Lying on the couch, I watched yet another home improvement show. This one was about renovating rental properties. They took this dump and turned it into a showpiece made for royalty. Problem was, it still had the same amount of small square footage with zero closet space and in a shitty neighborhood. And it seemed preposterous to think what they were asking for rent just because it had a fresh coat of paint?
Brandt walked into the room and broke up my train of thought. He still looked so haggard. Putting up with me wore on him. Why did he still do it? Because he is too nice to kick me out, that is why. I should just leave him. Why couldn’t I just leave him and let him get back to his life?
Because I still loved him.
Besides, in some weird way, I wanted him to throw me out. I deserved his wrath and every time he was gentle with me, I secretly cringed. Be mad at me, Brandt. I deserve it. I can’t handle you being so kind to me.
“Chelsea, I need you to take a shower.” Unable to look him in the eye, I renewed my focus on the television show. I had a hard time looking at him. When I didn’t answer, he sat on the coffee table, obscuring my view. “Chelsea, did you hear me?” His voice soft, I met his gaze with distant eyes, forced to look at him since I couldn’t see my show. “I am taking you to see someone.”
Who? My mind searched for an answer but kept quiet because I almost felt too tired to talk anymore. “We have an appointment with the psychiatrist Dr. Hunt recommended.”
A psychiatrist? A jolt of fear raced through my body, and I sat up on the couch. I had to talk to a shrink? They would make me think back to what happened. I didn’t want to; I was unwilling to think back to that day more than I did normally. It already invaded my sleep. I didn’t want to open the wound, and he couldn’t make me.
“Brandt, I don’t want to go.” I pleaded with him.
Worry overtook his determined eyes. “We need to go. We need to talk to someone Chelsea. I hear she is really good and can help us.”
Help who? Help him? Why? I was the one with the issues. I could just see it now. Lying on her couch and telling her how I screwed things up for Brandt. Bringing Dan into his life. Not being strong enough to save our child. “Brandt, please. I don’t want to talk to some stranger.”
“Chelsea, we need to talk to someone.” When I didn’t respond, he continued, “Please. For me?”
He aimed straight for the heart. How could I deny him this? He had done so much for me. It did nothing to curb the apprehension I felt though. Searching his eyes, I saw the want in them. He wanted this. He needed me to do this. I lowered my eyes in defeat and nodded my head.
Getting up from the sofa, I made my way to the shower on the main floor as I didn’t use the one in our bedroom anymore. The bedroom was where Brandt and I had had some of our deepest conversations as we were planning for our future. That time was over, and it hurt me to go up there. Instead, Brandt brought clothes down for me to wear. Getting ready, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror and hoped smelling clean would be good enough for today.
The trip into the city was hard. It was the first time I had been away from the house in six weeks, and I fought to control my anxiety with leaving my sanctuary. The crowds of people. The noise. My throat clenched and my breathing became shallow. I was lightheaded and fearful of every noise while Brandt drove us to the building. Even getting out of the car and making my way to the fourth floor office proved hard. Everyone stared at me. Knowing what a failure I was. Needing to see a shrink because I was so mentally unstable.
Brandt kept me at arm’s length. He saw my nervousness but let me deal with it on my own. I would have liked to say I was handling it well, but I felt like a caged animal, looking around and searching for the inevitable.
We were in the waiting room a short time before being led into an office. It wasn’t what I expected. Neutral brown color covered the walls and a bookcase displayed a large volume of books. A large cherry wood desk sat off to the side, but the main part of the room only had a chair and a couch with a small coffee table. Not exactly the chaise lounge I had envisioned.
Her name was framed on the wall behind her. Stephanie Kellen. She was tall. Taller than me but not quite as tall as Brandt. She had deep auburn hair and enticing hazel eyes, as well as a trim frame. Her nose was on the longer side, and she had a part down the middle of her hair which made it seem even more pronounced, but she had softer features to complement it.
Her eyes were the worst. Beautiful, but displayed an astute knowledge behind them that gave me cause for alarm. I felt as though she could see me for what I was. A horrible person.
“Brandt, so nice to meet you in person.” He shook her hand as we stepped into the room. “And this must be Chelsea. Nice to meet you as well.” She was cordial, but I guessed she should be given her profession. I shook her hand, and she motioned to the couch. “Won’t you have a seat? Would you like something to drink?”
“No, thank you,” Brandt gave a verbal declination, but I stayed silent.
Once situated on the couch, I watched her mannerisms. She sat poised in the chair opposite of Brandt and me, crossing her legs politely. She had a notepad in her lap and studied me the moment I arrived. “So, you are a patient of Dr. Hunt’s, I see.”
Did I need to acknowledge it? She appeared to have some knowledge of me already. When I didn’t answer, she continued. “I was told that you went through a painful ordeal recently and have had a hard time with it.” I winced. A painful ordeal? It almost seemed like stubbing your toe and comparing it to having your leg amputated. I didn’t like where this was going.
“Chelsea has been through a lot lately, and we were hoping you could help us.” Brandt’s explanation of the situation angered me. I had been through a lot, but we needed help? Were they already ganging up on me? I felt pushed in a corner and I didn’t like it. I got the sinking feeling that this was all about me. My inability to function in society. Not at all conducive to being a musician’s girlfriend, I guessed, but I hated being singled out.
“Chelsea, what are your thoughts on that?” She noticed my rising hostility, and I instantly didn’t like her.
“I don’t want to discuss it.” Brandt tensed as he sat by me, and I could almost feel his pleading gaze.
“What would you like to discuss then?”
“Nothing. I didn’t want to come here in the first place.” She challenged my thoughts. I saw her game and didn’t like it. Stephanie quickly glanced over at Brandt but I couldn’t read her face.
“Would you mind waiting outside for a little while? I would like to talk to Chelsea one-on-one.”
He looked at her with relief. “Yeah, sure.” He left without even registering my disdain, grateful to have her deal with me instead of him.
Once he left the room, her focus was back on me. “Brandt tells me you are having a hard time dealing with a recent difficulty.” A recent difficulty? Another term that made it seem insignificant. Maybe that was what Brandt considered me? A difficulty.
Keeping quiet, I stared her down. Maybe if I kept silent, she would give up and let me go home. Why should I answer her? Talking to a stranger about my recent difficulty wouldn’t help, anyway.
“What happened to you was inconceivable. I am sorry you had to go through that. It must have been hard on you.” I saw her game. Working another angle wouldn’t make me talk about it though as I didn’t want to talk about it ever again. Talking about it won’t make it any better, and I don’t want to rip the bandage off that wound.
“Brandt is worried about you. Your family is worried about you.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
Undeterred, she continued, “Why?”
“I don’t want to think about it. It won’t change anything.”
“But it might help.” She shifted her legs, and the feeling of unease came upon me again but stronger. The feeling of being caged. A trapped animal about to be pounced on. She wasn’t here to help, only to bring up the pain, the loss. I couldn’t talk about it. I wouldn’t talk about it. I wouldn’t cry about it anymore either having shed all my tears already. Tough shit, lady. You missed your chance.
“You lost a baby, didn’t you?” My eyes widened in horror. How dare she talk about my child! She brought up the elephant in the room, and now my eyes darted around for an escape. Sweat broke out on my forehead and my pulse quickened.
“You were hurt, and you are still hurting.”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” My heart felt as though it was pounding out of my chest and my voice escalated. Anxiety crept up on me, and I worried about what would come out of my mouth.
“What is going on inside you Chelsea? Tell me.”
" Shut up! I don’t want to talk about it!” With my mind racing, I clenched my fists in an effort to calm down.
“Tell me what you are feeling right now. Tell me all about it.”
My voice elevated to near screaming and I didn’t care how childish I acted at the moment. I wanted this to end. This bitch was not getting to me. She would never get to me. “Shut the fuck up! I told you, I didn’t want to talk about it!”
The door opened, and Brandt rushed in, eyes wide and looking at me in shock.
Swinging around, I unleash my misdirected anger towards him. “I told you I didn’t want to come here!” Standing up, I stomped out the door behind him to sit in the waiting area. Away from him and mostly away from her.
Looking between us, he seemed torn. He didn’t come to comfort me, and I was glad given the state of my temper. Taking a quick glance at Stephanie, he turned back to me and commanded, “Stay here.” Going into the room, he closed the door behind him.
They were talking about me, I sensed their whole conversation. Dr. Kellen was telling Brandt what an emotionally unstable person he had as a girlfriend and that he should cut his ties with me. Hell, I would cut ties with me if I could.
The walls of the waiting room were still closing in on me, and I felt as though I would burst if I didn’t leave. The receptionist minded her own business, not even glancing in my direction. She probably saw nutcases like me all the time.
Standing up I went to her. “Tell him I left without him.” I made my way to the elevator and down to the lobby, steaming mad from the altercation with the psychiatrist. It wasn’t until I left the confines of the building I realized I was on my own. Panic attacked me as I waved down a taxi. Finally, one stopped, and I jumped in and away from the public eye. He asked me where to go, but I couldn’t talk until my breathing slowed and the shaking stopped, so instead, I told him to drive.
Slowly, I gained some semblance of cognition and recited my address. Although I got glares from him occasionally, I didn’t care. My only concern was to go back to Brandt’s house, back to my couch and my sweats, and the ability to never think about this again.
Once at the house, I’d almost forgot about the security code. What was that stupid number? Yes, the date we met: 0604. Good. I put in the code just in time before the northern half of the California state patrol made their way to Brandt’s house to see if I broke a fingernail. The whole trip had been a fiasco, and I would fight him to ever return to her office again, regardless if he finally cut his ties with me or not.
Dr. Kellen and I had only talked briefly on the phone. Most of her information came from what Dr. Hunt told her, and I’d only discussed Chelsea’s behavior since coming back home with me. She wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Chelsea.
We needed this. I didn’t want to admit it. I wanted to think we could overcome anything, but I was wrong. There was too much in our way. I couldn’t take it anymore. The separation from what we had festered into a deep, dark hole we couldn’t climb out of. She had turned into a shell of her former self. Where she used to be vibrant and fun-loving, I had found an empty human unable to come to terms with our loss making me afraid for her. For us.
Tony said it helped him to talk to a professional and it was the only reason I gave in and called to make the appointment. So against an outside influence at first, now I didn’t know what to do since the whole trip turned out a disaster. I was losing her, and she was losing her grip on life.
She had lost weight too. If she didn’t wear those damn baggy sweatpants and sweatshirt, it would be more evident, but I could tell. It all stemmed from me. The pain I caused her. Throwing her into the limelight and letting that maniac get to her. I couldn’t come to grips with the fact that I caused our daughter’s death and now I was slowly causing hers as well.
Why did Chelsea stay with me? Pity? Some crappy sense of loyalty? What was she waiting for? I had already disappointed her so much. How could I ever make it up to her?
Dr. Kellen wasn’t what I expected. Somehow, I pictured shrinks to be dowdy and stuck up, but I felt as though she was open to listening to us. She dressed conservatively but had an open way about her. It probably worked well, being a shrink and all. Her office was just like I would have expected it. A room full of books and neutral colors. The only thing missing was the lounging couch.
Chelsea didn’t like her. I could tell from the minute we walked into the room. She started talking about her abduction and loss of the baby. Did she have to start so bluntly? Didn’t these shrinks know how to ease into an issue? Chelsea shouldn’t need to be reminded of it already. She went through so much.
Keeping silent, I felt as though anything that came out of my mouth was wrong. God, I hoped this helped. But I hated it when Dr. Kellen pushed her. I already told her she wouldn’t want to come today. I started to get afraid that this wasn’t the answer, and I made things worse by bringing her, but I didn’t know what else to do.
Each of the short one or two word answers, only made Dr. Kellen push harder, and when she asked me to leave the room, I felt guilty for wanting to go. Maybe she wasn’t talking because I was in there? At this point, I would do anything to help.
When I heard her yelling through the door, it had me worried. Chelsea never talked in such a manner to people in the past. “Shut the fuck up!” Unable to sit back, I bolted through the door at an irritated looking Chelsea. Stephanie didn’t seem to be helping at all and my hope plunged.
Chelsea sneered at me with an anger I hadn’t seen in a while. “I told you I didn’t want to come.” Standing up, she stormed out the door behind me, leaving me to gape at Stephanie. She was my last hope in making things right between us, and now I had Chelsea upset.
Directing my anger to Stephanie, I looked back at Chelsea sitting with her arms crossed and her mouth twisted in rage in the waiting room. “Stay here.” Closing the door behind me and knowing that yelling could be heard beyond the door I kept my voice low. “What the fuck was that? You were supposed to help us, not piss her off.”
“Brandt, come and sit down.” Keeping her voice low, she displayed a soothing tone, but I didn’t feel calm in the least.
“Stephanie, she is out there upset. What did you say to her?”
“I told her you are worried about her. I just asked her to talk about her loss. She isn’t ready.”
No shit? I shook my head, appalled by her mannerism. Shouldn’t she be able to read a person? Dr. Hunt said she came highly recommended, but she wasn’t seeing the big picture at all. “Chelsea isn’t one to be pushed into things. She is a thinker. An over-thinker actually. She needs time.”
“She’s had a lot of time to think about things, Brandt. I was just trying to get her to open up about it.” I stared at her in dismay. What little hope I had diminished knowing she wouldn’t be able to save our relationship. If this didn’t work what was left?
“Chelsea isn’t ready to talk about this. She might never be, but what I do know is that if I am ever going to get through to her, I need your help.” My help. Of course, I would help.
“I would do anything.” A sliver of hope worked its way through my doubt. I would bend over backward and give up everything to fix what was between us.
“I need you to come and talk to me about that day, what has happened since, and give me some more background on Chelsea. Do you think you could do that?” She wanted me to see her without Chelsea? If that would help, I would sleep in her office.
“I can do that.”
“Good. Now please schedule with my receptionist. I would like to see you twice next week if it is possible.”
“But what should I do about Chelsea?” She looked at me and sighed.
“She is in a deep depression and should start on anti-depressant medication to help. Here.” She handed me a piece of paper with a prescription on it.
“Have her take one pill twice a day, and I want to see her back here in two weeks. Ideally, it would be one week, but I don’t know if she will be up for it.”
Pills? Yes, it could help with the depression. If they worked, it could be the answer to my prayers. I would try anything at this point.
“Don’t forget to make an appointment to see me this week.” When I went to see the receptionist, my heart sank as I realized Chelsea left without me.
“The lady said she was leaving, and she would find her own way home.” Didn’t she realize the dangers of leaving by herself? I raced out of the office without making the next appointment. My only thought narrowed on Chelsea alone, without me to protect her.
Rushing downstairs, she wasn’t in the lobby either, and I made my way to the car. When I noticed the car empty too, I called her, but then remembered she didn’t have her phone with her. Finally, I conceded and drove home. I let out a huge sigh of relief when I found her at the house, already changed into her sweats and watching her stupid TV shows.
“Chelsea, you shouldn’t have left like that. You worried me.”
“I told you I didn’t want to go.” She stared straight ahead, not caring that I spent the better part of an hour driving Mach one worried she could be in danger.
“I thought something happened to you. You could have been hurt.” Her nonchalant attitude pissed me off, but I needed to calm down. Pushing her right now would not be good.
“Chelsea, she is there to help us.” Still not looking at me. Still the blank stare. “She gave me a prescription for you.” I waved the paper in front of her as if it would cause some magic conversion to take place. “Once I get it filled you will need to take them twice a day.”
“Brandt, I don’t want to take any--”
“Please?” Not above begging at this point, I wouldn’t take no for an answer.
What if she did refuse? Was this the end? Would I ever get her back? Please, Chelsea. This will help us. Please give it a chance.
Relenting, she nodded and I smiled for the first time in what felt like forever. Relief washed over me and I could barely hold back the tears. She was trying, right? This meant there was still a chance for us.
Giving her a break, I left to get the prescription filled wondering how soon it would be until I got my Chelsea back?