Session One Hundred Two - Thursday
Have Cassie and Gwen made any progress or has she slipped back into her old ways?
The door clicked and I pushed it open taking the steps up to Dr. Wyatt's office slowly. We broke through so many barriers in our last session I was very nervous to see her; I'm always nervous but these were real shake your belly nerves. When I got to the top of the steps she greeted me at the door.
"I thought you might need a welcoming face to greet you today."
I smiled. She knew me all too well.
"How did you know?"
She stepped to the side to let me in, "Call it a hunch. Come on in and get comfortable. How's Harry?"
"He's Harry. Cantankerous and mean, like a crotchety old man in a cute bunny body. Tooth extraction is Saturday."
"I'm sure they do things like this all the time. Let me know when you're ready."
I sat comfortably and looked at Gwen. I breathed through my mouth and pulled my hair into a ponytail. I knew I was as ready as I was ever going to be.
"Gimme what you got."
She shuffled through her notes, "At our last session you mentioned always being there for him. Why do you think you felt that way when you never really physically were?"
"Because I was. In so many ways I was. Emotionally I felt connected to him for some reason. It was never forced. The minute he returned there was nothing I could do to stop my mind from looking to him. Sometimes I tried to cut ties but he would just come back and I would let him."
"Why do you think that is, Cassie?"
I breathed in deeply. "I knew things were different between him and I. We both understood that. He was just, him. I wanted him so badly back then I let it get in my head, then my heart."
"It's clear there was a connection. I find it hard to believe that after all of those times that you went back and forth that one message from you would prompt him to end things. Do you think there is something more?"
"Of course," I said, "the last time he walked away she was pregnant with his child. I found out on Instagram and then got a drunk apologetic text. I thought that would be it but as quickly as it ended the cycle started again."
She looked down and wrote in the notes she kept for me. I had always wished I could see her innermost thoughts about me. I wondered what she really felt about my infidelity.
"It was that easy?"
I smiled, "Yes for him it always has been when it came to me," I hoped she noted my use of the past tense. My heart lurched as the words left my lips.
"Has he reached out?"
I looked up, "No. Not on his own. But is it wrong that I wish he had. I know it is wrong you don't have to answer that. I know I have to be honest with you but I'm not really sure if I'm ready for what that might entail." She giggled and looked at me; she expected more.
"I miss him. My bones ache for him. Nothing is the same. Everything is just a means to an end."
Gwen put her pen down and shifted in her seat. "A means to an end to what? The pain? The longing? Maybe we should talk about your next steps. What is going to come of all of this? We can save the honesty for a little later. What do you mean when you say not on his own?"
I knew she was right, her tone was even and clipped. I immediately felt bad that she thought I couldn't see the love that was right in front of me. I could see it. It just wasn't the one I wanted.
"I blame myself. There's no real reason for me to think of him or to expect him to be thinking of me but I do anyway."
"Cassie, why do you think you feel that way?"
I shifted in my seat, my discomfort was always visible in my posture. I sank deeper into the couch because disappearing was all I really wanted to do.
"Wishful thinking I suppose. Nothing ever happened. That's what it is. Had I slept with him I don't think I would feel this way. It's like an itch that's just out of reach. It fades into the distance but then all of a sudden reminds you that you can't get to it no matter how hard you try."
Gwen smiled at me, "You think if you slept with him this would go away? You think the feelings would fade?" She looked down at her notes and scribbled furiously.
"I'm not sure," I tucked my feet under me tightly. "I think I'm fooling myself into thinking it might not be worse but believe it or not I know it will. Maybe that's what I want, to get him out of my system. He was like an addiction and I'm here trying to kick the habit. I miss just the possibility of it happening and now that that's gone I am struggling to let him go."
Gwen looked at me and smiled, "Has he reached out to you?"
"No," I said, "But I sent him an email because I had to tell him I was thinking of him. I couldn't keep it locked inside anymore. There isn't a day that passes that I don't think of him. That's what I needed to be honest about. He didn't reach out on his own."
"And did he respond? By the sounds of it it seems like you've been in touch."
I looked at her unable to hide the smile on my face, "He did."
She puts her pen and pad down and looks at me, square on like we are facing off and she has something to prove.
"Cassie. You know this isn't good for you, I will be honest about how I feel about it. You understand that right? This room is about holding no punches and I will knock you out if I have to."
"Yes I know. But I'm happy that he did respond. Maybe this is the closure I need, could that be why I'm so thrilled?"
"You aren't looking for closure Cassie, you're looking for his attention. That to me doesn't equal anything but heartache for the two of you. But you especially. Are you going to let him back into your life and your heart after you worked so hard to close that door?"
"That's just it Gwen. I think I've realized that the door won't ever close. I tried to wedge it closed, to hold it closed with all my might. The truth is I want him in my life. I can honestly tell you I don't care what that entails and I don't care who finds out. I need him in my life."
She interrupts me, "But you do care Cassie. More than ever. You care about getting caught, about losing your family, about being an adulterer. If you don't believe you care I will prove it to you. You heard me, I have the proof that you felt terrible about your relationship with him. The shame alone was killing you."
Heat crept up my cheeks. "Why are you always right?"
She smiled, "If I wasn't you wouldn't pay me so well. No one would. I want you to be clear in your decisions, to separate what you want from what you need. It's harder for you because of your dependence on him and on the things he brings to your life. I understand, totally. You might not think I know the hurt or the sadness but I'm human and have had my heart broken on more than one occasion. Its about how you handle yourself after the break - do you lay down and die or fight to get back to the old you?"
"What if both of those mes loved him?"
"That's possible but do you love you? Because I can guarantee he doesn't."
"Not every situation is the same, not every love story ends this way Gwen. Maybe we are meant to be together, you don't know that and neither do I but I do know that I need to do this, to see where it goes. "
She looked at me and said, "Cassie, you are married. Married. He is married. And you aren't married to each other, doesn't that say something to you?"
"Yes Gwen. It says maybe I married the wrong man."
I tried to hold the tears at bay but my quivering lip betrayed me. My strength was faltering and I had no feasible way to even try to stop it. I was barreling toward a meltdown like a train on a collision course.
"I guess you could take it that way or maybe you married the right one. The world is full of maybes and what ifs. What if I hit the lottery tomorrow? What if I die?"
I looked at Gwen and smirked, "You play the lottery?'
"I know I didn't marry the wrong man. Believe me i know. I don't know what I'm feeling about things. I guess I didn't expect for him to respond and when he did I felt a flicker of hope."
"Flickers go out very quickly. Let this die because it needs to Cassie. As your therapist and your friend, he isn't good for you."
I ran my hands down my arms, goose bumps raised on my skin. Gwen's words were the truest I had ever heard but I would take any sliver of hope, any tiny drop of communication from him. I don't know why it but it just is.
Gwen looked at me, "Should we end here?"
I placed my hands on my legs and looked at her, my face ached under the pressure of tears that haven't been shed. "Yes, maybe we should. I don't know what I'm feeling. I'm scared I'm making a million mistakes."
"I understand. Mistakes are a part of life like the what ifs and the maybes. They will make you wiser if you let them. If you need me, don't hesitate. Cassie we will get through this once you allow yourself to let him go. We won't ever be rid of the weight around your neck if you don't break the cycle. It's up to you to stop what you started."
I stood to leave and Gwen rose to meet me, she took me in her arms and I breathed for what felt like the first time in months.
"What if I can't stop?"
She pulled back from me to meet my eyes, "You can. You did before. Now we have to learn to stay stopped. See you next week. Same time, same place."