why don't we crank up the drama a little bit here? This is the scene that followed the infamous fight scene in the film, as we're all pretty much familiar with by now. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, we can go onto broader paths.
How sweet, I thought sarcastically, it was good to know that me being included in Kevin’s thoughts was going to help me in this struggle. I nodded every now and then to let him think that I was hanging on every word that came from his mouth, but in truth, I felt like falling asleep right then and there. I didn’t understand how I could be so tired and not able to sleep at the same time. It was ridiculous.
“-I think we should put the brakes on for a little while,” Kevin concluded and I saw the others nod reluctantly at his suggestion. We had a twentieth anniversary coming up and they just wanted to sit it out? They really wanted to throw away the only chance we had at putting ourselves in the picture again? What the heck? No way. I was not going to be responsible for yet another huge delay and then be looked at as the sole reason we missed our chance in the first place. It just wasn’t worth it.
“But I don’t wanna stop the train. This is the thing, and this is a huge year for us,” I reminded them, not daring to look up from the table I was staring a whole into. I let my hands do most of my expressions as I went on, “And I have to be in tiptop shape, somehow, someway.” I stated, letting them know that I would like to figure this out without having them on my back every minute, “The frustrating thing for me is that... I’m the one that has to live with it; I’m the one that has to hear it each and every day,” I said hatefully, “You guys, I could talk to you until I’m blue in the face, and you’d never understand it, I don’t expect you to understand it,” I mumbled, feeling the frustration burn up again as I heard myself crack on every other word I spoke.
“We’re not trying to do an intervention on you,” Howie spoke as he tried to do an intervention on me, “But it’s almost like... like with a person who’s going into rehab, you really need to have this possibly taken really serious and have somebody working with you every single day. Cause if you don't get this sorted out soon, it might be the beginning of the end.”
I looked at Howie thoughtfully. Sure, no pressure. Did he just compare my situation to rehab? Did he think I was some kind of junkie that with enough counseling and praying, would be perfectly fine again? Did he realize how much therapy and praying I had already done? What? Did they think I’d been sitting on my ass all year, trying to ignore an issue that I was faced with every hour, every minute of every single day? Jep, get yourself checked into rehab for a few months to get everything magically sorted out, because that surely was the way to go as far as Howie was concerned.
What the fuck did he know?
Nothing. He knew nothing and that was because I never told him anything. I never told any of them anything.
They didn’t want to hear it. They were too caught up in their own problems, their own hectic lives to also consider my disappointing, almost non-existent progress that was threatening the very livelihood of this group.
Why would I bother them with bad news if I could choose to not bother them at all?
I only half listened as AJ went on about working on yourself and facing fears and be open about problems. I knew he was speaking from experiences from his own struggles, but for goodness sake, I didn’t have an alcohol problem. I had a crappy-voice-that-used-to-be-good problem. Were any of them familiar with that kind of problem? No? Good for them. Why not back off then and let me handle my shit on my own?
I tuned back in when Kevin was talking again. He seemed to have taken the lead in the whole conversation and was neatly laying out what needed to be done, “Let’s stop performing live until some of this shit, we get it worked out. Let’s let you do your therapy, let’s let you experiment with whatever the doctors say.”
I sighed, trying to collect my thoughts and to compose what I was going to say. I wasn’t one to snap at people, and if I was angry, I would likely go for the silent kill, which Nick had been reacquainted to only two hours ago. But honestly, now I wanted nothing more than to scream at Kevin and the others. What was this we they were speaking of? How were we going to work anything out? How were they going to help me by only demanding more and more of me, things that they knew I wouldn’t be able to give, no matter how much I wanted to. I tried to keep my composure as I cleared my dried up throat; this entire conversation was pointless.
“Let’s face it,” I said quietly, my voice nearly gone from having talked too much already, “It’s the pressure that I put on myself of what I was, what I am and what I’m gonna be,” I continued, rehashing the stuff I had talked about with my therapist a few days ago. I could see on the guys’ faces that they had no idea what I was talking about. Psychology wasn’t the subject they majored in. “-and then I woke up one day and thought like, damn, I just need to fix this for me,” I tried to continue the story in words I hoped they would understand and heard some grunts of agreement as I went on, “You can’t fix alcohol abuse for me,” I said to AJ, who nodded loyally. “I apologize that if my bad performance takes the stock down, which is true, but I can only do what I can do to be best for me right now,” I said as my throat constricted the airflow and eliminated the sound from my voice completely. Great.
Way to prove a point there.
The room fell silent and I saw the rest nod absently. I tried not to look at the nauseating food in front of me. I had barely even touched my own plate, my stomach constricting and wringing into knots with every thought of food. Nick was staring at his plate with a faraway look on his face and I started to wonder if he had even followed half of what had been said. I could still see the frustration clearly written on his features and decided to ask him about it.
“When it comes to your point of view of for yourself,” he started, much calmer and more collected than two hours before, when his words had flown like a wildfire into my face, “I completely accept that and that is, that’s you, that’s what you gotta do.” I nodded, a load slipping of my shoulders. I hadn’t realized that I needed Nick’s understanding so much. It was kind of surprising how it suddenly seemed so important to have him behind me. “I do think there’s a fifty fifty thing here though. I’ve gone through this thing before in this group when I was overweight,” he said pointedly, “when I was drinking and doing drugs, when I was being a maniac and it affected the group.” I kept silent as I listened to him. Why was everyone so hung up on comparing their addiction problems to my voice issues?
Why did that apparently have everything to do with each other? Why was being a maniac, as in Nick’s own words, somehow the same thing as having a crippled voice? The comparison was astounding to me. Why did they pretend like I was not doing everything in my might to tackle this issue? Why did they not know that I might go to therapy seventeen times a week and it would not likely make much of a difference.
Because they knew nothing. Because I never told them anything.
“I had to get better, for you,” Nick continued, his voice rising again as his frustration got the better of him, “AJ had to as well. And that’s all I’m trying to say and I’m passionate about it cause I’m still pissed off.”
“But Nick, it starts with you,” I interjected in a pathetic excuse for a voice.
“Of course it starts with me,” Nick replied matter-of-factly.
“Yes, it’s reflective,” I continued, “but it starts with me. This shit happens to be about me. So let it start with me first, and let it filter.”
“Yes,” Nick agreed quickly, pretty much done with the conversation. The table fell silent again and we all looked down. I felt my stomach turn for a second time and quickly closed my eyes. I only looked up when I heard Nick sigh.
“I want you to get better, I really do, I genuinely want you to get better,” he said and when I looked at him, I could see the sincerity right there. There was desperation to his voice as well. I didn’t have the strength to tell that just wanting me to get better, wouldn’t make it so. He proceeded to start a metaphor of Jordan and Pippin and I felt myself crumbling apart on the inside, agonizingly slowly. “And I miss that voice,” he continued, his eyes pleading with me as I looked away, “and I believe you can have it back.”
Great, he could believe for the both of us then. Why did he have so much faith? Where did that naive belief come from? What had I ever done for him to look up at me so much? “We need Jordan, and I know that it’s gonna happen.”
He looked at me for a time, a pleading look on his face that begged me to say something. To confirm his beliefs. To say, sure Nick, don’t you worry one more second, everything’s gonna be fine, it was a joke after all. A year long, horribly executed joke. I stared back at him, trying to hide how empty and tired I felt, but knowing I failed horribly as his face slowly changed from hope into disappointment. We all sat in silence for a couple more minutes and I realized that the whole intervention had finally ended; without any promising results. The disappointment and sadness of the others resonated around the room, radiating off of them in waves only I could see. The walls were getting terrifyingly close and the air seemed to get thinner and thinner in seconds.
Hurriedly, I stood up, mumbled something about bathroom and got out of the boardroom. I half expected someone to jump up and follow me, but when that didn’t happen I faltered through the hall on my own in search of the nearest bathroom. I felt my knees shaking and the sweat suddenly streaming off my face, into my neck and hair; making it stick to my head like it was raining. My stomach twisted one more time before I crashed to my knees and gave in, miserably throwing up into the very clean toilet. It was strange, considering I hadn’t eaten much of anything that day; still the waves of nausea never seemed to stop. And when they finally did, I could see the black spots dancing in front of my eyes and leaned back against the wall in exhaustion. My breathing was out of control, but I didn’t really care.
I could feel my heart madly beating in my chest way too fast. I pressed my eyes shut in an attempt to get rid of the black spots. I barely heard it when someone’s fist pounded roughly against the door. “Brian?” Nick’s voice was laced with worry and fear and I pressed my eyes closed tighter.
Not Nick, not Nick. Don’t let Nick see you like this. Not Nick. Anybody but him.
His fist connected with the door again, even louder this time and I felt the sound stabbing through my head. Nick probably had brought the entire camera crew with him; he was a sucker for catching dramatic moments on film. Wouldn’t that sell a great documentary? Brian on the floor of a toilet, sick and hyperventilating like an idiot. Surely that would shock most people around the world, and wasn’t shock value one of the most important things of movie material?
I tried to pull myself together, I wanted to get up, open the door and tell Nick to stop being dramatic. I tried to, but I couldn’t manage it. Everything was just too much. Their disappointed faces danced tauntingly in front of my vision. Once I had been one of those faces, I’m sure, dancing in front of Nick’s or even AJ’s vision. My chest burned with the insufficient breaths I took in and the tiny room around me began to spin.
“Brian!” Nick called out, panicked now, even though he couldn’t really see me through the door that separated us. There was a loud crashing sound against the door, and I felt a tremor of shock travel through me. I opened my eyes wide when the locked door flew open with another crashing sound and Nick almost tumbled in right after it. He held his shoulder with a grimace on his face and it took him a second to locate me on the floor. He didn’t have a camera crew with him.
“Shit!” he cursed. One part of me wanted to get mad at him for breaking the door, another wanted to pass out and the third one wanted to throw up again. I turned my face away from Nick and continued to gasp for air, like a fish on dry land. Nick noticed my struggle immediately and I felt his large hands grab me and turn me towards him. His face swam in front of my vision, his image blurred and overtaken by the black splotches that were expanding rapidly.
“Goddamnit, Jesus Christ, Brian,” he growled, inches away from my face, but still sounding like he was calling me from a hundred feet away. I couldn’t breathe anymore, not even a little. His hands tightened around my arms and he yelled something I couldn’t hear. Soon enough, I couldn’t hear anything anymore above the crashing waves of panic that didn’t stop and swallowed me whole. It was the worst panic attack I had ever experienced and I didn’t see a way out of it. Nick’s voice drifted in and out of my senses, but his hands never left my arms.
“Hey, talk to me, man,” Nick pleaded, knowing very well that I couldn’t talk even if I wanted to. “Y-you gotta breathe, Bri.” His voice was steady and suddenly very calm. I felt his hands move from my arms to my back as my eyes rolled up.
“No no no,” Nick said urgently, “Hey, stay with me here, alright? You just gotta breathe.”
I gasped, a horrible strangled sound escaping my mouth. I winced as the relentless pain shot up and down my throat and I fought against the muscles that were surely suffocating the life out of me. Why was this happening? What the hell did I do wrong here?
“Brian, listen, just listen,” Nick’s voice was even and controlled and I wondered for a split second if he’d ever had to handle something quite like this situation before, “Just try to look at me, alright? That’s all. That’s all you gotta do. Just breathe and look at me.”
I did my best as I tried to focus on his voice, above the sound of my drumming heart and above the horrifying feeling of getting strangled by my own body. I tried to steer my attention to the blurred splotches that somehow resembled Nick’s face. I wasn’t quite aware of the details on how long a human body could do without proper oxygenation, but it couldn’t be much longer. My vision blackened almost entirely and Nick yelled for help, his hands swatting my face to keep me from losing consciousness completely.
“Brian!” he called to me, “Somebody help!” he called into the hallway, “Goddamnit!” he called to the universe. And before everything ended, the last thing I was aware of was his trembling hands still rubbing against my back.