“She’s the kind of woman who always covers her tracks. Trust me, she’s cooking up something in retaliation right now, I can feel it. I don’t know what it is, but I know she won’t stop until she makes me regret every word I said…” I sat in Dr. Sanchez’s office for another “emergency” visit.
I needed to deal with some things in a confidential space. Therapy was the only place I could tell the truth without fear of it spilling out. I’d called my father several times since he’d hung up on me, but he sent me straight to voicemail on each attempt. Then came the threatening text from my mo- I mean stepmother:
THERE IS MORE MERCY IN GOD’S WRATH THAN THERE IS IN MY HEART FOR YOU, RIGHT NOW. PRAY YOUR OWN STRENGTH.
Cryptic. I wasn’t surprised.
Something about my step…mother’s story didn’t sit right with me; I just could not believe it. The woman I know as my “mother” ran a ministry based on the idea that hers is a shining example of a “godly” marriage! She even stood in front of the church on several occasions boasting about the goodness of God’s blessing her with a man who ‘never gave her a reason to envy’. Her entire life was centered around this marriage and this man.
“God will bless you with a man whose eyes only wander towards you, just like your father…” she’d sworn to my sister and I growing up. “He’s my Boaz, I’m his Ruth” She’d blush whenever she spoke of him. Now, I’m supposed to believe that her “Boaz” not only had wandering eyes, but whores and bastard babies too? Uh-uh.
“If what your mother…”
“Stepmother.” I interrupted.
“…sorry, stepmother, said is true…what would you have to gain by telling your father?”
“…what is there to gain by NOT telling him?”
“I’m not saying you were wrong for confronting your father, I’m just trying to understand your motives. What do you hope to gain by telling him?”
“I hope to gain the truth…” I insisted.
“…and what is truth?” She leaned forward and cradled her elbow in her chin. As she leaned, long black tresses fell around her face. She ran a pink tongue across red lips and bit her bottom lip anticipating my answer. I’d never noticed how pretty she is…
“…peace.” I replied looking away.
“….is that what you’re after?”
I didn’t respond.
“Amya,” Dr. Sanchez softened her voice and scooted closer to the edge of her seat, “…can you help me understand why you expect the peace of knowing the truth, when you refuse to live in your own?”
Her expression was still, almost surprised; but she said nothing. She didn’t even scribble in her little notepad. She just sat there, on the edge of her seat, hand on chin, waiting on me to explain my logic…but I couldn’t. Hell, I shouldn’t have too. This wasn’t about me anyway. This was about someone else’s lies.
“Why does it matter what I do? This isn’t about me.”
“Oh, it’s all about you, Amya. You receive what you put out, don’t you understand that by now?”
“So, I’m receiving this because I somehow put out into the universe that I wanted to find out my mother isn’t my mother?”
“Well what then?”
“I’m saying, you’ve lived in deceit many years under the guise of pleasing other people in your life; so why is it a big deal that someone did the same thing to you?’
“It is not the same…”
“No! I haven’t lied to my children….”
“I have not!”
“Do you, or do you not, tell your children you are a heterosexual woman in a committed loving relationship with their father who is also a heterosexual man?”
“…and is that true?”
“YES!” I lied with conviction.
Dr. Sanchez pursed her lips and plopped back in the chair.
“Really, Amya?” Her tone was that of a concerned friend.
I rolled my eyes and chewed on my bottom lip, trying to figure out a way to turn the conversation.
“That’s different though!” The weakest of comebacks, but it was all I had…
“What’s so different about it?” She quickly snapped back, “Someone lied…someone kept secrets… the secrets got out…the secrets hurt others…what’s so different?”
“I didn’t lie about being someone’s mother….”
“That is true….”
“I didn’t keep a child separated from her father out of selfishness…”
“Very true, you didn’t do that either…”
“…I also didn’t keep TWIN SISTERS apart out of some selfish need to compete for their father’s love….”
“Right, you definitely did not do that….”
“… our sins are not the same.” I snapped my neck and rolled my eyes. My tone was sanctimonious. I didn’t care. She was not going to compare what my parents did to what I’m doing. What I’m doing is for the good of my children; whatever my mother did was for her own selfish gain. Our sins are not the same!
Dr. Sanchez rose from the chair and stood before the large square window directly behind her desk. She loitered a few moments, seemingly staring down at the people, before inviting me to join her.
“Come here.” She extended a hand backwards expecting me to claim it. When I didn’t move, she turned and gave me a stern look, “Come here, Amya.” She pointed a long index finger to an empty space next to her. Begrudgingly, I indulged her request.
“Look down there.” She pointed at the hustle and bustle of the city moving below. I watched tiny heads dart in-and-out of buildings and across streets, while several cars honked at a distracted driver who hesitated a second too long at a green light. A pedestrian stumbled and fell to the ground sending a slew of likely important papers flying through the air. I hoped she had a point.
“Amya, the last thing this world is going to give you is peace. If you want peace, you’re going to have to do the work to cultivate that shit; but you can’t cultivate peace in chaos. You want to stop the chaos, start by telling your truth. First to yourself, then to others.”
She would not get off this truth shit.
“…what the hell does my truth have to do with my mother’s lies?” I snapped, annoyed.
“Everything!” Dr. Sanchez retorted putting her hands atop her head. “You’re angry because you say your moth— sorry, stepmother— lies to you. You claim you – and apparently you alone – deserve the truth, but you fail to grasp how you do the exact thing to everyone around you? What you put out, you receive, Amya!”
“Again, you’re saying it’s my fault that woman’s a pathological liar?”
“Amya, why do you always bring up other people’s shortcomings whenever we start to deal with yours? You’re intentionally deflecting….” She turned towards me and folded her arms.
I shrugged like an angry child and returned to the boring grey couch against the wall. The doc massaged two fingers into her temple, probably in frustration. She was right, but I refused to admit it.
“Have you ever heard of a thing called a generational curse?” She resumed speaking without warning, “Growing up in the church I’d assume you have…”
“Yea, what about it?” I checked my watch. I damn sure wasn’t in the mood for a sermon.
“You’re perpetuating it.”
“The generational curse…you’re perpetuating it…by maintaining your lies.” She paused for some unknown reason. “Amya, your parents lied and kept secrets from you and now you’re lying and keeping secrets from your parents, children, and spouse. Not only does the curse continue, it expands as each generation upholds it.”
“If there’s a generational curse of lying, then everyone’s a victim. Who doesn’t have a few skeletons in their closets?”
“People who don’t make a habit of murdering truths and hiding the remnants in the closets of their souls…”
“Look, I called my father and confronted him with the truth…”
“NO” she held up a church finger, “…. let’s be real…. you called your father to confront him with someone else’s truth, not your own.”
“…and what the hell is the difference?”
“Your truth was yours to tell…your parent’s truth, isn’t.”
Huh? She’d lost me. “What kind of psychological bullshit are you trying to feed me right now, Sanchez?”
“The kind you need if you ever want to get out of your perpetual victimhood.”
“Ok…you know what.” I put up my hand signifying I’d had enough of her tough love. “If I wanted to be blamed for all of my problems I could’ve stayed my black ass at home…” I fumed.
“Amya, shut up and sit down.” Dr. Sanchez smacked her teeth and winced as if my response caused an ache in her head. “If I didn’t give a shit about you I’d let you sit on my couch forever and I’d gladly welcome the extra money; but I didn’t become a doctor to take your damn money. Contrary to popular belief, some of us actually want to help. I am not here to enable you to stay stuck.” She pursed her lips and gave me the look of a mother when she knew she was right.
Mph, I responded internally. I folded my arms across my chest and pouted like a chastised toddler.
“No one asked you to enable or do anything else to help me. The only reason I’m here now is because Carmen can’t….” A lump formed in my throat.
“…if you don’t need my help, yet here you are. Why?”
“…because I need an ear…. someone who will let me confide my guilt, regrets, pain, and shames, without judgement, or pressure. That’s what I pay you for…so shut up and be a damn ear!”
Dr. Sanchez smirked and nodded. She scribbled in the infamous notepad, then returned her gaze to me.
“I’m not here to be your yes woman, Amya. You came to me for help whether you realize it or not.” She paused for a rebuttal. When I didn’t speak, she continued.
“Generational curses persist because each generation wastes too much time complaining about what the last generation didn’t do, while putting little to no effort into the things they could and should do to set things right.
You are angry about things they did while you justify the things you do. You complain about things you can’t change while refusing to change the things you can. That’s the problem with people today.” She rolled her eyes started scribbling on her tablet again, “…always looking to receive something they’re not willing to give.”
She spoke as if she took things personal. Clearly, I’d struck a nerve.
“I never said I wasn’t willing to give the truth. I just choose not…”
“EXACTLY. YOU have a choice in the lies you tell and you choose to tell them…”
“…and my parents didn’t?”
“Fine. Yes. I have a choice and I chose to survival. As much as loved Carmen,” A tear formed in the corner of my eye as I spoke of loving Carmen in the past tense. “…saving my soul was worth the lie…”
“Was it?” She glared at me with intense eyes, “…worth it?”
“… knowing what you know now, with Carmen’s death, do you still think it was worth it?”
“…my being in the closet doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Carmen being killed…”
“You think it doesn’t?”
“I know it doesn’t!”
“Hmmph. If at any point, you’d have shut Carmen out, completely shut her out; she could have moved on and she might still be alive. But, you refused to do that.”
“Carmen was a grown ass woman who agreed to do everything she did to be with me..”
“Exactly my point, to be with you…”
“So, I’m somehow responsible for her death because I wouldn’t come out?”
“You said yourself Carmen was comfortable with who she was until you started filling her head with your childhood indoctrination.”
“…yes, but what does that have to do with…”
“…you encouraged her to change her appearance, you encouraged her into the threesome with Barnard that resulted in her pregnancy, you threatened to never speak to her again when she considered aborting the child, and when she asked you to run away with her, you convinced her to marry your ex-lover to solidify your space in her life.”
“I didn’t force Carmen to do any of those things! Carmen willingly married Barnard, in fact if you recall, she and Barnard had a fling behind my back that –”
“Correction, you said Carmen confessed she seduced Barnard one night out of anger to prove to you he wasn’t faithful.”
“Does it fucking matter? He and I were engaged, and she seduced him, at our engagement party, then sent a woman I hated in to finish him off while she recorded. Carmen wasn’t a saint either…and I’m not about to make her out to be one simply because she’s dead.”
“I’ll ask you again.” Dr. Sanchez spoke calmly, “…knowing what you know about Carmen’s death, was the lie worth the love?”
It wasn’t, but I would never admit it. What good would it do? It’s not like confessing my love would rewind time so I could do things over again. The only thing my truth would do is destroy lives, my own included.
“The lie is worth it if it saves my soul.” I clenched my jaw and repeated my initial stance on the matter.
“Oh…Amya….” My psychiatrist shook her head and eyed me with pity. “…if you truly believe your sham of a life is somehow saving your soul, we have more work to do than I thought….”
I curled my lips into a forced toothless smile, “I don’t expect you to understand or agree with my reasons for living my life as a heterosexual woman, but this is how I was raised. It’s what I believe. I just can’t turn my back on my faith because I want to live out some lesbian fantasy…”
“…so, what exactly do you say to God when you’re face down ass up with another woman’s mouth between your legs?”
She smiled the smile of a teacher introducing wisdom she knows her children will only learn the hard way; but, she didn’t repeat the question.
“No one’s asking you to turn your back on your faith, Amya.”
“Yes, you are…you’re constantly trying to push me to come out of a closet I’m perfectly fine staying in.”
“Honey, no one’s comfortable in a closet. I don’t care how much you try to convince yourself you are. Lying, cheating, sneaking, and living in secrecy; just to do something you in private that you denounce in public? If you’re comfortable in that, I question your character and worry for your soul. You’ve excelled in the art of deception, Amya; but you can change your family’s story by injecting truth where lies have reigned. You are blessed with an opportunity to break your curse. You wouldn’t have that opportunity if you didn’t also have the power to see it through.”
I sucked my teeth in disdain, “Some opportunity…”
The timer dinged letting us know our time was up. Thank you, God. I sighed under my breath and gathered my things. Dr. Sanchez got up and poked her head out her office door. She mumbled something I couldn’t hear to the voluptuous red head staffing the reception area, then closed the door and returned her attention to me.
“It’s time to tell the truth, Amya. You must get rid of your lies and start telling yourself, and everyone else, the truth. You can’t expect people to give you what you’re not willing to return.”
““Doc…” I grunted kicking the chair with my foot. “Over the past few months I’ve found out I have a long-lost twin, my mother isn’t my mother, my saint of a father is a lying whore and to make matters worse, my best friend, the woman I love, was brutally murdered and I haven’t even had time to grieve! I come here for support, and you give me this shit?” Her methods confused me.
“You didn’t come here for support, Amya. You came here for the same thing you always do…. validation, attention… to make another thing all about you. You’ve been in my office nearly an hour; you claimed you came in to talk about Carmen, but you spent the bulk of your time talking about your parents and how you’ve been wronged.”
“I did not, I jus-– ”
“You’re selfish, Amya. That’s the bulk of it; and now you’re using Carmen’s death as a crutch to remain in your lies.”
“Are you kidding me?” I guffawed at the doctor wondering if she had more than coffee in that cup on her desk.
“What else do you call living a lie for over a decade all to maintain a façade you claim you hate?”
“This isn’t some got-damned façade, doctor. It’s my life!”
“YESSS! That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to get you to understand! It’s YOUR life…so why are you living a façade to appease someone else?”
It was a good question; one I couldn’t answer, but a good question nonetheless.
“You’re always bemoaning your life, yet you refuse to live it. Everything you’ve done, even down to the birth of your daughters, was to please someone else…you didn’t even pick your own husband! You married that man because your mother said it was best!
“You claim you’re protecting yourself…protecting your people? You’re not! You’re only biding time until the inevitable! When the time comes, life will fuck you up with the very truth you so desperately attempt to flee. Trust me, the truth always comes to collect its due; and it doesn’t take late payments.”
Her words resonated with me, but I refused to let her know. I frowned and scratched my head, she chuckled and went on with her monologue.
“You think you doing God some kind of favor by hiding the truth of who you are?” She rolled her eyes. “Trust me, you’re not.”
I let out an exaggerated sigh and put my hand on the doorknob “…are you done or….what?” I inquired coldly.
“I asked you a question. I’m waiting on an answer.”
She cut her eyes, “DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING GOD A FAVOR BY HIDING WHO YOU ARE?”
“Oh, you were serious with that…I thought you were being…”
She cut her eyes.
I clinched my jaw trying to hide my response. I’d asked Dr. Sanchez to “keep it real” during our initial meeting, but I don’t recall asking for all this.
“Amya, you can hide from the truth and remain in your misery if you prefer, but if you plan to continue this relationship with me, I’m going to need to know what it is you expect. I can only do so much if you refuse to do the work to move forward.”
“…I’m doing the work, just not at your pace.” I didn’t bother trying to hide my disdain. She was here to help me, not dictate my life. “You’re trying to force me out the closet like my family name is synonymous with “family values” throughout this city. Me, coming out, would devastate everything I’ve worked for…and have you forgotten that I have a husband and children entangled in this? I just can’t!” I cried without tears.
Dr. Sanchez sat silently, staring at me.
“I can’t!” I yelled again, forcing the tears.
Sanchez got up and grabbed a tissue, then came to stand by the door leading out of her office. She extended her arm towards me, dangling several Kleenex my way. The look on her face let me know my dramatics had no effect. Still, I snatched the tissue and headed out the door, dabbing my eyes. I didn’t bother saying good-bye. She noticed.
“I don’t care how you try to spin this in your head Amya. You think it’s a coincidence all these things happened at the same time? It’s time to do the work! Carmen’s ultimatum, your sister showing up, things coming to a head with your husband…your parent’s lies! The Source is urging you to operate in truth— before you have no choice.”
“God gives us free will for a reason, doctor. That means I don’t have to do shit I don’t want to do.” I hurried through the now-empty reception area hoping to make it to the door before she could think of anything else to say. Just my luck, she was right on my tail.
“You’re right, Amya. You don’t have to do shit you don’t wanna do. But understand, that same God who gave you free will is also the epitome of truth. You are free to keep your “secrets” but the truth is God…and God will always be revealed. Just ask your moth— I mean STEPmother.”
Her last statement struck a chord that sent my stomach into knots. I turned to look at her. Her expression told me she knew exactly what she’d done.
“FUCK YOUUUU !!!! DOCTOR SANCHEZ!” I spat, as I turned around, I was so offended literal spit flew from my mouth.
“I already told you that’s inappropriate, and even if it wasn’t,” She smirked, “… you’re definitely not my type. Have a great evening Mrs. Pearson, I’ll see you next week.” She shrugged, “Or not.”
With that, she twirled back to her office, leaving me standing there — alone, confused, deflated, and defeated.