*Contains harsh language
“You’ve been avoiding your sessions, Eve.” Dr. Woodrow offered me a cup of hot tea as I sat down in front of her.
“Not avoiding,” I started, but was immediately silenced by her disbelieving look. “The holidays are a busy time,” I try again.
“They are,” the doc agreed. “But I don’t think that’s why you haven’t been in. Would you like to talk about the real reason?”
“You’re not going to let me get away with the busy holiday time, huh?” She shook her head and smiled at me. “I just wanted to get out of my head for a while,” I sigh.
“And, you thought you could do that by skipping your sessions?”
“All I do here is stay inside my head. It’s not always a great place to be, Doc.”
“You’re only delaying the inevitable, Eve.” She took a sip of her tea, watching me over the rim. Then she set her cup to the side, and picked up her notebook. “You had a breakthrough in your last session with Lainey. Have you thought more about that?”
I closed my eyes for a moment. If I allowed myself to think about my ‘breakthrough’ I would have to admit that Lainey – or the thought of losing Lainey – is one of the major issues blocking my creativity. I would have to admit that my feelings for Lainey go deeper than I want to acknowledge.
“What were you just thinking, Eve?”
I sigh. “What is this hold Lainey has on my heart?” I ask quietly. “Why can’t I let her go? At least that part?”
“Eve, I’m going to ask you something, and I don’t want you to think about the answer. Thinking will make you consider other people’s feelings. Just answer.” I nod. “Are you in love with Lainey?”
“Yes.” The whispered answer shocked me as much as it scared the shit out of me. “How? How can I feel that for her and my husband? How do I stop?”
“I don’t think it’s something we have control over, Eve,” Dr. Woodrow said softly.
“No. There has to be something we can do. Help me.” I know I sound desperate. I am. I can’t have these feelings for Lainey. It’s not fair. To her, to Adam. Hell, it’s not fair to me.
“Alright, Eve. Let’s say there is something I can do for you. That I can help you turn your feelings off for one of the two people you love. Which one would you like to stop loving?”
I opened my mouth to answer, and not a damn word came out. Shit. Why wasn’t Lainey my automatic answer? I should want to stop loving Lainey, right? She’s married. I’m married. That’s what I should want.
“I can’t do this,” I whisper. “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
“Avoidance isn’t the answer.”
“It’s the only answer I have!” I stand up, and begin to pace. “Life was so much easier when I didn’t have to worry about feelings.”
“Easier or emptier?” Dr. Woodrow asked quietly. “Sit down, Eve. Let’s see if we can talk through this.”
“Talk through what?” I ask irritably. “You just said I couldn’t change the way I feel. So, what are these sessions good for?”
“You’re fighting me. Fighting your feelings. I can practically see you building your walls again. Reverting back to the way you were will not help you.”
“At least I was able to paint then,” I mutter.
“Fine. Go back to the way you were. That way you risk losing both Adam and Lainey.” The good doctor was frustrated with me. Not that I blame her. I was frustrated with myself. However, I did have to question the professionalism of what she just said. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that,” she acknowledged before I could say anything.
“It’s fine. Perhaps I need a kick in the ass.” I sit back down with a sigh, and run a hand through my hair. “Okay. Let’s talk about this.”
Dr. Woodrow studied me for a moment, then wrote something in that damned notebook. “Let’s begin with the breakthrough. In our last session, you said that,” she glanced at her notes again, “the possibility of losing Lainey is what started the chaos in your head. Can you tell me more about that?”
Though we’ve touched on the subject of what happened when Adam was taken by Laurence, we have never really gotten into the details. Somehow, talking about seeing my husband, bloodied and beaten, was harder to talk about than what happened to me all those years ago.
I take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. “I believe I’ve told you before that I let my guard down after I killed Tony.”
“Can I just stop you right there for a moment?” Dr. Woodrow interrupted. “I don’t like when you say you ‘killed’ Tony.”
My brows furrowed. “But I did. I shot him.”
“No. I’ve read the reports. I know there was a struggle, even though you haven’t gone into details about that day. The way you say it, it’s like you think you shot him in cold blood. You saved Lainey’s life. You protected your own life. If you’re holding on to some kind of guilt for that, you need to let it go.”
Guilt? For killing Tony? I don’t think I hold guilt, but hell, what do I know? “Fine,” I concede. “After Tony died, I felt safe again. My feelings for Lainey were still there, but I was dealing with them. I thought I was dealing with them,” I corrected before continuing. “But, when they took Adam, I wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions that took over. His disappearance, coupled with my fear of something happening to Bella and Lainey, maybe that’s when the chaos really started. But when I had to stand in front of my battered husband, seeing the pain in his eyes when . . . ” I paused and stood up again, not able to keep still. “You know, I couldn’t even say it.”
“Say what, Eve?”
“I still didn’t know who was behind it all, he used text message to communicate,” I began again, not yet answering her question. “When I walked in that warehouse, all I saw was Adam tied to that chair. I was told to confess. But I didn’t know what I was supposed to confess to. Or maybe I did, but I didn’t want Adam to find out. If I think that way, each time Adam was electrocuted because of my hesitance weighs on my conscience.”
She scribbles something in her notebook, then glances at me again. “Continue.”
I sigh. “I still didn’t say it,” I repeated. “I didn’t tell Adam about the affair. He was the strong one. He protected me once again and saved me from having to say the words. But that pain I saw in him after I confirmed it; that pain had nothing to do with his physical state. I hurt him. And, I knew I would possibly have to give Lainey up if we made it out of there alive. A part of me died at that moment.”
“Your guilt is overwhelming you, Eve.” She put her notebook to the side, and stood up. “You’re demonizing yourself for being human, and having human emotions.”
“I hurt him! I hurt Lainey!”
“Stop.” Dr. Woodrow stood in front of me, placing her hands on my shoulders in an attempt to either stop me from pacing or calm me. Perhaps both. “I get that loving two people can be confusing. I even get how it can cause guilt.”
“Do you? Have you ever been in love with two people before?” God that was childish, and I immediately feel shame for saying it.
“Yes, actually,” she answered, surprising me. “But this isn’t about me.”
“What do I do?”
“Let’s continue talking.” She guided me back to my seat. “After that situation, did Adam confront you?”
“Not like I thought he would. He never yelled at me, never got mad at me.” I look up at her. “He was more upset with Lainey.”
“He loves you.”
“That makes things much better,” I mumble.
“Would it have made it better if he left you? If he didn’t love you? Lainey would still be married,” she reminded me. When I didn’t answer, she nodded, picking up her notebook.
“What did you just write?” I ask her.
“That you find it easier to believe someone should stop loving you for your faults, than love you more.” She paused for a moment. “I also wrote that you wonder if Lainey would still be married if you weren’t with Adam.”
I frown at her. “I didn’t say that.”
“Your expression did. Let me ask you this. If you weren’t with Adam, would you pursue Lainey?”
“Of course not! She’s married.”
“What if it were something she wanted?”
I hesitate. “I – I don’t know.”
“You’re not being honest. Whether it’s with yourself or just me, I don’t know. Eve, would you want to be with Lainey if you both were free to do so?”
“Yes.” God. How many times have I dreamt of that? As much as I love my husband, I still dream of someone else. That has to be wrong. I know that’s wrong.
“Does Lainey know this?”
“Hell no. Why would I do that to her?”
“Have you discussed your feelings with Adam?”
I blink at her. Surely she must be joking. “And, hurt him even more by telling him, ‘hey, I love Lainey and still think about being with her’?” I say irritably.
“I understand your frustration, Eve, but we’re here to talk about these things.”
“I know. But all of this talking is doing nothing but confusing me more!”
“You said you were dealing with your feelings for Lainey. How?”
“How were you dealing with them? By denying them?”
“What else could I do? We’re both married. Denying them, or hiding them just seemed like the right thing to do.” Wow. My frustration is running rampant tonight.
“You must realize from your past that covering it up doesn’t mean it goes away, Eve.”
“My past doesn’t hurt other people, it only hurts me. My feelings for Lainey? Those feelings hurt others. Adam, Bella, Jack, Kevin, Darren. Lainey.”
“And, what about you, Eve? Are you willing to sacrifice yourself, your creativity to keep those around you from feeling the pain you’re feeling yourself?”
“It’ll only get worse,” she said softly. “Are you also willing to stop seeing Lainey if that happens?”
My chest tightened with pain. I felt my eyes begin to fill with tears. “I can’t. God help me, but I can’t.”
“You need to talk to Lainey about this, Eve.”
“What good would that do?” Except to make Lainey feel worse about what’s going on. She already feels guilty.
“You must realize that she feels the same way about you.”
My heart sped up a little at that thought. And, then the guilt came. “She’s in love with her husband.”
“She’s in love with you, too. Do you not think she’s going through the same things you are? Perhaps talking about it would help you both. And, if you’re afraid to have that conversation alone, have it here.”
“She’s not in love with me,” I say defiantly.
“You can deny all you want. Her feelings, yours. That doesn’t change the facts, Eve. So, if you want to actually move in some direction, you’re going to have to face it.”
“This is so fucking hard.” I was seriously considering going back to my old, solitary life. But, of course, that was impossible. I’m a mother. Bella depends on me, and if I can’t get my shit together, I’m not going to be much use to her. What would it do to her if I left Adam? My stomach lurched at the thought of leaving Adam. I couldn’t imagine not having him in my life any more than I could imagine not having Lainey. I’m such a fucking mess.
“People typically come to see me when things are too difficult to handle on their own,” Dr. Woodrow said with a small smile. It actually made me smile. “Eve. I see no other way of you getting past this block. You need to be truthful about the way you feel.”
“So, I don’t paint anymore. There could be worse things.” Like losing Adam. Or Lainey. Or my daughter if Adam is angry enough.
“Not for someone like you. Art is like breath to you.” Dr. Woodrow closed her notebook, and put it to the side again. “Your night terrors are back, you don’t laugh nearly as much as you should. These are things Adam and Lainey told me when they first contacted me. So, even if you’re not worried about yourself, they’re worried about you.”
“And, do you think Adam would want this if he knew that all it’s doing is bringing my feelings for Lainey to the forefront again?”
“Is that what you think it’s doing?” When I just shrug, she continued. “In order for therapy to work, we must get to the root of the problem. Then it’s like peeling an onion. Layers and layers of feelings that are most likely going to make you cry and feel worse.”
“It’s a wonder you don’t use that in your advertising,” I say sarcastically, then smile so she knows I’m teasing.
She chuckles before becoming serious once again. “Eve, you are a very complicated woman. You have many reasons for that defense mechanism. We just need to work our way through it. And, you’re going to need help with that.”
“By talking to Lainey about my feelings?”
“That’s one thing, yes.”
“And, you wondered why I was avoiding the sessions.”
She laughed. “I thought you weren’t avoiding them. That it was just the ‘busy holiday time’.”
“Caught me,” I smiled before sighing. “You’ll be with me when I talk to Lainey?”
“And, you’ll put me back together when I lose everything?”
“Why do you think you’ll lose everything?”
“Lainey isn’t in love with me, Doc. She won’t want to be around me anymore when she finds out how I feel. And, the next thing you’ll tell me to do is confess all to Adam. He’ll leave me for sure, and take Bella with him. This is what your suggestion is likely to do.”
“Have you always been a pessimist?”
“I don’t think that’s pessimism. I think it’s realism. It’s definitely possible.”
“Alright. I’ll concede that it’s possible. And, you know you don’t have to do anything you feel uncomfortable with.”
I laugh harshly. “I’m uncomfortable with this, but Adam and Lainey wanted me here.” I pause. “I’ll bring Lainey in next time. I can’t promise I will do what you ask, but I can try.”
“That’s all I ask, Eve.”
“I’m not ready to tell Adam anything, yet.”
“Very well. We’ll go at your pace, Eve. With Lainey and Adam both.” She looked at her watch. “Would you like to stop here?”
“Yes.” My head was pounding, and I felt a little sick to my stomach. I can’t imagine what I’ll feel like during the next session. “I know I should thank you for tonight’s session, but . . . “
“Eve, you don’t have to thank me.” She stood as I did. “In fact, there will be times you want to curse me. Like tonight, perhaps?” She laughed. “Just remember that we’re here for your benefit.”
I nod. “Maybe one day I’ll feel that way,” I say truthfully. “Goodnight, Dr. Woodrow.”