Private Journal Entry
Thanks per usual to Jedimom and Red Sith for their skillful betas.
Private Journal Entry
Dr. Ann Shapiro
I've just finished another visit to the Institute to counsel Mortimer Toynbee. I don't know how much longer I can do this and remain objective.
This was my most difficult visit so far. The man is lying flat on his back in a hospital bed, bristling with casts and stitches, and doped up on painkillers. So what do I do? Put on my professional face and go through the motions of a regular session while he lies there, totally helpless for all intents and purposes. Sure, he had a call button by his only workable hand, but still, he was essentially at my mercy for an hour and there was nothing he could do about it.
When I took this job four years ago, I was so idealistic and naive. I thought I was doing the world a favor by taking hardened criminals and helping truly reform them by showing them how to understand and heal themselves. And for three years, that's what I tried to do. I worked with murderers, rapists, gang members; you name it. And each and every time, I thought, "There, I've done some good." And then they assigned me Mortimer.
I wasn't prepared for him. Not by a long shot. My superiors thought I'd be the perfect person to take his case, since I had such a low recidivism rate among the people I'd counseled. And at first, I agreed with them. I thought I could do some good. But once his depression started to lift and I really was able to get him talking, I knew I was in way over my head.
What do you tell someone like Mortimer? "You know, you should try to forgive all those people who treated you like shit throughout your childhood," really doesn't have a good ring to it. And, "Don't be angry at society. They just don't know any better," is total bullshit. I mean, that's like telling a black man in the 1950s, "Oh, don't fight racism. Just wait, and smile, and eventually people will come around despite several centuries of proof otherwise." What I really want to say to him is, "Let me clip that damned anklet off. Okay, now go out and keep fighting, only next time, be a little less homicidal, would you?"
So what do I do? I kill time by spouting platitudes at him: old, well-worn psychiatric clichés about "managing anger" and "misdirected hatred" in the hopes that I can do at least a little good. But truthfully, I like him better when he's angry. He has every right to be angry. But he has every right to be happy, too, which is why I'm so glad he's found Shariya. Of course, when he told me about her, I fell back on cliché and gave him the old line about how it's more important to make yourself happy than wait for someone else to make you happy, but I knew as it came out of my mouth that it was bullshit. Of course he needs other people to make him happy after the life he's had. Approval and acceptance mean everything to him, and while strictly speaking, that's not healthy, that's just the way it is for him and there's nothing I can or should do to change that.
Which brings me back to my most recent visit. The poor man was lying there, exhausted and in pain, and what do I do? Tell him that he violated the terms of his sentence by stepping off the grounds. I had to, though. I mean, as a representative of the court, it's my duty to tell him that. And better he hear it from me than from some unsympathetic parole officer or judge. And he just sighed and said that if we had to lock him up, he'd understand, and besides, it would be safer for the kids if he weren't there. It was all I could do to keep from shaking him and telling him to snap out of it and realize he was being just as abused by the system and the Brotherhood as he was by the kids he grew up with. By stepping off the grounds and handing himself to those butchers, he did the most noble, selfless, brave thing I've ever seen in my life, and he's just lying there and saying he'd understand if we had to lock him up for it? I'm really hoping that was the drugs talking. I really hope the fight hasn't left him. Without that, he's nothing.
The one good thing about this most recent visit, though, was that he was too tired to lie to me like he normally does. I don't think he realizes that I know he's been doing that, but I've been lied to by the best for the past four years. I know when I'm being fed a line. Nobody wants to tell me the truth. They just tell me what they think I want to hear so their probation will end, or so they'll be released on parole, or just so I'll stop visiting them. Nobody chooses to see me, after all. It's imposed upon them. Mortimer's a pretty good liar, but I can usually get him to start telling the truth by getting him angry. I didn't need to do that this visit, so I went easy on him. It hardly seemed fair to take advantage of him in this state, even though as a psychiatric professional, I really should have. So we mostly talked about his motivation for doing what he did, and how that tied into his low feelings of self-worth, and how he'd hurt the people he loved by doing it, even though he did it to protect them. And then we talked some more about Elizabeth Blackthorne. I adore that woman. I can't tell him this, but to be frank, that's really what I'd love to see him do when his sentence comes to an end. Her group is fabulous. I'd love to see him be a part of their P.R. wing. He's gotten a lot better with words since he began his stay here, but he still has a very common, easy to identify with voice. I think he'd be a perfect spokesperson for that group.
Well, time to write up my report. As usual, I'll fill it with lies about how well he's doing, and I'll give Professor Xavier my usual rosy report. I just hope that someday, when this is all over and Mortimer is a free man, I can tell him how I really feel. Until then, I'll keep visiting, and trying to do some small amount of good for him. It's the least I can do.
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