See me when you look at me

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When it all comes out

Samantha's POV

''Welcome, Mr and Mrs. Reed. My name is Dr. Nathaniel Gray and I have been Samantha's therapist for over two years. Let me first say that I feel very honoured to meet the people, Samantha talks so fondly of.''

I just stare at the ground, while Dr. Gray continues with explaining the purpose of this session. I feel sick and I can't stop shivering, but I know this has to happen. It's the only way for me to move forwards.

''Today is about creating a safe place where we can talk and listen to each other. So lets start with some background. You both have known Samantha since she was born and you were a part of life for some time, right?''

''For almost four years, I saw her every day,'' aunt Laurel responds. ''My sister Celeste came back to Riverstone after we hardly had any contact for years. She didn't had a job or a place to live. She was alone and pregnant, so we took her in. Samantha was born and she was the cutest little thing. She and Tyler are only six months apart, so they were basically always together.''

''For all that time?'' Dr. Gray asks. ''You sister didn't moved out at any point?''

Aunt Laurel lets out a humourless laugh and she shakes her head.

''Celeste could never hold a job for long and when we spoke about it, she had her ways to manipulate the situation. She actually managed to make us feel guilty for wanting her to get her act together.''

''But eventually your sister did leave, why was that?''

''She met a man online. He lived in a different state and they never met in person, but she was convinced that he was her soulmate. He said that she and Samantha should stay with him. He would take care of them and that she never had to worry about money or anything. So she left and she took Samantha with her.''

Dr. Gray nods and he writes something down.

''What happened after that, did you stay in touch?''

''At first we suggested to Celeste that she should leave Samantha with us. She didn't know the guy and we thought it was going to be one of her whims. She would get bored and come back, so no need to uproot Samantha's life. Celeste left in the middle of the night and she took Samantha with her. No goodbyes, no notes or something that would tell us where she was going.'' uncle Thomas says in a very bitter tone.

I see that my aunt reaches for his hand and she squeezes it tightly, calming my uncle instantly.

''I tried to track down Celeste myself, but after a while I had to hire an PI. It didn't work out between Celeste and the guy she met online, so she kept moving around a lot. Then after years of no contact, Celeste shows up. She is pregnant again and this time everything was going to work out her. She doesn't want to say where Samantha is, she doesn't want to say anything about the father or where she is living. It ended in a huge fight and after that Celeste managed to disappear completely.''

Aunt Laurel strokes uncle Thomas hand gently and she lets out a deep sigh. ''After almost five years we got a call from a social worker, saying that my sister had to give up her parental rights and that social worker wanted to know if we were able to take Emma in since we were her legal guardians. That was news to us, bit we didn't hesitated for a moment. Of course we would take Emma in, so then I asked about Samantha. The social worker said she would be coming too and that she would make haste with the paperwork. A few days later the girls arrived and they have been living with us for almost eight months now.''

''And how is that going?'' Dr. Gray asks.

''Emma is an adorable, cheeky little thing. She's actually always happy, she loves to play with Mia and she is doing very well in school.''

''And what about Samantha?''

Aunt Laurel looks at me and I see a tear roll down her cheek.

''Samantha is so loving and caring, but she doesn't show that side of her easily. She keeps everyone at a distance until she is sure that she can trust you. So it's tough getting to know her, but it is absolutely worth it. Samantha is smart, funny and she has the biggest hart that I know. I just wish that Samantha could see herself through my eyes and that she could feel what I feel.''

''Why would you say that?'' Dr. Gray asks intrigued.

Aunt Laurel grabs a tissue and she smiles. ''Because Samantha is so hard on herself. She always demands perfection of herself and if she could see herself through my eyes, she would know that she is already perfect the way she is.''

Now, it is not only aunt Laurel who is crying. Tears are rolling down my cheeks as well.

''And if she could feel what I feel, then she would know how loved she is. She would know that Thomas and I would do everything to keep her safe and happy. I hope you know that, love. You don't have to do everything on your own, because you have us and that will never change. We love you, Samantha.''

Dr. Gray slides the tissue box to me and I grab an bunch of them, because the tears just keep coming.

''Samantha, can you tell me how all of this is making you feel?''

''Angry,'' I stutter. ''So, so angry.''

Dr. Gray raises his hand before aunt Laurel can respond and he nods.

''I feel angry because I could have had such a different life if my mom didn't take me with her. Then I wouldn't been forced to move around so much. I wouldn't had to deal with my mom horrendous boyfriends. Drunks, junkies, freeloaders, abusers or the one's who keep looking at me with a strange expression, that would always terrified me.''

I clench my fists and I feel that the anger is taking over. I can't stop it anymore, everything is coming out at once.

''Then I wouldn't been forced to participate in all those pageant shows and then my mom would not have met that damn scout. The scout who said that I could make real money as a model. All we had to do was change my hair colour and lie about my age. I didn't want to, but we needed the money. Emma needed her insulin and that stuff was so expensive. My mom said it was my responsibility as Emma's big sister to help out however I could.''

Blood drips on the floor and I see that my uncle wants to get up, but Dr. Gray shakes his head.

''What did however meant according to your mom, Samantha?''

''It meant flirting and using my body to get high paying jobs. It meant drinking alcohol and being drugged, when I was nervous. It meant letting grown man having they way with me, because that was normal. That's how that world worked and if I played along, then doors would open for me and it did. I got accepted at the institute. They got me my contract with the best model agency in the country. They got me sponsor deals, the best trainers, the best of everything. Everything so I could win every race I entered, because that's what they expected of me. I had to win and they didn't care how about the how. That I needed a bottle of whiskey to get me trough the day was fine.''

I close my eyes, reliving all those painful moments.

''It was fine that I took prescribed drugs for my anxiety or that I abused them, so I wouldn't had to feel anything. Everything was fine as long if I upheld my contracts. That I ended up four times in the hospital because of alcohol poisoning was no big deal. They knew how to make that story disappear. Basically, I would be dead now if Geraldine didn't took an interest in me. She got me out of the institute and into a CYF program. She gave me a reason to not give up. Emma would end up like me if I was not there to protect her. Emma needed me and after the incident I made the final deal with my mom.''

''A deal?'' aunt Laurels asks with a creaking voice. She looked like she could pass out at any moment. Uncle Thomas looks numb, but I see his fists are clenched to.

''I would not sue my mom for emotional and psychological neglect. I would not sue her for emotional, physical and sexual abuse. In exchange for that my mom had to give up her parental rights to Emma and declare you guys as Emma's legal guardians.''

''Celeste would never just agree to that,'' uncle Thomas says and his voice is filled with anger. ''She is cunning and she knows how to get away with everything, so she wouldn't simply agree with that.''

''She did,'' I say in a soft voice. ''She did after I agreed to give her ten per cent of my income. With my deals and future prospect, we are talking about a substantial amount.''

Uncle Thomas slams his fist on the table. Aunt Laurel looks completely in shock and I look at Dr. Gray.

''Lets all take in a deep breath and now let it out. Lets not let our emotions control us. Samantha, how do you feel after telling your family everything?''

''Numb and exhausted mostly, but also relieved. Like the weight on my shoulders feels less heavy now.''

Dr. Gray smiles and he nods.

''What happened to the anger?''

''It is still there, but it doesn't completely consumes me now.''

''Then I'm going to end this session on that high note. Samantha, you did so well! We keep on working with letting the anger go, so the healing can begin. But like your aunt said, you don't have to do any of that alone.''

''Never, kiddo,'' uncle Thomas says and he opens his arms.

For the first time I don't mind his bear hug. I don't mind that aunt Laurel cradles me in her arms, while she keeps saying that she loves me. For the first time I let my guard truly down. Right now I feel so safe and loved, which was also a first for me.

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