A Flash from the Past
Jenna was helping her husband, Mark, by attending the front desk. His secretary, Jill, was out with the flu and Jenna was only too glad to help.
The door swung open and the next patient walked in. There stood Brad. He was shocked to see Jenna at the front desk.
“Is it really you?” Brad asked. “I can’t believe it. It has been at least ten years, hasn’t it?”
“Yes, it’s been a long time. You are looking good, Brad. What time is your appointment with Dr. Powers?”
“I have an appointment at three. I’m a little early but I figured I’d have to fill out all those damn papers, right?”
“Here’s what you have to complete. When you are done, you can give them to me. Any questions?” asked Jenna.
“Yeah, what happened to us?” Just the presence of Jenna made Brad’s blood boil. “Have you remarried or are you still the pitiful little wife I left?”
“It was a long time ago, Brad. Let’s not rehash the past. Are you happy now?”
“What’s it to you, Jen. You never cared. Why start now?”
Jenna was taken back by Brad’s attitude. Ten years and nothing changed.
“Dr. Powers will be right with you. I’ll tell him you’re here. You can have a seat, please.”
Jenna stepped into Mark’s office and shut the door. “Oh my God, the next patient is my ex-husband.”
Mark asked, “Are you concerned that I’ll be counseling him?”
Jenna took a deep breath. “Not at all. It’s just that it’s been ten years and I’m just shocked to see him. He just took me by surprise. He is still the same. I can’t believe it.”
“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of him. Can you please send him in?” asked Mark.
“You can go in now. The doctor is ready for you.” Jenna looked at Brad as he entered the Doctor’s office.
She felt nothing but pity for him.
“Welcome. It’s Brad right. How can I help you?
“Doc, I’m really nervous. If it were up to me, I would not be here. I’m especially nervous because my ex-wife is outside of that door.”
“Why does that upset you?” asked Dr. Powers.
“She’s one of the reasons I’m the way I am. I don’t want her to know why I’m here. It’s none of her damn business, okay?”
“Brad, we cannot discuss what we talk about here with Jenna or anyone else unless you give me permission to do so.”
Brad looked at the doctor with a sense of confusion and mistrust. He still wasn’t convinced.
Dr. Powers reviewed Brad’s background and history. Only after he felt comfortable with his family history did he then decide to start the session in-depth.
“Can you tell me how you see yourself?” he asked.
“Yes, I’m the one everyone blames. They blame me for everything that goes wrong. They push me until I can’t take it. I snap and they wonder why. It’s just not fair.”
“Would you say that you have a temper, Brad?” asked Dr. Powers.
“They push me until I lose my temper. I can’t help it. I can’t take all the bitching they do. Why can’t they just leave well enough alone?” Brad couldn’t understand.
Dr. Powers asked Brad, “Have you always felt like this?”
“No, no, no. Never,” Brad replied. “I told you it’s not me it’s them. I don’t know why they keep pushing my buttons until I lose my temper. I don’t know why they do this.”
“Let’s talk about this. Do you think someone else can force you to do something you don’t want to do?”
“No, I have to want to do it. But they keep pushing me. They don’t let up. They keep shoving it down my throat until I can’t take it anymore.” Brad looked at Dr. Powers and tried to figure out where he was going with this conversation.
“You are right, Brad. Only you have control over your temper. No one can make you lose your temper. When you lose your temper, you are giving up control to the other person. What do you think you should do so this doesn’t happen?”
Dr. Powers continued on this topic for some time.
“I understand what you are saying. It’s all up to me, right? But I know from experience that I may have a difficult time doing what you are saying.”
“Yes, you are correct,” responded Dr. Powers.
“Brad, I think you have it. It’s a very difficult system to master but once you understand it and recognize that it is you not anyone else, it becomes easier.”
“I’m going to give it a try. I’m still having difficulty believing they don’t push me.”
“Great Brad. I know you will succeed. Would you like to talk about what happened to you?”
“I’ve never told anyone this, but I was eighteen years old. I joined the Navy and was on a ship. I did what they told me to do,” Brad took a deep breath and continued.
“One deployment, we sank a Russian submarine and killed one hundred sailors. I had to participate in the sinking of the submarine. I had a big part in sinking that sub.”
Dr. Powers softly asked Brad what it did to him.
“I was never the same. All I thought about was the terrible death those sailors had. I still can see it whenever I close my eyes.”
Brad continued, “We also killed a lot of women and children in Nam. We bombed churches and orphanages. We were told we had to do this.”
“The nightmares, do you dream about these incidents?”
Brad thought for a minute. “I guess I do. I never related them to my nightmares, but I get up screaming so the little kids don’t get killed.”
“We’ve covered a lot of ground today, Brad. I would like to see you again soon. Can we meet again?”
“I’d like that. Do you think you can help me,” Brad sheepishly asked?
“I believe I can help you. I treated many men and women who have the same symptoms. Please schedule another appointment with me. I’ll give you a prescription for anxiety.”
“By the way, Dr. Woods is booking my appointments. She’s filling in for my secretary who has the flu. You can ask her for a good time to see me.”
“Did you say, Doctor Woods? Oh my God, I thought she was a receptionist. But, but a doctor. A doctor of what?”
“Brad, Jenna is a psychiatrist too. We’re working together for a few years, but she is a Doctor just like I am.”
Brad’s mouth dropped open. “I can’t believe it. But then why not, Jenna was always a smart woman.”
Brad got up and left the doctor’s office.
He went up to Jenna and said, “So you are a doctor, Jenna. That’s great. I should have known you would do something special with your life.”
Jenna looked at Brad unable to respond.
“I need another appointment. Can you help me?”
“Dr. Powers has an opening on Friday at ten a.m. Is that convenient for you?”
Brad nodded his head “yes”, turned around and left.
Jenna sat there in disbelief. She made it through the first encounter with Brad. It was over.
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