Chapter 13. When Megan Met Ruby
Ruby, the therapist that Alex insisted I see, led me through the dimly lit narrow hallway into her office. She left me standing there in the doorway, while the phone rang twice and she picked it up to answer her service. Not the high priced leather couch shrink I figured he’d bring me to; this one puzzled me with that huge turban of bright colors that clashed with her sweater set. The office furniture consisted of two leatherette chairs with an ottoman between them that was used both as a footrest and a table in the center of the room and near the far wall stood a gorgeous secretary desk similar to one Brandon had coveted in the last Christie’s catalog. I knew that it had to be worth more than the rest of the furniture in this entire office combined.
After she hung up with her service, Ruby motioned for me to sit in one of the chairs, so I did as she asked and watched the floor show as Ruby moved with the poise of a princess balancing that high turban of Kente cloth on her head. I was sure it would fall off when she collected a pen and a legal pad with a salon manicured hand that had nails longer than most children’s fingers. I knew for a fact that I certainly couldn’t have picked up a pen from the desk blotter with them. As if she was born with those claws on her nails and that turban on her head, she did all of it with ease, surprising me. Her chocolate drop eyes caught mine staring at her before I could attempt to avoid her.
“So, what brings you here today?” she asked, sitting in the chair across from me, the air whooshing out of the seat cushion beneath her as she sat.
“I’m pretty messed up.”
“I see, and how are you messed up?” she asked scrawling something on the tablet; I guessed it was my name and the date of the appointment.
“I have an ex-boyfriend who stalks me and makes me crazy.”
“Tell me about the boyfriend. What attracted you to him?”
She was setting me up. I had spent enough time in therapy to know a shrink-wrapped trap like this one. I had no choice but to plunge in so I might as well get to the point so as not to belabor the agony of admittance. With a deep breath, I sighed and slumped back in the chair before replying.
“Randy is very self-confident and successful. He’s attractive and forthright.”
“Sounds like your employer, Alex, but you weren’t attracted to him?”
“Who wouldn’t be attracted to Alex Corwynn? He’s great and all but taken by some bubble-headed ballerina. Besides, Alex is clearly not interested in me. The closest thing to a compliment I get from him is ‘you look hot’ and maybe a grope or two.”
With a knowing smile that she tried to conceal, Ruby made me wonder just how long the two of them had known each other. “I see,” replied Ruby.
“Now then, you described Randy as ‘forthright.’ As in bed?”
Lord, she’s Freudian. I wanted to run, no jump out of the window of this high rise to avoid this inquisition, but Alex was determined that she was the therapist for me, and well, I couldn’t very well disappoint him, could I?
“Yes, I guess you could say he was forthright in bed.”
“How many dates did you have before he displayed his forthrightness in the bedroom?”
“The first. I couldn’t resist Randy.”
“I see. Has this ever happened before? An obsessed lover who wouldn’t let go?”
My jaw fell open. I sat back and stared at the wall over the back of her chair avoiding eye contact with her until I could answer her.
“I’ll take that as a yes, thank you very much. How many, Megan?”
“Four of them.”
“Four out of how many?”
“Probably a dozen.”
“And how do you eventually evade them?”
“You run away.”
“And will you do the same this time?”
“I can’t, I love my job and Alex needs me.”
Ruby leaned against the back of her leatherette chair and wrote something on the yellow legal pad that rested on her lap.
“He needs you? Hold up there--is this the same Alex we’re talking about? As in Alex Corwynn, the multi-millionaire, who does it all, and what he can’t, he pays others to do for him? He needs you?”
“I made his foundation its first million this year.”
“Alex could survive without you or the foundation, for that matter. Maybe Alex isn’t the one needing someone. Maybe, just maybe, you need him?”
“I guess, to a degree I do. Alex is very kind to me, and he won’t let Randy near me again.”
“Ah, so he’s your hero--your protector.”
She gave me an odd look and raised her eyebrow, waiting for my reaction. I sat there stoically and smirked. Maybe my body language told her or she realized she wasn’t dealing with a rookie when it came to this thing called therapy.
“Have you been in therapy before?”
“Yes.” She smiled knowingly at that response.
“Why’d you stop?”
“I relocated.” Again, she dipped her head down and wrote on that legal pad. I hate it when shrinks do that, and I always want to know what they write; it’s not like you could just ask them what’s what on that pad or what it means to them.
“Ah, so you ran from reality too?”
“What was your diagnosis from therapy?”
“I . . . well, I have an anxiety disorder and PTSD.”
“What else?” she asked scribbling those diagnoses down.
“I’m a co-dependent.”
Ruby slammed her pen down on the pad beneath her chocolate hand and laughed, “Girl, you’re a flaming co-dependent. Go on, what else?”
I didn’t want to admit the last diagnosis, the big one. The minute she heard it, I was sure she’d get out that prescription pad and load me up with antipsychotic drugs. “Well?”
“I see and what meds do you take currently?”
“None and I’d prefer it stayed that way.”
“So you like being up all night and stressing out over the unknown?” she asked, reaching for the prescription pad on the small table next to her chair.
“And your aversion to drugs is what?”
“Nothing, I’m just not into popping pills when I get stressed.”
“What do you do?”
“Well, we know you run—”
“I meant running like training for marathons. I run ten miles a day.”
“Oh, I see. Have you ever had a hero in your life, Megan? Someone who took care of things for you? Who looked out for you and steered you in the right direction?”
“No,” I replied. I readjusted myself in the seat, moving my braid out of my way, and then I began to twirl its end, curling it about my finger so it became a ringlet.
“Your father wasn’t a hero to you?”
“My father was a drunk who could barely hold down a job let sit upright upon a barstool,” I replied, not making eye contact with her any longer.
“And your mother?” she asked watching me avoid her, scrawling something else on the tablet.
“A drunk and an unfit mother.”
“Do you have any siblings?”
“My brother died of AIDS and my sister is an invalid in a home in Vermont.”
“So you took care of everyone?” she asked, making me look up at her again. Although I didn’t want to make eye contact with her again, she validated that—-I took care of everyone like a badge of honor, denying myself completely.
“So because everyone in your life needed you, you automatically think that Alex Corwynn, in fact, needs you?”
I didn’t answer her. Instead, I let a large sigh escape my mouth.
“That felt better, didn’t it? Feels good to know that you don’t have to hold the whole world on your shoulders like Atlas… sitting in my lobby thinking that he must escort you here to be certain you arrived safely.”
“I don’t want to take care of everyone else’s shit. I have enough of my own.”
“Precisely, so what are you going to do about Randy?”
“Not answer the phone.”
“So you’re going to avoid the situation, and let it fester even more than it has already?”
“What do you think I should do? When I tried to end it, he raped me.”
“Did you press charges?”
“Well, that would be the first step, I believe. When he realizes that you’re not going to run from him, he’ll realize that you’re not going to tolerate any more of his garbage.”
“I know. It’s sad though because he wasn’t always this way.”
“He wasn’t? Are you sure?” she asked, leaning forward in the chair, giving me an inquisitive stare.
I didn't know how to answer her and my mouth gaped open like a baby bird waiting to be fed. Why couldn't she be one of the typical psychiatrists who had her prescription pad in hand and was more interested in the insurance company paying the bill than the state of my own mental health?
Since I hadn't answered her, she filled in the silence with her own answer. “Experience has taught me that leopards don’t change their spots, and I’m sure that Randy is definitely a spotted leopard, who knew from the get-go what he could get out of you—and he did. The problems arose when you finally put up a boundary, and he hadn’t gotten enough of what he wanted from you. Like a toddler who has a toy taken from him, this Randy is acting up and trying to make you miserable. He must be doing quite a good job of it from the looks of you and ol’ Atlas out there.”
I knew she was right. Like some empath, she knew from the moment I walked into this office that I had been down this road before.
“Why? Why do I keep doing this? Why can’t I just have a normal relationship?”
“Only you can answer that. I’m no mind reader, and I haven’t lived in your skin to know where you’ve been and why you are the way you are. Now then, if you were to give me the rundown on why you think you let men treat you this way, and why you choose men who beat the stuffing out of you emotionally and physically, then maybe we can get somewhere. So, Megan Beal, just where have you been?”
“I...I don’t know where to begin.”
“Sure you do. Go on, tell me about your father.”
“Oh, so he wasn’t your problem?”
“Well, he started it.”
“Then let’s back up and deal with good old dad.”
“There wasn’t much good about Howard Beal. He was a drunk who beat on my ma, raped me and kicked my brother out of the house for being gay.”
“And your mother?”
“Ethel let him do it, and she drank so she wouldn’t have to deal with it all. But she mostly drank to forget Maggie, my little sister.”
“What happened to Maggie?”
“She was taken from my mother because she neglected her. Maggie was born with birth defects, and my mother drank to forget it. I took care of Maggie as much as I could, but I was only a little kid. The state took her away and left Billy and me there to deal with them.”
“How old was Billy when he left home?”
“He was seventeen. I was fifteen at the time.”
“So you were left to deal with them both by yourself?”
“Did your father physically abuse you much?”
“When I was younger he did. When I got older, it was mostly for the sex unless I resisted, then he would beat and rape me.”
“How did you deal with being raped by him?”
“I don’t remember much of it. I disassociated whenever I could. I just remember the feeling of the wetness between my legs and the smell of him on me the next morning. I’d try to leave the house before Ethel woke so she wouldn’t smell him on me too.”
“You were afraid of your Mom?”
“Yes, Ethel was a mean drunk.”
“What attracted you to Randy?”
“He was very self-confident and assured in everything he did. Sexually, he was very dominant.”
“And he played your head games?” she asked. I refused to answer her, admitting the guilt she wanted me to spill. I didn’t play head games on purpose, they just happened, depending on the person.
“Just a word between us girls here about your head games: that man out there in my lobby, the one I call Atlas, and you call Mr. Corwynn, doesn’t deserve head games. Don’t think he won’t report to me on your errant behavior. Atlas and I have a special relationship. While I won’t tell him about our sessions together, and he won’t ask, he will inform me if I need to know something. Have I made myself clear?”
“Good. Now then, our time is almost up. Have you ever been to Al-anon?”
“How much have you been to Al-anon?”
“Off and on for like eight years now.”
“If we are going to work together, you will be going weekly. I will give you a schedule and an attendance sheet for you to take with you and have signed, and I want 90 in 90 and no less. Secondly, I have a rape support group that I want you to attend. It meets on Tuesdays at three.”
“But I work—”
“If Mr. Corwynn gives you a hard time about it, let me know, I’ll deal with him, but I expect you in attendance at that meeting.”
I sighed, thinking how much I hated this. I abhorred these self-help meetings. They’ll take up more of the time that I would rather spend at Alex’s baby grand at night.
“How much do you disassociate now?”
“I did the night I was raped, but I haven’t since.”
“How do you feel about medication?”
“I don’t want any.”
“And how are you sleeping?”
“Which means Atlas isn’t sleeping either. With his heart condition, that’s not good for him. We’re going to make a deal, you and me,” Ruby replied, pointing her perfectly red salon manicured nail between the two of us.
“Oh?” I asked, sitting forward, as if I was interested, which I was not. We’d see if I’d make the deal, but chances were that I wouldn’t.
“I’m going to write you a script and you’re going to take it, not for yourself but for Alex. When you get around to giving a damn about yourself, then you can take it for you, but being the little caretaker you are, you’ll take it for Alex, right?”
“Fine, whatever,” I replied, sitting back and crossing my arms in front of my chest.
“Oooh, girl, you’re gonna learn not to say fine, whatever, ’round me. Fine, whatever is what’s gotten you where you are right now. No fine, whatever, Megan. Fine, whatever is going to land you in the grave with another Mr. Wrong. Getting your shit together will make the difference in your finding Mr. Right or Mr. Wrong this next time out.”
“There won’t be another—”
Before I could finish what I was saying, Ruby put her hand up so that her palm faced me, and I shut my mouth. At that moment, I wasn’t pleased with Alex’s choice of psychiatrists, and he was about to find out why I wouldn’t return for a second visit.
“Now you just go save that breath. We both know that he won’t be the last, don’t we? Don’t know whom you’re trying to mess with, do you? That ain’t gonna play here, Miss Megan.” Ruby scribbled something on a script then did the same on the next.
“Have you ever been on Prozac?”
“Any problems with it?”
“No. You really don’t want me getting into a relationship again, do you?” I asked, considering my own sexual dysfunction caused by Prozac.
“Oh well, now you have done figured me out. Let’s just say that sex should be the least of your worries, for the time being, my dear. I want you to get these on your way back to Alex’s house and take a dose when you get there and another at dinner. About an hour before bed, I want you to take one of the others. Those are sleeping pills, and I only want you to take one per night. If you can’t sleep even with the one, I want you to call my service, and I’ll call you back, then we’ll discuss it from there, all right?”
“No fine, whatever that time? You’re catching on. That’s good, I like a fast learner. Now, I want to see some meetings on this attendance sheet when I see you on Friday. Let’s say one-thirty, all right?”
Ruby put the appointment card, the prescriptions and the Al-anon paperwork in an envelope then handed them all to me before ushering me out of her office and into the lobby again, and as far as I was concerned, it was the last time I’d step foot in there.