My therapist grabs her pad, retrieves my file, sits down in the armchair positioned by a side table. I flop onto the sofa and watch her open a bottle of something organic and healthy.
“I feel stuck,” I blurt out, unsure if my fifty-minute session has officially started.
I start listing the obstacles before me. School finishes in July and I see it as a reason to transition professionally, though I have no idea what I should be specifically transitioning to. If I’m going to switch jobs, I might as well leave Philadelphia. It’s a great city but I’m ready for some new scenery. Of course, like the job thing, I am all over the map, literally. And with my future unsure, I’ve found little reason to make much of an effort on the relationship front.
“I mean, if George Clooney stopped by my desk and asked to borrow my scissors, I’d pass them off without a second glance,” I offer with a nervous chuckle.
“Paige, if you went in the ocean and were bitten by a shark, and then the next time you went in the water the same thing happened, you might not trust the water. Your fear makes sense, is what I’m saying.”
“Right, except this goes beyond boys. If my friend Kristen and her daughter hadn’t taken me out for my birthday, I would have spent it alone,” I confess, my lower lip quivering and my eyes watering.
She reaches for a tissue, passes one off. I conclude, since she hasn’t offered the entire box, she’s confident this emotional outburst is minor.
“Paige, you’re in, well, we call this a fertile void.”
I dab the corners of my eyes, quietly curse my recent decision to start wearing mascara.
“Think of it as a ladder,” she continues. “You’ve stepped off one rung but you haven’t quite gotten your footing on the next.”
I lean forward. Resting my elbows on my knees, I take in a deep breath and look up at her.
“But how long am I going to be stuck here?” I ask, knowing it is quite possibly the most ludicrous question I have ever said aloud.
“Here’s the thing, people don’t stand still for very long. They either move forward or backward, but they rarely remain stagnant. Think of an addict. Eventually they either OD or get clean.”
I sit back, melt into the purple velvet cushions of the sofa.
“Fertile void,” I say.
“And as long as you don’t step down on the lower rung, you’re doing the right thing.”
I nod, visualizing a wooden ladder. One foot rests on the higher rung while the other dangles in the air. I refrain from telling my therapist that the feet I envision are wearing red patent leather pumps.
“Paige, you’re in a great place. Trust me. It’s difficult now but you’re eventually going to come out the other end, and you’ll be far better off for it.”