When I walk into Laura’s greenhouse/bunker/therapy veranda a code gets activated.

I am not allowed to laugh out loud. I cannot make sounds.

I can’t make involuntary movements. Once I moved my foot without wanting to and that was embarrassing.

If a bomb explodes outside I can’t drop to the floor, I have to stay like a statue, if I don’t: shame.

If a guy with a gun walks in I have to calmly go and stand between the gunman and my female therapist.

I can’t move towards her, unless she’s really in need of help.

I can’t walk in wearing clothes that are too nice.

I am not allowed to display confident body language.

I have to challenge her, but strictly from an underdog position, she is the occupying army and I’m a guerrilla band poking holes in her that she doesn’t even notice, until one day all the little holes will tear into a big one.

I can’t say anything that’s not true about myself.

I can make mistakes in Slovak, but I can’t make mistakes in English.

I am not allowed to change the setting unless it’s really bothering me.

I can definitely not get too comfortable.

I can’t pretend to know something if I don’t and if she says something that I don’t know, I have to look it up at home.

I have to be very skeptical about anything positive she might say about me.

I can only truly trust her body language and tone of voice, not the words by themselves.

I am not allowed to go to toilet here, I have to wait.

I cannot express too much hope, because hope will alert the flying Scythe Charioteers who will cut your legs out from under you as you are running.

I have to use camouflage or I will become a juicy target.

I have to listen with my bullshit detector and not with my ears.

I can complain about mental pain, but not physical pain.

If I don’t focus, I feel pleasantly drugged, like am hugged tenderly and eternally by my own daydreams and by stories. I pretend that I learn useful things this way.

If I pick up on a serious worry the other person is having, I have to create a small opening so the person will pour the worry out.

I can’t be a burden. I have to careful not to outstay my welcome.

I somehow have to teach the other person something.

If left alone I can keep myself busy.

I have to ask what the point of this is, why do I indulge in so many activities that do not lead to money, not directly anyway.

I can get a bit better, otherwise I can’t allow myself to keep coming here, but I can’t get a lot better.

Every waking moment needs to lead to learning something new or I feel I’m being chocked and straightjacketed.

I can’t attack her unless she attacks me, if she attacks me I have to retaliate, even if ten or twenty years go by. Nemo me impune lacessit, or at least that’s what I like to think.

It’s amazing how many rules a person has. You have lists of rules as well. An operating system that’s running in the background. You can alter it if you want to. To some extent. In six months’ time we haven’t changed a single one of these rules. These rules help to isolate myself. The rules are a strategy. People pour their secrets in me, am so safe. I’m a shaman disguised as a somewhat nerdy, insecure, nonchalant, wooden, bookish slacker, to move stealthily through life attracting people who are hurting, which is fine, but it doesn’t feed the hungry, down-trodden beast that needs some rock and roll.