I was sitting on a hard chair in the therapists's utilitarian office, wishing I was lying on a leather couch, feeling like a cliché. A cliché would have been able to start talking, cut to the quick, pour out the story, bleed on the floor, mop it up, and suture themselves afterwards.
Instead, I wanted to cross my legs, but was afraid of looking too fidgety, so I sat uncomfortably still.
I don't know where the beginning is, I said.
Well, let's start with the beginning of coming here today, then. You made an appointment last Tuesday, why did you decide to telephone the office?
Well. I was feeling lousy, and not really sleeping, for weeks really, or longer, and I am pretty sure that I look like a wreck and I see people smiling at things I can't imagine myself smiling at, and I hate them for it and for making me pretend to smile and I got sick of hating them when they are perfectly fine people, really. So I googled therapists near here and telephoned, I decided it would be a good thing to do. I thought that maybe you could give me some tips about setting things aside.
I stared at the fake plant behind him the whole time I gave this excuse. It looked as if I was looking at him, making eye contact (I hoped it did anyway), but it was easier than actually looking at him. The dreaded eye-contact.
When did you stop sleeping?
Look at him - one sentence reply to no non-specific description and already ready for specifics. Now that's what I call a therapist.
A few months ago, I guess.
Evasion feels like my teenage best friend, someone you keep close but who does not ever really help you.
The fake plant is dusty, and is a kind of irritatingly exotic green colour, with leaves that are meant to look waxy, that you would really only find on a mountain in Spain, next to an olive plant. It's really the most fake looking fake plant I have ever seen. A veritable piece of chicanery. The base of it is hidden behind his chair so I can't see if the creators of this pinnacle of blandness have gone done the cliché route of having the soil covered over with fake pebbles bit at the bottom.
The silence has grown bloated.
I am sorry, I have never done this before, it all feels a bit awkward and I don't know where to start. It feels a bit cliché, you know, girl sees therapist hoping to cure a broken heart.
Is that why you are here? Because of a broken heart?
I suppose so. I mean, I think the broken heart stuff has led to all the other stuff. I can kind of live with the broken heart, but all the other stuff is distracting, I can't get any work done and I can't quite click back into normal one-player mode the way I want to.
His shoe-lace is undone. In an annoying way.
Normal one-player mode. I like that.
Really? Huh. My parents find that quite odd and kind of try to be funny about it, but still really, they just find it quite odd. I am a coder, you see, in the gaming industry, I do other online projects too, and coders, well, they think like coders. People who don't do it for a living don't really get it, but we really actually think like coders or like gamers - commands, if/then options, player modes. And, when you spend time with other coders, like when you are working all the time, and they think the same way and they joke the same way, and, well, it gets harder not to code everything, really.
So, how are you coding your broken heart? How can you code a broken heart?
Well, hah, this will make you laugh. On a whim, I actually googled that. Hello Google, how do you code a broken heart? Regards, me. All the responses were about coding a broken heart symbol in Facebook. Which I knew how to do if I had every really thought about doing it, but which nobody would really ever want to do. Can you imagine anything worse than everyone knowing you have a broken, sore and messy heart? If you can't imagine any thing worse, let me tell you there is one thing - trumpeting it on Facebook as though it's something people either a) want to hear about or b) aren't already laughing about among themselves. Except, of course, if that is what Google responded with, then there are people who actually want to do that.
Why would people laugh at your broken heart?
Well, it's about who broke it, I suppose. I mean ordinary people aren't so horrible that they would laugh at someone getting hurt, or at least they mostly aren't that horrible. It's just because of who broke it that I think my friends would roll their eyes and say, well, you had to see that coming really?
And, did you see it coming?
Yes, God, yes. That's the awful thing. I have had a Cranberries song in my head for ages now, even while things were fine actually – you know the one, the verse goes: the thing that makes me mad, is the one things that I had, I knew, I knew I'd lose you. And I did, even when things were blissful and impossibly good, I knew it wouldn't last. I am such an idiot.
Last song on the album. Best song on the album. She does a live version on Jools Holland, I bet half the Youtube views are mine.
I don't understand why you would think you are an idiot for getting emotionally involved with someone. Do you want to explain that to me?
Ok so, maybe you are right, in normal circumstances. But it wasn't exactly normal circumstances. The only way that I can really explain this is by starting from the start.