What Scares You

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What Scares You

Post by Gloom on 2012-02-21, 13:46

Sometimes inspiration strikes like lightning. Sometimes it doesn't at all. This is one of those cases: a work the process of whose creation was long, arduous, and unfulfilling to the extreme. I'm deeply sorry if my writing has inadvertently offended someone suffering from a similar condition. I did my best, but without inspiration, my best isn't much...
Aargh, I'm not allowed to self bash anymore. I'm sorry.

What Scares You

"What are you afraid of?", he asked again, as if it has been the first time, with the exact same measured, controlled voice that, all things considered, did scare the living hell out of me.

Of you! I am afraid of you!, was what I'd wanted to shout, but I couldn't bring myself to do it, for obvious reasons, and settled instead for the second best alternative of moving uncomfortably in my chair and staring at my knees like I've been doing for the last forty-five minutes or so.

The little sign on the door said "psychiatrist", but just about everything else about doctor Rosenstein screamed "secret police interrogator". Two minutes into my conversation with him I was already casting suspicious looks towards the floorboards beneath us, wondering where he keeps the bodies of former patients who refused to speak.

Looking as much unlike a psychiatrist as humanly possible, doctor Rosenstein was a titanic mountain of a man, with a chest that seemed wider than I was tall, with arms that seemed purpose built to breaking people's legs, or possibly spines. His bushy beard, which could only be described as "hearty" because it was too well groomed to be called "biblical", reached down to his chest, and he wore a severe, expensive brown suit that seemed almost laughably out of place on the body of the Incredible Human Bear.

I bit my lip and muttered "I can't tell you", in response, just as I've done the last ten times he'd asked me this very same question, if not the last hundred times. Doctor Rosenstein didn't even seem close to giving up. In fact, he didn't seem like anything, except for, possibly, "scary". There was no emotion on his face, hidden by the huge beard, and not a single hair of his eyebrow seemed to so much as flinch in reaction.

Slowly, deliberately, he'd raised his massive elbows and rested them on the table between us (A farewell gift from the KGB, by the looks of it), allowing him to combine his fingers as if in a posture of prayer, something that I assumed was a habit of his, as he thought. I wasn't looking at him, I didn't want to see his eyes, but I could almost feel his gaze upon me. He was boring into my skull with his eyes, and the silence only made it so much worse.

"Of course you can tell me," he finally said, surprising me somewhat with his simplicity after such a dramatic setup. "Perhaps I could help you".

He had deep, booming, clear voice that probably would have made me think of male opera singers if Rosenstein's stereotype slot in my mind hadn't already been filled by the aforementioned interrogator. The tiny, Spartan room around us, lit by a single, pale ceiling lamp and nothing more, did not help to make it sound any less intimidating.

I felt like a criminal in one of those movies, about to be beaten up by the ruthless secret agent with a dark and troubled past. The only difference was that I wasn't physically tied to my chair- although I did have a strange, foreboding feeling that if I'd tried to escape, the doctor would've just picked me up like a miniature and put me back in my spot without breaking a sweat. He seemed like that kind of man. Call me delusional. I am, after all, telling you about my meeting with a psychiatrist, am I not?

I swallowed hard, my eyes darting between my shoes and his beard, unwilling to meet his.

If I had said "You can't help me", everything would be over. That's what the real crazies say- the guys who end up in straightjackets, pumped full of happy juice in some godforsaken institution. "You can't help me" is code for "I am most definitely going to resist treatment, you might as well make those phone calls now". It means you're a creepy kid who speaks with ghosts, except this isn't a movie and I'm pretty sure doctor Rosenstein is alive.

Sorry for the spoiler, by the way.

So I didn't say it, even though I really wanted to, because I really believed that. I didn't think doctor Rosenstein or any other doctor could help me. I didn't want help from doctors. I didn't want help from anyone- even if I'd thought that someone out there could help.

That was the problem with my problem, if that makes sense to you. It's not that I didn't want it to go away- it's been ruining my life and I wasn't enjoying it- it's just that I didn't want help from people, because that was what it was all about in the first place.

But I couldn't say that, either. See how it all loops around right back to my own desperate craziness?

"…It's doesn't matter", I muttered under my breath, half hoping he wouldn't hear.

"You wouldn't be here if it didn't", he answered, and the walls trembled as his deeper-than-the- Marianas-Trench voice rolled against them like thunder, despite it being so quiet and reserved.
My fingernails dug deeper into my wrist. I was starting to feel a little dizzy.

"I don't want to be here."

"Where do you want to be?"

Other psychiatrists pressured you with words. This one didn't even need to. The atmosphere did all the work for him.

"…I don't know" I said, because "anywhere but here" might have sounded too confrontational, and the last thing I'd wanted was to confront doctor Rosenstein in any way about anything.

"Then for now, would you let me help you?" he asked.

I shook my head, perhaps more violently than I should have, my eyes closed shut, trying to control my breathing. "I can't tell you anything."

"What are you afraid of?"

My eyes flashed towards the exit door, towards the ceiling lamp, towards the boring picture of a smiling cat on the grey wall, that I guess was supposed to look cute, but looked absolutely
horrifying in those conditions. I was physically moving backwards into my chair, as if trying to drown myself in it.

"I'm not afraid of anything."

"Why are you here, then?"

"I can't tell you!" I cried, almost panicked, then instinctively raised my hands a little as if to protect my face from an oncoming beating. I do it when I'm nervous- I honestly have no idea why, it's not like I was an abused child or anything. I was normal- I had a good childhood, the best one anyone could wish for. I had the best parents anyone could wish for.

And yet, I was never normal.

That much was obvious to anyone who'd ever talked to me, I think. To anyone who'd spent any significant amount of time with me. It was only natural for them to inquire about the reason, or perhaps the absence of it, behind it.

But I couldn't tell them. The reason was that I couldn't tell them the reason because that is what it was. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep over it.

I didn't need psychiatrists to tell me that I was being silly, that none of it made any sense. That much they could tell even without being explained anything- and I did share a little with my first one. But none of it helped, because it couldn't be, because the system of that fear was broken into looping unto itself: how can you trust in people to help you learn how to trust in people?
Even when I say it like this to myself, I realize how irrational I'm being, how nonexistingly- minuscule the odds are of any of it being true, how egotistical of me it is to assume that any of it could be.

But the human brain works in mysterious ways, and when it breaks down, sometimes it breaks down in ways that make no sense to the unbroken mind- even when they are, physically, one and the same: one big electrochemical clockwork of neurons and glia.

I often felt shame at how ridiculous I was acting; at how justified was everybody else's laugher or revulsion. I myself probably would not have been able to say, if asked directly, what it all was about.

"Are you afraid of me?" he asked, shocking me out of my dark reverie. Was it any other psychiatrist, I might have admired his observational skills, but I have my suspicions that this particular one simply was that used to patients telling him that.

I shook my head. "I'm not afraid of you."

He sat back in the chair that seemed to barely be capable of supporting his immense form, his fingers still entwined, still in thought.

"Do you think that I intend to harm you?"

At the edge of my consciousness, the dim awareness of the fact that I was shaking registered. My muscles ached from being kept so tense for such a long period of time. This session was supposed to be only a little less than two hours, I thought. Time must have slowed down to a crawl within that little, claustrophobic office. I imagined myself leaving the room and looking up to see a big, red sun filling the sky- a second felt like a century within doctor Rosenstein's office.

"…No. I think that you want to help me."

"Yet you refuse to answer my questions."

"That I think that you want to doesn't mean that I think…" I was about to continue this sentence, but stopped myself before I could blurt out something that would sound too crazy. "…That I think that you should"? "…That I think that you could"?

I knew that things weren't as simple, of course, but the feeling of it was as if a one way ticket to the loonhouse was hanging above my body like the sword of Damocles.

"I've read your files", he said, breaking the silence.

I didn't answer. I tried to tell myself that I didn't care about whatever he'd found there, but it was difficult. I was panicking. Dreadful scenarios began filling my head like nightmares. What did he find out about me? What could he find out about me? What was he going to do about it?

It didn't make sense for him to have anything about me that I've never told anyone, but what if that wasn't the case? I did give some hints to my first doctor. It wouldn't be unreasonable for this one to find out about it and try to make contact. Was it legal? It would make sense for it not to be, but then again, I could see how useful such a method could be to psychiatrists. And what if what I thought made sense didn't matter? Could it be?

My thoughts are my own, nobody else can know them. My mind is my own, my mind is private.

I told that to myself again and again, and in the background, still the movie theatre of my baseless fear kept showing. What if I'm wrong? If that was the case, than it wouldn't make a difference anyway. Even… Even dismissing all theories involving supernatural or unknown methods, is it really that unlikely that I might have, for example, told someone and then forgotten about it?
Unlikely, but not even close to impossible.

"Do you want a glass of water?"

"No!" I blurted out, than shamefully lowered my head back again. He didn't seem taken aback by my reaction. Once again, nary the move of a muscle was apparent upon his bearded face.
"Would you like to use your own bottle? I was told that you keep one. Did you bring it here?"
I felt too embarrassed to nod. This was one of my less… disconcerting habits. When people asked, and they didn't often (because, really, how unusual is that, all things considered?) I'd simply told them that it was kind of a health thing. Most people don't drink as much water as they should be, right? A glass of water every couple of hours during the day- it really only makes sense to carry your own bottle around with you at all times.

It makes a little less sense to never let anyone else touch it, or even read the label on it, but that, again, can be excused as a health thing. I tell a similar lie when people ask me why I so
adamantly refuse to use cellphones. "Don't you know it gives you brain cancer?"

To be afraid of brain cancer is normal; to be afraid simply of the idea of putting an emitter of any sort next to your head, not even knowing what danger you are trying to avoid, is not.

I don't eat food that I haven't made myself, and I don't drink glasses of water offered by other people. I know, and I keep telling myself that it's ridiculous to assume that-that anything wrong would happen, but as soon as I decide to give myself up and pick up the glass, those terrible thoughts start running through my head. All the unlikely, horrible things that might happen. Unlikely, but are they impossible? Of course not. And if this is truly the case of the matter, would it be worth the risk? Would this added comfort really be worth all the bad things that might happen if my fears happen not to be baseless, this one time? Why do people always insist on offering me food and drink, anyway? What is hidden behind such kindness? Everyone would tell you that some people, most of them even, are capable of and enjoy kindness for its own sake. But if they, too, are lying? And so it makes me edgy when people offer me food or drink, especially if they become concerned or confused when I say no. That just makes them all the more suspicious to me: why are they so insistent that I take something from them? What would they lose? What do they have to gain from me drinking their water? Self-satisfaction? Probably- but what if this isn't the case? What if one in a million times this isn't the case- is the comfort worth that risk?

And then there was the fact that doctor Rosenstein knew about the bottle in the first place. This confirmed my suspicions that he did know more about me than I thought would be reasonable for
him to. What more did he know?

"No, thank you," I replied after a long while. "I'm not thirsty". Why did he bring this up now? Did I not seem nervous before? What was he planning to do?
I find myself thinking those thoughts, and I bite my lips even harder and tell myself that I have to stop. That this is not the right place- that there is no right place for such thoughts.
But my fears won't go away.

"Do you intend to sit here without saying anything for the remainder of this meeting? There are still thirty minutes left."

A dangerous question; a tricky one. He was obviously trying to get something out of me. He had a few different scenarios in mind, already planned out: he had considered all kinds of different things I might have said in response to this question, and his response to mine.

"No," I said with a dry throat. "I want help."

It wasn't a lie. I did want help. I'd wanted those fears to go away, and I couldn't do it on my own, so the most natural course of action was obviously to seek help. It's just that I didn't want his help, or any other person's for that matter.

Does that make sense to you? To want help, but not from anybody? I know it doesn't. Like most things going through my head like this; even I understand that my thoughts don't make sense, but that doesn't stop them from coming. Is that how addicts feel? Would that mean, I might have asked myself, that I am addicted to fear? To an irrational, terrible fear that I'd hated more than anything in the world?

What a terrible thing to be addicted to.

"If you want me to help you, you'd have to tell me what it is that you're afraid of."

He made sense, and this is what scared me about it. Of course he made sense, I realized that myself years ago. I'd decided to gamble: to play a riskier hand than I usually do, to try and find a subtle balance between keeping it safe and revealing what little information might satisfy my interrogator. I took a deep breath and, very silently and hesitatingly, replied.

"I… I think that people don't like me."

Laugh all you want. People have laughed at me before for saying this. I know no better way of explaining my fear: "I think that there are some people who don't like me."
I know that this explanation must have sounded childish; but I'd rather have sounded childish than absolutely deranged. It is a baseless, almost pathetic fear to supposedly reveal, but it is infinitely better to have them assume that you are afraid in such a generic fashion than to let them know how deeply disturbed you truly are.

I am afraid that there are people who want to hurt me. I don't know who, or why, or indeed, what it is that they are planning to do. When I say it like this, I myself realize how foolish a fear that is, and yet it is. It is nothing as specific as the belief that the government wants to monitor my every thought, or that the people around me are being controlled by parasitic alien spiders, or that I'm haunted by some paranormal force.

It is simply the fear that there are people out there who wish me ill, and because I don't know who they are, anyone could be them. What if for whatever reason, my parents want to hurt me? What if my friends or my teachers do? What are the odds of any random person I pass by as I walk down the street being "one of them"? When I was far younger, I had often told my fears to my parents, and they'd laugh and me, and tell me that I watch too many scary movies and that there is nothing to worry about. That they love me, and would never think of hurting me like this.
But then, as I smile in fake relief and go back to my room to sit, paralyzed in terror, all I can think of is: "wouldn't that be exactly what I would have told myself, had I been one of "them"? Isn't that just too perfect a lie?

How can one tell a truth from a perfect lie? How can one make such a bet when one's life, or freedom, or whatever it is "they" want to take from me may be on the line?

One of my former psychiatrists prescribed certain medicines for me to take over the course of a few weeks, to judge their effectiveness. "They might help you", he said. "To deal with your fears".
I never took them. I couldn't bring myself to: the offer simply sounded too good, too perfect. If this man was one of those who were out to get me- wouldn't this be a perfect plan? My parents trusted him completely, and urged me to take those medicines.
But what if they weren't meant to help me? What if they weren't meant to make me feel better? What if they'd change my mind? Change me? The thought of some foreign chemicals entering my brain and messing with my perceptions was almost as frightening as the thought of them killing me.
I pretended to take those pills, and threw one away every evening. A few weeks later, when my parents explained to the psychiatrist that the medicine had no apparent effects on my condition, the treatment stopped.

The doctor's voice pulled me back into the room once again.

"Why do you think that?" he asked, and while his eyes were as devoid of emotion as always, I could almost sense the merriment he must have felt inside, having won a small victory over me.
I sat there, silent, considering my response, fingernails nervously digging into flesh.

"It doesn't matter"

..............................................................................

Based on my own real-life experiences with the world's scariest psychiatrist, whose name was not doctor Rosenstein, but who otherwise was in every way the character.

Your thoughts and such would be, as always, extremely welcome.


Last edited by Gloom on 2012-02-22, 15:13; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : That was a weird typo. I wonder what Freud would say?)
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Re: What Scares You

Post by imperial.standard on 2012-02-22, 12:20

You know, "Doctor Rosenstein" character actually inspires me... I look forward to continuations of his "therapy" then. Maybe EMMA next time gets into the therapy Razz
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Re: What Scares You

Post by Gloom on 2012-02-22, 13:26

imperial.standard wrote:You know, "Doctor Rosenstein" character actually inspires me... I look forward to continuations of his "therapy" then. Maybe EMMA next time gets into the therapy Razz

You really do want to see a continuation of that story, don't you? I'm flattered. Still working on it, just so you'd know. Can't see it going anywhere any time soon, though.
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Re: What Scares You

Post by imperial.standard on 2012-02-22, 13:32

Sure man take your time.

Well the reason why I'd like to see more of your characters is that because your character has SO MUCH potential to be explored. Seriously, don't do one shots. Do a chapter.

My advice to keep the ball rolling? Get to know more of your characters. See below link v

This Guide/cheatsheet will help you, it was developed by one of our devteam Writer member who works like a machine when churning out stories
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Re: What Scares You

Post by EvilDragon on 2012-02-22, 15:11

Some awesome writing right there. Nice insight in what happens in such mind. Too bad there's no actual plot here - but I guess there wasn't ever intended to be.
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Re: What Scares You

Post by Gloom on 2012-02-22, 15:56

imperial.standard wrote:Sure man take your time.

Well the reason why I'd like to see more of your characters is that because your character has SO MUCH potential to be explored. Seriously, don't do one shots. Do a chapter.

My advice to keep the ball rolling? Get to know more of your characters. See below link v

This Guide/cheatsheet will help you, it was developed by one of our devteam Writer member who works like a machine when churning out stories

I understand this, and as we speak I try to better understand those characters. Sometimes, however, it is easier than it is at other times. There are characters from some of my older pieces of fanfiction for which I could fill out this table with ease, and much more, and indeed- when a character has enough about it, the entire plot can revolve around this alone with no external stimulation necessarily (this was the case with most KS heroines, if you think about it). Then there are characters (like Emma) of which I know just about close to nothing. Nevertheless, as I've said, I'll try my best with this one.
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