"No," I reply honestly, only feeling a little guilty. It had been my parents' idea that I get a therapist after weeks of persistent nightmares, after three different therapists I landed on Becca; who seems the most understanding.
"I asked if you've been taking your meds," Becca asks, I finally meet her eyes and wonder if she knows her deep purple lipstick is slightly smudged. I won't be the one to tell her, but it's all I can notice. Her eyes are kind to me, not judging or critical. I have to wonder if she's this way naturally or if it's because she's paid.
"Yeah, I have." My tongue feels heavy, like something in the room is making me feel rushes of fatigue. Maybe it's her perfume, that smells heavily of chamomile, that makes me feel like taking a nap on this couch.
"And?" Becca prods, crossing her legs and leaning forward. She doesn't wear nylons as other professionals do. I wonder if it's because hers are in the wash, or if she's rebelling against modern-day feminism.
"And, Rebecca, they aren't working." I bite out, my words sounding harsher than I had intended. Becca is honestly the better therapist, I shouldn't be this standoffish. She doesn't say anything, and I realize now she's doing that therapist thing where they wait for you to spill your guts. I sigh. "I'm still having dreams, and they're getting worse. I take my meds, I try meditating, I've tried every stupid trick in the book you've told me to try and it's not working." Saying it takes a weight off my chest, speaking it aloud makes it real. I am struggling.
"What do you dream about, Sage? Specifically." I look at her, my eyes hard, we'd agreed I would not talk about the dreams. The idea of them being written in her little notebook weighs on me, and I'm not ready for that. She reads me like I'm an open book. Her hand flourishes as she tosses her book aside, and she leans casually back in her chair.
"Off the record," I say, a joking tone not being quite believable.
"Off the record. I want to help you, Sage. If meds aren't working, and neither are breathing activities, I have to worry about a certain type of trauma. To help, I need to know the root of the dreams." It makes sense, and her voice is low and husky; calming. I'm afraid, like leaping and talking about it will somehow make the monsters come to life. But that's not possible. I think of Grayson, his kind eyes, and how much we desire us moving forward. How much I desire moving forward, and I can't do that unless I'm healthy.
"I dream about monsters hurting my sister, or my friends. And they feel so real, they feel so real that sometimes I can't separate my dreams from reality." I pause, nervous she's going to change my anxiety meds to schizophrenia meds. Becca says nothing, so I breathe out and push forward; saying the words I've never spoken to anyone.
"When I was in my coma I dreamed I was alive but my mom was dead, and that I moved to this new town and made all the friends that I have now. We went to this fire and I got dared to go to the asylum and when we were there..." I stop, I can't. Becca notices I freeze, and steps in.
"So you were in that coma last fall, and you dreamed of Salem and your friends?" I nod, squeezing my fists tight to ground myself. "I'm going to guess things got pretty bad?"
"Yeah. Fast too. In my dream five of us died, even...even my sister. And it was in horrific ways," I can taste bile in my throat. My chest burns like I have indigestion, but it's just anxiety.
"Watching people you care about sufferyg5 is hard enough, but then to wake up and find that they're all ok? Traumatic, to say the very least." Becca says, and at her words, tears burst free from my chest. Finally, someone who understands. She lets me cry, saying nothing while I wail dramatically across from her. After a few minutes, when my eyes burn and my throat feels raw, I take a breath and the tears subside.
"Tissue?" I ask, feeling both relief and odd embarrassment at the situation. Becca responds by extending the box to me and then relaxing back into her chair. "Sorry," I mumble apologetically, now feeling thoroughly embarrassed at my behavior.
"Never apologize for feeling strong emotions, it's the mind and body's way of telling us we need to rest; that we need help." I just nod, I need rest. "From what you have explained to me, which I'm sure is the tip of the iceberg, it's understandable if you're overwhelmed. You're experiencing things that I'm sure nobody else has, watching people they love to be hurt only to wake up and have it essentially be reset." I say nothing, I feel like I've spilled my guts enough to last a lifetime. My words weigh heavy in the air, while Becca's understanding words attempt to ease them.
"Yeah." Is all I say, talking hurts. My lungs ache from my cry, I blow my nose awkwardly. We sit silently for a while, but it's comfortable. I throw my tissues in the garbage pail, noting it's already half full of tissues. A lot of tears have been spilled in this room, and now I can be joined to the list of blabbering people. I clench a new tissue in my hand, crumpling it up only to flatten it and crumple it again. This process happens a few times before Becca speaks, her low voice sounding loud in the small room.
"What do you think you need, to prove that there is a separation between your dream and real-life?" I don't say anything, not sure how to respond. We're quiet again, she's patient with me.
"I don't think there is...a big separation." This is the part where she thinks I'm crazy. "It's like there's a line separating the two worlds, my dream world, and this world, but there are places where it blurs. For a moment. I'll see the monsters, or I'll smell a dying body. The lines blur, and I'm scared." I expect a call from my parents and a psych ward. That doesn't happen, instead, she nods knowingly.
"Sounds like you have some severe post-traumatic stress, and given what you saw it makes sense. I don't want to pump you full of meds, especially if they don't seem to be helping."
"Then what am I supposed to do? I can't live like this." Becca ponders, then gives a small smile. The smile makes me nervous, I have a feeling I won't like her antidote.
"Well, I'm sure if you could find a distinction between the worlds, it could help you move forward in this world." I know where this is going, I don't want to hear it. "And maybe going to the asylum, seeing that the monsters aren't there, would help-" I grab my bag and stand abruptly, she doesn't seem surprised at my reaction.
"No." I snap, maybe too blunt but I don't care. She's insane for even recommending it.
"Do what you can at your pace, remember don't be ashamed of your emotions. Even your fear-" I'm taking for the door, done with the conversation. Her voice follows me, "will I be seeing you next Friday?"
"Who knows." I snap, yanking open the door and tearing out the room; leaving my tears and weakness behind me. I don't have time for a longer meeting anyways. I have places to be, I have a fire I got to get to.