A snippet – A payment of friendship

Posted: September 17, 2010 in #fridayflash, A Snippet, Short stories

My ‘A snippet…’ blogs are literally that – A snippet from my WIP novel.  I hope you like it.

“People don’t have problems on their own, they only have problems in relation to others usually”, her therapist said optimistically, as Kate wiped her eyes with the used, crumpled tissue.  “How are you feeling at this precise moment?”

“Scared.  But I’m not sure why?”

“Well, lets not worry about the why for now.  Your feeling scared!” her therapist looked at Kate in a reassuring manner.  “Where abouts in your body do you feel most scared?”

“I suppose in my stomach and in my chest” she said whilst inhaling a gulp of air.

“So if you could allow this ‘fear’ in your chest and your stomach to speak, what would it be saying to us right now?  Take a few deep breaths into your chest and your tummy…allow that scare to speak to me…give yourself permission…tell me what your scared about…”

“I feel really alone.  I feel I’ve lost everything and everyone.”

“I understand Kate.  I’m feeling the pain with you”

“I have no-one to talk to.  I can’t talk to anyone.”  Kate sniffed and spluttered the sentence as if she was a small child, who’d just fell over for the first time in the playground. 

“Kate, can I offer you something here?” Kate nodded, although still sniffing and looking at the floor, through her water logged eyes.  “You invest in your relationships cos you find your support network helpful and containing.  You choose people carefully to come in and be friends with and actually these relationships are critical to how you feel.  Now you invest in these relationships by being a hard-working and diligent friend, that’s loyal and committed to the relationship.  So, if you like, you pay into the ‘bank’.  But Kate, do you ever take out of the bank?”

“Not really.  And when I do I feel guilty.  I don’t like being a burden.”

“So you are paying into a relationship, which 2 people are party to, but you never draw out.  So the other person can use you as a friend to off-load and to help with their problems, but you don’t allow them to really come and help you.  You keep yourself alone when you are like this.  You turn yourself into being someone who is alone.  So it is you that creates the aloneness because you will not take out of the ‘bank’ – i.e. your friendship – that you have been paying into.”

A stunned silence, followed by a sniff, made Kate look up at her therapist for the first time since she had entered the room some 30 minutes before.

Kate knew from the first meeting that she would get on with her therapist, but nobody could have predicted Kate would trust her as much as she ended up doing.  Her face was gentle, a face, which suited pastel colours and you could tell, even at a first glance, that she was compassionate.  She knew what she was talking about; she had a vast knowledge and expertise in people, their thoughts, their behaviour and the history behind their facade.  There was nothing ‘airy, fairy’ about her.  Her piercing blue eyes and rose tinted cheekbones highlighted her face and the kindness behind her wide, yet delicate smile. 

“I suspect you do that because it ties in with your core beliefs, that if you were to show people this side to you, they will not want to be friends with you, or that they’d want to ‘dis-invest’ with you in someway.  Do you understand how you make yourself alone here?”


“You offer yourself as a safety net to your friends, but they are never allowed to be a safety net for you.  You have to challenge your core beliefs.”

“I’m just not used to doing that.  I find it difficult to open up and let them in.”

“Do you understand why that is?  Its because this is what you learnt in childhood.  You can’t open up, in fear of being ignored or abandoned.  This is why it’s a core belief.  Its been there since you were small, imbedded in your emotional patterns.  You are the emotional sponge for everyone else, but no-one will ring your sponge for you.  Is any of this making sense?”

She looked up again to see her therapist’s caring un-judgemental face.  “Yes I suppose I do.  Everyone is allowed to talk and offload their worries onto me, but when I need to, I shut off, which makes me feel alone and trapped.”

“You have what we call a core schema, about being a burden to others.  You’ve also got a core belief that in order to be loved and liked, is to absorb everyone else’s negatives from them.  These two beliefs dovetail in with each other.  So of course when you become scared or need something, you can’t go to those relationships and get anything out of them, because you have a belief inside of you that these friends will abandon you.  That’s where your scare comes into play.  Then that ties in to the sense that you’re a burden.  And you go round and round on a merry-go-round.”

“Although its not that merry…” Kate said with a small snigger.

“No.  Not really” her therapist also feeling the humour of the ‘misused’ word.

If ever you thought psychology or therapy was a lot of words and common sense, what came next was Kate’s worst nightmare. 

Role play, two words which made Kate physically shudder.  The idea was to talk about the thoughts and feelings of both parties.  She uncomfortably participated but the whole time wanted to run for the door and ‘escape’ all these confusing feelings.  Awkwardly swapping from one chair to the other, she was unnervingly exploring the world of understanding.  She sat and tried her hardest to be the ‘friend’ although it did not come naturally.  But soon she realised that the questions were real ones and ones that her friends could possibly be asking themselves.  How did it feel to be her friend, who constantly came to Kate with things she wanted advice or support on, but was never allowed into Kate’s real emotions?  Or to re-pay the favour of being a friend and helping Kate when she was clearly in emotional pain?

Needless to say, Kate couldn’t get out of this weeks session quick enough.  As if she had been holding her breath under water for the last 50 minutes, she flung open the front doors and gulped a big breath of cold air.  As she walked down the road towards her car, she could barely contain the tension of lighting up a cigarette and driving away. 

It wasn’t until later that evening, her unconscious mind, became angry and resentful of her parents who had made her feel the same way some 10 years before.  A burden, an inconvenience, something that they wished they knew how to deal with, but instead lost their temper, criticised her and overall damaged their emotional connection.  It was all beginning to make sense

  1. Vandamir says:

    You picked a very emotionally charged piece for your “snippet.” Makes me wonder why Kate has such a hard time letting people in & I want to read more. 🙂

  2. It definitely seems like she has a lot going on, and a lot to work through. I agree with Vandamir, it makes me wonder about her story. Very emotional scene.

  3. donaldconrad says:

    As a snippet of a WIP it reads well; and of course I now would like to know what her underlying issues are.

  4. TEC4 says:

    I’ve got some of Kate’s issues. This is very intriguing and I’d like to read more.

  5. Rebecca says:

    I so enjoyed that. Count me in for a copy of the novel!

  6. ganymeder says:

    Wow. What a personal piece!

  7. Simon says:

    Fantastic! This is good stuff. Tight, emotional, controlled. A well paced piece.

  8. W.G. Cambron says:

    Okay, you got my attention, lol.
    I love the therapist, atleast her dialouge. Very wise and geniune. Nothing to actually gain but just wants to help Kate, who clearly doesn’t feel like she’s worth helping. I love the metaphor of the relationship ‘bank’. Clearly thought out and well written.
    I sneer at Kate at the end. Then you allow a small window of reasoning and a universal theme in psychology- the parents. Now I want to read about why Kate is such a pile of low self esteem.

  9. FARfetched says:

    Interesting… this character comes with conflicts built-in! It will be interesting to see the wider context of Kate and her story.

  10. henriettamaddox says:

    It had a wonderful tone as they conversed. Really liked the dialogue. Are you a therapist or did you do a lot of research into the jargon?

    I wanted to read on. I sense there is a lot more to unravel from her mysterious past. But I am, also, very interested in what is happening in her life right now.

    • brainhaze says:

      Thanks for all the positive feedback in this one. It’s great to know a snippet of my WIP is intriguing and more importantly interesting to folk. I’m not a therapist, but been doing tons of research.

  11. Sonia Lal says:

    A very emotion-packed scene! The last bit about the overly critical parents is interesting.

  12. adampb says:

    You’ve captured the relationship between the two characters well. Seems like an intriguing WIP you’re developing.
    Adam B @revhappiness

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