Chapter 1: All American Dream
"Cullen, I want to remind you that everything you say is completely confidential," Dr. Montgomery began writing in her notepad as she continued on with her manuscript, "You're free to say as much or as little as you wish during our sessions. Whatever is on your mind."
The end of the manuscript, which she repeated each time I found myself entrapped within this room, signaled the beginning of another one of our sessions. These sessions took place bi-weekly.
I knew why I was here, it was upon my father's orders because he had concreted into his mind that I was depressed.
I wasn't depressed.
I didn't see the reason for living anymore. I had found myself unable to sleep, in hopes that one dat sleep deprivation would take its toll on my body. I found myself without an appetite, also hoping one day my stomach would officially eat itself from the inside. Both of these occurrences would lead me to my timely, but untimely, death. All of these thoughts would circulate in my mind constantly, however I didn't call myself suicidal. I didn't want to physically harm myself, but at the same time I didn't want to be alive.
I wasn't depressed.
"My father thinks I need therapy, but I don't. He says I'm depressed, but I'm not. He and I don't get along these days, that's not his fault. We don't see eye to eye anymore," I watched as her hand began to move across the notepad, and it made me wonder what it was she was writing, "My father had plans for me, plans we both shared once upon a time. He wanted for me to join his Ivy League School that he had attended after he graduated High School, and I was all for it. I was in line to join the Greek life and everything, and pursue our dreams of me becoming a Legacy to his Fraternity House. This year, however, things changed for me. I don't see myself going to College anymore."
She peered p to look at me from her notepad for the first time, "Why do you feel this way? Surely there has to be a reason for an intelligent, bright, and ambitious young man to all of a sudden go through this life crisis."
"There's no life crisis, Dr. Montgomery," I began, "Things changed for me after the accident."
"Tell me about the accident, Cullen," her attention returned to the notepad, "Is this the accident that killed your girlfriend, the one that was all over the news a few months ago?"
I shook my head in refusal, "I don't want to talk about the accident, it has nothing to do with the way I'm feeling. At the end of the day, she's dead. Raven is dead and that's my fault. That's the guilt that I have to walk with for the rest of my life, Dr. Montgomery. Can we not talk about Raven or the accident?"
"We talk about what you talk about," she removed her glasses, folded them, and placed them on the notepad, "We can talk about anything. Your parents, your dog, friends, or even next week's football game. I'm not here to judge you or to discipline you. I'm not here to tell you right from wrong. I'm here to listen and help you com to terms with the way you're feeling. I'm here to help you understand your emotions, and to better help you cope with them."
"I don't want to talk about her. I don't want to talk about Raven," I could feel the burning from the tears forming in the ducts of my eyes, "I ant to learn how to forget Raven, but at the same time I want to remember her. There's no moving on from her and the love that she showered me with. I want to be able to forgive myself for what happened to her, but I don't want to talk about her."
"Let's try something, Cullen," she said, "Let's start from the beginning, the very beginning. Where do you believe everything went wrong for you?"
I let out a slight chuckle, "I think you're referring to my mother. It was because of her that I had the distaste for women that I carried for years. A mother's last true love is the son she births, especially her oldest. For my mom, I was the opposite."
"What makes you believe that?" Her eyeglasses returned to the bridge of her nose, and her attention returned to the notes she had been writing.
What was she writing?
"I believe my mother suffered for post partum depression. It kills a lot of women, you know? It didn't kill her though, but she couldn't handle me. My father would work long hours, and by the time he came home she was up fed up with me. She would pawn me off on my father, if she hadn't already pawned me off with one of her friends. She made due for four years," I swiped away a tear that had managed to fall, "Then one day she was gone. Left me and my father like we were nothing."
"Where did she go, Cullen?" Her writing continued.
"You know," I scoffed, "We never figured that one out. She would send postcards from time to time, none of which were addressed to me throughout the years. She didn't claim me as her son, or my father as her husband anymore. She claimed she was living in a commune for women, doing hard labor work which she loved. Deep down I don't believe it was a commune. I think she ran off to live in an Amish community, and I knew she was never coming back."
"You mentioned earlier that this shaped your distaste for women," she peered up at me for a brief moment, "What do you mean by that?"
"I didn't hate women, I had full respect for women. I didn't see myself fully capable of loving a woman. How could I love someone when I didn't know how to love myself? I liked girls, a lot. I dated many during High School, and each one had a specific quality I found myself drawn to. These relationships would last a couple weeks, two months at the maximum, before I believed they had ran their course. Despite the amount of alligator tears and professions of puppy love, I would rip off the emotional bandage and be onto the next one," I was beginning to realize just how shallow of a person I was as a teenage male.
A beeper began to chime throughout the room, signaling the ending of our hour long session. Dr. Montgomery switched off the alarm, and returned the pen to the spiral portion of her notepad.
She brought herself to her feet before addressing and dismissing me, "For someone who denies needing therapy you sure have a lot to say, Cullen. I'm not your enemy and I'm not here to judge you, and I'm not here to write you a prescription and psychoanalyze you. I'm here because sometimes, even though we may not realize it, you need help from an outsider. Someone who doesn't know you or your background story. I know only what you tell me, and I can tell you right now that I'm glad your father brought you to me. While you may see this as a waste of time, I see this as your saving grace. You long for someone to listen and understand you, meanwhile you're wanting someone who'll listen and not pass judgment. If you feel these sessions aren't helping you, you're old enough to decide what's best. I do hope you choose to come to our next scheduled session in a couple of weeks, I do believe opening up more will help you in the end."
At the end of her heartfelt manuscript, she led the way to the door exiting the room. I was greeted by my father who was seated in one of the many chairs in the waiting lobby. Dr. Montgomery paid him no mind, keeping her word of our conversations remaining confidential. She made her way to, what I assumed was, her next patient.
My father and I exited the building and were greeted by the cruelness of the California sunshine, a well known normality for this time of the year. I followed my father to the vehicle across the parking lot, the tension between us remained thick. Neither one of us wanted to break the mold of silence, but a small part of me wished he would say something.
In the back of my mind I knew he blamed me for my mother leaving. He knew, without a shadow of a doubt, if it hadn't have been for me being born she would still be in his life. He loved me, after all I as his son. He loved her more, and truthfully that made me his biggest regret. The only thing that spared me was my calling to follow in his footsteps.
At a very young age, my father's destiny was bestowed upon him like royalty. He wasn't arraigned to marry into wealth, or destined to one day take the throne to a magnificent Country, but he lived in the shadows of a very successful family. This success brought on prestigious responsibility, all of which he lived up to and it was my destiny to fulfill the same.
My father and his father acquired doctorates from Yale University (one of the top notch Ivy League Universities in the Country). He served as the head of household for his Fraternity, and remained at the top of his class up until his graduation eight years later. He met my mother soon after graduating from College and pursuing his internship at the UCLA Medical Center, the second best hospital in the state of California.
My mother was an E.R nurse while my father was interning underneath the wings of the Orthopedic Surgeons, so their paths crossed often in the midst of broken bones coming in and out of those Emergency Room doors. There was never much conversation between the two while they were on the clock, but my father did tell me one too many stories about their coffee cart dates in the mornings and duo lunch dates in the afternoons.
The two had a remarkable chemistry, both serious about their work but also longing for the 'All American Dream.' My mother wanted a house surrounded by a white picket fence, equipped with a custom wrap-around porch. She wanted to enjoy her coffees while watching the sunrise, and a hot cup of tea while watching the sunset. My father wanted a couple of kids, specifically a boy and a girl. He wanted to raise them in one house with stability and structure, just as he was raised. He wanted them to attend the finest schools, public or private, and follow in his and my mother's footsteps. For awhile, it all seemed to be coming true That was the reality until the months that followed after my birth and arrival.
My mother had a very smooth pregnancy. It was filled with the usual morning sickness and body stretching to its limits of course, but it was filled with laughter and wonderful memories for her. She got everything a first time mother would want; a plethora of ultrasounds, the magnificent gender reveal party, and the highly anticipated baby shower towards the end of the pregnancy. Her delivery experience is where it all started to turn sour.
She carried past term, this wasn't something she had wanted. She feared to be induced due to to amount of horror stories she had received from close friends and meddling family members. It took every piece of her during that long and enduring process, and briefly there was a time where doctors feared I wouldn't come naturally and on my own. They called for an emergency cesarean if I wasn't delivered within the hour. My father said the only reason a natural birth was possible was due to the great extents of an amazing doula, whom did everything imaginable to aide my mother. I was born naturally and thrived since birth, I with I could say the same for my mother.
Motherhood took its toll on her emotionally and mentally, quickly she lost sight of who she was. She loved me but at the same time she found herself incapable of fully loving me. She tended to me only for my basic needs, there was no love and affection. We quickly fell disconnected, and it got to the point where motherhood was too much for her.
Four years went by, my mother was there for a moment and gone the next. Never to be seen or heard from again, except through the postcards that would pass on through every so often. Postcards that wouldn't be addressed to me, her only son, because in her new world she didn't have any children.
My mother disappearing, and my father never choosing to embark in another relationship, shaped my distaste for women. It shaped the man I am today, someone who felt he was incapable of fully loving another woman. Incapable of one day getting married and starting a family of my own. That was until my Senior Year in High School, the day I met her.