Part 3 “Erica”
The Kaiser Behavioral Science building is a few blocks north of the Kaiser Hills hospital complex off Desoto Avenue in Woodland Hills. It’s a large one story, modern building. You check in at the front desk and then to the waiting room. Every time you attend a session, they give you an IPad and you take a 25 question assessment. The results are immediately sent to your therapist. The interior of the building is austere, institutional. It is very quiet. There is plenty of security.
On time at 3:25, a tall, thin woman opens the waiting room door and said my name, I get up, introductions are made, we walk down a series of hallways. She unlocks the door to her office and motions to me to go inside. The room is small, decorated like a comfortable den. There is a computer, key board and screen at a home style desk in one corner, a sofa, a love seat and a comfortable chair, rugs on the floor. Erica has me sit on the love seat. She is across the room from me in the chair.
“So, Robert, what’s going on with you?” She said.
I begin…Erica stops me. “Let’s not talk about your wife for the moment. Stay with yourself. I know you feel guilty about what’s happened and how you feel you’ve treated her. I understand that. But we need to start with you. Okay?”
“Yes, yes.” So I began my story. Every time I’d try to shift the narrative, try to get the spotlight off myself, Erica would gently move me back on track. For the next 45 minutes, I talked to her about what has happened to me. Not the people around me, not Jan. Me. I told her my story. Erica would ask questions, soft sounding, but hard to answer. She was patient as I worked out my thoughts. It was painful to tell someone what had been going on in my head. About 15 minutes into the session, it became easier. I unburdened myself, for the first time in a long time. I told her the truth. If I didn’t she quietly called me on my bullshit.
She walked me out, shook my hand and said, “Next Tuesday, 8:30AM.”
I thanked her, shook her hand, I left. I walked to my car feeling lighter than I had in a long time.