The Alphabet Stories: Reframing
Story by Liane Carter
Illustration by E.J. Klepinger
Ben couldn’t stop shaking. Seeing the house he’d grown up in had thrown him straight back into hell. It had been two hours since Edward and Charlotte had driven him home.
He curled into a ball on his side and called Jon. He hoped he wasn’t interrupting him with another client, but he didn’t know what to do.
“Jon, it’s Ben. You said I could call if I had an emergency.”
“Wait on the line. I’ll be two minutes.”
Ben rocked and realized he was humming. He pressed the phone against his ear.
“Okay, Ben. I’m here. Talk to me.”
Ben told Jon he’d gone with Edward to help Charlotte move and had been unable to get out of the van when he saw it was his childhood home.
“Ben, that’s horrible. I am so sorry.”
“It’s all been for nothing, Jon. All the therapy hasn’t worked,” Ben said.
“Do you absolutely believe that?”
Ben paused to ponder the question, and felt some of the tension pour out of his shoulders.
“I guess not, but how can I face Charlotte now? I couldn’t speak to her when I saw the house. We didn’t speak all the way back to my place when they dropped me off.”
“What’s the positive in what happened, Ben?”
“Nothing. I’m a wreck and a wimp and I’ve lost Charlotte. I know it.”
“You know it? She told you, ‘You’ve lost me, Ben.’?”
“Okay, so you’ve been doing your homework I gave you and it’s been going great. So let’s continue with it. You’ve become great at reframing. Let’s use that here. What is the positive in how you reacted?”
“I protected myself from that house.”
“So I didn’t get triggered more and go backwards. Oh my God. Jennifer hasn’t come back in my head. She might have if I’d gone into the house with all those childhood memories and the scary energy of the house.”
Ben shuddered and continued.
“My instinct protected me so that I keep healing and moving forward.”
“Wonderful. Well done. And do you think Charlotte will benefit from that?”
“Of course, but …”
“And is she the sort of person, Ben, to dismiss you because you’re sensitive and sensible and take care of yourself and your mental health?”
“No. She’s the opposite.”
“I’m so proud of you. Great reframe to the truth.”
The doorbell rang.
“Go answer your door, Ben. Call me again if you need me, otherwise I’ll see you for our next session the day after tomorrow.”
Ben thanked Jon, ended the call and went to the door.
Charlotte stood there with a big bag over her shoulder.
“Charlotte. I … I’m sorry about earlier.”
Ben studied his feet.
She placed her fingers under his chin and lifted it until his gaze met hers.
“Ben, if I had known I would never have taken you there. I’ve been pacing in my new place thinking what I could do to help you.”
“I know it’s a bit forward, and I don’t mean for sex - necessarily, but … I thought the best thing I could do was come over and hold you all night.”
She took the bag off of her shoulder and held it up.
“Lots of cookies for a midnight feast, and furry pyjamas so it will feel like you’re cuddling a teddy bear.”
“You are a teddy bear,” he said, “And an angel.”
“Oh, and I want to give you this: so I’ll be with you even when we’re not together, and to remind you of what you are.”
She dug into the bag and pulled out a picture and handed it to him.
The splintered wooden frame held a picture of a smiling daisy.
“To remind you of your innocence, purity and new beginnings,” Charlotte said. “I say we make every day a new beginning. What do you think?”
She bit her lip, waiting for his answer.
Ben blinked back the tears. He ran his finger across the frame and snagged his skin on a splinter.
“Sorry,” Charlotte said. “It’s old. It needs reframing.”
Ben looked at her and smiled.
“I know all about reframing.” He took her hand and led her inside.