I See You

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20

Picture of home (foyer) 2/3

A/N So this chapter focuses on Casper's therapy session. I made it interesting I promise. I found this quote while doing research for this chapter BITCH it made me wet.

Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way—that is not within everybody's power; that is not easy.

—Aristotle

(Present)

I stood anxiously in the foyer as David opened the tall, dark wooden front door. On the other side was a woman well in her sixties, Her hair was an elegant, cropped silver, and she wore a formal, cardigan ensemble.

I always thought psychologists needed to look approachable. Maybe I was wrong. She looked stern and serious, so I found myself wondering what disarming techniques she'd use on me.

I was starting to have second thoughts as I watched my husband exchange pleasantries and hug this woman who supposedly taught him everything he knew. He led her inside, all the way to where I was standing.

"Casper." David took my hand, excitement written across his face. "This is Josephine Macbeth."

"Please, call me Josie," she introduced, holding out her hand. "It's a wonderful pleasure to meet you, Casper." In contrast to her stony face, her voice was quite musical. I admired that she spoke slowly- but not too slow. She didn't rush through her words which made her sound sophisticated.

"Likewise." I shook her hand. "My husband tells me you mentored him."

"Yes, well, his parents took his education seriously. His mother hired me as his tutor when he was only fifteen. I've known him ever since."

I looked at David and he grinned with an affirming nod. "Oh, so she practically raised you?" I teased as he laughed.

"Something of the sort, yes."

It was a shame he never mentioned her to me before. If someone taught me from such a young age, I'd consider them a second parent. Josie picked up on that fact as she glanced between us two, but she just waved it off.

"Let's get started, shall we?" She wasn't one to waste time. She was steadily winning me over, to be honest.

"Right. One second." David gently pulled me aside to give me a light kiss. "Give her a chance, okay?"

I nodded, then he told me he loved me before giving us our space. I turned to Josie and forced a smile. "Why don't we head to the lounge? It's this way."

I led the way, and she promptly followed, carrying her white messenger bag with her. "Would you like something to drink?" I offered as we sat down across one another.

"No, thank you. I must admit, I'm quite eager to speak with you."

My eyebrows rose. "Really? Because of David?"

"I haven't seen him in so long. I heard whispers that he was married and had started a family of his own."

"Why haven't we met before now?" I wondered.

"I moved away. When I returned a few months ago, I got in touch with his mother. It's good to see him happy and thriving. Anyway, let's not dally."

"Right." I cleared my throat, leaning back a bit.

"So tell me. What ails you?" She clasped her hands together, letting them rest on her lap.

"Um... I suspect that... no, I know that I'm depressed."

"A self-diagnosis?"

I shrugged. "A half-brained fool could do it. I'm a professionally trained neurosurgeon."

"In other words, a genius. You're not so easily fooled. I daresay it's an honor to be in your presence." She smiled at me, but my face remained blank. Was she trying to flatter me? Maybe she was trying to read my personality.

"Where's your... notepad thing? To write on?" I inquired.

"My dear Casper." She shook her head. "I'm here to listen to you."

"So you're not gonna forget important details?"

"The details are not in your words, but in your eyes. In your tone.  And as long as I look at you and listen, nothing will be forgotten."

I sighed, averting my gaze. "Well yes. I'm depressed," I repeated. "My husband thinks you can help, but I highly doubt it."

"Why do you doubt me?"

I looked back at her. Her brown eyes were sharp and alert, taking note of my every action, my every movement. "I've been in this... abyss before, as a teenager. My countless insecurities only fueled it."

"You were a teenager. Now, you're a grown man. Have those insecurities stayed with you all this while?"

My lips tightened for a second. "No. Most of them are gone, but they're getting replaced by new ones."

"Would you tell me what these new insecurities are?"

I was about to respond, but chose to remain silent.

"I see," Josie said patiently. "You don't trust me. Perfectly understandable. I'm certain I'll find out within the hour."

I sensed a challenge, and whatever it was, I wanted to win. "How can you be so sure?"

Josie pushed her silver hair out of her face. "We're all puzzles. I will fit the pieces to create a picture. First, I must find those pieces."

I couldn't help but crack a smile. David did the same thing. Not just with people, but that was also how he solved problems. I simply called it 'digging.' It was nice to see a bit of him in her.

"So, you're a neurosurgeon." she recalled. "A prestigious career, yes?"

"Yeah, it is."

"Still, it's a very difficult occupation. It isn't just a job but a lifestyle. I assume you live around your work."

I furrowed my eyebrows, trying to decide if that was true. "I-I mean... sometimes, yes."

"When did you decide healthcare was the path for you? Healthcare in general," she clarified.

"Since I was little, after my mom fainted while taking care of me. I didn't like feeling so helpless."

"Okay, good. When did you decide neurosurgery was your path?"

I shifted, my sight flickering to the rug. Absentmindedly, I touched my wedding band, twisting it repeatedly. "I've always had an interest in how the brain operates."

"Casper, do you read?"

I was confused by that, but I nodded anyway. "I love reading."

"What about... cooking?"

"Yes, I enjoy that too."

She opened her palm. "Reading and cooking are both interests of yours. You could've been an English teacher or a Culinary artist." She brought her pointer finger and thumb together. "Something solidified your decision to become a neurosurgeon. What was that something?"

I sighed, swallowing a knot in my throat. "David suffered a tumor. It was... frightening as hell. If he hadn't made it, I honestly couldn't say where I'd be right now. He believed in me so much that I had no choice but to be the best I could be. There was no way I was going to disappoint him, even if he wasn't around to see it."

Josie's reaction was minimal. If she was affected by what I said, she masked it well. It was the professional thing to do; I respected that. "The man you love had a brain tumor and your path was set in stone because of it. And now, every day you work, it's personal. Every patient that you treat with a tumor in their heads becomes David."

What was this? An investigation? She wasn't just trying to find the puzzle pieces; she was hunting them down, decoding me like a detective.

"David must've told you that," I assumed.

"I promise, he told me nothing. I didn't even know you were feeling depressed until you said so just a few minutes ago."

I felt my cheeks heat up. "Okay. You definitely know what you're doing."

"This has been my career long before your husband was born. My dear, I'm not here to compete with you. I need to know you, so I can offer my help. I'll leave it to you to reach out and take it."

"Well, you got one major insecurity out of me. Let's see how many more you can extract."

She tilted her head, thinking to herself for just a second. "Tell me about your family."

"The one I was born into?"

"Sure." She nodded with a smile.

I drew in a breath. "I have a brother named Dawson. He's 21, and we grew up as best friends. I isolated myself a lot but he looked up to me. My mom and dad are great. We were scared for some time that they'd divorce because Mom was unfaithful..." I paused at those memories. "But thank God, my Dad's love for her is as fierce as a lion."

"And the family you created?"

I lit up like fireworks. "We have a boy and a girl. Dawn loves theater and dance. Royce is shy, and he's taken an interest in crafting all sorts of things. He's too young for us to know where that talent will lead him, but we're excited to find out. I think it's nice how David and I lean toward science while our babies are more artistic."

"You consider them your world, I can tell."

"I feel that if depression had an absolute cure, it'd be them."

She chuckled lightheartedly. "I understand what you mean. Let's see... you agreed that sometimes, you have to live around your heavy work schedule. Should I assume this affects how often you're at home?"

"I haven't met a single surgeon who is more at home than in the hospital working. Certain surgeries alone could take up to 16 hours."

"Right, and by the time you make it home, you're exhausted. Your sleep schedule is forever out of balance, you probably eat at odd times during the day, and chances are, you don't see your family enough at all."

My shoulders sagged. She hit the mark in what? Five seconds? I hated to admit it but, "Yes, yes, and definite yes."

"And then what? You just... wake up, shower if you have the time, go back in to work, save lives, and return home two days later? You persevere. You get through it because, after all, you are treating illnesses and curing diseases. You're a hero." She grinned, but the smile faded. "You keep up the routine; a month flies by, then a year. Then five years. You've missed a birthday here, a graduation there."

"The point would be greatly appreciated right about now," I sassed, rubbing my forehead in annoyance. And here I thought I was starting to like her.

"A lot of surgeons aren't burdened by such commitments. But some are. And you, my dear, you know that this isn't ideal. This isn't what you want for yourself, for your husband, or for your children."

Insecurity number two? Check. "Well, you're wrong."

"Maybe I am. Forgive me, if that's the case. May I ask that you tell me what work is like for you? What happens when you arrive at the hospital?"

This should be easy. I tried not to give too much away though. "I do rounds, examine patients, check their charts and vitals, do consultations, prescribe preoperative and postoperative care, cut into a brain on a good day, oversee residents and interns... Nothing I can't handle."

"You have my respect. What's your favorite part of your day during a shift?"

"I don't think I could choose. I love performing surgery. Something about a patient going in sick then coming out healthy makes it meaningful. I'm not a people-person, but I enjoy meeting the patients, hearing their stories."

"You make a difference in their lives, I'm sure."

I bit my lower lip, willing myself to keep a straight face. And just like the Casper I knew, I stared down at my hands in utter sadness.

"What are you thinking?" Josie queried after giving me a moment.

I didn't want to tell her anything, but I remember David said I should open up to her. She was only trying to help. "I broke a rule which could cost me my license to practice," I confessed to her quietly. "I'm on suspension."

"What did you do?"

"I... resuscitated a patient against his wishes. More like against his DNR order. Everyone overlooked the fact he was thankful I brought him back."

I watched her in that moment, and from her expression, it seemed she had fitted all the puzzle pieces together. "Yes, I see. You saved this patient knowing it could be the last time you practiced medicine."

I shrugged. "It was a risk worth taking."

"Although... it wasn't much of a risk, was it? This action not only allowed you to save your patient, but it also gave you a way out. You'd rather save a life and lose your license in the process so that you aren't labelled a quitter."

My nose flared. "You're bold to accuse me of such a lie."

"This job—this career path—makes you unhappy. I've only just met you and I can see it as clear as the sky. It's not what you dreamed it would be. More importantly, it's not what you love. Why not step away from it, dear? You can tell me."

I folded my arms defiantly with a huff, then I leaned forward. "What if I did quit? I'd be painted as a coward if I left. I just got the chief resident position, an honor I never thought I'd experience. This isn't just some job, it's an opportunity. A gift." I looked down and swallowed. "And David would never forgive me for wasting it."

"Do you really believe that?"

"Yeah." I didn't hesitate. "He put so much faith in me. It was his unwavering support that drove me. He said I could cure diseases, and paid every dime of my education. He endured my bad days and long nights, cared for our children, took time off work—he has dedicated his life to making my dreams a reality." I pressed my fingers to the inner corners of my eyes, refusing to let any tears fall. "All for me to just give up? It's a slap in the face!" I shook my head. "I won't do it."

"Even if it makes you unhappy? Even if this triggered your depression?"

I sat back, turning my head away as my face heated up in shame. "Even if," I confirmed, my chest heaving with anger. All I could think of was how glad I was that David decided not to be my therapist. I couldn't imagine him digging until he found out this truth. He'd be so hurt.

"Something tells me your husband cares more for your well-being than you might believe."

I glared at her, almost hating her for being so damn good at her job. At least one of us wasn't a total failure. "Are we done then?"

"Until next time. You've made tremendous progress but we're not quite finished, you and I."

Progress. I held back a scoff. All she'd managed to do was infuriate me on a day that I could be buried in sheets, sleeping or sobbing. Or both.

"You must be feeling... a bit enraged." Her eyebrows furrowed.

"A bit?" I practically spat in disbelief.

"Most would say that anger worsens depression. But I believe otherwise. Your feelings of anger will give way to the turmoil inside you. You are hurt, you are in pain, you're guilty, and you're afraid. I also sense grief in you.  The dam will break, and these emotions will come like a flood. Before you slit my throat, I want you to know it's okay, dear. Let them flow."

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