I am awake and writing because I have horrible insomnia. I wrote this scene that may or may not go into the novel that I’ve been writing off and on for three years now (For more info about the writing process, you can read here and here). Sexual assault is mentioned and the setting is a mental institution. Consider that your trigger warning. I wanted to ask: Is this scene believable?
“It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I’m not supposed to be here,” I say more to myself than to the psychiatrist sitting in front of me.
“I hear that a lot,” he says with a small chuckle. “You think you’re the first college student I’ve had in this chair?”
I don’t know if he actually wants an answer or not, so I stare at the yellow ducks on his black tie, trying not to squirm in this god awful uncomfortable chair. It’s plastic and navy blue and reminds me way too much of high school. At least there’s no gum stuck to the bottom. I want to tell him everything, and simultaneously, I want to keep my mouth shut. I want him to understand me without lumping me in with the rest of the people he’s seen who resemble my life’s story or age group. Why do I care so much what he thinks? I ask myself, but I already know the answer: I care because he’s the only one here who has the power to discharge me or keep me longer than the mandatory 72 hours; and I’ve already been here for 28 of them. My eyes scan around the room, noticing his accolades, books, and degrees.
He brings me back to the present. “Nicole, I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong.”
I chew the inside of my cheek, while trying to come up with a feasible answer without telling him the whole truth. “I’m just stressed out with school and thinking about life after graduation fills me with a shit ton of anxiety.” He stares at me, his chin resting in his left hand, and I stare at his wedding ring. “Cool ring,” I say because that’s what you do when trying to fill the void of an awkward silence—you ramble. He doesn’t take the bait.
“So, your university counselor thought Baker Acting you would be the best solution to your school stress?”
I nod as nonchalantly as possible.
“I don’t think that’s the whole story,” he says. I swear his eyes soften and his voice grows even gentler than it already was. “Why don’t you tell me the truth? The sooner you do, the faster I can discharge you. Believe it or not, but I don’t want you in here.”
He sounds so fucking sincere, I almost tear up. I pull myself together, though, and offer him a small bone. “I have PTSD from being sexually groomed and assaulted last year for five and a half months.”
“By the same person?”
A brief pause. What do you say to that? How do you comfort someone who has been hurt in such inexcusable, dehumanizing ways? When he speaks again, it’s to apologize, sympathetically, for my “misfortune.” I don’t respond. Talking about it, even in past tense, is triggering for me, so I start to shut down. The memories float through my head anyway.