Recovery, Relapse, Relationship (part 8)

(Continued from the last post. Click here to catch the whole story from the beginning.)

“I’m really sorry to put this on you like this,” she explained. “I know we don’t know each other very well. It’s just that all my other friends are busy, and I don’t have anyone else to turn to, and…”

I have to admit, I was a little hurt by the fact that I was her last choice, even though it made sense. After all, I kept reminding myself, she didn’t really know me. Our relationship was a professional one, not a personal one.

Ange Hooper’s office was in the same building as mine. She is a personal friend and colleague, and I felt very comfortable recommending her. Fortunately, Clyde’s appointment fell during a free hour in my schedule, just before lunch. I agreed to meet her there a few minutes early, and I reassured her, there was nothing to be nervous about.

When I saw her, I couldn’t help but smile. She looked much better than she had the last time I had seen her. Her wounds were healing nicely, the physical ones anyhow, and makeup covered some of her bruises. She was a beautiful woman, with fair skin and titian hair. She wore red nail polish. I could just barely see the stripes on the back of her hands, but she hid her arms with long sleeves.

“It’s so good to see you!” I said.

She beamed back at me, and I gave her a friendly hug, which she returned. I suddenly remembered that she was probably still sore.

“Oh, did I hurt you?”

“No, I’m fine,” she said.

“You’re looking really good,” I told her.

We chatted, again as if we were old friends, as we waited for Ange. At one point, Clyde said, apropos of nothing, “Ted doesn’t know I’m here.”

“Oh?” I asked.

“O,” she answered. “He doesn’t think we need our heads shrunk.”

I nodded but otherwise listened quietly.

“I’m sorry for how he jumped all over you in the hospital.”

“It’s okay. He was upset and under stress.”

“That doesn’t make it okay,” Clyde said.

“Well… Let’s say, it means we can cut him a little slack.”

Clyde nodded. “Still, you stood up to him. I know you did. And… Anyhow, thanks for being there. I really needed a friend. I don’t know what I would have done without you.”

I pshawed it off, but inside, her words had touched me.

“So,” Clyde continued, “I don’t know what Ted would say about me being here. But I just thought I needed to give it a try. I’ve been having trouble concentrating at work, and I’ve been having… nightmares. And I’ve been tired and just feeling down. And Ted’s gone all the time. He leaves for work early in the morning and doesn’t get back home sometimes until after midnight. He says it’s just this case he’s working on, but that was never a problem before. Not even back in the day, while we were both building our careers and working insane hours. We still found time to be together. Now…”

I understood completely.

Ange’s current appointment having finished, she came out to meet Clyde. She saw me there and asked whether Clyde was a client of mine.

“No, no,” I said. “She’s a friend.”

Back up in my own office, I tried to distract myself with a novel, but I couldn’t focus on it. I thought about what Clyde had said, that she had needed a friend. I too was thinking of her as a friend. At first, I pitied her, but she was hardly pitiable now. Clydene was not a victim; she was an overcomer. Yet she valued my friendship, whatever that meant. All mental health professionals have had a patient or client develop feelings toward them. And just as often—though not as well known among laymen—every therapist has developed feelings for a patient. Neither one of these is intrinsically bad, as long as professional boundaries are maintained.

But I was not her counselor, and I was not acting like a counselor. A week earlier, Clydene had been repressing her feelings, and maybe even suffering from dissociation. I knew it, but I didn’t psychoanalyze her, because I was her friend, not her shrink.

I spent an hour thinking these thoughts. Then came a knock on my office door. It was Clydene. She looked upset.

“Thank you again,” Clyde said. “Do you have a minute?”

I did.

(To be continued…)

This story is tangential to The Conscience of Abe’s Turn and takes place in the Abe’s Turn universe. If you enjoy this story, please also check out The Conscience of Abe’s Turn (the novel).

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