Lisa Doors waited quietly in her rented space for her next client to enter the room. Working pro-bono to complete her study tasks, and gain field experience, she’d hired the cheap space, taking in street clients.
Wiping the sweat from her brow, the day had been particularly, hot, and with limited air-conditioning she’d opened the window as the cool change came sweeping through, dropping the temperatures. The sheer curtains danced in the breeze as she waited, spraying some deodorant under her arms, trying to cool off, sipping cold water.
Going back to work after giving birth to three kids and parenting, was a big step. Eventually she might even be paid for it. Sighing heavily, she hoped to be home before dark. Waiting on her last client for the day and he probably wouldn’t even show.
Free professional counselling… said the sign on the front door of the building. She’d informed him she was still a student, he didn’t appear to care.
Perusing over notes from his assessment, and working on a therapy plan, she felt she needed one more session to form it.
Something about her client niggled at her. He was young, brooding and hard to find ways of opening up. The last session he virtually sat in his seat, staring past her, arms folded with a scowl.
She was in her fourth year of professional studies, and not in a position to diagnose him. Not that he’d given her much to work with.
Her supervisor had suggested another appointment, and a few more directed questions in concreting. She hadn’t reached the roots of his problems. Glancing at the clock she wondered if he would be coming to appointment, he was five minutes late. Her client was never late, normally he’d be waiting outside for her to finish with a previous client.
A knock on the door, and he entered.
He was a tall, well build young man who looked like he spent a lot of time at gym- ruggedly handsome, almost craggy facial features, wearing basic jeans and black T-shirt.
Nodding, he barely went through the normal courtesies, finding the client seating and relaxing. His sharp grey eyes unnerved her, like a predator observing its next meal.
Accepting a glass of water, he barely broke a sweat in the oppressive heat. A strange aura surrounded him, unlike other times they met, he was clearly disturbed by something.
She was more than twice his age, married, and carrying extra pounds. Adjusting her modest skirt, she worked on focusing on the session ahead.
“Good evening Joe.” She warmly smiled. “I’m glad you made it here today.”
He grunted, moving in his seat. “You’re not like the psych’s I’m used to.”
Straight into it. Joe didn’t like to waste time.
“What kind of therapy have had previously?” She asked, he didn’t indicate anywhere he’d has evaluations. She could have made a mistake in her questions, missed it somehow.
A roguish grin spread, across his smooth lips. “You’re not my type, so it makes it easier to sit here and not want to fuck you.”
“Joe, this is a professional relationship-" She began, as he burst into laughter. She didn’t appreciate his humour, it probably showed.
“You should have seen your face Lisa.” He chuckled, the lighter moment died as quickly as it began. Underneath his joke, she picked up he was dead serious. He had a disarming charm that would draw women to him like a moth to a flame. In her youth she would have been blushing, but a woman of almost fifty, with a greying husband and children. That kind of handsome had lost its charm on her.
“I saw her today.” His demeanour darkened. “She’s more beautiful than ever- my soulmate.”
This was new, she thought, homing in on his tone. He hadn’t mentioned anything about a woman he was in love with during his previous sessions.
“The woman I love…” His voice thickened. “She’s married to my best friend. I thought I was over her, I seriously want to be over her. But I can’t let her go, she’s all I’ve ever wanted since I eight years old.”
He went on to explain that he worked with her, she was sweet natured, and not his usual type. She was the one person who showed him kindness, listened to him. Even though he pushed her away for years, was even mean when they were kids. She reminded him of his mother, she was sweet and nurturing.
Day and night, she was all he could think about, when he slept with other women it was her face he saw before him.
“How do I forget her? I want to look upon her as a sister.” A tear tracked its way down his cheek, the first time he’d opened up at all. “I love her even now - how can I shut it out?”
Lisa contemplated the situation he was describing. “Joe, lets unpack this a bit, what you're saying is that there is a friend who you have deep feelings for, but she’s not returned your affections during the time you’ve known each other, and yet you feel you can’t let go of her?”
“Yeah, but its love, and she’s the one…” He insisted. “Today she…looked at me differently I swear she did.”
“What does love look like to you?” She probed.
He fumbled, trying to find words, and not really connecting to anything. “Love is feelings, its sensual. I feel love being close to a woman…the scent of her… touching Jun’s flesh any part of her, like her hand…awakens my desires… I dream about it”
The situation was tearing him apart. He described love in a highly sexual context, none of his words contained thinking of another’s needs, or dreams, intimacy. He was consumed by love in the physical. He really didn’t have a sense of what love was beyond moment. It was like didn’t plan for a future.
Working to step into his shoes, she worked hard to understand his feelings.
“This has to be hard for you, cutting inside,” she empathised, "being drawn to woman who is in love with another man. Has she ever indicated she was interested in you?”
She was trying to find the source of his deep attraction, beyond what he indicated as a childhood crush. For him to see into his irrational outlook on love, and lack of intimacy.
Asking him what he thought intimacy was in a relationship. He admitted none of his romances lasted beyond a few weeks. For him intimacy was make love, giving everything, he had in that moment.
She felt for him, he was so young, she doubted he knew what real love even looked like in his life. She wondered what he had been exposed to- the things he held back talking about.
Then he spoke of Jun’s warmth again, and loving nature, she was like a mother to her younger brother, a real nurturer, it reminded him of the warmth his mother had for him.
He finally answered after ten minutes of silence. “No, never, it’s always been Ken. But there are times…when I think she sees’ me. I want her to see me differently- It’s like being in a black hole but its inside of me- and she’s my light, the one who’s saving me.”
The loss of his mother resounded as his words thickened. Orphaned at the tender age of eight, he was close to her, losing her to a terrorist attack had left him hollow he’d mentioned in a previous session. He filled the space with hate- for a period of time he let it go, because of his friend Jun, who had now named more than that in his heart.
Trying maintain a cool demeanour, in a curious voice she asked. “Can you describe what’s in the darkness and the light?”
He sat contemplating the question, even stood up, paced the room, and sat back down in the seat opposite her again.
“It’s like… the darkness is the fantasies I have about her turning up at my trailer, and we make love, but its…. The most incredible moment of my life… She’s wants only me… not him. I believe she does… I…the light is my life without pain. My mother holding me…”
Transference, she thought, trying to piece it together. He could be transferring his loss of his mother's, love onto Jun. His need for touch, and affection in his sexual conquests. Churning it over in her thoughts. She couldn’t be entirely sure. She needed more information.
She made a note to read about it more in her text books.
“When you look at Jun, what do you see?” She said, carefully.
“I see love. I see the one person who understands me.” His tone warmed, his whole demeanour softened.
The conversation went darker from that point on, Joe described his obsession as being like a warzone with his other self, the one who loved and respected his friends, even die for them. The conflicts was like war of attrition in his mind. Neither side giving in.
Then there was his darkness on the other side. The part of him that wanted take her, show her his love, and to hell with everything else. He became the evil slayer he fought against, it consumed him, losing the person he was forever.
Swallowing hard, she saw something else brewing inside of him.
“Tell me how to control this beast inside. There are times when fantasy takes over, and it blurs everything. She begs me to make love to her…” He tensed, leaning forward in his seat, clenching fists, he frightened her.
He described his fantasies of sexual conquest and it was about a woman with green eyes, raven hair and creamy skin.
He licked his dry lips, distance as he spoke. “We’re in a room, she confesses it’s always been me, not my friend she loves.”
Shuddering internally, she watched him change as he talked, his fantasies of were growing like weeds. Therapy was going nowhere with him.
She saw traces of post trauma in his statements, mentioning his parents' death during an explosion and wanting revenge over it. Anger riveted his words- He was going through suppression of some kind far beyond her skills.
This man needed medication… he needed more experience than she had, there were a number of potential disorders lurking in his words. A proper diagnosis would benefit him.
Thinking of her new assessment of him, she would be writing as much detail as she could.
He had a sexual addiction, she thought. He talked about needing sex to fill a void of affection in his life. He craved it daily, sometimes he would sleep with up to four women a day, and at times a few male lovers if he couldn’t find a woman in bar.
This had been happening since he turned sixteen years old. If he was racing cars he was ‘fucking.’ As he put it.
Listening as he described his pain. He needed the release, it eased his tensions. An orgasm was the only thing that could sedate his desires for her. There were times when he’d turn to pornography, but the face of the woman called Jun would be on all the females, and it worsened his longing for her.
Glancing at the time he had ten minutes left of the session. Sitting on the edge of her seat, and keeping calm on the surface, like a swan on a smooth lake, she had to take the next step with her client.
“Thank you, for sharing with me today Joe, what you’ve revealed must be hard daily…You’re taking the right steps in seeking help.” She began, easing into her conclusion of the session.
He watched her with menacing eyes. He was the kind of person who could be disarming in one instant and terrifying the next. She’d seen all sides of it from him on the space of an hour.
“I would like to refer you to a doctor I know who is good with-" He held up a hand, tilting his face, glaring.
“I’m not going to any Psychiatrist and being medicated. I know what those people are like.” Clasping his hands together until his biceps hardened and veins popped out. “I’m not crazy.”
“I didn’t say you’re crazy Joe. You just need more help in this than I can give you here.” She tried to sooth him. “Remember what I said in the first session, I’m a student, and I have limits. I can’t do diagnosis, those are more specialist fields.”
She was a professional psychotherapist- a counsellor- but her qualifications didn’t take her into full blown psychiatrics. Normally his kind of problems didn’t end up in her office- she dealt with different issues. More daily things like grief and loss, the odd couple dealing with affair. His problems ran far deeper, and darker.
“I’m okay talking with you; I trust you now.” Leaning back in his chair. “You find a way to help me.”
“You’re the only one, who can truly help you.” She stated. “Admitting you have a serious problem is the start.”
“An addiction… to sex, wanting love though it, but I bet it leaves you empty every time so like a drug you go back trying to recreate the same feeling again.” She ventured. “Post trauma from your mother’s death.”
“I-don’t-have-an-addiction. I’m not traumatised.” He spelt it out, gritting his teeth. “I have times when I’m okay with her being married, even able to be around her and not want her in that way, and not…” The words were left hanging, and he was going over time. She had to pick up her kids from the sitter. But he wasn’t calm enough for her end the session, she had a duty of care with her client.
“It’s a cycle, and during those times you probably cope, but when you hit stressors, then what happens?” She explored.
“Sometimes I want to die, get it over with. It’s out of my control…if I hurt her, I know I’d kill myself…” He babbled. “If I can’t have her I want to die…”
Racking his fingers through his burnt caramel hair, he was fighting against his own denial and lust for the woman.
He’s suicidal, her first one. She held in her panic, going through the check list in her mind of what to do in the situation.
Check the room for sharp objects, and ensure he wasn’t left alone. She tried to reassure him he wasn’t going insane.
Offering to drive him to the hospital, which he declined.
Normalise his feelings, for him… her tutor's- words rang in her mind… Struggling to find the words she worked to be professional. “Addictions can do that to you, they’re like a drug when it grabs hold of you-"
“I don’t have an addiction.” He snarled. “I’m here for you to fix me.”
Gripping his hair, like he was going rip out chucks of it, he sat face down, his fingers tightened, dragging in his emotions. The young man was suffering pain like internal wounds left bleeding.
“I can’t fix you, only you can do that.” She stood up, it was time for the session to end. “I can drive you to hospital, from there get the help you need-"
Handing him a pamphlet on twelve step support anonymous groups for sexual addictions, explaining how they worked, and if he would go along- He’d find support there by people who have overcome it, without judgment. Accepting the slip of paper, and jamming it into his shirt pocket without words.
He was steaming like a dragon woken up from its slumber.
“I’ll think about it.” He eventually said.
Lifting out of his chair, clenching fists, for a moment she was truly scared. “Joe, I can see its confronting for you, it’s hard to digest. Please, take a moment to ground yourself.”
The heat rising in the room had no connection with the summer’s day. She’d hit a trigger, and like a gun he was ready to shoot. She wasn’t going to get in its path.
“Remember the grounding techniques you learned last week?” She worked to remain calm herself, breathing and working on the sensory grounding she used with irate clients.
She said. “Time for it now.”
Pacing, he tried to calm himself through breathing, scanning the room with his eyes. After a few minutes he pulled open the door, the hinges groaning with the ferocity of his tug. She thought he was going to damage it, pull it off its hinges, and the damages would come out of her non-existent income.
She watched him storm out of the building, her heart pumping as she closed the door behind the disturbed young man. In all of her study, and lectures they had talked about people like him.
A hint of a forming sociopathic nature lurked under his cool demeanour…
Lisa went home to her family that night, did her usual routines, trying to forget about the complex last client of the day. She had taken notes, tried to record the feelings illuminating from him. Her fingers trembled as she thought about the young woman he described, knowing she was in danger.
She spoke with her supervisor the next day.
She was advised to report him to authorities, just as a precaution, because he really hadn’t committed a crime. The police officer offered to go and see him, have a talk, see if he could find anything suspicious.
A day later the helpful officer called her. He had taken his time…
“The address and surname are fake.”
“Thank you.” Lisa said, hanging up. She hadn’t seen Joe in a week, he failed to turn up for the last appointment.
A few months later a news article caught her attention.
Serial rapist murdered by his best friend.
For a fleeting moment she wondered if it was Joe…. Shaking her head, she hoped not…