The Woman in the Cavebyjavmor79©
Warning: This story is mostly dialogue between a therapist and a patient. Many people dislike stories with a lot of dialogue, so I felt it only fitting to warn you.
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy.
I fought to keep my annoyance from showing on my face. It's often a struggle to keep a professional, detached demeanor with new patients. That's especially true when dealing with people like Katrina.
Yes, you heard me right: Katrina. As in, the devastating storm that almost wiped New Orleans off the map. It's kind of ironic that she would have this name given what I was beginning to understand about her. She was certainly a force to be reckoned with, and that's putting it as mildly as I can.
Katrina is strikingly pretty; yet it seemed to be a glassed over, hard-nosed beauty; kind of like a mannequin. She wore perfect fitting, expensive, attire. Her fitted suit pants hugged her hips without being obscenely tight. Her blazer jacket and her silk blouse also accentuated her beauty in a classy, sexy manner. Even the nail polish on her perfectly manicured hands seemed expensive.
However, her demeanor completely contradicted her poised, ladylike appearance. Her nonverbal communication was arrogant and aggressive. Her eyes looked directly at me when she spoke, as if she were challenging me. She sat in the middle of couch, which in itself was unusual. Most people who have an entire couch to themselves tend to choose either side with the armrest. But Katrina planted herself in the center cushion, as if she were taking ownership of it. With one leg crossed over the other, arms crossed over her lap, and a condescending smirk plastered on her face, she sat there as if ready to do battle.
I believe the term that men would use for her is "Ice Queen". Some others with less tact would say "Queen Bitch".
A lot of times new patients feel on edge and nervous. Some feel like they have to get their therapists to like them, or at least not think badly of them. Others want some sort of validation that they were right in doing whatever they did, or were innocent victims in whatever happened to them. This makes them defensive. In people like Kat, they over compensate by giving displays of bravado.
Yet, Katrina was a little different. Her hostility seemed to be more rooted in internal anger. At the moment, it was directed at her ex-husband. Misdirected is actually a more appropriate word. One of the most important things that I have learned was this: people are rarely angry at what they are focusing their rage on. It's like tooth pain. Sometimes the pain is felt in a tooth that's not the one that's bad. They call it reflected pain and in my line of business, anger works the same way.
"Call me Kat, doc. We went over this."
Trying to control the flow of the conversation. She insists that I call her by her name of choice, but then she calls me "doc" instead of Beth or Dr. Carter. She wants me to know that she's in control. Let her have this one. For now.
"I'm sorry. Kat, last week was your first session with me. We did a lot of getting to know each other, but we really didn't touch on exactly what brought you here. Since you scheduled and came to a second session, I assume you want to start digging a little bit deeper. So, why don't we start with why you're here?"
I noticed her foot tapping nervously on the floor, which betrayed the controlled image that she wanted to convey. However, she made a show of rolling her eyes as she groaned like she was annoyed. "I'm here because my ex-husband is a pussy. A giant, period bleeding, tampon wearing, pussy."
Colorful language for a woman with a Stanford education. She's overselling this act. She's trying to get me out of my comfort zone by being extreme.
"Okay Kat. Tell me, what do you mean when you say he's a pussy? Describe what makes him a pussy."
I took note of the brief surprise that flashed on her face. She expected me to replace her vulgar language with softer words. Normally I would have. I detest vulgar language, and find it counterproductive to successful therapy. However, I sensed that if I did that with her, she would use that tactic as a wall to hide behind whenever things got rough. I wanted to show her that her antics didn't scare me in the slightest.
"Well doc, Bran is a pussy because when we were married, he had no pride. No fight. Instead of fighting to be a man, he put his panties on, tucked his dick between his legs, and did the pee pee dance!" She said, attempting to up the ante. Her smirk let me know that it was deliberate.
"As entertaining as I'm sure that was to say, you still haven't answered the question." I said evenly. My face showed nothing but professionalism, as if I were completely unfazed by her blatant attempt to steer this train away from its destination. When I saw unspoken acknowledgement from her, I punctuated my statement with, "But I think you know that, Kat."
Her body language softened, letting me know that she was relenting a little. Her hands fell at her sides as she leaned back in the cushion.
She was testing the power balance of our relationship. She was, after all, a lawyer. I expected this much from her. My goal was to show her that this wasn't a power struggle, and certainly wasn't an adversarial hearing. She didn't need to get the upper hand. I wasn't here to be won over by her. My job was to help her get some perspective over whatever brought her here.
"Why don't you start by telling me the things that frustrated you about your ex." I said invitingly.
Her face flashed something that looked like sadness. She seemed determined not to show any emotions, so it went away quickly.
"For one, he never fought for anything. Every argument ended with him just leaving the room. He didn't even yell back. He used to tell me that we weren't in a courtroom, and I didn't have to batter him like a hostile witness." Then she huffed mockingly as she said, "He's never seen me interrogate a hostile witness. If he did, he would know that he got off EASY."
Her tone was full of anger and sarcasm, but it was laced with something more. Regret, sadness, maybe even a little bit of remorse.
"What do you think he should have done when the two of you argued?"
Her face screwed up with a mixture of emotions. "I don't know. Fight back. Yell. Something! Show that he had balls for Christ's sakes!"
"Is that what you feel real men do in an argument? Fight and argue?"
She shot me a glare, then it turned into a smirk. "I see what you're doing doc. Next, you're gonna tell me that Bran was right to not argue. Then you'll probably tell me stories about husbands that do fight, and their wives turn into domestic violence victims."
She's trying to anticipate what I'll say in response to her. This keeps her in control.
"Actually Kat, I was going to agree with you, but for different reasons. Fighting isn't something that 'real men' do, but it is something that all people do when they're passionate about something. They fight to defend what they care about. People often believe that a perfect relationship is one with no disagreement; no fighting. In reality, it's quite the opposite. If there are two people who never argue about anything, then that could only mean one of three things. One – one or both people in the relationship aren't being completely honest about what bothers them. They are just agreeing for the sake of peace. Two – one or both people don't care enough about the relationship to waste energy fighting. Three – one of the people in the relationship is being oppressed to the point of submission."
The look of surprise on her face told me that I caught her off guard. She struggled to find a response. I didn't want to turn this into a back and forth, so I changed course.
"Tell me, what made you fall in love with Brandon in the first place?"
It took her a couple of seconds to catch up with the new direction. She looked up at the ceiling and pursed her lips, as if she were thinking. Without realizing it, the scowl softened somewhat and her lips curled into a smile. Almost.
"Bran was...sweet. Kinder than anyone I've ever known. And he was patient with me. He didn't call me bossy like so many other men in my life. He appreciated my take charge nature."
"How was the communication between the two of you?"
She laughed slightly as she thought about it. It wasn't a sarcastic laugh, like before. It was more reminiscent. "Brandon had no problem communicating. We could talk about anything for hours." The smile slowly left her face and her voice trailed off when she said, "At least in the beginning."
"What sort of things did you two talk about when things were good?" I asked, trying to bring her back to happier memories. It may have been a little selfish on my part, but I was enjoying seeing her face absent the forlorn expression.
"Everything. Movies, people, politics, my job - you name it. Even if he didn't know what the fuck he was talking about, he could have a conversation about it." She gave a chuckle at that. "Talking with him never got boring."
"Why do you think he fell in love with you?" I asked. I realized too late that it was a mistake. The smirk returned to her face as her eyes latched challengingly onto mine once again.
"Because I was such a good fuck that he knew he couldn't do any better. Plus, I took care of his lazy ass. If it wasn't for me, he would be another broke ass writer who couldn't feed himself."
I silently chastised myself. I inadvertently allowed her to retreat into her aggressive, condescending wall. However, I had noticed something that could be of use.
She tried to dodge that with sarcasm because she probably can't think of an answer to that question.
I decided to push that a little. "So, you fell in love with him because he was smart, funny, kind, patient, and he appreciated you for who you were. Yet he only fell in love with you because you were good in bed and you paid the bills? Is that how you view your relationship?" I paused to let it sink in before I went in again for shock value. "Sounds like you got the better deal out of the marriage."
She looked at me incredulously and asked, "How do you figure that?"
"Well, if what you're saying is true, then you fell in love with a man who was patient with you and loved you for who you were. You were able to talk to him about things that interested you. But all he got was a sugar mama who was a good lay."
That took her back a little bit. It forced her to think of a real answer. The smirk disappeared.
"I guess he may have loved my upfront nature. He used to tell me that he loved my brutal honesty because he always knew where he stood. I didn't play word games or try to spare his feelings. I said what I meant."
Her face turned into a frown. I also noticed that she hesitated when she said brutal honesty. I zoned in my focus there.
"Were you always honest with him?"
She looked at the floor. Very significant moment, for I felt it was the true beginning for us. "Yes. I was. Even when it hurt." She said in a voice that was much softer than it normally was.
"When did you hurt him, Kat?"
I saw the walls crumbling. My instincts told me that it was too good to be true. It was too fast. I was right on the money, because Katrina pulled back. Instantly, she retreated into her safe place behind her hard-nosed litigator demeanor.
"Who gives a fuck! We're divorced now, so there's no sense talking about it!" She crossed her arms defiantly and glowered at me. She resembled a small child who was told she had to apologize to her sibling, even though she felt she was fully justified for whatever act of adolescent violence she inflicted.
"Well, obviously, you give a fuck. If you didn't, you wouldn't be here."
I saw the signs of her fighting the tsunami of emotions that was threatening to break on her beach. Her eyes watered with unshed tears as she looked off to the side. She was avoiding all eye contact with me.
"Why don't you tell me about how you hurt Brandon?" I said in a comforting, yet authoritative tone. Then I let the air fill with silence.
Katrina let my question hang unanswered. She wanted to wait me out, to force me to change the subject. But I had an advantage. Even in her silence, I could read the body language which spoke louder than she could scream at the top of her lungs. She wanted to tell me these things. She needed to. These pent-up feelings were screaming to be heard. They were hiding just beneath the surface, fighting against her need to stay in control to get out. I knew that once she realized that this wasn't a power struggle, she would relent and open up.
"Okay fine!" she said finally. "I was honest with him when I fucked another man. I told him about it, and then I divorced him. You happy now?"
She searched my face for some sort of reaction, but I gave her none. I remained neutral. It was important for her to see that nothing she said could shock me. This would go a long way towards making her feel comfortable.
"Describe him." I said nonchalantly.
"Who, Terry?" she asked. Of course I meant Terry. She knew that. This was a stalling tactic.
"Yes. I'd like to hear about Terry. What attracted you to him?"
Katrina took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling again. This time, the smile was more prominent on her face than when she talked about her husband.
"Terry is - was - a coworker. He's also lawyer." She took a pause as she reminisced. "Man! That man just owns a courtroom. He would have the judge, and opposing counsel eating out of his hand. He has this swagger about him. It's like he knows that no matter what, he's gonna get his way."
"He has a commanding presence." I said. It wasn't a question. I was rewording her words to give them more context.
She nodded. "Oh yeah! He's the only person that ever intimidated me. We were both competing for Senior Partner."
"I see. This...intimidation that you felt. That attracted you? Caused you to become infatuated with him?"
"I guess so. It was kind of exciting. No man had ever made me feel that way before, including Bran." She leaned forward and started to fidget with her fingers. "Every man that I ever dated always deferred to me. Several of my ex-boyfriends would eat vegan food just because I told them that while they were with me, they wouldn't eat meat. Even if they didn't like it, they would eat it for me. Now, Bran didn't go that far, but he pretty much fell in line with the rest of them. Terry wasn't like that. He was more like me; he didn't fall in line, he started the line. Nothing would get in the way of what he wanted to do. He could get people to follow him simply because he told them to. Now, I loved Brandon; I really did. But, I found myself wishing that sometimes - just sometimes - he could be more like that. Ya know?"
"I see." I said as I jotted a few notes. "Did you see Terry as more of a man than Brandon?"
She thought for a few seconds. "I wouldn't say that."
"What would you say?"
I could see the wheels of thought turning around in her head. "Terry was more - I don't know - imposing, I guess. Powerful. It drew me in."
"And these were qualities that you felt Brandon lacked?"
I made a few more notes. "Okay Kat. Let's switch gears. Tell me a story. I wanna hear about the first time you crossed the line with Terry."
Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. "Crossed the line? What do you mean by that? Do you mean sex?"
I smiled to myself. I purposely used the open-ended statement "crossed the line" instead of specifically saying "cheated on your husband". Most people associate cheating with the physical act of sex. That's how they justify the little things that lead up to it (the flirting, the sexually charged banter, etc.) All of it seems innocent in comparison.
The fact that she asked me to specify means part of her knew that even the small things could be considered inappropriate. If she didn't, she would have just jumped into the story about the first time she had sex with Terry.
"I want you to tell me about whatever pops in your mind. Don't think about it too hard. Whatever comes to you, go with it. Start talking before your internal filter kicks in."
She thought about it a little more, and then she said, "Okay. I guess the first time would be the bet."
"Okay, good. Tell me about the bet."
KAT – 5 years ago
I leaned back in my chair and rolled my eyes as an annoying noise blared through the air.
"Oh, Phil." I said in an amused voice, interrupting the noise. "I love how you try to talk tough as if you actually have a case. It would be adorable if it wasn't so exasperating. But c'mon. We both know that you don't have anything to stand on."
He launched into another puffed up monologue about laws and bylaws, neither of which helped his position at all. He only filled dead air with big words that were supposed to be intimidating.
As if on cue, the paralegal that I was waiting for brought me the actual bylaws that pertained to this case, and not some fictional ones that may have applied in 1995. I pointed to the phone to indicate that the conversation I was having was the one I needed her for. She quietly smiled as she opened a manila folder and tapped her finger on the section that she highlighted.
"Kat, my client wants..." Phil started to say, his grating voice booming through my speakerphone. I couldn't care less what his client wanted, so I cut him off.
"Phil, please stop talking. Your voice is irritating and I get a stomachache whenever I get fed too much bullshit. Apparently, your paralegals aren't worth shit. Luckily, ours are top notch. So, I took the liberty of having them do your job for you." I playfully winked at the paralegal who gave me the paperwork as I said this. She smiled broadly at my praise. "I'm going to email you some bylaws that should be of interest to you. Please read them. As much as I love embarrassing you in court, it does get old after - how many times have you lost against me so far?"
The line went silent for the first time since he called me with his client's demands. Then he bitterly said, "You're a real bitch, Kat."
"Yep, that's right. Three times."
I could feel him seething on the other end. "Fuck you. Alright? Fuck you." He bellowed, showing off that extensive Columbia University education.
"Will do Phil. Kiss the wife for me. Tah Tah." I sang with fake cheeriness as I hung up the phone. Then I closed the manila folder in front of me and scribbled some instructions on the front of it.
"Sonya, give this to Kim and tell her to email it to these people. And close the door behind you, will you please?"
With a nod, Sonya grabbed the folder and walked out. I exhaled loudly and leaned back into my chair, enjoying the silence. A glance at the clock showed that it was only 10:30 in the morning. Brandon would have probably gotten out of bed by now. How nice must it be to wake up whenever you feel like it? People with real jobs don't have that luxury.
I decided to take the moment to make the perfunctory call to check on him. I pulled out my cell and found his number in my favorites list.
"Hey Kitty Kat." He said when he picked up after the third ring.
"Hey Babe. How's your day?" I asked automatically. I didn't really listen to the answer because I knew exactly what he was going to say. We had some variation of this conversation almost every day. At this point he would either talk about some publisher that had rejected his book, a publisher that he was still waiting to hear from, or a new publisher that he was going to talk to. Every so often, he would mix it up with telling me about a new story that he was writing. One that would, in turn, get rejected in the future.