Maturation Diary

Submitted into Contest #139 in response to: Format your story in the style of diary entries.... view prompt

11 comments

Fiction Friendship Funny

03/01/22

“Being an adult child is not conducive to a person’s mental health.” Those were the good doctor’s words today. It’s his therapeutic longhand for saying, “you need to grow up.” I’ve got some nerve. Fifty-two years of age and I’m still being monetarily and emotionally sustained by my septuagenarian parents. But doc, I’ve got a handicap, the playing field I’m on is not level, the game’s been rigged against me. “And you’ve made and continue to make poor choices,” said the doctor. He is more than hinting his belief that my fate is entirely in my hands, or between my ears and behind my eyes. I could shit myself and laugh—like an infant, but since this is my maturation diary, I’ll refrain.


03/03/22

“You managed to have a few years in graduate school when you were independent of your parents.” I was partially living off a government fellowship. “Don’t you think you owe something to the foundation that invested these resources in you?” It’s been a quarter of a century since I piddled away that money for doctoral studies. I currently receive disability pay. I’ve worked odd jobs, but I was, and still am, on the dole. The good doctor is making a valid point. I’m in debt. I owe my parents. I’m obligated to society, but I partially blame certain less-than-salubrious elements of society for my malaise. As members of society, we are taught to idolize maladjusted creative types. During those last years in graduate school and ever since, I wanted nothing more than to be a successful artist. “You should have made that decision before applying for funds to study science. Time’s up,” the doctor says, “We’ll pick up where we left off today next time.” 


03/08/22

“So, you desired artistic success. You’ve been dabbling with painting for as long as you’ve had a diagnosis of mental illness. Why? Why have you made no serious effort to sell your work? A starving artist is not a mature artist. The starving artist is not a suitable model for someone who wants to secure maturity and mental health. There is no surer way for a child to get its mother’s attention than to refuse alimentation. A child is offered food when it is hungry, it doesn’t get financially compensated for not eating.” The doctor actually wants me to get paid for my artwork, but I’m incorrigible. In retaliation for this most sensible suggestion, I gave away a painting today to an uncle I had not seen for some time. I felt I owed him something. 


03/10/22

The doctor has said that he would accept paintings for payment—as long as he liked the work. However, I question his taste in art. He has a penchant for the macabre, the sinister. He says he’d like to see more of my dark side in my paintings. I tell him my dark side gives me enough problems as it is, the last thing I want to do is render it on canvas. He shows me the paintings of Francis Bacon on his cell phone. I tell him of the sad, tortured existence that artist had. He didn’t starve, but what a price to pay for success. The doctor insists there’s no necessary link between suffering and success. Bullshit, I think, as would any angsty, self-respecting admirer of van Gogh.


03/15/22

“An adolescent isn’t a child, but an adolescent isn’t an adult either,” says the doctor. “A teenage boy gets a hard on when the wind blows. From what you’re telling me, you seem to be stuck in some kind of stage of pubescent desire.” With the ubiquity of online porn, it seems that adolescent sexuality is within easy reach of anyone with an internet connection. Pimply, adolescent, quickdraw sex, free of any and all attachments, guilt and other emotional complications. The doctor suggests I watch an online video on porn and dopamine neurocircuitry. I do so. It makes sense. I make a tenuous vow to cease and desist my regular porn diet which, to me, is that of a dirty old man, not a horny high schooler.      


03/17/22

The good doctor wants me to help him by helping myself. He very frequently dangles the carrot of complete remission and recovery before my skeptical senses. He does so as incentive to keep me coming back. I’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness for a quarter of a century. The doctor says, “You’ve been wearing maladaptive grooves into your brain for over two decades. It is no wonder you are currently predisposed to delusion-induced episodes of anxiety and depression and to the occasional bout of psychosis. You’re down a schizophrenic rabbit hole most of those in my profession don’t believe you can ever get out of.” How do I exit the rabbit hole? “We’re going to try Meta-narrational Cognitive Therapy. Your delusions are comparable to magical thinking. Magical thinking is an attribute of children. They believe the fantastic stories they tell themselves. Write something about it. We’ll discuss it next time you come in… Do you have my check?” God, I hate when he asks that.


03/22/22

I didn’t do the writing assignment. The doctor says, “Why the resistance? What have you got to lose?” Nothing more than time I could be dedicating to a dead-end job, I reply, sarcastically. “More importantly, you’re avoiding introspection. You’re scared of what you’ll discover…all those immature attachments, those undeveloped potentials…” I used to think the paramount expression of love was helping others reach their potential, assisting them in their efforts to be all that they can possibly be. Could it be that my therapist loves me? Do I need for my therapist to love me? Or do I just want a friend? Is that childish? Children don't generally pay other children to befriend them. Clearly, something else is going on here, but I'm not sure what to call it.


03/24/22

Dear maturation diary, I. Hate. You.


03/29/22

The good doctor surmised the session today with a syllogism: “Most criminals are immature. For many, immaturity is a sign of mental illness. Most criminals display signs of mental illness. All those years as a jailbird did little to develop your adult personality. They did even less to heal you of your mental woes.” Follow my nose, it always knows my mental woes. Writing poetry. I wish it were as easy as that. Writing poetry used to bring me satisfaction. The good doctor thinks my poetry sucks.


03/31/22

A panic attack kept me from going to see my therapist today. I feared I was going to lose my mind. What better time than that to go the extra mile and make the visit to the good doctor? Dear maturation diary, I. Love. You. I’ll. Keep. Trying.        

April 01, 2022 13:38

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

11 comments

Graham Kinross
00:27 Nov 14, 2022

Is he in court mandated therapy? It had that feeling at the end. When he starts to feel stress and is finally taking his life seriously that hit me a bit because I know the most compassionate and involved people in my life have been stressed to pieces trying to fix the problems made by others. It rings true in this, like a manager at my old job who was the only one trying to do her job and ended up sick and destroying her insides with the stress of it. Not that the people in charge cared of course. The MC finally starting to take responsibil...

Reply

Mike Panasitti
00:57 Nov 14, 2022

Yes, stress is definitely a killer. It's been a while since I wrote this one, but as far as I remember the MC wasn't in court-mandated therapy, but that might have added some fictional substance to the story.

Reply

Graham Kinross
01:20 Nov 14, 2022

It works anyway.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Sharon Hancock
02:04 Apr 05, 2022

So it seems that the MC has matured to the point of skipping his appointment. I love the format and topic! The doctor is kind of mean and unhelpful, so I was glad when he didn’t go and instead, said he loved his diary at the end. This is typical of artists, I think…the tendency to keep your work to yourself or be very careful who you share it with. I’ve always been that way with writing until recently and I still struggle with that. Great job!

Reply

Mike Panasitti
19:01 Apr 05, 2022

Sharon, thanks for the comment. Yes, the quandary of whether to share or not, especially when the writing is personal material is a very real one. I often feel I should have rather kept a foot in the mouth than divulge, but practice is an essential part of any craft. Thanks again.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
00:17 Apr 02, 2022

Interesting read, nice back and forth with the counsellor. Him being oddly more assertive than most made it interesting and kept up some tension. This was a great way to make the diary prompt work. Learned a new word today 'syllogism';)

Reply

Mike Panasitti
22:24 Apr 02, 2022

Scott, thanks for suffering through this. Yeah, I wasn't 100% convinced I remembered what "syllogism" meant, but I went for it anyway. I think that gamble, at least, was successful.

Reply

07:17 Apr 03, 2022

Not suffering at all. There's a lot of great content in this, the whole part about magical thinking, and about not selling paintings reminded me a lot of similar situations i've been in. You have a great voice which is the most important thing, the part I'm trying to improve on argh.. Only advice i'd have is to have for short stories is to have a bit more of conclusion or twist at the end, MC has a goal and then gets a result.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Unknown User
16:54 Sep 02, 2023

<removed by user>

Reply

Mike Panasitti
19:34 Sep 02, 2023

Maturation/masturbation: opposite hands on the same body. Thanks for reading this early entry. And, no, to a certain type of mind there are no coincidences, just synchronicities.

Reply

Unknown User
19:44 Sep 02, 2023

<removed by user>

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.