Flattering Reflections

 

Dr. Anne Miller Ph.D

Case Log #1549

Patients: Ms. Sarou Libertine and Mr. Garrett De’Laroux

May 15th 2011

I will be meeting shortly with Sarou and Garrett to assess their need for counseling. If I feel that they qualify I will meet with each, individually, for five sessions. At the conclusion of our individual sessions I will present them both with my diagnosis and recommendations for moving forward with couples counseling.

May 16th 2011

After meeting with Sarou and Garrett, I feel that they are good candidates for counseling and will proceed with their individual sessions as planned.

May 21st 2011

Session #1: Sarou Libertine

Garrett and I have been dating for two years now and I couldn’t imagine life without him. We met at the diner. He and a few friends came in one night right before the end of my shift. Being a waitress, I’m used to getting hit on so his buddies didn’t really bother me with their half-drunken flirting. What I was focused on was the lone sober one in the group that hadn’t said a word more than what his order was and thank you, and had never once stared at my chest as I leaned over to collect their menus. When he did look at me, he looked directly into my eyes. He looked at me like a man looks at a car that he’s already decided to buy but stands back to admire a bit more before he signs the papers.

He was polite and smiled at me while he spoke. When he opened his wallet to pay I could see that he had a picture of him and his mother which showed me that he had a sensitive side. I wrote my number on his receipt hoping that he’d notice it before he threw it away. I handed him the receipt and watched him fold it up without reading it. He shoved it in his back pocket, then walked out of the diner with his buddies tugging him along. He turned back twice to look at me and even though I was ringing out another customer I couldn’t take my eyes off of him either. I waited a bit, hoping that he’d rush back in like a guy from an 80’s movie, soaking wet from the rain, just to ask me out for coffee. Only it wasn’t raining and I’m not Molly Ringwald.

But then when I went to clean off his table I noticed a napkin folded into the shape of a flower. I picked it up and saw that he’d written down his phone number along the petals. Right then I knew I wanted to be his girl… he hasn’t looked at me that way in a really long time.

May 22nd 2011

Session #1: Garrett De’Laroux

I thought she was amazing. The way she fixed her hair and makeup, she looked like she’d walked straight out of a 1960’s fashion magazine. She wasn’t a party girl. She would rather spend her weekends at home painting than out getting drunk and acting reckless. She loved going to art shows and going to hear poetry in the park. She’d go to the little rundown theaters around town with me to watch old foreign films even though I knew she didn’t really understand the political subject matter of films like La Jetée or  La battaglia di Algeri.

She’d wear little sun dresses with spaghetti straps that showed off her butterfly and flower tattoos that run down her shoulders, snake down her back, and take root around her hip. She would wear giant oversized plastic sunglasses that showed off her goofy side, but somehow still seemed fashionable. She skipped as we walked and swung my hand back and forth beaming with an effervescent aura that I always wished I had. All this energy bottled up in a tiny beautiful figure like mischievous fairies from childhood stories. That’s what I loved about her. She was so carefree, or at least she acted that way for a while.

May 31st 2011

Session #2: Sarou Libertine

…and that was the day that my mom found out she had spinal cancer. It’s true we’ve had our rough patches, but she’s still my mother. I just sat in the hospital and cried. I knew I would have to be strong when I was around her so I went outside to get some fresh air and call Garrett because I knew he would find the perfect words to calm me, but after one ring, he sent me to his voicemail. I knew he was doing something at the university so I waited a few minutes and called him again, then again and again, desperately needing his comfort. When he called back he sounded very angry, but he was whispering. If he’d walked out into a hallway or stepped outside there would be no need to whisper and I know he wouldn’t answer his phone in the middle of class. So why whisper unless there’s someone nearby that you want to keep a secret from. I wondered if I was the secret. Thinking about all this, I’d missed the first of what he said, but I heard him scream/whisper “What is it!?” I couldn’t help it and began crying.

I just broke down. I managed to get out “It’s my mom,” and he replied “You’re bugging me, crying about your stupid mom? Who gives a shit about her? Don’t waste your tears or my time with her, now I’ve got to go!” Then he hung up on me. I smoked the first cigarette I’d smoked in nearly three years that day. Actually, I smoked eight, one after another until I was sick. Then had to go back up and walk shamefully through the cancer ward stinking of cigarette smoke. That was the worst day of my life…I still haven’t told him about her cancer. I doubt he’d care anyways.

June 3rd, 2011

Session #2 Garrett De’Laroux

…it’s like she lives in this dream world where her problems are the only things that matter. You could be lying in the hospital with a broken back and all she’d do is bitch about how her bangs just won’t sit right that day. I’d told her over and over that it was a very important day for me. I had been asked to do a reading of my most recent essay at a function for creative writing majors and I was nervous as hell. It isn’t the people that scare me or even the thought that some may not like my work. It’s the thought that nobody will love it that scares me. It’s like I crave acknowledgement, or even better, praise. I want to know that I’m someone’s favorite. That someone puts me on a higher pedestal than anyone else and that’s what I loved about Sarou, because she made me feel that way. Now she never reads anything I write or asks how my work is going. All she does is talk about her painting and how her work really impacts people, almost in a backhanded way of saying mine doesn’t.

So I’m seconds away from being called onstage and my mind’s racing: Time limit, speech speed, eye contact, hand movements, body posture, no umms, for the love of God never say umm, and then my pocket starts vibrating. I hit the ignore button as fast as I could to stop it, but before I had time to completely turn it off, I heard the presentation MC say my name and heard clapping, and had to get up on stage.

My reading started off decent until my phone began to vibrate again causing the battery pack for my microphone headset to give off a slight rattle. At this point I couldn’t reach down to turn it off being that I was in the middle of a speaking in front of close to one hundred people. The vibrating and rattling seemed never-ending. It completely threw me off. I began to lose my train of thought, lose my place on the pages, forget to make eye contact, and worst of all umms began to flow endlessly amidst my stuttering. As soon as I was finished I ran off stage and saw that all eight calls were from Sarou, at the exact damn time that I had a presentation.

I called her back, but had to remain quiet since I wasn’t sure whether my microphone was off. I asked her why she was trying to ruin a day that she knew was so important to me and she was silent, offered no response. All of a sudden she starts crying about her mean ass mom who she’s always fighting with, as if she didn’t even hear what I said about my reading. All she could do was think about herself and the latest fight out of the countless fights that the two would so easily venture into so often. She’d just caused me to screw up a great opportunity and wouldn’t even acknowledge it. She didn’t care. That was one of the worst days of my life.

June 5th, 2011

Session #3: Sarou Libertine

I initially felt the distance when we moved in together. We found an apartment near the center of town that was perfect. It was only a few blocks from the art school so I could walk there and back and it was right on the bus route that Garrett could take to school which would save us a lot of money on gas. The only problem was that they didn’t allow pets so Garrett had to leave his old dog with his mom which was better in the end because it died a few months later and if I had found a dead dog in my home I would’ve freaked out.

It was obvious that something was wrong, but I couldn’t figure out what it was, and he wouldn’t tell me. If it weren’t for me he’d still be living at his mom’s house instead of being out on his own, in a beautiful apartment with a loving girlfriend, in a situation most men would love to have. Instead he would spend hours out on the balcony writing, as if I infected his thought process. We would go on walks along the riverbank just down the avenue. He seemed to be more tolerable of me when his mind was distracted by birds or the changing colors of leaves. The cobblestone path led through a dell, over a small bridge, and on through the park, but we always stopped at the bridge. We’d place our elbows on the bricks and peer over into the water at our reflections. This moment in time usually lasted as long as the remainder of our walk, but it was the only time when we seemed to be at peace watching the ripples in the water knowing that a few miles downstream their gentleness would disappear as they amalgamated with the current.

June 8th, 2011

Session #3: Garret De’Laroux

So out of nowhere she decides that we should move in together. I explained to her that I wasn’t sure that it was a good idea given the fact that neither of us were making much money, but really I thought it was a bit soon to take such a big step. We’d only been dating for a year, but I acquiesced in a misguided attempt to once again adorn her mantle. Then after two days of intense searching, which amounted to looking at one realty website, Sarou set her mind on an apartment in the dead center of town that cost way too much for us to afford. But you can’t tell her that she’s wrong about anything. Oh no, she’s always right. She thinks she’s so smart and doesn’t fail to let you know it. But she’s not nearly as smart as she thinks, actually a little naïve. I mean, she fell for the old “picture of mom in the wallet” move and that’s the oldest trick in the book. She insisted that her art was gaining a following and with the sales of her paintings that we would have more than enough to afford the apartment. I never thought that her painting was all that great, but she’d sold some to the dentist office, the gym, and even a few at my university so I was hopeful that she would sell enough to keep up her side of the expenses.

The second problem was how small the apartment was. I wasn’t keen on the thought of moving into a sardine can with one bedroom and one bathroom and a dining room that wasn’t so much a dining room as much as the corner where the living room and kitchen met. However, Sarou is not pleasant when pissed off and I could see that my every argument against the funhouse-sized apartment only made her angrier at me for not agreeing with her, thus making her want it even more. So I conceded and agreed to move in. Two months later I’m working overtime because she hasn’t sold any paintings and we’re falling behind on our bills. Then she started smoking again even though she knows I’m allergic to cigarette smoke so I had to sit out on the balcony to escape our overpriced, miniature, cancer-filled tomb.

June 12th, 2011

Session #4: Sarou Libertine

I could feel us drifting apart. He would say he was tired, but it felt more like he was just tired of me. I would constantly ask him what he was thinking and feeling but he’d always respond with the usual “Nothing really. I’m fine.” But I could tell that there was something wrong. I began waking up alone and finding him sleeping on the couch. For a the first few weeks I’d wake him up and bring him to bed, but after a while he’d just wait until I’d fallen asleep and go back.

I would try to occupy my time with my painting, but it was getting harder and harder with every day that nobody bought my work. Some people just can’t see beauty when it’s staring them right in the face. I assumed that if I donated a few to the local dentist office and a few schools that sooner or later someone would recognize them for their quality. I would have art shows where I’d stand there alone watching people walk from exhibit to exhibit, looking briefly at mine as they walked to the next. I would watch the clock above the showroom door hoping to see Garrett walk through them with a big smile like he used to then examine my paintings as if he cared about every brush stroke, but gradually he stopped caring. Over time he showed less and less interest in my work and more importantly me, every day.

So on top of my mother being sick and my work not getting the recognition it deserves, I had to single handedly save this relationship? It was becoming too much and my emotions couldn’t take it. I’d find myself crying over every inconvenience like running out of hot water in the shower. I know he could see how sad I was becoming, but he didn’t do anything. He would act like he couldn’t hear me crying or make up an excuse to leave before I got into full on sob territory. If my crying woke him up at night he would just throw his arm around me and shush me, which only made it hurt worse inside.

June 16th, 2011

Session #4: Garrett De’Laroux

After a short time living at the apartment, she began to get depressed. She would cry over the dumbest things like reading one of my stories and being convinced that the characters were based on us. I really, really tried to be comforting, but after she would tell me the reasons for her crying I admit I would get angry. There we’d be, having a perfectly good evening, and she would start acting gloomy and I would have to play doctor to figure out what was wrong. Only to find out that she was sad because she thinks that I may have feelings for the attractive girl who lives down the hall because I screwed up once and described her as pretty. Then my dog died. We couldn’t bring her because the apartment didn’t allow pets. I made my mother promise to remember to give Sadie her medicine every day, but it only took three weeks for her to forget a few days in a row. I don’t know who I’m angrier at for Sadie dying, my forgetful mother or selfish girlfriend.

And I feel so claustrophobic in that apartment that it’s almost unbearable. There’s barely enough room to move around each other and our stuff. I describe our apartment as dehydrated because of how cramped it is, especially our bedroom. It was too small for my queen sized bed and furniture to fit so we had to get a full size bed which is much too small for both of us. I tend to roll over quite a bit in my sleep and I like to sprawl out. So for months I would have a horrible time trying to get to sleep. I would get up, get a glass of water, watch some TV and try again. A few times I accidentally fell asleep on the couch, but when I woke up in the morning she never brought up why I hadn’t come to bed. It was obvious how uncomfortable I was when I’d toss and turn for hours and I’m sure she sleeps better without it as well.

June 20th, 2011

Session #5: Sarou Libertine

I never asked him why he didn’t want to sleep with me. I knew why. I knew he no longer loved me. I knew he resented me for my intelligence and independence, and wanted the girl he met in the diner, a servant, someone to do his bidding for a small gratuity. He’d begun to do nothing but point out all of my shortcomings. He said that I didn’t clean the house enough and that if I spent half as much time selling paintings as I did bitching at him then we’d be millionaires. I honestly never meant to bitch. I just wanted to know that he cared about me more than anything, even his writing. Perhaps we moved in together too quickly. I thought we were happy together and that being closer would only make us happier, but last night I woke up alone again and felt the need to confront him. I knew right where to find him and walked down the hallway to the living room. He looked in my direction for a second and returned his eyes to the TV without saying a word. I’d had enough, so I let him know what was on my mind. I told him I was tired of being neglected and that if he didn’t want me or appreciate me that someone out there would, but he didn’t take his eyes off of the TV. I couldn’t understand what I’d done to deserve such treatment, so I looked at him and screamed “What’s wrong with you?”

He looked up at me and made the strangest face, as if I were some sort of disgusting figure bearing down on him. He lifted himself up a little bit and looked right back at me and said “What’s wrong with you?” He wasn’t even attempting to hide the fact that he didn’t care. Anytime I was upset then there had to be something wrong with me. I’m sure all he could think was why I wouldn’t just leave him alone and let him watch his stupid ESPN all night while I lay in bed alone. “I want to know why you don’t want to be with me, why you’re sleeping on the couch,” I told him. I guess I just wanted him to admit that he was unhappy and wanted out of our relationship instead of hiding behind his passive aggressiveness, and that’s exactly what he did. He looked at me and said “I need some space. I feel like I’m suffocating.”

June 21st, 2011

Session #5: Garrett De’Laroux

…and so last night, after Sarou had gone to sleep, I was laying on the couch, listening to my mp3 player and watching a baseball game on TV. I planned to sleep out there until she yielded to moving. I was tired of feeling so constricted in that claustrophobic You know how when you’re in a dark room focusing on the only light in the room, that everything around you seems to fade away until you look around again? So I was quite startled when I looked up from the TV and noticed her standing in the hallway with a livid look on her face. For a split second I thought she was a ghost the way she appeared out of nowhere. Then as my eyes adjusted I saw that she was crying. I pulled one of my earplugs out and asked her “What’s wrong with you?” She replied “I want to know why you don’t want to be in there with me, why you’re sleeping on the couch.” Finally, she seemed to care about me for once so I responded, “I need more space. It feels like I’m suffocating.”

Counselor notes:

After meeting with both parties individually and going through audio tapes, session notes, and their journal entries, it is in my professional opinion that both Sarou Libertine and Garret De’Laroux suffer from severe cases of Narcissism. Both inhabit many of the traits associated with Narcissism such as, but not excluded to, a high level of intelligence, lack of empathy or the deliberate unwillingness to sympathize with the feelings and needs of others, contempt of the success of others, arrogance, a desperate need for admiration, contemptuous behaviors, and exaggerated senses of self-importance. They both tend to mold everyday occurrences into the forms that best suit their thoughts and preferences, rather than what is actually occurring, thus creating their own “world” in which their paranoia’s and fears shape their reality.

It is in my professional opinion that further counseling is necessary, both individually and as a couple.

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