The 5 Stages of Grief

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Chapter 10, Jeremy

Jeremy exhaled in relief. He despised being late, even the thought of it tied his stomach in knots. In all the years he’d been coming to Dr. Reichmann, more than he cared to remember, he’d only been tardy once. That mishap had wrecked his entire week as he couldn’t seem to let it go. It pestered him, buzzing and flitting about in his mind like a mosquito in your bedroom at night, vanishing when the light was switched on only to appear again the moment sleep tugged upon your eyelids.

It wasn’t even his fault, it was his mother. She was forever demanding his attention as if he were her personal servant instead of her only son. “It’s always mother,” Jeremy spoke aloud, a deep-rooted nervous tick that appeared when he was flustered, which was most of the time. “Jeremy, do this. Jeremy, do that. Jeremy, what is the matter with you? Are you retarded or something?”

Mother never believed the diagnosis the doctors had given, had even refused treatment and therapy for him while she was alive – any kind of medical intervention, from anyone. She held firm to her belief that it wasn’t a psychological disorder as the doctors claimed it to be, but a brain disorder. That there was a deficiency in his head passed on by his “idiot, no good, piece of shit, father” and that there was simply nothing to be done about it.

She’d done her time, having married the louse and was legally obliged to put up with it – him, Jeremy – and she had. “Without complaint,” to hear her tell it, as Jeremy did over and over again, although he didn’t believe that part for a single minute. Now it was his turn to buck up and shoulder his load, the shit-pile that his stinking father passed along to him and he had better do it like a man!

Only once, in all the years he could remember, did Jeremy ever go against his mother’s wishes. It was a particularly awful day. She had found his notes on personality disorders and a list of the doctors in the area that treated for them. They had been hidden in his room in the third drawer from the top of his dresser under the slip of vinyl that lined the bottom. Jeremy had been out running errands for her at the local supermarket. He hadn’t even put the bags down on the table after the long walk home before she started the assault on him with her favorite cane. Striking him over the head and shoulders repeatedly while he tried to free his arms of the groceries without dropping them or breaking the eggs. To hear her screams and curses, the vehemence, the viper-spitting malevolence erupting from her furled lips and bared teeth, any passers-by would have believed the minions of hell had slipped their bonds and were stalking about her kitchen at that very moment. Jeremy knew he certainly did as his head flew about trying to see everywhere at once, his eyes wide and watchful, on alert for the next angle of attack.

Running from the house, he jumped on the first bus that stopped for his madly waving arms. After some deep breathing, Jeremy counted to ten then took stock of the situation. All his years of hard work, his meticulously compiled notes, everything – gone. His mind grasped onto the only thing it could, the single address still fresh in his mind. He got off at the nearest bus-stop to Dr. Reichmann’s office.

The Doctor was able to see him on short notice, no notice at all actually. “You’re in luck lad – come on in. I’ve just had a spot open due to a cancellation. We can do a consultation right now – if you’re up to it.”

He seemed extremely nice, friendly, with a big smile and head that practically took up all of his tiny stature.

Jeremy nodded and followed him into his office. Five minutes later the walls came down and he was pouring out his life. On and on the words just tumbled from his lips, reliving a past, a present held tight, closely guarded for fear his mother might catch wind, think he’d betrayed her. He ranted about how his mother believed he was retarded and how horrible she was and his notes and obsession with the right order of things. Little things. The perfectness of things – his inability to adapt, to meet people, let go. The sewage spewed forth without end.

“Time’s up Jeremy. I’m sorry, clearly you need to talk but I have other patients and we are overlapping on their time. Shall I book you again? How’s Thursday?”

Jeremy had been too drained to answer, feeling empty, void of anything. He’d mumbled something he couldn’t remember what and shook his head in compliance then left the office never to return. It was not until mother was good and dead, buried a full six months, that Jeremy sought enough courage to go against her wishes, for real, and seek a second opinion on the condition he’d been diagnosed with so many years earlier. That’s when he’d started his real life, started to live as Jeremy and not just an extension of his mother. That was the day he began his sessions with Dr. Reichmann, in earnest.

The memory of that day was etched in his mind, a tattoo of sorts inked upon neurotransmitters, vivid colors steeped into grey-matter. The decision, the phone call to book the appointment then lengthy bus ride, mostly standing, trying to get as far away from mother’s watchful eye as possible even though he knew she was dead (although one could never be too careful.) Then the long walk, bundled up, layered for the crisp, late-fall weather. He had to be extra prudent as he was inclined to sickness due to his weak constitution – just like his father. Another detail he needed to remember now that his mother was no longer about to remind him.

He was terribly nervous. Jeremy had never liked changes to his regiment. He preferred things to stay in their proper order and hated surprises with a fervor he could barely keep controlled. This visit in search of Dr. Reichmann – his first doctor really as mother certainly chopped the last one off in a hurry – was way out of his daily schedule and could be laden with surprises. Yet somehow he’d been able to muster enough courage to soldier on. He smiled to himself in the waiting room remembering the bravery he’d put forth that day.

Dr. Reichmann helped him feel comfortable at once, just like the first time, in spite of Jeremy’s suspicious nature. The Doctor’s short stature, warm smile, and comparatively large head presented a non-threatening Mr. Roger’s sweater type package. Jeremy noticed, suspected may be a better description, a new feeling emerging, struggling to break through. It was unfamiliar. His mother had always told him to be wary of strangers as they would see that he was not all there and take advantage of him whenever they could. Jeremy knew she was wrong. That all people could not be all-bad all of the time and in spite of what she kept telling him about him being a retard, he really didn’t believe her.

Jeremy had done his own research after visiting with Dr. Philman, his first doctor, all those years ago. It was at the school library (he hadn’t told mother of course) where he’d looked up the diagnosis. Hypothesis might actually be a more accurate term as they’d never concluded the tests the Doctor had thought necessary. Mother had not allowed it.

It was somewhat confusing at first as OCPD Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, was often confused with the more common OCD Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, but he soon got them sorted out. Though he didn’t necessarily like what he learned about himself. Deep down he knew it to be true and he was quite relieved to find his mother had been mistaken, that there was nothing wrong with his cognitive powers of mind, that he was just as intelligent as the next person. That a personality disorder did not render you retarded!

Even so, he was too frightened of mother to seek help openly, so he waited for the right time.

That first official visit to Dr. Reichmann had been a moment of clarity. It did not take him long to pin-point the problem and according to the Doctor, it wasn’t Jeremy. It was identical to the assessment he’d given Jeremy on their first unofficial visit, which went a long way in confirming Jeremy’s decisions, his actions.

“Sure you have issues. Don’t we all?” asked Dr. Reichmann. “Hell, I have a few of my own. Nevertheless, with some hard work and dedication I am confident we can overcome them, together.” His smile was enormous, spreading across the whole of his face. It appeared genuine too, as far as Jeremy could tell.

According to Dr. Reichmann, it was most likely his mother who had brought on his OCPD. That the disorder, though usually hereditary, often lay dormant until triggered by someone, a constant in his or her life. That his mother’s relentless badgering and abuse (the Doctor’s words, not his own) had more than likely been what triggered the disorder, was both frightening and a relief. It made perfect sense to Jeremy and he agreed to begin treatment with the Doctor the very same day. He’d been coming ever since.

It wasn’t as if all his problems had vanished. Hell no, there were years of issues and conditions they’d not begun to explore yet. Nevertheless, it was nice to know that he was finally getting somewhere, that there was someone on his side lifting him up instead of constantly holding his head under water. He almost felt guilty about feeling good, though Dr. Reichmann was dealing with that too.


“Before we are able to get to the bottom of your issues Jeremy, we need to let go of your Mother’s first. We have more than enough work as it is, we needn’t add her psychological issues to the load. She is dead, isn’t she? You told me so yourself. You said you went to the funeral.” Jeremy could sense the frustration slipping through in the Doctor’s voice. They had been meeting for about six months and realized some phenomenal progress. However, for the last while all movement seemed to have stalled. Dr. Reichmann insisted it was because of his mother, that Jeremy would not let her go, that she was somehow still controlling his life from the grave. Jeremy wasn’t sure if that was true. What was true, undeniably, was that he trusted Dr. Reichmann more than he’d ever trusted anyone – but was it enough? Was it enough to share his secret? The one that kept him awake at night, blurring reality, playing tricks with his memory – his mind asking questions he couldn’t answer, of what was real or imagination, right or wrong, of who was good and who was evil? Who decides? Jeremy had a secret and it was dying to get out. He raised his head and leaned back in the chair, crossing his legs. Dr. Reichmann was still talking.

“—the way it will have to be. I didn’t really want to go there Jeremy. But maybe it’s time we addressed your Mother’s death in a little more detail? Perhaps that way we can put her to rest for good, let her get on with her issues whatever they may be now that she’s departed this world. That would allow us to tackle your issues while you’re still of this world. How does that sound to you?”

Jeremy could tell that though the Doctor’s face was smiling and the words were said nicely, this was not exactly a question. They had been at this point on a few occasions before, where the Doctor wanted to talk about his mother’s death – three times to be exact – though Jeremy had always refused to go there. Although, something was different this time, he could feel it. Jeremy had the distinct feeling that if he said no, it might just be the last time they saw one-another and that was unacceptable.

His sessions with Dr. Reichmann were Jeremy’s only ventures into the public world, his only connection with another person. Now that he was thinking of it, since the death of his mother the Doctor had been the only other person he had seen or talked to. Uncomfortable or not, he could not risk the Doctor cutting him off. Even the thought of it had him sweating, his heart pulsating faster until he felt he might cease to exist, fade away to nothing like evaporating mist, not even a memory.

Jeremy shuttered at the thought, the flickering of his subsistence overwhelming him, making him, his resolve, weaken. “Of course Doctor, I have been acting silly, like a child. What is it you want to know? How she died? Whether I killed her?”

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