Submitted by Mounia Bagha
When I was seventeen, one of our neighbors, forty-five-year-old John Glancey, left his wife. Apparently, good old John was living the dream with a girl nearly twenty years his junior. To this day, I still do not understand why on earth a girl that young would want to do Mr. Glancey. It appeared soon enough that John’s story wasn’t breaking news, except to poor Mrs. Glancey of course. Indeed, it seemed as if the entire neighborhood had noticed some significant changes in him. He, who used to be so stuffy and chubby, had started getting in shape. He was becoming friendly—and at times even cheerful. He was terribly enthusiastic about the smallest things, such as impromptu, far-off trips or riding a motorbike. John was looking at life with glittering eyes. And so one day, somewhere between talking and running, he just took off. There was very little drama to it. No Mrs. Glancey helplessly throwing herself at her husband on the street, screaming and crying, and no children holding on to their daddy’s leg. No, nothing else but John loading his suitcase in the trunk of his car then quietly taking a seat behind the wheel without ever looking back.
In a way, I can understand his point of view. Technically, the man had won the lottery; not that Mrs. Glancey was an ugly woman, but by no means would she have been able to keep up with her husband’s new babe. I remember my mom talking about it around the dinner table. She had called Glancey “a disgusting pig” and wittering on about how it was all going to bite him in the ass soon enough. At that time, I was also surprised to see how quiet my dad was. I remember wondering if he, too, had ever considered leaving everything behind—his two children and wife—to start a new life.
Mrs. Glancey was desperately trying to calm down the scandalmongers with midlife-crisis theories. For a while, she spent her time explaining how her loving husband was no exception to the rules that governed men and that a lot of people his age suddenly felt the need to want all sorts of things they just could not have. Obviously, she received tons of support and empathetic nods, but beneath the friendly exterior and good intentions, it felt like John’s getaway made a lot of married couples ponder. They knew what the Glanceys were going through simply because they were asking themselves the same questions John had. They knew that there had to be more to life than whatever they had at the moment, but they wouldn’t dare go pursue all the things they always dreamt of: the endlessly sexy partner, the fancy sports car, never-ending excitement, the thirst for life.
They wanted to feel alive all over again.
And as Mrs. Glancey was dying a little more each day, she was hoping that her Johnny would soon come back to his senses, and eventually to her.
Just like their married neighbors, the Glanceys’ misadventure got me thinking. There wasn’t much I knew about love or even life yet and although I didn’t really know what I wanted to become, I had already a pretty clear idea of what and who I didn’t want to be. So I just sat down on my bed and started writing my to-do list—except instead of filling it with chores and other trivial things that always took me forever to get done, I laid down my expectations. My list was short, straight to the point and without sugar coating. In the end, it looked like something like this:
I don’t want to wake up in twenty years and be like John. Or his wife.
I don’t want a fancy car. I don’t even want to take my driving test.
I just want to be happy, and I want it now.
August 12, 2011
August 12, 2011
“So, how are you today, Abigail?” she asked me in a rather cheerful tone. Too cheerful, given the situation, I thought to myself.
“I’m okay, I guess . . . or not, actually, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, would I?” I replied in a not-so-cheerful tone.
“I don’t know, you tell me. What is wrong with your life?” she asked.
Her cheerfulness seemed to have gone down in tone, although that didn’t really matter to me anymore, for at that very second, I knew it was over and that I would shut down. She had said the very thing I did not want her to say, the exact words I was dreading to hear, that typical, cliché line I would expect any psychotherapist to say. The next hour would be a complete waste of my time. How could I possibly sum up my life and point out the problems in it in such a short time? The thought of reminiscing and putting my thoughts together to expose myself in front of a complete stranger was exhausting.
As I sat with my legs crossed on a cream leather sofa, my hands on my knees, I eyed Dr. Pamela Klein. I assumed she was probably in her mid to late forties. Everything in that woman breathed self-confidence. Her straight black hair was shiny and fell perfectly on her shoulders. Her white, mid-length pencil dress was gorgeous and a perfect match to her black stilettos. She was impeccable from head to toe, and her neatness made me feel even more dysfunctional. I had to say something, though. Anything. If I could manage just a few words, I could go back home and tell Mom that my hundred-pound, long-hour session of sharing my troublesome thoughts with Dr. Klein was worth every penny.
I sighed. I didn’t know how to say what I was thinking, so I just bluntly spit out all the words floating through my mind at that moment: “I have no idea what to do with myself and it’s turning my life into a living hell.”
Sitting across from me, Dr. Klein stared at me from behind her glasses.
“Okay,” she replied. “And how do you feel about it?”
For a minute, I just didn’t know how to reply. That doctor was seriously starting to get on my nerves with her stupid questions. She was barely even trying to look like she cared. So I just did what I always do when I’m pissed off: I let sarcasm reign.
“Well, I feel brilliant. I mean it’s great really. Let’s see, where shall I start? I’m an indebted graduate who barely makes any money. I still live with my parents and my love life strangely resembles the extinction era the world went through when the dinosaurs disappeared. So, since you asked me, I am really having the time of my life and I felt like sharing it with someone. Hence my presence here today. Don’t you feel lucky right now?”
I knew I had probably gone a bit too far; if my mom had been here, she would have forced me to apologize “to the nice lady” immediately. But it was too late anyways. The words had come out of my mouth and I was not going to take them back, and I certainly was not going to apologize for something that I thought was right. It was said rudely, but it was still true.
But then, Dr. Klein had the weirdest reaction ever. Just as I was expecting her to give me another “are you using irony as a way to express your anger and pain?” kind of crap, she stood up. For a moment, I did think that she was going to slap me, but then I remembered that ethics probably prevented her from doing so. She looked at me and simply said, “I completely forgot to ask you if you wanted a cup of tea. Or coffee maybe?”
There was no trace of cheerfulness in her tone anymore, but she still sounded nice. From my seat, I kept a watchful gaze on her eyes. I was pretty bumped by her reaction, but I still didn’t think that an extra helping of caffeine to my already-exasperated body would be a good idea right now.
“I’m okay, thanks,” I replied quietly.
“Okay, so you said that your life was a living hell,” she said while making her way to the little wooden table by the window. She helped herself to a cup of coffee from one of those really cheap filter machines. I couldn’t help but think that given how much money she was surely making from this session alone, the machine was seriously antiquated. I bet she got it from Tesco, I thought to myself until I felt just a little remorseful for making such a materialistic remark.
“What makes you feel like everything’s so wrong?” She resumed sitting in her armchair. She didn’t look upset at all, even though I thought she’d be at the very least annoyed after my little scene. I reckoned she probably came across a wide variety of people in her job, and that in the end, if someone had to keep it all together, it most definitely had to be her.
I figured that now would be a good time to give up on the attitude. After all, I could bitch about tons of stuff for free just by calling my friends.
“It’s just that sometimes, I feel like I’m trying so hard to make things right but then I don’t even know any more if what I’m doing is what I want. I want everything and nothing at the same time.”
I waited for Dr. Klein’s reaction. I wondered if she thought of me as an undecided, spoiled kid.
“And how do you cope with it? I mean on a daily basis,” she said finally.
“It’s not really made of flesh so obviously, it’s not like we sit down for breakfast and start discussing all the bad decisions I make daily, is it? It’s more like . . .” I hesitated for a moment. For sure, that next sentence out of my mouth was going to get me a one-way ticket to the nearest asylum. “It’s more like a voice in my head . . . and we would just argue a lot.” I paused again, trying to find the best way to explain it. “It’s like being in a very dysfunctional relationship with your boyfriend and you know you guys just don’t get along anymore and still no one wants to give in and surrender. You try your best to escape it, just to get some peace and quiet for a while, but you know things will always be the same. It’s exhausting,” I finally resumed.
“Well, when did it start to be so complicated to get along with that voice?” she asked quietly.
“I don’t really know,” I replied. “It’s hard to tell.”
“Perhaps we should start with a particular point in time. Try to think of a moment, just any day, let’s say in the past few months, that you can remember of and we’ll start from there, shall we?”-------------
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Mounia loves to write stories about life, love, and loads of other things that don't necessarily manifest in real life - sometimes for the better. She published her first New Adult novel "CELEBRATION" - a tale about love, life, and growing-up with all the troubles that come with it. When she's not writing novels, she goes for the shorter format and writes pieces for different online magazines that all end-up compiled on her website.
Although she is a self-proclaimed poor social media user, she keeps doing her best, one day at a time. You can reach her on Twitter, Instagram, or via her website and she'll always respond to you and all that, not using the third person. I promise :)
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