“You know what happened to you wasn’t normal, right?”
I fidgeted on the couch I had planted my ass on when I’d entered the psychologist’s office.
Dr. Annette Romain was a pleasant and insightful therapist as far as I could tell. But she asked probing questions that weren’t all that easy to talk about. Somehow, she’d seemed to wring things from my soul that had been so deeply buried that I thought they would never rise to the surface.
But as all of my emotions reemerged, so did my sense of hopelessness and sorrow.
I’d already spilled everything about my uncle, things that I’d never told anyone, not even Jett.
After Jett had discovered my history, or what he knew about it, he’d booked an appointment with a counselor for me today. Logically, I knew I had issues from my past, but I didn’t necessarily want to face them or have them brought out. I would have preferred to just forget.
I looked up at the blonde woman sitting in a chair across from my position on the couch.
Did I know that my life hadn’t been normal? “It was all I knew,” I finally answered honestly.
She nodded. “When it’s the only life you’ve known, it’s easy to start thinking it’s normal, or at least it’s your normal, even when you know the majority of young people your age have an entirely different reality.”
“Sometimes I feel like I did something to deserve it,” I confessed quietly.
“You didn’t,” Dr. Romain said firmly. “You were a child. The issues were your uncle’s and never yours. You were an innocent victim who developed coping skills that you aren’t going to need anymore.”
“Like my trust issues?” I asked. “I don’t trust anyone. I’m not sure I ever can.”
“A certain amount of caution is a good thing, but not trusting somebody who has never given you reason not to have faith in them can be detrimental, Ruby.”
“I’m afraid to trust Jett,” I blurted out. “Even after all he’s done to help me, I’m just waiting for the next bad thing to happen to me. I’m waiting for the bomb to drop on this whole Cinderella fantasy I’m living right now. Maybe that’s not fair, but I can’t control those fears.”
“Ruby, you need to be patient and give yourself some time. You’re anxious, and that’s common for anybody who has gone through the kind of trauma that you’ve experienced. But I want to help you sort out what’s reasonable fear, and what isn’t. And I want you to really understand that none of your past was ever your fault. Nor was your homelessness.”
Unshed tears were blurring my vision and I blinked them away as I said, “I’d like that. I don’t want to live my whole life being afraid.”
“You’re brave, Ruby. I know you don’t see that right now, but I hope that you will eventually. You survived five years on the streets with no resources except your intelligence. The fact that you came out of that relatively unscathed is pretty extraordinary. You used the resources available to you as best you could to get through having no stable place to live.”
I sighed. “I don’t feel smart. I feel like a loser.”
“Is it logical for you to feel that way? You had no other choices.”
“I guess I’m finding out that my feelings and logic don’t really jive together all that well.”
Dr. Romain sent me an empathetic smile. “Many times, they don’t. Especially when you come from a highly dysfunctional and abusive background. Your reality is different.”
My reality had always been all about survival. “I don’t know anything else except how to stay alive anymore,” I admitted hesitantly.
“Of course you don’t,” Dr. Romain said gently. “But now that you’re safe, those instincts that served you well before will hamper you as you try to build a life for yourself.”
I knew she was right. If I was always fearful about when the next bomb was going to drop, it was going to be hard to concentrate on anything else. Jett had given me opportunity, and a home. I didn’t want to blow my chance at a new life because of old baggage.