“And how does that make you feel?”
I stared up at the ceiling of my therapist’s office and scowled. Lying on Dr. Ormond’s posh leather couch was meant to make me feel calm. I didn’t feel calm. All I wanted to do was rebel, but even then, she recited some psychobabble to explain why I wanted to. Therapists had an answer for everything.
How did it make me feel? Fucked off.
I turned my head, plastering a fake smile on my face. “Fucked. Off.”
Dr. Ormond didn’t flinch, her middle-aged, polished exterior schooled to thoughtfulness. We went through this every week. I was angry about what happened to me, but that part was a given. Also, I was pissed off at myself for allowing it to get to the point where fear of the outside world crippled me. Maybe I’d be better if my parents had stuck around…or my friends, or if Ash hadn’t been thrown in the slammer for protecting me.
I never asked to be raped, after all.
Ash was my big brother and the only man I trusted in my entire life. He’d made some money from his short time fighting in the pro AUFC circuit and had used the money to invest in a house…that became my home after everything fell apart. It was still my home and the only place I felt entirely safe.
In short, the world scared me. More than scared…it terrified me.
I’d struggled with the attack and still did, even though it was over five years ago. Things like that, terrible things, just didn’t go away simply because you wanted them to.
Everyone but Ash had abandoned me, even my own parents. Sucky, right?
Ash was the only one who stuck around after things went bad. We were always inseparable as kids, and as we grew up, he felt it was his duty to protect me. Once he found out that his rival in the AUFC, Hammer, was behind my rape… Well, it wasn’t pretty. They used me to lure him into a trap, which got him kicked out of pro and was sentenced to five years in prison for aggravated assault. He was released after four for good behavior, but his life had already been ruined. His and mine.
Without Ash around, I was alone. I withdrew from everything and everyone, hiding away because it was easier to deal with the fear that way. I saw Hammer’s face every time I closed my eyes. I saw him in the shadows and I saw him in my dreams. I’d rebelled against going to therapy, shied away from talking about the attack, lashed out at Ash, and I’d even refused to go see him in jail for months.
It’s easy to blame yourself when you’re the victim. That’s what happens. You think because you were weak, because you didn’t see it coming, that it was all your fault. Ash blamed himself, I’m sure he still did, but I blamed myself more. My therapist said that was ‘normal’. I’m not even sure what that word meant anymore.
Dr. Ormond watched me for a moment and replied, “Yes, I imagine it would make you feel…fucked off.”
“I’m just frustrated.” I sighed heavily, feeling a little bad for saying the word ‘fuck’ to my prim and proper therapist.
“How is your study going?” she asked, thankfully steering the conversation onto a new path.
At her advisement, I’d taken an online course in Business Management and Accounting to get some ‘real world skills’ and had been working on it over the last six months. It was a year course, but I had a lot of time on my hands, so I’d blazed through the assignments.
“I finished last week,” I said. “I have to wait for my grade, then I can apply for the certificate.” A pointless piece of paper to hang on my wall. I let my gaze wander over the office, taking in the framed Diplomas, Bachelors, Doctorates, Masters and PHD’s with good old Dr. Ormond’s name scrawled on them. It must take a lot of important paper to become a shrink.
“We talked about the need to venture outside the house,” she said, watching my perusal of her office. “Small trips. How are you going with that?”
“Okay.” I’d gone to the shop on the corner the other day to buy a Mars bar and didn’t hyperventilate.
“You didn’t have an anxiety attack?”
I shook my head. “It’s getting better.” I supposed the trick was to get used to new places little by little.
“Perhaps it’s time to start going a little bigger,” Dr. Ormond declared. “Since you have a qualification now, you should try applying for some employment.”
“A job?” I began to pale. A job required an interview and going to an unknown place with lots of people.
“It’s just a suggestion, Violet. You can start by putting together your resume and a covering letter. You don’t have to send them straight away.”
I sat up on the couch and bending at the waist, I rested my forehead against my knees. Taking deep breaths, I felt the panic begin to subside.
“Small steps,” she said, patting me on the shoulder.
I raised my head and took a deep breath. “I can write a resume,” I said after a moment. “It’s a little thing.”
Dr. Ormond smiled, pushing her glasses up her nose. “Give it a try. I can look over it if you like. Bring it along to our next appointment.”
I knew I was a bitch to her more often than not. I’d rebelled against therapy early on and dropped it entirely, convinced that it was all rubbish. I’d been going back for a year now, and things were slightly improving, but I still had a long way to go. I guess I still believed nothing was going to fix what was broken that night, no matter how many small steps I took.
Nodding, I said, “Sure.”
Dr. Ormond smiled. “You’re doing great, Violet.”
“Am I? Because I don’t feel it.”
“You know that shampoo commercial?” she asked with a smile. “It doesn’t happen overnight, but it will happen? Recovery from an ordeal like yours takes time. Small steps.”
Always with the small steps. I smiled and nodded, giving her what she wanted. My heart wasn’t in it.
The only thing that settled me after a visit to the therapist’s office was something soft to sit on and a good book.
I was curled up on the couch in the living room when I heard my big brother come home. No doubt the questioning would start the moment he saw me. I was used to it, but I never really liked it.
I glanced up from my book as Ash sauntered into the lounge room. At a glance, you could tell we were brother and sister. We had the same dark, almost black hair, the same green eyes and fair skin, but that’s where the similarities ended. He was tall, totally buff, outgoing and tattooed while I was slim, shorter by a whole head and meek. I was a tiny little mouse who shied away at the slightest glance. He was the MMA fighter, and I was the bookworm.