“So tell me, Aria, why are you here today?”
Aria stirred uncomfortably in the leather chair. She was confused by the question – wasn’t it obvious?
She glanced around the room at Dr. Grey’s collection of knick-knacks, psychology books, and “inspirational” sayings. She wasn’t impressed. The dull color schemes dilapidating the room took any joy or hope out of being there, particularly with such delicate and personal subjects at hand. It just reminded her that, here, she would not be understood.
“You know why I’m here,” she mumbled.
“I know what we’ve discussed in the past,” Dr. Grey continued with concern, “and I know why your parents want you to see me. But I’d like to know why you are here.”
Aria sighed. “I’m here because my parents want me to be here.”
She attempted to mask the disdain in her voice but to no avail. And just as well – Dr. Grey seemed to sense all of her hidden emotions anyways.
Dr. Grey paused, eyeing Aria.
“So you don’t feel you need to be here?” She inquired.
“Look, I appreciate what you do – and in some ways it’s helpful – but I don’t think therapy is going to change the way my brain works.”
She crossed her legs defensively and sat back in her chair. She feared offending Dr. Grey, but she knew better than to say anything other than exactly what she thought.
“And how does your brain work?” Dr. Grey continued.
Aria blanched. “You know the answer to that. We’ve been discussing it for years now.”
“I want to hear it in your own words.” Dr. Grey crossed her legs in equally defiant response and waited patiently for Aria’s reply.
“I can see things no one else can,” she began. “Things that haven’t happened – things that never will happen.”
“And how do you feel about that?” Dr. Grey pushed.
“I hate it. It’s completely useless. At least if I could see the future all this torture could have a purpose. But as it is, it does nothing for me or anyone else.” Her head fell to her hands in frustration.
Dr. Grey took in a thoughtful demeanor. “You said just now that if you could see the future this could have a purpose. How does what you see now have any relation to seeing a realistic future?”
Aria knew where this was going. But maybe once – just this once – she could make Dr. Grey understand.
“Because what I see is real. It just never actually takes place.”
“Ok,” Dr. Grey nodded. “Can you tell me what it is about these ‘visions’ that feels so real?”
“They don’t feel real, they are real.” Aria started massaging her forehead.
“Remember, Aria, I’m on your side. But I can’t help you unless I understand exactly how this feels to you.”
“It feels shitty!” Aria cried. “Is that what what you want to know?” She stood up and paced behind her chair. “What do you want me to say? That I’m a freak who obsessively dreams about random things that have no connection to reality? That I’m a psycho? Will that finally get me out of these stupid meetings?”
“Aria, please sit down.”
Aria gazed at her with distrust, but complied.
“Maybe I can better explain what I want to understand.” Dr. Grey placed her notebook on the coffee table and sat forward in earnest. “Reality is a fickle thing. We all experience and define reality in different ways. No one is right or wrong – we couldn’t possibly be because we all see things through a completely different lens.” She calmly adjusted her glasses before continuing. “I’m trying to understand two things: One, what does reality look like for you? And two, what does reality as it exists in your visions look like to you? Is that something you think you can explain?”
Aria fidgeted with her fingers, avoiding eye contact with her ever-persistent therapist. It was a complicated question. She looked around her in an attempt to derive her answers.
“Well, if I look around myself now, I see a bookshelf with lots of books, a brown coffee table, white carpet… I see this red chair I’m sitting in and I can feel the chair underneath me – soft and squishy.”
“Ok, that’s a good start. How does it feel to be here amongst all these things?”
“Ummm…” Aria faltered. “It feels normal. It feels emotionless. It like it just is.” She sighed again, “this isn’t making a lot of sense…”
“No, Aria, you’re doing great, you really are. Now take that scene you just built and compare it to what you see in your visions.”
Well, the visions are usually more frightening. And they feel…somewhat distant. But overall…
“It feels the same,” She asserted. “That’s probably not what you want me to say, but it’s true. I can feel everything around me in the vision just the same as I can while I’m sitting here with you. And even though the visions are sometimes frightening, everything around me feels totally emotionless. It’s the circumstances I’m in that make it stressful.”
“Can you be more specific?” Asked Dr. Grey.
“Well, last week when I was experiencing the car accident, I could feel my legs crushed under the car just as much as the seat in my car and the steering wheel under my hands. I could feel it all, it was just… all at the same time. I don’t know how else to explain it.”
“That sounds overwhelming.”
Aria relaxed at the empathy and care in Dr. Grey’s voice.
“You have no idea.”
“Are there any other times when you’ve felt this overwhelmed – outside of the visions?”
“No – I mean I’ve been stressed out before. And I remember feeling pretty overwhelmed when my best friend died when I was 8. It felt like the whole world was coming at me all at once. But it’s not really the same…”
Dr. Grey nodded and made a note on her pad. “Let’s hold that thought for next time. I’d like to hear more about these intense feelings you felt when your friend died. Tell me, how old were you when the visions started?”
Aria shifted, hesitant to answer. She knew where this was going.
“The first one I remember was when I was 9 years old. It was faint, but I remember it. And they got worse from there.”
“And how long after the death of your friend was that?”
Aria typically avoided discussion of her old friend Sara at all costs, but she found it difficult to avoid in the wake of the doctor’s soothing voice.
“About six months.”
Dr. Grey gave a knowing smile. Aria scowled. Now she’s done it. She just gave the good doctor another year of discussion material.
As if sending Aria’s frustration, Dr. Grey concluded the meeting and arranged their appointment for next week.
Disbanded and repleat, Aria joined her mother in the hallway.
“How did it go?” Her mother probed, the fear in her eyes clear as day.
Aria looked up at her, pleading.
“Will anyone ever understand me?”
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