I have never visited a counselor before. The most “opening up” I have done like this has been in online chat rooms to strangers from behind a screen, so I am kind of nervous for today.
Miss Bell is very nice to me. I suppose it is her job, but the way she speaks to me is reassuring somehow.
“Hi there!” she waves at me and I enter her office by myself. “Take a seat anywhere you like.” She has very straight teeth.
On my way to a welcoming-looking couch at the other end of the room, I notice a tub in the corner that seems to be full of toys. I should not be here… This is for crazy people… I am not crazy… Am I?
“So, how are you feeling today, Byung-Ho?” she asks as she plops into her armchair across the table. I don’t know how to respond. I am feeling the same as always, I guess. I feel a little strange and out of place here in this room, though. It is a cozy room, warmly lit, with a nice rug and some bookshelves, but for some reason I still feel awkward in here. There is a box of toys behind me. Is this a room for children? Do I seem like an emotionally unstable child? I am still thinking about those stupid toys. They are making me question my existence.
Miss Bell looks up from her notepad. “Byung-Ho?”
Ah… I don’t want to do this…
“Are you okay?” she does have a very nice smile.
I nod quickly. Please do not make me do this.
“Has anything been bothering you lately?”
I do not respond.
“Do you like games?”
Games? Now that is something I can answer. Hell, games are all I have done all day every day for like the past three years, of course I like games. I nod, and my eyes meet hers from under my bangs for a second before I look away again.
“Hmmm… what kind of games?”
Well… do you have a computer?
“Because I have a few board games in the closet we could play. My favorite game is Uno, but I guess that’s a card game, isn’t it?”
I guess it is… I glance over my shoulder at the box of toys. I don’t know why I did it, I just wanted to know if they were still there, which is kind of stupid, because it’s not like they can go anywhere. Miss Bell notices, though.
“Oh, or we could get out the Box of Things!”
I immediately regret glancing over my shoulder.
“Here, feel free to dig into this box and make a mess,” she says as she scoots the box to a spot on the floor, next to the table and me. It’s right there at my feet. Is that a dinosaur? I kind of want to look. I mean, I guess it is the gamer in me that wants to open the chest and make sure I’m not missing out on anything good? Yeah… that’s it.
It is full of odds and ends, random things, like marbles, cars, dolls, a paddle ball, etc.
This is stupid, it’s a box of toys for children.
Why am I so entertained by this?
Ah… who cares? My parents are paying money for me to play with toys. I might as well just play with the damn toys.
“Did you have toys as a kid, Byung-Ho?”
I nod, fiddling with a few marbles.
“What kind of toys did you have?”
Ah… I can’t answer that… Well, maybe I can.
I found a couple of action figures, a small car, and a bouncy ball and put them on the table. These kinds.
The session goes on like this for a while. She asks some questions, I evade answering them out loud, she writes some things down on her notepad, and messes around with the toys with me.
Near the end of the session Miss Bell says, “You know, I happened to notice that you haven’t said a single word this whole time. Are you usually this quiet?”
I nod. What? Like I’m going to talk? Why would I do that?
I fidget with a Power Ranger’s elbow.
Miss Bell… how do you expect me to answer that…?
“How long have you been quiet like this?”
Oh gosh, like… about three years? I make my hand show three fingers.
“Three… Days?” I shake my head. “Weeks?” No… “Months?” Still… no… “Years?” Yes.
“Hmmm. Was this a decision you made on your own?”
Ah… sort of? I shake my hand a little to say “kind of.”
“Would you tell me why? You can write it down if you want, here.” she slides some paper across the table to me. I do not want to write, though. I do not want to talk about this. I shake my head “no” after a silent moment passes.
“Are you sure?”
I can feel my knees coming up to my chest and I curl up in the corner of the couch.
“Hey, that’s okay. I think we made good progress today,” she smiles.
I am hermit crabbing. Oh…
Tears? No, not now. Please stop, Tears. I do not have time for this right now. Ahh… please stop… stop looking at me like that… I want to go home… Stop looking at me like that. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to do this to you, I’m sorry! Please… go to bed. Go to work. Go take your bath. Anything, just please go somewhere else, go away from me. Please stop looking at me like that. Please do not touch me, please do not hit me again, please stop… I’m sorry… I did not mean to start crying. I did not mean to upset you. I will never speak again, so I am sorry, just please… stop hitting me. Stop touching me…
“Hey, Byung-Ho, it’s alright, okay? You’re safe here. Just take a moment-”
Ah… I wish I had jumped back then. Everyone would have been better off.