Chapter 8: Aphantasia

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When I enter Dr. Holger's office a few weeks later, I immediately notice the large white open bookcase has moved smack in the middle of his office, creating two separate spaces. An uncomfortable-looking folding chair has taken the place of the proven uncomfortable yellow cushion.

To prevent repeating my last seating disaster, I pick a large, cushioned lazy chair with head rest. Dr. Holger seems a distracted, but moves his chair to sit across me. Instead of aligning himself to me, he fetches his mobile phone from his suede jacket and starts touching and swiping.

"Everything alright?"

"Yes, yes," Dr. Holger replies, "I will be with you in just a moment."

I sit back and close my eyes. Far away, a gnawing sensation sublimates. Its origin is so deep, my nerves can feel but not pinpoint it. Akin to a black hole gnawing at the fabric of space-time without being directly perceived. It emanates an unrest that takes hold of my entire upper body. My muscles tense and my stomach braces itself.

I open my eyes and observe Dr. Holger. The bushes of his eyebrows interlock into a forested frown. They almost mask the wrinkles in his forehead. With fury, he taps his phone, without stopping for a moment for thought or fixing autocomplete mess-ups. I expect an imminent end to the message, but I am mistaken.

I now blame Dr. Holger for the unrest in my body and it seems as if a constant flow of nausea permeates from his body and hits me in repetitive waves of dread. How can this feeling originate both from him and from directly inside of me? Is my body a sensor for unease that resonates inside of me? Or am I just projecting my unrest on Dr. Holger, who might be perfectly calm within, like he always seems to be. I can almost see and smell the droplets of sweat appearing on his forehead. When I am about to burst, he presses a button and tucks the device into his pocket.

He looks up and smiles. Then he drops the smile. 

"I'm sorry," he says. "I don't think I can properly align with you today. You don't have to pay for today's visit. You may go. We're not getting anywhere like this."

"Okay," I sensed the situation well. "Thanks for being honest, " I reply. "I could feel your unrest, it's just too bad that I had to travel all this way for nothing."

He nods. Actually, he does not nod; he is shaking his head.

"No. No. What do you mean, my unrest?"

I sit up, not ready for defending any position.

"I can't align with you because you have been dishonest."

"Dishonest?" I hold my breath after saying it. A wave of shame washes over me as if it is the worst thing someone could say about me. I am exposed as the imposter I am without knowing what part of me has been exposed.

"It surprises you?" he asks. "Let's do an exercise to find out what is really going on. Close your eyes and think back to our last session."

I close my eyes and think back to about halfway through the last session. I had just taken my seat again on the uncomfortable yellow cushion after some breathing exercise. Dr. Holger asked me to close my eyes.

"Imagine your six-year-old self sitting in the corner of this room," he said, "then imagine you are approaching him. How does he respond?"

"He's not doing anything," I said. "He is just sitting there."

"Can you tell me more? What is going on?" Dr. Holger asked.

"He's hiding his face; I cannot see it. His arms wrap around his knees and he just doesn't budge."

"No!", Dr. Holger said. "That's not cutting it, you must be able to tell me more."

"Honestly, I don't know what you expect from me!"

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