– He destroys me… Again. He’s doing this with increasing premeditation, ferocity. My pain gives me pleasure. I have already accepted the act of psychological harassment. I have already accepted that he treats my like his slag, Barbie doll, stupid girly who couldn’t handle any situation without him. But he has abused me several times. He was choking me. Pulling my hair. I feel as if someone pinched me and said: “Hey, did you think these woof tickets are nightmarish? I am here! And I shall unleash hell on you. I will take you alive under the surface of the Earth. And you will beg for death to finally forget about this shitty world.”
She looked at the window covered with a grey roller blind. Only small streaks of light entered the office. This was escalating her dispiriting experience. She tried to bring her out of her shell, attending different group sessions with psychologists. But this kind of wall-to-wall optimism was always bothering her. Or rather attempts to impose it on her. “Everything will be fine, do not worry, bad temper spoils the complexion” – such slogans was like a red rag to a bull. She felt that only in this place she can be truly herself. No comments, no mercy, no compassion. She could calmly exteriorize everything she fought with day after day.
At home, she felt nothing. Complete void. Sometimes she felt as if she stayed behind the threshold of her house, every time she passed it, she would leave her own soul. Only her body would enter, her external packaging. It was indifferent to all emotional blows. She used to prepare her meals, sweep up, do the laundry, wash the dishes, go to sleep. And at the same time she felt like the worst swine in the universe, like a mean bint, a turkey, the ugliest person who will not find anybody. She would not be able to enumerate all the bad names she was called.
“I think we should schedule our next session for the same day of the next week. Is 6:00 pm fine for you?” These were the only words she heard from the shrink on all of their previous meetings.
“Of course.” She said, a bit disappointed that her time was already over. She tossed a one-hundred zloty bill on the desk and left the office.
Putting on her dark coat, she realized that for several months she has been paying him only for his listening. He never gave her any piece of advice, nor offered any gesture of compassion. She felt a bit weird, because she was paying him over 400 zlotys per months, and yet she was still treading in the same place.
Standing in front of large doors, she pulled out the keys to her apartment. She took a deep breath. She was getting ready for the series of pungent commentaries, snooping questions, orders.
She entered the corridor, as quietly as possible. For the first time, she wanted to escape to her bedroom. Lock it from inside and pretend she was not there. She got scared of this moment of vulnerability. Of the fact that she is displaying fear in this apartment. She knew that such behavior condemns her to failure. When she was urgently opening the entrance to her tiny refuge, she heard a creaking wheelchair behind her back.
“Where have you been???!!!” He screamed as if she was really deaf.
She ignored him. But without even knowing, an increasing discomfort crept into her mind. With her hands shaking, she tried to turn the keys.
He drew up even closer to her. He picked up his walking stick and smacked her calves forcefully.
“I will ask you the same question. Where have you been, bitch???!!!!”
She did not want to surrender. Even though the keys flew out of her hand, and she felt a stabbing pain in her calves.
“I will deal with you in a moment, you trollop!!! Once and for all! You will run as regular as clockwork, you shall listen to your Master!!!” Awful deep voice was booming out of his larynx.
She made it. She dashed into her room and urgently closed the door behind her, pulling at metal bolt. This room was like a prison and sanctuary in one place. She threw herself on the sofa. She covered her ears with pillows to block out all those names. She heard, however, occasional smacks of the walking stick on the door. She was crying. She no longer remembered when was the last time she had been bellowing so loud. Recently, she was living from day to day. She only needed to speak. And perhaps she was moved by the shrink’s indifference? Perhaps he also marked her as a hopeless subject, since he charged her only for listening to stories about her cruel ex-husband. Yes, not current husband, but ex-husband who did not plan to move out of the house. After the accident the man transformed into a tyrant, a monster, into her deepest nightmare. She didn’t even notice when she fell asleep.
She woke up on the next day. Face swollen from tears, dry throat, cramped stomach reminded her of yesterday’s events. She covered herself with a duvet and curled up in a foetal position. She was only strong enough to text a message to her work and take a leave on demand. She was too weak to move her finger. She was lumpishly looking at the wall which seemed utterly cold and alien.
She was laying in this position for several hours. Tear by tear was occasionally streaming down her eye, caking on her rugged cheeks. She did not know who she detests more. Him or herself. She did not know who imprisons her to greater extent – him or herself. She did not know anything. She only wanted to disappear. Turn into ashes. Her ex-husband was right. He brought her to such a surrender that she wanted to turn into a void larger than the one she encountered there everyday. She could not see any point in breathing.
She sobbed even louder, crying into her beer. For the first time since a very long time, she was sobbing like a child, bewailing her own faith. She could have never imagined that she would end up in such a misery. Without nobody, without the true sense of life.
She grasped a mobile again, and dialed her shrink’s number. He was the only person she could depend on.
“Can we meet again today?” She croaked through dry larynx.
“Hmmm, not really to be honest. I have a very tight schedule today. Did something happen?” Indifferent, or very official voice of the specialist evoked even bigger feeling of even more poignant bleakness. She felt scammed, devoid of money, life energy.
“I want to kill myself…” She replied tearfully.
Awkward silence fell in the speaker.
“Ok, so please arrive at my office at 10:00 pm. Unfortunately, I cannot re-schedule my patients – he told this as if she was registering for a tooth filling in the dentist’s clinic.
She did not expect such response, hoping for at least a pinch of empathy. Feeling of safety, assurance that he will not allow her to abandon this world. And he sounded as if he did not care.
There was no one on the planet who would care about her.
She closed her eyelids. She felt the loneliest person on earth ever. She had no one, no place to go, no one to hear her wailing. She had no hope for herself
She buried herself under the quilt, with firm determination that she will be lying here until she dies, dehydrate or until her ex-husband breaks into and kills her. But she would still casually look at her watch. She saw its hands moving, unrelentingly closer to the appointed hour.
She started to imagine different things. She saw no point in meeting this sad shrink who would just charge another one-hundred. She hated him for being so unwilling to help her. She decided to spite him and will not see him. Yes! She will stop the treatment. He should fuck himself and find another sucker. She felt sudden surge of anger, and grief that it is just like it is. Suddenly she reminded this beastly female judge who passed such a judgement forbidding her to evict her ex-husband. As if he was so helpless, as if he could not function on his own and earn his living. But despite his disability, he inflicted so much damage on her.
When she was reeling on her destructive emotions, she heard her mobile’s vibrations. She felt as if she was caught red-handed on the worst crime ever committed. With her heart beating fast, she reached for the phone and read out the text:
“Pack your belongings please and quietly go down on the parking lot next to the grocery store.”
She was incredulously looking at the text message for a while. It was sent by her shrink. She looked at her watch – 9:45 pm.
She dashed to the cupboard with her clothes, and grasped most necessary belongings. From the flowerpot with artificial polypody, she dug out a jar with all savings she had. She put on yesterday’s clothes, tied back her hair in a ponytail and was about to pull at the knob.
She read the message once again. She was supposed to leave the apartment quietly. She felt paralyzed. Gosh, it may turn out to be a failure. And if he is not waiting for her on this parking lot and is just making fun of her? If her ex saw her with this luggage, he would simply kill her. She felt overwhelmed by doubts. A minute ago she wanted to die, now she felt as if she was struggling for life. She took the risk. She carefully pressed a knob. She heard a sound of a TV coming from the other room.
She heaved a sigh of relief. Walking on tiptoe, she crossed the corridor. Shoes! Why didn’t she put on her shoes?! Why wouldn’t she take them to her room, but always left in the corridor instead? She bent down to pick them up.
She had an impression that she’s not escaping from her apartment, but from the lion’s den rather.
Barefooted, she run out on the staircase. With a really heavy bag on her shoulders, and her shoes in the left hand. She run over her shrink’s car; the doctor was calmly sitting behind his wheel.
She sat on the back seat and started to cry. She was howling. The man, without asking about anything, headed for the exit route. They were driving towards the sea.
“We’re here.” The shrink, poker faced, had announced that they had arrived to their destination place. She got up from the passenger seat, where she was cowering and sleeping for the entire journey. She looked around. They parked on the verge of the pine forest, overlooking the choppy Baltic Sea.
“Why did you came for me?” The woman was really surprised. She felt as if the last day and night were a dream only.
“I decided that you are finally ready to change your life.” He sounded as if he had already dealt with thousands of such cases.
“What do you mean? I wanted to kill myself yesterday!” She said irritated.
“Suicides do not look for help. They die quietly.” She couldn’t deny this logic. He was right, she perceived him as her last resort.
“What next?” She felt a surge of uncertainty.
“I will put you in a clinic for now, they will help you feel better there. You made your first step. You want to change something. Remember that everything still depends on you. You can either start a new life, or return to your ex-husband and your starting point – he said it as if he was translating a computer manual. Either she will power it on and learn how to use it, or she will not even plug it into the socket.
“You can still say no, as you wish.” I do understand that you have nothing, but yesterday you proved that you can squeeze everything you need into one bag – For the first time the shrink smiled slightly.
“I do not understand why you waited so long… Why haven’t you decided to help me earlier?” The woman did not understand that for all these months she did not do half of the things she did yesterday.
“Because you wanted to sit in this shit” He said decisively. “You would spoke about your oppression for hours. For such a long time you were looking for a person who would allow you to keep getting dirty in this shit, who you could hold responsible for this. Am I right? You were visiting one group after another, seeing one shrink after another. In all those places they wanted to lift your spirits, but you did not really want it. I felt it instantly during our first meeting. You were speaking about this, as if this torment made you exceptional.”
“Exceptional?” The woman looked at him incredulously.
“That’s right, exceptional. You had your story. The story of a victim – a beaten up lady, harassed and abused by the ex-husband. Who would you be, if your husband had moved out and left you alone?
“I do not know…” She said after a minute of consideration.
“Now you see my point. This gave you the identity. This made you a women who needs to suffer, who needs to be miserable. Because what does it mean to be happy? It means to have a perfectly normal life. To go shopping in the morning, and later to go to work. And after the work to calmly sit in front of a TV to watch a favorite show. All of this would be too tedious for you.”
“So all of this is my fault?” The woman was watching absently in the distance and she was starting to really comprehend all the words she already heard but was struggling to accept them.
“No.” The man replied in a very calm voice. During your journey you needed just enough time to get to the place you are in now. Nobody else could have done it, only you. You decided that you want to change something. You could have called me. You could have ignored my text message. Can you see any difference now? As soon as I brought you here. But what you will do with this depends on you only. If you decide to run away, you will easily run away.
She looked at him incredulously. The day before she had still deemed him a crook, and yes, she had been holding him responsible for her life. She had no desire to admit that it was rather her responsibility.
“Ready?” The shrink looked at her kindly.
“Yes.” She stuttered out as if she was trying to swallow a tone of coal through her throat.
The man started the engine and headed in the direction of a large wooden house to let her create an utterly new history of another woman unchained from her nightmares.