Chapter 13 - Adding positivity
Friday, November 25th, 2016
After Calo left, I was left behind confused as hell. I didn’t even break the kiss, but I don’t have any romantic feelings for Calo whatsoever. Then again, I wasn’t disgusted by a guy kissing me, or getting germs over me – though I did brush my teeth and flushed my mouth when he left.
I just don’t know what to think of it. So, Calo is attracted to guys, so what? Why would he even keep that a secret, at all?
Unless it’s the whole reason he got bullied in the first place.
And if he got bullied because of it, I get whyhe couldn’t handle it anymore. It’s one thing to get bullied for things you chose to do in a certain way. I think it’s even worse to get bullied for something you can’t change.
This town, however, is so religious, I get that he probably felt like an outcast. And the bullying might not be solely in school, but anywhere outside of it too.
I don’t know any openly gay kids, at all. Which isn’t solely because I have no social contacts with anyone. They’re simply not openly gay because I would have known otherwise. They would’ve surely been bullied.
But Calo shared his secret in a very confusing way.
I mean, does the kiss mean he likes me? Or was it simply easier to kiss me to let me in on his secret, than spilling the truth out in words?
And why didn’t I feel disgusted? Do I like boys, instead of girls? Do I even like anyone in a romantic way, at all? It’s never really been on my mind because I had plenty of other things occupying my mind. I don’t even know what it feels like to be in love, because I’ve never been in love with anyone.
Heck, I never even had a friend, so how would I know if how I feel about Calo, is purely friendship, or more?
‘Neo, honey?’ Mom asks with a careful voice, pushing my hair back. ‘You’ve been more occupied by your thoughts than you’ve been in a long time.’
‘I have a lot on my mind.’
Off course I didn’t tell her what happened. She asked where Calo went and I simply told her he had to go home because he was breaking down again. He needed a familiar environment, just like me.
And now we’re parked outside in the parking lot to the healthcare office in which I have an appointment with Dr. Delgado. I did contemplate on letting mom call him to ask him to come over after work. But I felt selfish for wanting to take even more of his time away from Calo, who obviously needs his parents more then I need my psychiatrist right now.
‘Let’s just go in.’ I shrug. ‘Maybe Dr. Delgado can help me to organize my thoughts and then I would be able to explain what’s been on my mind.’
Mom smiles and nods, probably happy to hear me say I’m going to allow Dr. Delgado in on my thoughts, allowing him to help me.
We walk inside, and mom takes a seat while I tell the assistant that I’m here for my next appointment. She simply tells me to take a seat. Dr. Delgado will call me in as soon as he’s available.
We wait in an awkward silence, while a kid across from us is shamelessly staring at me, his mom reading a magazine.
‘Hi.’ He chirps with a squeaky voice. ‘Who are you?’
‘Eh, Neo,’ I mutter, not wanting him to come any closer than he did already.
‘And what’s your name?’ Mom smiles towards the kid, diverting his attention from me to herself.
‘I’m Bobby. I’m six.’
‘Oh, so you’re a big boy already.’ Mom keeps smiling, while I try to make myself impossibly smaller as he returns to stare at me.
‘He’s a big boy, I’m small.’ He grins, wiping his nose with his sleeve, sending a shiver through my spine. ‘Are you sick like Jennifer?’
‘Am I sick… like Jennifer?’ I repeat his question with a frown and a lot of hesitation. ‘I don’t know…’
‘Is Jennifer your sister?’ Mom asks, in a new attempt to divert his attention.
‘Yes!’ He smiles widely. ‘She’s thirteen.’
‘Fourteen, sweety.’ His mom corrects him, smiling towards us. ‘And I explained already, it’s not nice to ask people if they’re sick, remember?’
‘But he’s here…’ Bobby frowns in confusion, moving to touch my knee with his germ-covered hand, causing me to squeak in shock, pulling away from him.
‘Bobby!’ His mom now firmly calls him. ‘Come back here and sit down. You can see the boy is uncomfortable. Just like Jennifer, right? She doesn’t like to be touched either.’ She corrects his behaviour, while he lowers his head with a sad look on his face.
‘I just wanted to play…’ He mumbles, causing me to feel shitty for scaring him with my behaviour.
‘I’m sorry, Bobby is so outgoing and doesn’t really know when to stop, huh honey?’ His mom helps him to sit on the chair next to her, him staring at me sadly while I stand up from my chair.
‘It’s fine…’ I lie. ‘I’m going to the bathroom,’ I tell mom, hurrying out of the waiting room. I can’t wipe my jeans without getting the germs all over my jeans. I need water and soap.
I grab a couple of paper towels, wetting them with water before adding soap, starting to wipe the knee of my jeans. I shudder at the thought of the kid’s snotty sleeves. Ugh. I do not like kids. They never know when to back off.
I keep wiping my jeans over and over again, until Dr. Delgado surprisingly shows up in the bathroom, smiling at me as I repeat the cleaning process.
‘I have some disinfectant in my office, if you need any.’
‘Oh…’ I look at him, my face flushing in embarrassment. ‘I have some myself…’ I retrieve the tube from my pocket, showing it. ‘I just… I’m finished.’ I throw the paper towels away, washing my hands before using the lotion, evidently smearing some on my knee too – just to be sure.
I’m fiddling with my fingers, as I wait for Dr. Delgado to grab my files, a note block and a pen, sitting across from me.
‘So…’ I drawl.
He curiously cocks his head. ‘Are you ready to talk?’
I take in a deep breath, before I nod. ‘I’m ready.’
‘That’s good. That’s progress in itself already.’ He points out with a proud smile. ‘Did you have trouble trusting me?’
‘I did, I do, I don’t know.’
‘What makes you doubt?’ He writes something down.
’Nobody was able to really help me, so why would you? And you’re Calo’s dad and I don’t want him to know everything.’
Dr. Delgado nods, again writing something down. ‘How many doctors have you talked to before you came to me?’
‘Four psychiatrists, one psychologist and when I was younger I had some sort of therapist.’
‘It’s safe to say, that’s a lot.’ He agrees with me with a nod. ‘And what caused you to stop seeing them?’
‘I never agreed with them.’
‘Agreed on what?’
‘On what to change, or more, how to.’
‘What do you want to change, and what did they want?’
‘I want to stop my compulsions from controlling my life, and in some way, they wanted it too. But they all focused on my fear of losing Pyper and, well… they can’t stop that. And I don’t think it’s the reason I have all these compulsions anyway.’
Dr. Delgado scribbles quick words down, nodding to indicate he heard me. ‘What do you think is causing these compulsions, if it’s not your sister’s health?’
‘Eh…’ I shrug. ’Some things that happened. That proved me I needto do things a certain way.’
‘Can you give me an example?’
‘Eh…’ I think about a good example, that he would understand. Then I remember the step, the fact he saw me skipping the first and last step of a stairs and the fact I made him take another route to my home. ‘The accident dad had?’
‘In the street you told me not to drive through.’ He nods, telling me he knows what I’m talking about.
‘And the fact I always skip the first and last step of stairs?’
‘Yes, you did that back home.’ He nods again.
‘Once, when I was younger, I slipped when I was rushing down the stairs. Dad was behind me, and he caught me, but he fell himself and broke his arm. He wasn’t able to work for a while and I felt guilty. And it happened again, though he managed to catch himself and me and nothing really happened, but every time I touched the steps, something threatens to happen to dad.’
‘And the accident was connected to you stepping on one of those two steps?’
‘I slipped in school, managed to break my fall by stepping on the last step. I freaked out, worried over dad, calling him to pick me up because I wanted to see that he was okay. He never arrived in school because he had that accident.’
Dr. Delgado nods again, writing parts of my story down. ‘And why did other doctors think it was all caused by your fear of losing Pyper?’
‘Because most of my compulsions, if I don’t do them correctly, Pyper will be affected. For instance, if dad gets in an accident, he can’t work and if it’s bad, we don’t have enough money for Pyper’s treatments, and she’ll die.’
‘So, Pyper’s health being affected is a reaction to a reaction that is caused by your actions?’
‘Yes!’ I stare at him with wide eyes.
‘Well, Neo,’ He pushes himself upwards a bit, leaning towards me. ‘It’s really simply to explain, it’s harder to change. But I’m going to help you, okay?’
‘You see, you have rational, and irrational fears.’ He shows me the paper. ‘When you touch the first or last step of a stairs, makes you think your dad will get hurt.’ He points to a small drawing of a stairs, and a car that crashed. ‘Which is rational, because it happened twice. Then there’s the irrational part, in which your mind deceived itself to believe when your dad will get hurt, there will be no money for Pyper’s treatment, and she will die due to those consequences. With is irrational, because you don’t have any proof.’
‘But it’s logical, right? If there’s no money, we can’t pay for her medication.’
‘In some way, yes. But you, for a so far unknown reason, are focussing solely on the possible negative outcome.’ He smiles carefully. ‘What I’d like to try, is to break up the negative spiral in your thinking, by interrupting it with positive thoughts. No matter how small those positive thoughts are.’
‘But that’s not taking away the fear…’
‘It’s a first step, Neo. It’s going to be a long process, but we have to start somewhere. We’ll take away the anxiety and negativity first. For every compulsion you have, there is a bad thought. For every bad thought, I want you to come up with a positive outcome. We’ll write them down and you can take the list home to change things, to edit it, until you are pleased with it and are capable of executing the thoughts, okay?’
‘We have about 30 minutes left, so I think we can cover some compulsions now, and we’ll focus on any other compulsions on Tuesday.’
‘Okay.’ So, no rushing through all of my compulsions, not forcing me to name one after the other, not asking me to wear a rubber band to prevent me from thinking bad thoughts. He’s adding positivity. It seems simple now, but I bet, when I have a panic attack, it’ll be hard to think positive things.
‘Your first compulsion, the steps, we know the story, so let’s come up with a positive outcome, despite the fact your dad getting hurt isn’t positive.’
‘Right, but that’s the thing. I want to stop thinking he will get hurt…’
‘We’ll get there, Neo.’ He smiles again. ‘But we can’t take a big step, if we don’t learn how to walk first, right?’
‘Yes, true.’ I nod in agreement, starting to get where he is taking me. The first baby-step.
‘What could be positive if your dad wouldn’t be able to work anymore? Let’s say he injures his back, can do everything, but no work.’
‘Money needs to come in, right?’
‘I guess mom could find a job?’
‘Do you think your mom would want to work?’
‘I think she wouldn’t mind leaving the house more often.’ I shrug. ‘She’s always taking care of me and Pyper.’
‘And since she loves the two of you, she does it without complaining.’
‘But she doesn’t really have a life…’ I mutter, feeling shitty as fuck for taking all her time. For ruining her life.
‘Hey, she chose to take care of you and Pyper.’ Dr. Delgado tells me. ‘Just like my wife chose to be a stay at home mom to take care of the kids, especially Calo.’
‘Are you even allowed to tell me that?’
‘It’s an example, simply telling you that mothers, and fathers too, do everything for their kids.’
‘So, you mean… if dad would end up at home, mom could get a job?’
‘And money would still come in.’
‘And Pyper could still get her medication.’ He adds with a nod. ’And you could spend more time with your dad, get even closer to him…
‘I would like that.’
‘See, so, despite your dad getting hurt, it could still end good, right?’
‘It’s not perfect, Neo, but that’s not the point. Everything that happens, brings new opportunities. I want you to focus on those, instead of solely seeing the negative consequences.’
‘Okay, any other compulsion you want to take a look at right now?’
‘The jumping to get through a door.’
He encourages me to explain, simply by nodding once.
‘I jump whenever there’s a mat, or any object as measurement. I don’t even know why I do that last part anymore. I just can’t touch a doormat or the first two tiles, or the length of a desk…’
‘And what’s the rational fear behind it?’ He writes down “jumping over doormats” as an indication of the compulsion.
‘When I was younger, I was always running, they always thought I had ADHD or something. Hence the slipping on the stairs…’ I take in a deep breath. ‘I one day ran inside the house, moving the door mat in my speed, sliding it a bit backwards. A corner was sticking out over the doorstep and mom tripped. She broke two fingers and couldn’t use her hands for six weeks.’
‘Rational fear. You avoid doormats and anything that could cause anyone, especially your mom, from tripping.’
‘How is it connected to Pyper? Is it connected?’
‘If she would be to trip and get hurt, she wouldn’t be able to drive a car. If Pyper needs to go to hospital in an emergency situation, it would take more time and they might be to late to help.’
‘Irrational.’ He nods again, pleased with my answer. ‘If it would happen, if it would be your mom who got hurt, she would simply call an ambulance. Which she would do in any emergency anyway. If no ambulance is needed, five or ten minutes more, wouldn’t be an issue.’ He tells me simply.
‘So, what’s the positive thought?’
‘Your mom would get to relax for a bit, while you, Pyper and your dad would all have to jump in and spoil her a bit. Give her some much-deserved rest.’ He winks. ‘Buy her chocolates, let her relax on the couch while your dad cooks, you help her with the things she can’t do. Pyper would be able to learn how to do laundry and learn to be more independent.’
I can’t help but chuckle at the thought of mom sitting around, doing nothing, while we would do everything to give her some rest. ‘That sounds good. She would deserve it.’
‘Good, that’s your positive thought, it would give your mom an excuse to relax for a bit.’
For the rest of the appointment, we work together to come up with any positive or hilarious outcome whenever I would do something wrong. I do think I would feel anxious, but I think I would maybe calm down sooner when remembering what we came up with.
But, despite laughing a lot, I am exhausted once my appointment is over and I’m going home with a list with positive outcomes for five compulsions; tapping the lights, skipping the floorspace in front of a door, the skipping of steps, the order of placing food and drinks at the table and even cutting my bread wrong. He was surprised it wasn’t connected to Pyper, but to Calo, but we simply wrote down it would put Calo in one of his episodes, I would have to step up as his friend and we would both be able to skip school and just sleep all day.
Exhausted or not, I do feel a whole lot better when I leave the office. I need a couple of hours sleep, but as from tomorrow, I will start to try and think about these outcomes whenever I think about the bad outcomes.
Let’s hope I’ll learn how to walk, to start taking steps in the process of healing.