She came back a few minutes later with a manila folder and the vermilion journal that had been sent from home. She opened the folder and set the journal on the table in front of me.
“So this is the part where you sign a bunch of legal papers while I decide based on our conversation which of our four interning therapists would be most appropriate for you for the duration of your stay at the beautiful life.”
I scanned through the ten or so pages of agreements, noticing some rather odd statements I was expected to sign and initial. I couldn’t help but quietly laugh at a few of them. “I will not die by suicide” was one of my favorites. A hundred questions about my eating and exercising habits, some more extremely odd questions I had never even thought of.
“People actually do this weird shit?”
She appropriately declined to answer my rhetorical question. “So, I’m the therapist for all family sessions, but I stopped taking individual patients when I became director of both here and Woodland Hills a couple years ago- but I’ve decided that I’m going to take you on as an individual client anyway.”
“Was that before or after I told you to fuck yourself? Sorry again.”
“Oh, it was before we met. Sherice sent me your entire case file and looking through it I immediately thought ‘oh I’ve gotta meet this girl, this’ll be interesting’; and sure enough you’ve got the attitude and I can just feel your tension and the anger you’re using to try to keep everyone away- but that doesn’t scare me. I think you’re just a teddy bear with teeth- just someone in pain. But mainly, I don’t think an intern would even know where to begin with you.”
I laughed darkly, closed my eyes, and shook my head. “Why are you doing this.”
“Seemingly giving me this special treatment; you already held a bed open for me for now I find out over a week- when I know this place has a waiting list and you didn’t even know that I wouldn’t be sent back to Alhambra. I mean, great- I’m glad if I interest you, sure I’ll confess it’s reluctantly flattering- but I didn’t come here to have more people dislike me because they think I’m full of myself or thinking I merit extraneous attention. I don’t want to come in here feeling any more like an asshole, and the person who has the power to make all the major decisions in the course of each patient’s treatment plan- being the one I build a personal year-long relationship with- that’s not going to help me fit in with any of the other people my age here.”
“Everyone’s treatment plan is different. Their problems are not your problems- your case is completely different; so the treatment is different. And certain privileges may also be granted or withheld as a result. Don’t worry- I’m going to be harder on you than everyone else. You’re going to hate me by year’s end.”
“Not if I make you hate me first. Look- can you just keep it on the down low, at least at first?”
“Good luck with that. But this is why I’m starting you out on full observation status, and…” she paused for emphasis, “Three days of bed rest- and that’s just for starters- if you behave and actually do it.
“What the hell!” I stood up from the chair.
“Ah, struck a chord there? Sit. Yeah, reading your file and I knew the first thing you need to do is rest. I know you hate that. When was the last time you took a week or month off from all your crazy workouts and mountain climbing? How do you have energy for that anyways? Not to mention you had a seizure. You need to lay low.”
“because that’s only an hour here and there- work is at least four hours; I can’t predict when I’ll have an OK hour. I don’t have feel or act any certain way out with the coyotes; and I’m fine as far as one little seizure.” I slowly lowered myself barely back onto the armchair, on its edge as always.
“I mean you clearly can barely even sit with yourself. As soon as you get one drop of fuel back in the tank you’re flooring the gas pedal a hundred miles per hour, and wondering why you’re so burnt out. So, the first thing we’re working on is learning to just sit- or lie, in your case- relax; and most importantly learn some self-compassion. Do you know what that is?”
I rolled back the sleeve of my tattered, grey hoodie and held my wrist up to her. “Time waits for no one. Not me, not those getting what’s fair or unfair. Nope. My youth and my life is passing me by and I’m just fucking pissing my time away, splashing like a beta on its side in some inch-deep puddle in the middle of a Cambodian market- everyone else is getting things done, changing, going somewhere, trying, loving- living. As a child there was a fern plant that always grew up through the floor of the house, through the carpet; no one could ever kill it- it always came back, always pushed back up through the concrete. That’s why I put that there, where I would always see it when my head is down in my hands, and be reminded to never stop moving forward with the unforgiving time. I can’t waste any more time- I’m losing all of it. That’s why I’m so merciless with pushing myself.”
“That’s a pretty tattoo though,” she replied succinctly.
I sighed. “Okay. What am I supposed to do with all of this- apparently of a sliding timeframe- free time to just lie there and be in my head? That never ends well, you know that.”
She pushed the journal closer towards me. “I want you to write your story.”
“Here we go again. I don’t have anything to say.”
“Write a factual autobiography then. Sherice told me you like to write, so you’re not getting out of it. Start from the very beginning of your memory and recount what brought you to today be sitting in front of me with such deep wounds that you would try to take your own life.”
“There’s already an autobiography right there. There’s what- just short of fifty pages of it I wrote, three or four years ago.”
She grabbed the book and opened it to the very last sentence written.
“Sorry for fucking up your life so far;” she read aloud, “because K*, the only thing that will allow you to finally see what you actually loved, will be losing it all.
Hm. Interesting, but I still want you to start over. That way you’ll remember even more things that you didn’t write here before.”
I decided to save my usual scowl for later as she set the book and a red pen back down in front of me.