An elevator carrying six people—doused in various perfume, cologne, and dryer sheets caused Jen to have a sneezing fit—made its way to the fifth floor. Jen didn’t expect to continue counseling, but she needed it. Last month, she attempted suicide. No one knew it though. Ben works long hours on the farm, but, he pays enough attention to her and the baby. Jen had a fistful of Xanax and she almost swallowed them until she heard Francis call her name. She flushed them down the toilet; ashamed she almost left Francis motherless, she could hardly contain her sadness. She cried until she couldn’t. I don’t think I can fake this anymore, Francis thought. She kept her grandfather’s abuse to herself. The guilt killed her.
“Hi, Jen, have a seat,” Martha said, pointing at the marron sofa. “What’s goin’ on, hun?” Martha closed the door shut.
Jen sat down with her legs tucked behind her and a quilt blanket draped around her. “I haven’t told him yet,” Francis said as a frown tugged at the corner of her mouth.
Martha paused, tapping her pen against the notepad. “We have no choice, Jen.” Martha shrugged her shoulders. “We need, you need, to tell Ben.” Martha crossed her legs and adjusted the glasses that rested on the edge of her nose.
A soft knock on the door interrupted her. “Come in.” Martha waved. “Jen,” Martha said. “It’s time.” Ben walked in the door with a slight smile. “Have a seat across from Jen.” she pointed at the red couch.
“It’s time for what?” Jen asked.
“It’s time to tell Ben,” Martha said. “You need a support network.”
“I can’t believe this,” Jen said. She stood to her feet, crossed her arms and slowly paced the room.
“Ben found an empty bottle of pills on the bathroom sink,” Martha said.
As if she were caught red-handed, Jen sat on the floor with her arms hugging her legs–balling. She couldn’t understand why Martha invited Ben. She stood up to walk out. Martha stood to her feet placing her hand in front of Jen. “Jen, you aren’t going anywhere,” Martha said commandingly.
Jen sighed putting her finger directly in Martha’s face. “You had no right!”
“Jen, I didn’t have a choice!” Martha shouts. “Sit down, now, Jen.”
“Fine,” Jen angrily replies.
“Jen,” Ben said. “I am here for you.” His eyes filled with tears. “You couldn’t talk to me, Jen? I,” Ben points at himself, “am your best friend.”
“I know,” Jen whispered. She sat down next to him and fit herself in his arms. “We’ll get through this, Jen.”
“I can’t believe I almost left Francis motherless,” Jen said. “I love Francis with all of my heart.”
“Of course you do, Jen,” Ben said. He gently rubs her shoulder.
Martha sits looking on with her glasses on the edge of her nose. She looks down, writes notes, looks up, writes more notes & looks up again at the couple.
“Jen, you realize how much Francis loves you, right?” Martha asked. She noticed the wheels in Jen’s head turning. Jen realized passing her pain to Francis didn’t make her a good mother. “Remember when you found out you were pregnant?” Martha asked.
“I do,” Jen said. She smiled & grabbed Ben’s hand. “It was both the scariest & best day of my life.”
“And you realize how much Francis loves you?” Martha asked.
“Francis has the curiosity of her grandmother,” Francis said.
“Does that bother you, Jen?” Martha questioned. “Your face lights up when you talk of Francis.”
“It does,” Ben interrupts. “Jen loves Francis.”
“I am scared to death that I’m like my mother.” Jen’s eyes turned emotional.
“What, that bothers you?” Martha asked. “Are you scared about the abuse you faced?”
“What abuse?” Ben anxiously asked. He looks at Martha at Jen at Martha and back at Jen.
“It’s time, Jen,” Martha said.
“As a kid,” Jenna said, lowering her head and looking away. “When I was a kid, my grandfather sexually abused me.”
“That’s horrible, Jen. Did you tell your mother?” Ben questioned. “Did your mother put the son–of–a–bitch in jail?”
“Ben, calm down,” Jen said, waving her arms as if to put out a fire. “I didn’t tell mom.”
“Why not?” Ben asked, straightening his spine and stroking his chin.
Martha looks at Ben, motioning: let her answer.
“It wasn’t supposed to happen like this,” Jen said. “I didn’t want him to molest me.” Jen looks directly at Ben’s eyes. “You don’t think anything less of me, do you?”
“Of course, I don’t think any less of you, Jen.” Ben consoled her with his arms around her.
“How do you feel, Jen?” Martha said. She cleared her throat. “I mean, how does it feel to have someone know about all of this?”
“Better,” Jen said. “I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.”
“We’ll get through this,” Ben promised. “But, we should continue therapy, Jen.”
“Sure,” Jen wiped tears with her sleeves. “I think that’s a good idea.”
“Jen, here’s what I want you to do,” Martha said. “I want you to write in this journal.” She slid a pink notebook across the desk. Jen picked it up and flipped through the blank pages.
“Deal,” Jen said. “Maybe I need this.”
“I want you to write daily. Whenever you feel depressed, I want you to explain what’s bothering you and put your feelings into perspective.”
“I’ll do the best I can,” Jen promised.
Before leaving, Martha held Jen’s hand. “I am proud of you, Jen. You made leaps of progress today and I can’t wait to see you next week.”
“I thought it was once a month?” Jen questioned. “I don’t think my insurance would cover extra visits.”
“Don’t worry about the money, Jen,” Martha waved. “We have several grants for at-risk patients. I want to make sure we continue to make progress on a weekly basis for the foreseeable future.”
Jen looks at Ben. He nods in agreement with Dr. Martha.
“I think that’s a good idea, Dr. Martha.”
“Good, I will see you next Thursday at the same time.”
“Will do,” Jen said.