The carpets in his office have been replaced. I can smell it even before I open the door.
"I've been witness to two new sets of carpets now. That doesn't bode well for my progress. Have I really been here that long?"
"I could just leave", I tell him. "I was doing really well when you were on vacation. I'm starting to wonder...", I trail off.
He raises his head ever so slightly to let me know he's listening.
"Well, I could just say today is my last day."
The air is thin suddenly.
"Any thoughts on that?", he asks.
"Maybe I shouldn't leave yet. Maybe I'm not ready."
He waits for me to continue.
"But then maybe I should. It could be that I'll never be ready."
"Instead of talking about whether you should or shouldn't, why don't you talk a bit about what leaving means?"
There was a long silence where I could come up with nothing. I couldn't even visualize the kind of thing one might say in response to the question. On the surface it doesn't seem like a tough one but it was like nothing else existed. All I could see was the should/shouldn't argument. It was as though my vocabulary had been cut down to a handful of words and so I was very limited in what I could think or say.
Strangely, Silence of the Lambs came to mind.
"Hey", I asked instead of answering his question. "What would you do if I started only referring to myself as 'it'? Like, 'Ok, well it has to leave now. It needs to take the subway home so it can eat dinner.'"
He tries not to laugh.
"Seriously, what would you do? It wants to know"
Now he starts to laugh full on, shoulders shaking, his face red. I allow myself a moment of pride before I realize the self-defeat.
I'm writing this out, swallowing a fist-full of vitamins at my desk, because I'm thinking the second or third time around I might be able to find my insides. It's somehow important to me to quell the panic rising from the idea that I could actually be devoid of a soul.
I am determined to answer this question. So here you go Doc:
Leaving means I'm alone. Ok, but I was anyway. We all are. Even the people surrounded by loved ones and family and children and pets. We think we aren't but we are.
The thought of leaving you breaks my heart. I think I have always loved you; or at least I love you for caring for me like you have; the real me, or as close as I could possible get to it. Your goodness, effort, reliability, and authenticity have never failed me. You've brought me closer to myself than I have ever been. You always take my side, even when I try to present you with my faults on a platter. You are for me. I've never had that before. If I let you go, how will I ever find it again?
There's also the fantasy, in contrast to the previous point, that maybe leaving would make you angry. Not because you will miss me but because you will miss my reliable body in that time slot. And maybe you will miss having an informed and cooperative patient who puts up with your wild interpretations and has enough insight to see that you are good at what you do.
If I leave it means that there is nothing left to be done for me, which means it may never be better than this.
I'm not leaving yet, but I had to prove it to myself that I could answer the question.