The Devil is Your Therapist (capitalise significant words in titles ('your' is possibly optional))
riday [comma removed]
the third of M
2017, I was convinced I would never be able to forgive my dad. On that day, in the cold streets of Harlem, at four in the afternoon, I hated him with a burning passion that didn’t even come close to the anger I had felt before for him. No – this time, I thought, it was serious. This time I wanted to make sure his behavior would have consequences. **Saying that 'it didn't even come close' implies a lesser degree of anger, but you want to imply a greater degree of anger. You may wish to say that the more recent anger 'surpassed' the previous anger - or maybe try other wording?**
While angrily clenching my teeth I counted the house numbers in the street until I arrived at number eleven, the office of Doctor Frances Bennet. It didn’t seem as promising as it was presented on the website, but that didn’t bother me. I took out my phone, made some photos of the dirty doormat, the skewed
sign on which I read the name of the doctor and the bulges in the old entry door. With a strange satisfaction I typed the words [remove this „]"
at the doorstep of the devil“ into my phone and sent my dad the photos [instead of full stop, I suggest comma or hyphen here with lower-case j in just - unless you wish to emphasise this as a sentence on its own (it isn't grammatically correct but may be OK as a style choice.)]
Just to make sure he knew what he had done to me.
The moment I wanted to ring the bell, the door suddenly opened and I stood there, surprised, irritated and face to face with Doctor Frances Bennet.
He didn’t smile. He didn’t even reach out his hand so I could shake it. He just nodded at me and asked: "
I stared at him. He – a man in his mid-forties – looked more like a drug addict than a therapist. He wore glasses and clothes that didn’t fit his meager figure. The dark circles under his eyes revealed how tired he was, but his glance would have been [would have been is conditional. I suggest 'was' instead]
enough to know he was seriously sleep deprived. And maybe even annoyed. [again, this ought not be a sentence on its own unless written this way for style.]
What kind of doctor was this guy?
I crossed my arms. "
Yes? How did you know I was in front of your door?“
Now it was his turn to stare at me, but I instantly knew he was better at it than me. I felt uncomfortable under his gaze but tried hard not to avert his eyes.
I am a psychologist, I observe people, this is literally what I do“, Frances Bennet finally answered. [I would re-write as "I am a psychologist. I observe people. This (maybe 'That' is better but it's optional, I think) is what I do,“ - note the comma position at the end - WITHIN the speech mark.]
Frances Bennet finally answered. „I heard you coming and then I watched you from my window. I am glad you documented my entrance for research purposes.“ He turned around to walk into his office. I hastily shoved my phone back into my pocket and followed him.
The lighting in the narrow [maybe better to omit narrow as corridor implies narrow in this context. No problem if you wish to keep it. Maybe a better way could be, "The corridor's dim/pale/faint lighting revealed a door at the far end ..."]
corridor was weak. We headed straight to the door at the end of it and I found myself hoping that it was brighter where the therapy would take place
. (not wrong but maybe ... in the therapy/consultation room beyond) **I noticed that I didn’t have any room for anger left in me because I was too busy processing my confusion.** **This sounds a little unwieldy but it's not technically wrong.**
As soon as we went through the doorway I thought I was about to begin a therapy session packed with clichés. Two royal blue armchairs stood in the middle of the room, abstract drawings were hanging from the walls and on the tiny table that stood right beside the armchairs I saw a bowl with a couple of worry stones in it. I even spotted a box with tissues and had to restrain myself from laughing. I don't know what worry stones are but will assume you know what you're talking about Very descriptive. I like this bit. Please note that speech and quotations begin with the quotation marks at the top of the line as shown earlier. I won't keep repeating the correction for this. I will take a break now as time is tight. Will continue when I am able - if you wish that.
Instead I just *not wrong but not needed*
said: „I can’t believe I am here.“
Frances Bennet moved towards one armchair and sat down. Then he stared at me without saying a word – apparently this guy seemed to like doing that – but after a couple of seconds he responded: „It’s been ten years now and I still can’t believe I am doing this. Why don’t you join me? I paid a lot for these chairs, they are extremely comfortable.“ *I like the humour here*
I blinked and tilted my head but decided to say nothing. Feeling like a clumsy person on a boat who was in constant danger of falling into the water I did what he suggested and sat down. *This isn't wrong but feels unwieldy*
The chair was,
extremely comfortable. *probably better with commas - some may disagree*
„So why are you here, Olivia?“, *I think comma is wrong. I may be wrong on this*
Frances Bennet asked me while managing to sound as disinterested as possible. At this point I was beginning to wonder if my dad was somehow involved in this. Was he trying to play a trick on me?
„You know why I am here“, *comma in wrong place - should be inside speech marks*
I said and took off my scarf. „My father probably already told you about every detail of my mental illnesses.“
„What your father said doesn’t matter.“ Frances Bennet put his hands on the arm rests of the chair and crossed his legs. „I want to hear it from you.“
I hadn’t expected something as reasonable as this from Frances Bennet and stared at him in surprise. But then I shrugged my shoulders and said: „Alright. The truth is that I absolutely detest being here. My dad forced me to come to your office even though I don’t believe in therapy and was always annoyed by the psychology students at my university. But he won’t pay my rent if I don’t give this shit a try, so ... here we are.“
Frances Bennet nodded and said nothing. He didn’t seem to be offended and this provoked me somehow. I wanted to shake this man up,*full stop instead of comma*
I wanted to sweep the box with *change 'with' to 'of'*
tissues off the table and throw a tantrum. Surprised by my own emotions *probable comma here*
I bit my tongue and sat still.
„My father thinks I need help because he doesn’t know me“, comma* inside speech mark*. A full stop is better though because a full sentence follows it.
I continued to tell this stranger about my life. Thinking back, I guess I only wanted to fill the silence with words. I am pretty sure now *inserting 'that' could be helpful here*
all therapists use silence to squeeze anything out of anybody.
„And he doesn’t want to listen when I tell him I am okay on my own. He is always convinced that he knows exactly what I need. It has been this way since I came out of my mom'
s *possessive apostrophe*
vagina *'womb' might be better but it depends what you are trying to show
*. And only because her death traumatized him this doesn’t mean that I will suffer from it my whole life time *lifetime is one word - but just 'life' would suffice*
There, I said it. Five minutes into the therapy and it was out. The biggest problem of them all.
Frances Bennet still sat there without moving. The only reaction I got from him was a change in his facial expressions – but I couldn’t pin down what this change meant.
Something in my mind changed,*no comma (I think ) *
too. At the split of a second *a native English speaker would not say this. Maybe try 'In that split second' or 'That was the moment I decided ...' - or something else?*
, I decided to use Frances Bennet as the garbage can for my stories.
The next thirty minutes I was the only one who talked. I talked and talked without any regret even though I had contemplated before to just keep quiet during the session as a type of revenge on my father since he paid for this therapy. *this is very unwieldy and doesn't sound quite right. Consider re-wording into shorter sentences?*
But I ended up explaining to
this strange guy in front of me that after my mother had died fiffteen *fifteen*
years ago my dad wouldn’t stop searching for signs of illnesses in me. He thought I wasn’t mourning her enough and that this had a reason. *consider re-wording from 'But I ended up ...' to '... a reason', because it doesn't sound right to an English speaker. Shorter sentences and simpler construction would help*
My only reason for not being sad all the time was that I had forgotten her face. I had forgotten how she used to smell, how she used to kiss my forehead, how her laugh had sounded. Because I had only four years with her. And you cannot miss someone you have forgotten.
After half an hour, Frances Bennet suddenly stood up. Baffled, *comma*
I stopped talking in the middle of the sentence and watched him walk to the white cupboard near the door. He opened it, took out a bottle of whiskey and two glasses. With an *'an' can safely be removed*
astonishing tranquility he strolled back to his armchair, put the glasses on the table and poured whiskey into both of them. He handed me one glass and sat down, looking very pleased with himself.
„What the fuck?“, no comma
was the only phrase I could think of in this moment.
„Let’s be honest“, comma inside speech
he said and smiled for the first time since I got to know him, „we both don’t want to be here. I hate my job and you don’t need therapy,*consider full stop here*
you need something else.“
I leaned forward and put the glass on the carpet. „And what is it that I need?“, no comma
I asked him, now convinced that this could not be a real therapist. That this had to be a joke. *not a full sentence but probably ok as style choice*
„You, my dear“,inside speech
he said and leaned forward as well, „need to get your fucking shit together. And you need some alcohol. Because, and that won’t change, even with some therapy sessions, this life is one big pile of shit. And what we do our whole life is basically trying to make our way through this big pile of shit. That is all of the wisdom I have to give.“
He grabbed his own glass and took a big gulp of the whiskey. „Do you think, by the way, that Frances is also a girls name? My wife was so kind to draw attention to this issue during our last ... disagreement.“
For a while I sat there in complete shock, but something inside of me clicked and I made the choice to just go with it. Not only because it was entertaining but because I wanted to really discuss with Doctor Bennet if Frances was also a girl'
Some minutes later we were both lying on the carpet and stared at the ceiling. I think my therapist was already a little drunk. Probably he had been drinking before my session had even started.
„I thought being a therapist would be different, you know? More exicting *exciting*
, for example.“ In the corner of my eye I could see him crossing his arms. „But the really mad ones don’t come to my damn office! Do you think I ever talked to a sociopath that regularl
y fantasizes about murdering his girlfriend? Do you think someone ever sat in my chair who believes the walls are made out of sugar and that fairies sit on the floor? No way! The only patients I get are narcissists that pay someone so that they can talk about themselves for a solid hour - or the ones that can’t cope with daily life. The ones that wallow in self-pity and that worry about things like the size of their nose. They read something in the internet and are convinced that they have an anxiety disorder or – the most popular concern – that they are depressed. No, Steven, you aren’t depressed, you are just fucking lazy. No, Deborah, I can’t diagnose you with Borderline, you are just a terribly annoying person and your friends wanted to find a nice way of confronting you with the truth. And you“, comma inside
he turned to me, and his breath smelled of alcohol, „you are just an indecisive, spoiled brat that needs to change her way of living. No offense.“ He took another sip from his bottle of whiskey and finally he second 'he' not needed
It was silent for a while in Frances Bennet'
s office – also because I couldn’t think of anything to say – until he cleared his throat, sat up and asked me: „You wanna smoke a joint? We have fifteen minutes left.“
To which I sat up as well and responded: „Does your salary suffice for your drug consumption?“
Frances Bennet looked out of the window. After some time he nodded. „Yes, yes, it does. Somehow. But I just cannot seem to find any money to renew these utterly ugly curtains.“
I laughed – which scared the shit out of me – and then I smoked a joint with my therapist.
All I can remember from the rest of the day is that Frances Bennet'
s next patient was ringing the bell at least ten times until they gave up and that we both couldn’t stop laughing about the color of his utterly ugly curtains. And I remember that while we were not able to stand up from the carpet because we were too high, Frances and I made a deal in a cloud of smoke. This deal consists of me going to his office once a week so he gets his salary and him telling my father about all kinds of satisfying diagnoses and treatments. Miraculously – to this day – dad never spoke of my mental state again.
In that sense, to darken the door of Doctor Frances Bennet wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. I don’t think anybody ever made such a good deal with the devil.