“Through My Mind At The Speed Of Sound” Part III
The narrow hallway in the once forgotten building in the Meatpacking District was darkened with what seemed to be a man-made, recreation of the twilight. A very exaggerated sound of crickets could be heard through the neural walkways which led to a tiny dark room. I sat in the chair. The plastic felt cold and slippery. I peered at my therapist over a perpetual rainforest of fake foliage. The man-made forest environment gave me a vibe that was both uncomfortable and amused. The therapist wondered aloud why I was here.
“To be honest, my problem is that I have something going on which I feel will hold me back from the future. It sucks that I met a terrific guy and I have an internship that I love. The two of us had made plans to grow old together, but at this rate, I don’t know if we can do that because…” I stopped dead in my tracks.
“When I’m nervous, I talk too much”, I said as I could feel my face turning red.
“We’re here so you can talk and we can figure out what’s making you nervous though. That’s a great thing”, the therapist said with her quiet smile.
“What’s going on?” She reminded me of a very kind, High School, newscaster.
To avoid my own thoughts running through my mind at the speed of sound, I took a deep breath. The room smelled like snickerdoodles and I felt myself smile at the thought that snickerdoodles seem so out of place in this plastic rainforest.
I have focused on holding my breath and counting to 7, and then letting go of the contents of my lungs.
“I see you’ve done this before”, she said.
I paused with trepidation… “Yeah, never seems to work though. It just sucks that my trigger is what I have to do everyday”, I said while slumping down slightly in my chair.
“Can you tell me more about that?” she said quietly in that voice that was sugary sweet and emotionless at the same time.
“You know I have a really hard time using public toilets. It’s one of those things that you have to do everyday. Right now, I work from home, but every couple of weeks I have to go Into Manhattan so it’s inevitable. I never eat or drink anything sometimes for 12 hours because of it. Some days, I’ll pop in the Starbucks on the way, but I can usually wait until after the train ride.”
“This is definitely something you would need to get comfortable with if you’re looking at making it to work. So why do they make you uncomfortable? Are you afraid of germs or is it due to some kind of trauma?”
I paused as my stomach dropped, “I… I’m not sure. Germs don’t give me the heebie-jeebies. I usually take the train home and I’m touching everything, it doesn’t bother me.”
“Well…” her voice became softer somehow, “What is it exactly about the experience that makes you so uneasy?”
I worked so hard to avoid eye contact, “I guess when someone walks by I get the creeps. It makes me feel like I need to open the door and run out of there . It doesn’t matter if I’ve done my business or not or if I’ve washed my hands. None of it matters, I have to leave immediately. They don’t even have to pay any attention to me whatsoever. I just freeze” my nervous and rambling chatter kicked in again.
“Just talking about this is giving you a nervous reaction, I can tell. Just know that this is safe place and you can tell me anything you want, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to”.
I looked at the therapist nervously. I was biting my lip way too hard. I knew deep down that this was my problem. I have never opened up before, which is why I wasn’t getting anywhere. I don’t know why I never opened up. Protecting the person who hurt me wouldn’t make it any better. They obviously don’t care about me, to have done what they did.
“When I was a kid, I was often followed to the bathroom and one of the female teachers would always try to look in the stall. I felt like she was trying to see me naked… We don’t have any proof if she was or not, but I joined an online support group a while ago. She would constantly tell me she was going to fail me, intentionally misplace my homework, and as an adult who studied Criminal Psychology before becoming a Media Arts major, that’s what it feels like”.
I was gasping for air now. My heart was beating out of my chest and that moment I can picture the ugly face of my abuser. Her blue eyes, big and dotted with red skinny veins telling me how no one would ever love me because of things that were beyond my control… Tears were flowing down my face and I didn’t even realize what I said until I said it.
“Symptoms of an anxiety attack is that one loses touch with the world around them temporarily to try and avoid whatever’s bothering them”, the therapist said, holding out a tissue.