Excerpt: Scarred Souls
What am I doing here?
Damian looked around, briefly looking over every person sitting in the circle. They were a mix of male and female; all they had in common was a difficult life or difficulty handling their life.
And here Damian was in that room full of strangers. Strangers with whatever problems they couldn’t deal with on their own and had to share with strangers. Damian didn’t want to be there; he could deal with his shit all on his own. He could talk with his therapist occasionally, but not with a room full of other fucked up people. How could they help him?
“Good day, everyone.” Doc sat down in one of two available chairs and smiled at each person in turn. She had a bright, trusting smile that had managed to coax so much information out of Damian that he initially had never wanted to share with her. She was young, in her thirties, with bright red hair, freckles, and glasses.
Damian liked her a lot, which was why he had even agreed to come to a group session. He felt he have liked her a little bit less right then, with all those people eyeing him curiously. He’d much rather have been back in her office, just the two of them. He couldn’t talk about his shit in here, not with all these strangers sitting around him, listening.
Doc saved her welcoming smile for him till the end. “Everyone, this is Damian. He’s going to be joining us from now on.” She motioned to him and Damian bowed his head, staring intently at the floor. “He’s a bit nervous,” Doc continued easily, “so treat him nicely, alright?”
Damian heard mumbled ‘hellos’, but he just kept staring at the floor, feeling miserable and anxious. He didn’t want to be there. Why had she even suggested he come? Wasn’t he doing any better?
“How about all of you introduce yourselves?” Doc suggested. “Tell Damian your name and why you are here. Does that sound good?” Mumbled acknowledgements met her suggestion, and Damian lifted his head slightly, wondering what was to come.
“I’ll start!” A girl with long blond hair raised her hand in the air as if she were still in school. She grinned at Damian, and it looked kind of predatory. Damian felt even more uncomfortable than he already had been feeling. “My name is Noelle. I’m here because my parents don’t give a shit and I do drugs and sex. Lots and lots of sex with a lot of various guys.”
“In other words, she’s a nympho,” the one sitting next to her said and shoved her playfully. He was a feminine guy, with brown hair and the bluest eyes Damian had ever seen. “I’m Catlin and I’m here because of a shitty childhood resulting in my developing OCD. I’m getting better though, slowly.” He grinned and cocked his head to the side, looking at Damian curiously.
Damian didn’t like being stared at like that so he moved his focus over to the one sitting next to Catlin. He had straight black hair, styled a lot like Damian’s own, and grey eyes. He seemed to be rather tall, and he looked kind of dark and mysterious. “I’m Sterling. I’m here because of a traumatic past where I was shipped between foster homes. There’s some shit I need to deal with.” He didn’t elaborate more and that was just fine with Damian.
“I’m Chad,” said the one sitting next to Sterling. He had auburn hair, green eyes and freckles. He looked familiar, but Damian couldn’t quite place him. He, like both Noelle and Catlin, seemed extremely comfortable with himself. “I’m here because my dad’s an abusive shit, because I abuse alcohol and drugs, and because some guy once molested me. Apparently that has left me with trauma.” He grimaced at Doc, who just smiled at him.
When Chad rolled his eyes and looked away, Doc turned her focus on the guy sitting next to Damian. He was hunched over in his chair with his hood over his head and hands tucked in his armpits. “This is Mal,” Doc introduced him. “Do you want to share why you are here, Mal?” Her voice was gentle and it clearly said she wasn’t going to force him to talk if he didn’t want to.
“Abusive brother, bully-victim, self-harm, depression, suicidal,” came the muttered reply.
Damian cast another look at him. This was obviously someone who really needed therapy. The others looked rather normal.
“Next we have Quinn,” Doc continued. Damian looked over at the dark-haired girl sitting next to him. She was silent and broody and sat staring at the floor with her arms crossed over her flat chest. “Do you want to share, Quinn?”
“I was gang-raped by a bunch of guys who wanted to show me the wonders of their cocks,” she snapped. “It was not a very pleasant experience.”
Damian crossed his own arms over his chest in discomfort as he imaged what she had just shared. No, that really couldn’t have been a pleasant experience. Sex in itself didn’t seem like such a pleasant experience to him; he couldn’t fathom what people found so good and interesting about it.
“And next to Quinn, we have Madison.” Madison’s focus was not on the group at all; he was currently staring out the window, obviously deep in other thoughts. She didn’t give a reason why he was there, and the boy himself didn’t seem to be in the right mind to share, so Doc continued. “And last, we have Rayne.”
Rayne looked like a girl, but his flat chest and Adam’s apple gave him away. He seemed rather young, maybe only a couple of years younger than Damian’s own eighteen.
Rayne sighed and looked at Doc. “I’m here because …” He swallowed heavily. “Well, because my parents aren’t the greatest and certain people at school are making my life a living hell. It’s hard, so … well, I tried to kill myself once, and so here I am.”
Damian lowered his head again as Rayne finished speaking. All these people had so many more problems than he had. They’d been sexually abused, abused drugs and alcohol and sex … Damian only had a problem with food. It wasn’t even such a big problem anymore. He didn’t need to be there.
They started talking around him, but Damian didn’t really listen. He wasn’t interested in these people. He didn’t want to hear about their lives and their problems and their shit. He didn’t want them to hear about his life either. His problems and feelings were private; theirs should be as well.
The hour seemed to drag on and on, but Doc was finally wrapping up and people started putting on their outerwear.
“Damian, would stay back for a minute?” Doc asked after she’d bid everyone else goodbye.
Damian put the strap of his bag over his shoulder and he clutched at it while he waited for the room to empty. Doc turned to him when the door closed, a tentative smile on her lips. “You weren’t comfortable with this at all?”
He simply shook his head.
“I think you should give it a couple more tries before you make up your mind.”
“Why? This isn’t for me. You should know that.” Damian shrugged helplessly.
“I think this will be good for you,” Doc said. “I think group therapy will help you open up more. You need to loosen up a little, Damien. You need to meet new people. And here is a group of young people who are struggling, people you might be able to relate to.”
Damian wanted to tell her that he couldn’t care less about any of them when the door opened. Damian turned his head and stared at the young man who entered. He was Damian’s age and height, with tussled blond hair and the greenest eyes Damian had ever seen. He was thin and had a nervous air about him.
He looked wide-eyed back at Damian, but then his gaze cut over to Doc. “Is group over?”
“Hi, Josh.” Doc smiled softly at him and stepped closer. “Yes, we just finished. If you want to talk, however, I’m available.”
“Ah, no, that’s ok.” His green eyes flickered to Damian again and Damian found himself fascinated by them. Those eyes left him flustered and Damian quickly looked away. “I’ll see you Thursday.” The sound of the door closing quietly told Damian of his departure.
“That was the last member of our group.” Doc turned back to Damian. “You’ll meet him properly on Thursday.”
Damian stared at her for a few seconds then he nodded. “Thursday then.”