August 19th, 2016
New York City, New York
“Sorry I’m late, doc. I was talking to a guy about using a building for my own wrestling school…” I say as I take my seat on the familiar couch of Dr. Vaughn’s office.
Vaughn looks back at me, curiously, “A wrestling school? Are you sure that is a good idea, James? Especially with everything that has been going on? I don’t know if I would recommend that.”
I lie back on the couch, staring up at the ceiling, feeling a smile form on my face, “Oh doc, I actually feel like I am better than before. Like I am in complete control.”
Before Vaughn can reply, I hear Abel say, “Don’t get too excited. Don’t want to oversell it because he could be able to read right through and see it as pure bullshit.”
And then Vaughn says, “You feel better huh? What does feeling in control feel like for you, James? Explain it for me. The reason I am asking is because it is difficult to feel in control without the use of therapy as well as medication.”
I let out a sigh, “Well, I don’t hear voices anymore. There is no Kismet. There is no Heath. The only voice I hear is my own when I doing things like deciding on what to wear, or what to eat. Hell, I hear it when I deciding between right and wrong. And feeling in control,” I say as I sit back up, locking eyes with Vaughn as I continue, “Feeling in control is feeling no pressure in my decision making. I don’t feel like I am walking on egg shells from the time I get up to the time I go to bed. Besides, I’ve been coming to therapy for a few months now and maybe things finally clicked in my head. And maybe now, I am seeing things a lot clearer.”
Vaughn nods his head before writing in his notepad. He then lets out a sigh, “Well, James that is good to hear that you’re not walking on egg shells. I am ecstatic to have you say that, but I don’t believe we are out of the woods yet. Besides, it wasn’t that long ago that I was told that you can say whatever you want a make a believer out of me or anyone else. So, you’ll have to excuse me, James…but right now, I am not buying.”
I crack a small grin but it doesn’t take long for it to fade as I softly say, “I’m not selling anything, doc. I’m telling you the truth.”
Vaughn grins as well, looking down at his notes, “James, I am sure you believe that you are telling me the truth, but right now, I don’t believe it. We need to talk further. Why don’t you let me place you under hypnosis once again so I can see if I can channel any of the voices? It would give me a better understanding of where you are right now, mentally.”
I watch as Abel walks behind Vaughn, looking at him in disgust, looking at him like he’d love to jab a knife into Vaughn’s neck. Abel and I make eye contact and he shakes his head no as I say, “No. No hypnosis. I feel like you should just trust me. Show that you have some sort of faith in me. Hell, I figured you’d be happy that I was showing progress. Instead, you’re brushing off whatever I say. Are you trying to treat me as if I am sort of science fair project?”
Vaughn replies, “Is that what you think is going on here, James? Do you feel that way?”
With my eyes wide, I lean closer to Vaughn, “Yes it does. I am not some sort of underground government experiment, doc. I’d appreciate it if you stopped treating me like one. I am a human being. I deserve to be seen as one. I deserve to be treated with respect and right now, I don’t feel I am getting that from you…the one person I truly talk to. The person I open up to…” I look away as my voice trails off.
“I’m the only person you talk to? What about your daughters? Or your ex…Katelyn is her name, I believe. Do you not talk to any of them?”
Without looking at Vaughn, I reply trying to make my voice sound as genuinely broken as possible, “No, I haven’t talked to my girls since their birthday last month. Their mother and I…we are at odds. She didn’t approve of my behavior when it came to the match I had with the man my girls call their ‘Uncle Ace’…”
Vaughn replies, “So their mother is a wrestler and so is Ace? Is that correct…” I nod before he continues, “What sort of behavior were you showing? If this was a month or so ago, you didn’t seem to be in the best of places mentally, James. Maybe that is why she hasn’t allowed you around your daughters. Maybe she is concerned for their safety.”
I turn and look now at Vaughn, glaring at him, “So you pick her side? Really? Vaughn…you’re supposed to be helping me. Not her. You’re supposed to fucking help me.”
Vaughn lifts up his hands and makes a motion as if he is telling me to calm down, “James, I am here to help you, but I also have to be honest with you. I am pretty sure you’d rather me tell you like it is instead of telling what you want to hear just so it makes you feel better. I wouldn’t be helping you at all if I did that.”
I look down and nod my head, “You’re right, you’re right. I…I’m sorry,” I say before looking back up at Vaughn, “Talking about my daughters…it just makes me emotional. It is the only thing that really makes me emotional.”
“Is that good emotion or bad emotion?”
“I’d say it’s good to feel something for your children.”
Vaughn jots some more before looking back at me, “And how do you feel when it comes to their mother?”
Before I get a chance to reply, Abel speaks, “He’d love to chop off her head before putting it on a pike. Am I right, James?”
I smirk while doing my best to hide it, because I would love doing so. Katelyn does think she is strong and that she can hurt me, but she only feels that way because she has people looking out for her. If I had her alone then, I think to myself, there would be no escape, “She and I have always been at odds, and so this is nothing new. I know that it blow over as it always does. I’m just not a fan of not being able to see my girls. Makes me miss the voices if I am just being honest. At least I had someone to talk to but I also know that I was going crazy listening to them.”
More jotting and then Vaughn replies, “I can understand missing your children. I have a daughter as well. When she isn’t around much, or if I don’t get to see her due to work, I miss her too. There is just something about your kids that makes the rest of the world, any sort of stress it produces…just about anything really…it all disappears when they are with you. As far as the voices, you say that you were going crazy listening to them. What were they telling you to do?”
I shake my head, “I honestly can’t remember, doc. I blacked out quite a bit whenever they were in control, but thank heavens, I haven’t lost time or blacked out in quite awhile. That has been another benefit and that’s what I’m doing. I am trying to see the positives in all of this.”
Vaughn frowns, “That is good. It seems you’re getting there, James but still…I am very adamant about taking your word for it. That isn’t a sign of disrespect, so please don’t take it that way. I am just being cautious, not only for me but for you as well. Dissociative personality disorder is not something that just goes away. All it takes is something to trigger you and you will hit the reset button.”
I look at him, pretending to be curious, “What do you mean?”
He says, “Hitting the reset button basically means that you will be right back here and we will be right back where we were a few months ago. It could be worse next time as well.”
I shake my head, “But that isn’t the case, doc. I am trying to tell you that. You’re just not listening…”
He cuts me off, “But I am listening James. I am trying to help you. You’re not listening to me. You’re not letting me help you…” He stops speaking. I watch him as he removes his glasses and rubs his hands over his face. He lets out a sigh as I see Abel come back into view.
Abel kneels down beside Vaughn, observing him as well, with a smirk on his face before he turns to me and says, “Damn, James. It looks like you’re already getting under his skin. This may be a lot easier than you thought. Maybe it’ll bore you rather quickly so we can go out and do things the right way. My way…” I say nothing. I watch as Vaughn places his glasses back on his face, lets out a deep breath before looking back up at me, trying to mask his emotions.
“I want to help you, James. I would love nothing more than keep us from having to hit the reset button. That is what I am afraid is going to happen. That is why I am afraid for you wrestling, let alone opening up a wrestling school. Who knows what will happen if you do relapse, if you haven’t already.”
I sigh, “You don’t understand, doc. Wrestling…it has helped me in ways that you wouldn’t even begin to comprehend. I believe the voices were created as a way for me to cope with all of the shit I grew up with. Wrestling helps me deal with it and work through all of it. I wrestle and I am able to vent, expressing my hurt on those I face. After the match is over…” I now run my hands over my face before continuing, as I lie, “I feel so much better…” I lower my head, “And that is all I have ever wanted. To feel better. Now I have something where I get that feeling. I don’t want to lose it. That is why I want to open a wrestling school. I’d be able to continue my work, as well as show others the way, especially if there are those who are hurting, who have gone through what I have gone through. I feel that I can…” I look up at Vaughn, looking eyes with him so I can peer into his soul as I say, “…Save them…”
He jots once more, “What do you mean when you say that you want to save them, James?”
I smile, “Isn’t that what you want to do, doc? Save people…? I feel that you have saved me,” I say, trying not to laugh, “And I want to return the favor. You could call it me giving back to the world. If those who I’d call my students…if they have been through trauma then they are more than likely going to feel down on themselves, feeling like they will never amount to anything. I’d like to show them that they can become something. That they are not alone.”
Vaughn nods, “Yes, James, I do what I do to help people. I try to save those who feel that they need saving. So you truly feel that I have saved you?”
My smile fades, as I lean forward on the couch once more, “Oh yes…Yes I do. And I thank you for it. You’ve opened my eyes, doc, in ways that you wouldn’t believe, but you have. I would love nothing more than to show my appreciation but going out into the world and facing it, showing you that I was strong enough to overcome the voices and that I am strong enough without them.”
Vaughn frowns once more, closing his eyes for a moment. He lets out a small sigh before opening them and I can see the uneasiness in them. I don’t smile though I want to. He looks up at the clock, “Time is up, James…” He says then looks at me, “But I hope you’re right…”
I smile once more as I rise to my feet, extending my hand, “Thank you doctor…”
Vaughn rises as well, but he does not take my hand. He looks hesitant, “I can’t shake your hand, James. Rules and regulations. I’m sure you understand.”
My smile remains, “Of course. Until next time…”
I walk by him, taking a quick glance at his desk. I see photos and then I see a young woman standing beside him. Seeing her picture causes me to stop as I stare. Abel whispers in my ear, “She is beautiful, James. So young too…Heh-heh…” I continue to admire her until Vaughn steps into my line of sight.
“Can I help you, James?”
I let out a sigh, “I’m sorry. I was just mesmerized…”
I sense anger in his voice as he replies, “Excuse me, James? Mesmerized by what?” He asks, pushing the photo down, keeping his eyes locked with mine.
I shake my head and shrug my shoulders, “You look like a happy family. I am mesmerized because I never really had one. That’s all. Sorry if I made you uncomfortable.”
Abel says, “Oh look at him. He is fuming, James. That is fucking rich.”
Vaughn exhales and looks down. He shakes his head before looking back up at me, “It’s alright, James. I know you didn’t mean anything by it. But thank you for saying kind words about my family. I am sure you have a happy family with your daughters,” He then opens his office door, “Best of luck to you, James. Like you said…until next time…”
I say nothing. I smile and nod before stepping out of his office, doing my best to not throw my head back and laugh in his face.
August 19th, 2016
New York City, New York