Dale had still insisted that Noah go for the therapy sessions as well. Dale reminded him that he needed to learn to manage his anger, or he would not be successful in this business either. Dale and Alissa discussed it and knew that not just any therapist would be able to gain Noah’s confidence. So they called their friend Sammie, and she recommended someone who she thought would be right for Noah. Noah had never had personal therapy before, but he had agreed to go. The following day, he had his first therapy session.
Noah just sat there staring silently at the therapist. He didn’t see what good talking would do for him. If other guys didn’t behave like idiots then he wouldn’t need to slug them. However he hated that he had seriously injured Sharlee, and if there was a better way then he did need to try it. The therapist didn’t look the way Noah thought a therapist would look.
The therapist was looking at Noah also. He could tell that Noah was not going to be an easy patient. He loved challenging cases though and found them to be the most rewarding. He knew that the hardest part would be gaining Noah’s trust so that Noah would allow him to help him. He broke the silence between them.
“Why are you here Mr. Hall?”
Noah looked at him in surprise. Mr. Cattell should know why he was there. Noah quoted Dale’s words which were the same he’d used on the preliminary questionnaire that Mr. Cattell had him complete before he came for the session. “I’m here to learn how to manage my anger and to find out its cause.”
“Let me put this another way. Are you here because you really want my help and you believe that you genuinely have a problem with handling your anger? Or are you here because others have told you that you need help?”
Noah hesitated before answering and Mr. Cattell told him, “If you’re not going to be completely honest with me and with yourself then you may as well leave right now. I won’t tolerate any “bull sh@!” answers to my questions. You’ll be wasting my time. Time that I can spend with people who genuinely want to make changes in their lives that will make them happier and more well adjusted members of our society. I’m not here just to take your money. Everything that you tell me will remain between the two of us. I’m legally and morally bound to keep our sessions confidential. I don’t discuss my patients with my family and friends, not even using pseudonyms as some of my colleagues do. Even that to me is a breach of my patient’s trust. I can’t help you if you don’t let me in.”
“Call me Sarge. Everyone does.”
“Yeah, I haven’t always been a psychologist. I retired from the marine corps after twenty years in. I felt like a fish out of water but met a great therapist who helped me adjust. After that I wanted to help other people who had the same types of problems that I had. Even before I joined the marines, I usually let my fists do the talking for me. I loved fighting. If someone disrespected me or mine, I decked um! It was a miracle that I didn’t screw things up so badly that the marines wouldn’t take me. I learned discipline in the marines, but after I got home I was overwhelmed by anger. The therapist helped me overcome it and learn better ways to handle conflict. So I’m living proof that it is doable, Noah. Now how about answering my question.”
“Because no one here in the states seemed to value what I and my brethren had sacrificed for this country. I took up where I’d left off before I joined the marines. I beat a guy up badly in a bar fight. A condition of my plea bargain with the court was that I go through psychotherapy. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. I got my Masters in psychology; and believe it or not, I seem to have a knack for helping other people through therapy.”
Noah looked at him and decided to tentatively trust him. “I came here because my father-in-law said I needed therapy. Also because I seriously hurt my wife when I tried to fight a guy who had his hands on her. She almost died, and she almost lost our baby. I never want to do anything that harms her again.”
Sarge asked Noah some more details of how that night had come about. Then asked him, “So is that how you want your son, if it’s a boy, to handle conflicts?”
“So fighting is the only way to do that?”
“Fighting is the way that I know how to do that!”
“How’d you learn that Noah?”
“Yes. Who did you see fight for respect?”
Noah told him about the gangs and the people who he associated with in his early teens. People like Ton and Mick among others. Sarge got him to describe the day to day life that Noah led with them. Then he asked Noah a big question that Noah wasn’t ready to discuss.
“Why did I leave?”
Sarge could tell that Noah wasn’t ready to go deeper yet. Noah still didn’t fully trust him enough to tell him his personal thoughts and feelings. That would happen over time.
“When you’re ready to answer that question then answer it. I’m not going to push you just yet. You and your wife have been married almost three years now. You married very young. How did you two meet?”
That, Noah was comfortable discussing. He told him about the night that he met Sharlee and killing Mick. The trial and his relationship with her throughout that time. He told him about Dale’s attitude, and Dale trying to put an end to their dating. He also told him about how they’d decided not to wait, but to go ahead and get married. Before Noah realized it, he was telling Sarge about losing his jobs and the night that had led up to his hitting Sharlee.
Sarge felt that Noah had revealed a lot of himself during the session and he didn’t want to press Noah anymore. “Noah it seems to me that even though you haven’t said it directly deep down you feel that your way of handling these difficult situations might not be the best way. You are open to change and that is where I am going to help you. Of course any lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time, but you’ve taken the first necessary step of recognizing for yourself that you have a problem. I think it best if just for the first month or so, we have two sessions a week.”
“I guess not.”
Sarge stood up and shook Noah’s hand. “It’s been a real pleasure meeting you, Noah; and I’m really looking forward to our sessions. Believe me, I’ve been where you are now; and if you are willing to put in the work, we can get you where you need to be!”
The receptionist set up an appointment schedule for Noah, and he left the clinic to head home.
Noah started to turn away, but Sharlee looked around and saw him. Her face lit up. She started to head for him but caught herself. “Noah, I’m glad you’re back!” He walked over to the couch and kissed her. Then he sat beside her on the sofa. Kristian looked on, totally not getting why she was with Noah.
Dale came home with the rest of the family. Shawn had had a game that night. It hadn’t been long since he’d rejoined the team after his horrible experience with Monet. Alissa had stayed home with Sharlee, but the rest of the family had wanted to be there to support him.
“How’d the game go Shawn?”
“Are you looking forward to starting your classes Noah?”
“Yes, I guess so, at least the automotive ones.”
“I’ll bring that book for you the next time I come Sharlee.”
“Kristian has been coming over a lot more lately.”
Dale gave a pleased smile. “He sure has.”
Alissa frowned at him. “Don’t you realize what it is that you’re doing Dale?”
“What I’m doing? What are you talking about?”
“You are trying to break up our daughter’s marriage. I don’t think you’ve really thought of how this would be or if this is really what you want. Say Sharlee by some minute chance does develop feelings for Kristian. Suppose they begin having an affair and Noah finds out. Noah doesn’t seem the type to forgive and forget something like that. He and Sharlee would get a divorce and Noah would fight for custody of our grandchild. He’s not the type to allow another man to be a father to his child. He might win full custody.
Then here’s another possible scenario. Sharlee falls for Kristian and divorces Noah. Noah lives by a different code than we do. He might kill Kristian and be sent to prison for life. Then once again our grandchild has a broken home instead of having two happy parents who love him and each other.”
Dale continued to listen silently.
“Under both of those scenarios, Sharlee is miserable. She loses her self-respect because she broke her marriage vows to Noah. She realizes too late that she can’t be completely happy with anyone other than her soul-mate. Most people don’t ever meet their soul-mates or may not even have one. Of course they may still be happy, but that’s because they have never known the complete happiness and fulfillment that comes from living your life with your soul-mate. You have a deeper connection with them than you have with anyone else in the world. It is very rare and special when you find that person. Once you have, anyone else is just second best. No one else can fill that space in your heart, in your soul. I found that out the hard way. You know that you are my soul-mate, and I am yours. Noah and Sharlee are that for each other. You’d better accept that fact Dale and let my Baby be happy!”
Dale still didn’t speak. He was wondering how she seemed to always be right and he was so wrong!
“You may not have said it, but it’s clear to Kristian and to me that you would prefer he was the one with Sharlee. You positively beam when you see them together. I don’t think anyone else has noticed it, but it won’t be long before they do. If Noah sees it, he will take Sharlee and leave again. If Sharlee sees it, she will feel betrayed and deeply hurt. This time they will cut you out of their lives completely, and I won’t blame them.”
“I know you love her Dale, but she’s made her decision about who she wants. You haven’t got the right to ruin that for her no matter how wrong you think her decision is. I’m not saying that I think Noah is perfect, but he loves her with all of his heart. He can’t undo the past. He’s making so many changes and sacrifices to take care of her and his child. What more can you expect?”
“Thank you, Honey, because if you don’t, I will. Sharlee is lucky to have you as her Dad even though you sometimes behave like a knucklehead!”
“Are you going back for more sessions?”
“Yeah, I’m going back. Don’t worry, Babe. I’m gonna give it a real chance. He wants me to see him twice a week.”
Noah laughed too, but Sharlee still felt worried that everything would be too much for Noah. She was afraid that he’d feel overwhelmed and give up.
“Just don’t lose what makes you, you!”
“Yes, my Dad told him that I was planning on taking some of my courses online until the baby is older. Since he’s taken similar classes, he came over to help me figure out which ones would be best and which ones I would really do better by attending class later. Noah, I’m not interested in Kristian.”
She moved her kisses to his lips.
Sharlee pretended to be shocked. “Wait a week for kisses!”
“How are you feeling?”
Alissa smiled. “I’m glad, baby. I want to talk with you about Kristian.”
“Kristian wants a romantic relationship with you Sharlee. I’m not saying that he’s not a nice guy. He may be fooling himself that he just wants to be your friend, but you and I know he wants more than that.”
“Mom, he’s always nice, and he’s not tried anything inappropriate.”
Alissa looked at her silently until Sharlee blushed.
“His visits have noticeably increased since you’ve been here. You know how he looks at you. Sharlee that boy is in love with you.”
“Sometimes, it doesn’t take long, and you know that’s true.”
“Yeah, I know that’s true, but even if he is in love with me, he knows that I’m married to Noah.”
“That doesn’t matter to some people, Baby. They think that the person they love just has to love them too! They believe that if they are persistent enough the person they want will realize that they should be with them. A man in love or who thinks he’s in love with a woman may not always think logically and behave as they normally would. Noah does not like Kristian.”
“I know he doesn’t.”
“He didn’t seem to mind David, but with Kristian it’s different. Have you wondered why?”
Alissa told Sharlee about the feeling that she had when she saw Dale with the attractive redhead at the airport in France and how Alex made Dale feel.
“I didn’t know Daddy felt that way about uncle Alex, but I do remember that we didn’t see much of him in the few years before Daddy was missing.”
“I don’t know Mom. I did meet Noah and he’s the one that I want.”
“I asked your father not to let that woman into our lives because I didn’t want to have the uneasiness, the insecurity that she would give me if your Dad had a relationship with her. It had nothing to do with my trust in your father. Of course I trusted him. I just didn’t want him to have a friendship with another woman who held such a great attraction for him.”
“So you’re saying that Kristian causes those types of feelings for Noah?”
“Yes. He sees something between you and Kristian that you don’t see yourself. Of course you love Noah and you would never act on any attraction for Kristian. Just the fact that the mutual attraction is there makes Noah feel insecure. Then too, you and Kristian have a lot in common. Things in common that you don’t have with Noah, and also you have to admit that Kristian is really hot!”
“He knows that, just like I knew your Dad wouldn’t cheat on me. Maybe I felt like she had something she could give your father that I couldn’t. She was so cultured and chic and French. I don’t know what it was. Noah probably doesn’t know why Kristian makes him feel so insecure either.”
“Alright, Mom. I don’t want to do anything that makes Noah worry about us. I… I’ll tell Kristian to stop coming to see me.”
“I think that’s for the best, Honey. You have a lot of other friends, both male and female. Everyone can’t be your friend, and that’s okay.”
“Kristian, I wanted to talk with you in person. I think it’s best if you don’t come to visit me anymore.”
“Why? What’s happened?”
“I’m in love with my husband and that’s not about to change.”
“Oh, but why Sharlee? We really seem to click and I thought we were getting along great.”
“We were. Maybe we would have become good friends, but it would never have become more than that Kristian.”
“Yes, you’re attractive, but I know a lot of hot guys. I don’t mean to be rude, but you’re not as attractive as Noah. Besides, that’s not all there is to a relationship.”
“That’s what makes it even more incomprehensible that you’re with him! You are an exceptionally intelligent, classy woman married to a low class dullard! He’s not good enough for you Sharlee, and I’m not the only one who sees that.”
“What you just said makes me know even more definitely that I’ve made the right decision in ending our friendship. It also shows how little you know me or Noah. He is just as intelligent as you if not more so. He’s just chosen to use his intelligence in a different way from you or me, but it benefits society too! My husband doesn’t like you and that’s good enough for me. We barely know each other Kristian. So this shouldn’t be hard for you.”
“Goodbye, sweet Sharlee. Take care of yourself.”
Sharlee felt relieved after he left. She was glad that her mother had helped her see what was happening before it became a real problem.
Sarge is by Chobits.