Twenty-One

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There were no words to express my gratitude for seeing my therapist. Fridays were always the best, because right smack dab in the middle of the day I got to talk with Johnathon for an hour about anything that had been weighing heavily on my mind all week. I needed advice, and he was always there to give it to me.

"So, Spencer, how have things been since I last saw you?"

"A three. Sky is officially my boyfriend."

He instantly looked up at my face with nothing but joy lingering in his eyes. "That's great," he exclaimed. "How did it happen?"

"We were hanging out at the mall with our friends, and he asked to hold my hand, and then Tony said we were dating when we weren't, so I pointed it out to him, and we had this long staring match that basically resulted with him asking to be my boyfriend, and I said yes," I explained.

"Well, you are certainly full of energy right now," he muttered as he wrote in his notebook. "Now, who is Tony?"

"One of Sky's friends who helped him during his dark times. And then there was Amy who did the same thing, and Gray joined us so I wouldn't be awkwardly alone," I replied.

"Were you afraid your social anxiety was going to work up?"

"Well, yeah. Whenever I'm anxious around new people, I become really hostile, so I needed a friend there to be by my side to remind me not to be," I answered.

It was more of a defense mechanism. After having been picked on in junior high for being too weird and a loner, I grew scared that everyone who talked to me would be the same way. Whenever I was one on one with a new person, occasionally two, I had no problem just talking with them. The moment a crowd was involved, I would grow anxious over the idea of them attacking me with their words, so I would instantly put up a defense that made me act like a dick.

People who knew me knew I could be a jerk. It was one of the words I used to classify myself. But they also knew me personally, and they knew my blunt honesty and rudeness would typically come from a place of caring or humor. Other people didn't know that, so I wanted to be as open and polite to new people as possible. Due to the default, social events didn't always go so well. So, just by having a friend near me, I would remember to not be rude because there would be at least one person nearby who I was comfortable with who would help me stay on track.

"You knew Sky. Why wouldn't you just want to be with him?"

"Because he's friends with those people. I mean, they are so close he practically considers them his family. Sky may know me, but not as well as Gray. We'd been friends for seven months now, and I've only know Sky for two. I mean, we haven't even been friends for those full two months. No, I needed Gray by side to help me through it."

"And it went well? You're friends with his friends now?"

"Yeah, I guess. They were cool people and all, but I wouldn't hang out with them unless Sky was around, you know? Maybe I need to learn more about them, but not right now."

He wrote it down. "So, you and Sky have been officially dating for..."

"A week." I laughed. "Man, it's hard to believe it's been a week. It feels like longer."

"Because the two of you are so in love?"

"No, because time goes by so slow with him. I mean, not when we're acting like normal friends, of course, but the moment romance is involved...ugh," I shuddered. "Things just feel weird and forced. Maybe because I am forcing it."

"You think you're forcing your feelings?"

"I'm not sure," I answered. "I love hanging out with him and spending time with him, but doing romantic things feels a little awkward. I think it's mainly cause I'm always doing what I see in movies and read in books and not doing what just feels natural. I mean, we were talking about my suicide attempt the other day, and he began to cower into that headspace people go into when they think about really dark trauma, so to get him out I straddled him and kissed him, but it didn't feel natural."

"Cause that's not a natural response people have in those situations," Johnathon interfered. "But why would you do that? Just because someone else did it doesn't mean you have to, especially not if it's from a form of fiction."

"How else was I supposed to get him out of that headspace? I don't typically feel the emotions other people feel," I defended.

"What does-"

"I mean, I feel emotions, right? I feel happy, sad, all that crap. But for the most part, I don't feel emotions the way other people do. I may know and understand that I am indeed happy or sad, but I don't actually feel happy or sad. I don't know if I'm programmed a different way, or if I'm always sad and only pure joy can lift me out of it, but I just don't feel emotions the way everyone else does," I explained.

It was silent. Johnathon wrote a few things down, and when he looked up at me, he didn't say anything. He always had a question to ask about what I just said. Maybe my face looked as though I was ready to say something, but what would I have said? There was nothing for me to say, so I shrugged.

"Is that why you view the world through numbers? Why you always tell me you're experiencing a number four or negative three? You don't feel things the way other people do, and through numbers you can finally tell people what you feel?" he questioned.

"Like I said, I know what I feel. I know that the closer I am to the zero, the happier I am. I am constantly chasing my happiness, chasing zero to feel finished and complete. I don't know if I'm ever going to find that or not, but the closer I am to it, the happier I am, and I know that I am indeed happy. It's only when I feel a great deal of happiness or sadness that I experience the emotions.

"I know it's a stupid way to explain it, but for the most part I feel neutral. But that's not zero. Zero is being content and at peace, and I am never at peace with myself. I always feel like I am in the middle of a war with myself. I know I am bisexual, but that isn't enough. I know I am agender, but that isn't enough either. It doesn't matter what I feel, because at the end of the day, I am never truly happy or sad. I'm just defeated.

"When I'm with Sky, I feel like I am getting closer to zero, like it's not that far out of reach. But I kiss him and feel nothing. I let him hold me, and I feel nothing. I should be feeling romance or something, right? Why haven't I been able to feel it yet when I know I like him? Am I just going to have to keep on faking it till I make it?" I rambled.

"No," he stated. "Do whatever feels natural to you. When you're in a situation with him, don't follow rules that you think are expected of you to follow. Instead, just do what you think you'd naturally do and see how you feel. Maybe it will reveal some hidden feelings you never thought of exploring before."

"Hidden feelings?"

"Emotions, feelings, whatever you want to call it. Quit trying to act like a character in a book and behave naturally."

"Clearly I don't know how if I resort to behaving in such a way," I quipped.

"Are you a human?"

"I ask myself that same question every damn day."

"There's a natural response to that question," he chuckled. "As a human being, whatever your initial reaction to something is, that happens to be a natural reaction. When these situations pop up, don't think about what someone else would do, just do what you feel the impulse to do. Then you can move on from there." 

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