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The Alphabet Stories: Dr. Davis

Story by Liane Carter Illustration by E.J. Klepinger

Preparing food in the kitchen, I recognized the emotion spreading through me like sludge. It took me back a decade to my late teens. I’d broken down at the doctor’s office, horrified that he diagnosed something I’d seen as incurable in others.


“No,” I said. “It’s a mistake. There must be some other reason I cry all the time.” Compassion flooded Dr. Davis’s face and that made the truth of it slap me in the chest.


A claw now tightening in my chest, and a need for him not to be nice, for this not to be true, turned my legs to liquid instead of filling them with adrenaline to run away from his words. I sank to the floor. The diagnosis felt like a curse I had caught through wrong choices, yet didn’t have other options to take.


He spoke of referring me to a therapist and anti-depressants and I felt like I was being given a walking dead prescription. I tried to argue that I didn’t need either of them, yet no words came to my lips. I hoisted myself back into the chair. He lowered his half-moon glasses, and made me face the truth in his eyes. I wriggled and would have stayed in his office forever if I could, believing if I didn’t leave, his diagnosis wouldn’t leak out into the world with me. But then he asked me about my brother and his question took me back to the horrors of the house I’d been raised in.


“Has Ben been in contact?”


I shook my head and wondered why he never had.


I realized right then I would have liked to ask Dr. Davis for a hug, and at the same time absolutely did not want one because I wasn’t strong enough to unravel and carry myself out.


Dr. Davis stepped out from behind his desk and I stared at his feet.


“Amanda,” he said.


I dared to look up.


He gave me a slight smile, squatted in front of me and took my hand. “Amanda, I know you don’t want to face this, yet you already are.”


I shook my head.


“Think of it this way,” he said, “Uncovering this is uncovering your light, and when you haven’t seen light for a while, it’s normal to try and hide from the glare.”


“My light?”


“Yes. I want you to check in with me in two weeks.”


“I don’t want to.”


“I know, but you need to. I want to give your brain some help so there are some things I’d like you to do for me.”


“What things?”


“I want you to park your car half a mile from work and speed walk that distance every morning. I want you to join a dance class. I want you to keep a journal of what you are doing and bring it back to your next appointment so we can discuss your progress.”


“That’s all?”


“No. Movement is key. I also want to get to the root of some things from your past. I’d like to refer you to a psychotherapist. There’s one linked to this practice and he’s very good.”


I shrank back in my chair.


“I’m crazy, aren’t I?”


“No more than the rest of us.” He smiled and I wanted to believe him.


“Okay, I’ll do the walking - to and back from work - and see about going to a class. And journaling. I’m not sure about seeing someone though.”


Dr. Davis had been our family doctor all my life; however, he didn’t know what had gone on in our house. I wanted to keep it that way. Would the psychotherapist share what I shared with my doctor? I didn’t know. I didn’t trust. And I didn’t ask.


Dr. Davis didn’t push.


I did improve without therapy. But now, ten years later, I am wondering if I had seen the psychotherapist, would I be feeling this way now? Would I be falling back into a life I’d left? Darkness lured me with familiarity. My parents had spent so much time with Darkness that I had copied it and called it comfort. It had taken a squirrel and then Dr. Davis to drag me out of that lie. Maybe a walk in nature would help right now.

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