The doctor is in

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Like most first-time patients, he came into the office with a somewhat suspicious countenance and a sheepish grin that conveyed mistrust of the entire ordeal. Such expression was in fact common and I immediately set about to put my patient at ease, lest we accomplish little in our hour long session. After brief introductions, his body language relaxed as he became more comfortable with his surroundings.

“Never thought I’d be sitting here unloading on a stranger,” he said. “But I felt like I needed to talk to someone.”

I took a sip of my coffee and looked intently at his eyes. Beneath them lay a long struggle about to come rolling out onto dry land. He bit the inside of his mouth and glanced downward.

“I don’t understand her,” he said. “I just don’t understand. I give her cards and flowers and gifts. I dream about long walks on the beach, gazing at the stars together, our eyes meeting across a crowded floor.” His hands became animated, often a sign of sincerity. “I tell her all the things I admire about her; her walk, the way her hair lifts in a spring wind, the uniqueness of her laugh….”

As he talked, I noticed a deepening glaze creeping across his pupils as if his fondness of romance was lifting him to a far off place.

I let him talk.

“…but I just don’t understand. She says she needs more than that. All that stuff is not important to her. I thought I was giving her what she needed. I just don’t know….”

I jumped in.

“Have you tried just talking to her?”

“What do you mean?” he replied.

“Just talking. Listening. Hearing about her day, her dreams. Asking questions about her life. Sympathizing with her struggles, her feelings of inadequacy, the longings of her heart. Just getting to know her more as a human being.”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “I thought I was in love.”

“You are,” I said. “You are in love with being in love.”

He looked up at me, as if he had realized something for the first time.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is