, I stare at walls all night. I get annoyed simply by talking to people – or, actually, when people talk to me. Maybe living alone does this to you. Maybe it’s living in a town you should never have returned to, and hating your life because of where you are. Maybe I'm just tired of this place.
Maybe what I need to do is leave.