The First Five Minutes

"So, give me an update. What's new since we last talked?"

He starts every appointment this way. He has since our first time. A lot has changed since that day four years ago, but not his greeting. There's a comfort in that. I respond the way I always have.

"I don't know where to start."

I don't see Dave regularly. I've been in therapy off and on since I was 15. My mom freaked out when my eating disorder took a turn for the worst and I seemed like a hopeless case. I won't say it cured me, but it definitely gave me a map for the way out.

Ever since then, when I feel the darkness creep back into my mind, I've found a professional to talk to. After my second month at Calvin College, a small liberal arts school in Grand Rapids, MI, I felt it. The old, familiar voice in the back of my mind. Just skip lunch. You've got that English paper due in two days, there's no time.

I knew that's where it would start. I found my way to the student counseling center, where licensed psychologists met with students for free 30 minute appointments. After that first conversation, I make appointments with Dave a few times a semester and it really helps. I suppose that's why I decided to add a Psychology major to my Secondary Education major. I like to help people, which is why I'm talking to Dave now. I know I need to help myself before I can do that. It's been hard to get everything done and still stay on track to graduate in four years, but here I am in my last semester, preparing for graduate school.

"Things aren't better with her. I don't know what to do. It's really been wearing me down." I say.

"Have you given any thought to what we discussed last time?"

Dave has been helping me with Abby. She is all I can think about lately, and I can never come to a decision what to do about her.

"I have. But I keep coming back to the same place. If I leave her, I'll have no one and she'll be in the same place." I will not cry, I tell myself.

"Kaylee, you know that's not true. Should we go over who's in your support system again?"

"No." I say quickly, pushing down any emotion I might being showing. "I know I have my parents, I have Cameron, I have you. But if I stop being friends with Abby, I won't have a girl friend. I've isolated myself."

"But if you stay, what do you get out of it?"

What do I get out of it? I know what I need to do. But how could I possibly do it?

I was sitting in the large, comfy-but-not-too-comfy chair in the corner of Dave's office. To my left was a large window looking over the path to the History and Languages building, otherwise known as Hiemenga Hall. To my right was a bookcase full of academic tomes that I was sure Dave actually read. He just seems like the type to only display things he was ready to be asked about.

"Kaylee, did you hear me?" Sometimes I couldn't stand how kind and soft his voice was.

"Yeah. I heard you." I reply, but I didn't answer his question. I looked down at my jeans.

He sat 3 feet away from me in his standard college-issue desk chair. "Kaylee, I know it's hard."

I knew he was just trying to empathize, but he had no idea.

"I get nothing out of it." I say.

"So, if that's true, and we know it is, what's the next step?" Dave asks. He was so patient it was making me angry.

I just look back down at my jeans. "I don't know."