Stripped | Melinda Walters


Melinda Walters

The Dragging Energy Award

Marriage counselling can be the most soul baring and stripped -down process unimaginable or it can be the humbling raw emotional band aid that promotes healing.

The talking is over, the slinging matches are done. Nothing is resolving and neither of us want to continue. The four walls of the room seem to be closing in further with every session. I feel like a circus act upside down on a spinning wheel and the man throwing the daggers is about to hit me. I have no strength left and the blame game is a no-win situation.

Dr Linden is calm in her role as referee and every re-direction is prolonging the inevitable. We have reached an impasse and separation seems the most logical choice. Imagine my surprise when I am hit with the suggestion of a weekend retreat for one final session to see if there is any possible resolution. I pause and wait, I want to be the second one to say no. But it doesn’t happen. He says “Yes!” first.

The driveway is long and dusty, my eyes wander off the track for a minute looking for any form of civilization. As I come to a clearing, I can see a small house and two cars parked nearby. I am the last to arrive. Fifteen years of a relationship with Aden has come down to this. I will give it a go but my overnight bag contains more than clothing. I have come with in-trepidation and a lot of cynicism. The sprawling grounds have definite appeal, but the visit seems lost on a sparring couple.

I don’t want to be pessimistic but I can’t see how sitting on the deck for a chat is going to be any different to sitting in a white walled office. But Aden said “Yes.” So, I guess I have to see what happens.

The table has a red tray sitting in the middle of it with a big blue glass pitcher of water and three tumblers on it. I secretly hope its wine and not water. Aden sits across from me, he begins to pour a drink for himself. Dr Linden looks across at him, watching if he pours one for me. He does and now the formalities are done, I wait for the doctor to begin.

“Okay so conventional therapy and counselling has not really helped you to reconnect and here at Stringy-Bark Cottage you have a final chance to let go and see what lies beneath the surface of all your disagreements. We shall begin by taking off our clothes.”

I feel my water go down the wrong passage and the obligatory coughing and choking prevent me from speaking first. Aden seems to be laughing and he thinks she is joking. Dr Linden stands up and unbuttons her dress. Now it is Aden’s turn to choke. He swallows hard and tries to say something to counter her with.

“You think us being naked will help us to sort our problems out? “
Aden’s voice is high pitched.

“That idea is crazy and the fact that you are our so-called therapist and you want to be naked too, makes me think you have some foolish idea that we want a threesome?”

Aden stands up at the table, his chest tightening and his face contorting. I can tell he is embarrassed. I feel my heart pounding and yet the request to strip doesn’t seem offensive to me. I get up and start to pull up my shirt. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t looking for a threesome but I wanted some sort of courage mustering moment to see if it will help me breakthrough our problems. Surely if Aden can see me begin to take my clothes off, he will see I am reaching out to trust in the process.

Dr Linden puts her hands up….” Stop!” She screams.

“That is just an exercise to see who will be first to make a compromise. Clearly, it’s you Layla, you are the person most willing to make the first move. “
I take a deep breath. Maybe there is a small glimmer of hope after all.