As I sat on the couch filling out a questionnaire, I found myself looking around at the dark wood panelling left over from the 70’s and thinking, “I can’t believe I am actually sitting in this office.” It was quiet, yet I could hear a faint buzz from the outdated fluorescent light bulbs above me. As my pen hit the paper, I heard a voice and what sounded like tissues being pulled out of a box. Then the door swung open and a pair of legs went scurrying by. This was another wounded soul. My compadre. But out of mutual respect, I kept my eyes cast downward and proceeded onto page two.
“Would you like to come back now?” she asked in a cheerful voice. So I picked up my belongings and sat down on the Rachel Ashwell slip covered chair. Sitting across from her, I studied her face noting it was full of wrinkles from years of laughter. I began telling her the story, from A to Z which was sprinkled with tears at the most painful of parts. She had a reassuring nod and the hour whizzed by. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first therapy session, but maybe if I scheduled another, things would become more clear. We agreed that twice weekly sessions were needed right now. A hundred dollars later, I walked out the door unsure if therapy was even for me.
That time in my life was what I refer to as my “crisis” mode. I was able to hold it together for my kids, but any moments alone were spent crying. Often times, I found myself pulling into parking spaces only to have no recollection of how I got there. Mentally, I was having conversations in my head every time I got behind the wheel. Or I would replay moments in our marriage and then piece together business trips of when he cheated on me. Music either lifted my spirits or caused me to burst into tears. And often times, I cried at the most inopportune times. In line at the grocery store–check. Driving Vivian to preschool–check. And my most memorable–the time I burst into tears before having an ultrasound.
Life has a way of bringing people into your world that can offer advice or healing words. Marti was mine. She was the ultrasound technician working the morning of my appointment. You know, the appointment where you get to see your baby for the first time on a screen. The one where it’s usually filled with tears of joy and awe for the little child inside of you.
Only mine didn’t play out quite like that.
For reasons which I won’t go into here, I found myself telling her all about my husbands betrayal. She listened and cried, telling me the story of her fathers affair and how it affected her mother and her childhood. As she moved the wand over my belly, I felt horrible for crying. Here I had this little child inside of me, and he/she didn’t deserve to be washed in this sea of pain. This poor little soul was literally being created inside of me while I wadded through the worst, most excruciating pain of my life. And I felt guilty for that. Still do actually. Even to this day.
But Marti, a complete stranger up until that morning, just held my hand and let me cry. She was so deeply affected by what I had shared that she contacted me a week later, sending me a handmade card. I am pretty sure she broke hospital protocol, but in times like these, rules are meant to be broken. I keep it in my nightstand, along with the confession letters, as a trophy of what I have been through.
“It has been several days since your visit and truthfully, I have yet been able to shake the image of this kind and beautiful patient before me, so visibly upset, sharing her story of ultimate betrayal.
After a great deal of thought, I must share with you my sincere appreciation for your strength as you consider resolution rather than abruptly, and understandably so, declaring an end to the relationship. You exemplify courage and strength, commitment and compassion, qualities we all hope to recognize in ourselves.
I hope the burdens on your heart are soon lifted and you can acknowledge your courageous soul and the fine example you are to your beautiful children.”
Words have meanings. They aren’t just letters on a page. She got that. And got me. My pain.