Private: Ria Lockhart
One Month Ago
Sitting on the couch. It’s a standard activity many a person partakes in every day. One might do it while watching TV, talking on the phone, having a snack, there’s many reasons for it. In the case of one Ria Lockhart, she was in contemplation, reflection. To say her career hadn’t gone the way she expected to this point would be an incredibly easy statement to make.
No matter where she had been, Lockhart seemed to find some level of disappointment. SHOOT Project? Sure, she was a former tag champion. But she lost those titles in short order, lost her best friend and never really gained any traction from there. PRIME? Outside of a big win over Sage Pontiff, little success had come her way. Bang!? She picked up a few wins and had a fun tag match with Anna, but her mutually appointed sister also bested her in singles action and inadvertently concussed her. She already appeared to be lost in the shuffle of DEFIANCE and she had just started there.
Ria was frustrated, but incredibly saddened even more so. She was doing what she loved, right? This was supposed to be a living dream, a continually refreshing feeling of euphoria that would renew every time she entered a wrestling ring. She still loved wrestling. So what else was wrong? What was causing this mental block?
Ria leaned over and grabbed her phone and a red ear bud case off the couch. She unlocked the phone, pulling up her contacts. She scrolled down, settling on the name ‘Kit’. Putting in the ear buds, Ria tapped the call button.
“Hey Kit.” Lockhart greeted her friend, one Kitsune from SHOOT Project. “How are you doing?… Oh yeah? And how is she?… Well, RAIKO’s gonna RAIKO. There’s always gonna be some level of grump to her… That’s actually what I’m calling you about. I wanted to see if you had a certain person’s number…
Ria laid on a chaise longue in a therapist’s office. The office was lavishly decorated; nice carpet, a few bookshelves packed with literature, a sizable mahogany desk near a corner, a lot of work and money had been put into making the space look extravagant. Sitting in a plush lounge chair, wearing a crisp dress shirt, pressed slacks and loafers is one Dr. Ned Reform. His right leg is folded, the ankle resting on his left knee. A legal pad is in his left hand, the right hand gripping a pen. Ned’s visual focus is on the pad. He loudly clears his throat before speaking.
“Now Ms. Lockhart,” Reform began haughtily. “You may not be aware, but I initially had little interest in taking your requested appointment. However, your willingness to pay double my usual rate shows uncharacteristically good judgment on your part, and thus you’ve piqued my interest. I’m eager to analyze how your flawed mind works.”
This would usually warrant some kind of response from Ria; snark, anger, constructive analysis that lead nowhere. She wasn’t in the right mental space to spar verbally. Perhaps… Ned even had a point.
“What exactly is the oh so troubling dilemma that has caused you to seek my expertise?” The Good Doctor questioned, his voice dripping with insincerity. Again, no witty comeback from Lockhart. She stared up at the ceiling, hands folded on her stomach.
“I… I love wrestling.” Ria began. “But I don’t know that wrestling loves me. It seems like no matter what happens, no matter where I go, no matter what I do… Things just don’t work out. I’m starting to think I’m just not good enough.”
Dr. Reform clicked his tongue and shook his head.
“Well. It’s important to begin the healing with a firm foot in reality, yes? We must consider the idea that perhaps you aren’t enough. Insecurities surely stem from somewhere,” answered Reform. An uncomfortable silence hung in the air. However, it turned out the Good Doctor had more to say. “Now that this fact has been established, what do you plan to do about it?”
Ria’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise and her eyes dart over in Ned’s direction.
“What?…” Ria inquired, more than a bit of astoundment in her voice. In the past, when Reform would say such things, that was the end of the discussion. There wasn’t typically a follow up. Maybe it was due to him being in his element. It might have been that Ria’s downtrodden attitude unlocked a different side of the therapist. Whatever the reason, Lockhart wasn’t prepared.
“Your path forward,” Reform said, annoyed that the obvious wasn’t picked up upon. “You have a problem. Ergo, you need a solution. Whining and bellyaching does not apply, my sweet child. You’ve been trying that for years, and where has it gotten you? So I ask again: what do you plan to do about it?”
Lockhart stayed silent. Though such a thing was plain as day, she had always focused on the question and not the answer. There was no plan most of the time. It was either a generic thought like ‘do better’ or some cornucopia of vague goals. Ria had never actually taken the time to form some concrete course of action.
“I’m going to give you a basic exercise to do at home.” Dr. Ned’s voice pushed the silence away. “It’s done wonders for some. In your case? Well, my hopes aren’t exactly high, but even an impaired rodent can gather sustenance from time to time.”
Dr. Reform moved his leg and sat forward in his chair, pad in his lap, elbows on his knees. His chin rested on his hands, which were balled up next to one another. All except his index fingers, which were bent over top one another at the second knuckle, positioned just under his bottom lip.
“I want you to look into a mirror in your home. Stare deeply into it. Repeat the phrase ‘I’m not good enough’ three times. Take a moment, then repeat the phrase ‘I am good enough’ three times as well. Do this once a day.” The Good Doctor instructed. “It will feel uncomfortable. It feels counter intuitive. But immersing yourself in this sad reality is more than most of the downtrodden and delusional do. If you are able to maintain this habit, you’ll likely eventually see a marked improvement in how you carry yourself.”
Ria’s eyes narrowed at the last spoken sentence.
“What exactly do you mean by ‘the way’ I carry myself?” Ria asked, finally showing a minor amount of the bite she was capable of. Ned sighed. Did everything need to be explained?
“Please, I beg of you: try to be introspective for at least a moment,” The doctor answered in exasperation. “Everything you do is for other people. You desperately want your ‘friends’ to like you, you want the ‘fans’ to like you. Perhaps a metaphor: validation is like a drug to you, yes? An addiction that has served you poorly. And it’s so incredibly transparent by the way you walk, the way you talk, your actions… transparent, perhaps, to everyone but you. This is the first truth you must confront.”
Lockhart sits up in the furniture. Clearly, something said has ruffled her feathers to at least a minor degree.
“Look,” Ria’s tone was one of mild displeasure. “My friends love me. The fans care about me. Maybe if you-“
“This isn’t about me,” Reform quickly cut Ria off. “What exactly have your ‘friends’ done for you? How much have these ‘fans’ helped you succeed? What tangible benefits have you actually seen, other than giving you enough of a temporary ego boost to carry on with your sad life for a few days until you crave another ‘hit’ of validation? Hmmmm?”
Another lull. This one is more brief than the others, as Ria piped up.
“You don’t get it.” Lockhart stated. “Okay, yes, I can’t say the fans have had any noticeable effect on my record. And sure, I’m still a little hurt that nobody visited me in the hospital when I was injured by Sage Pontiff. Yeah, I’d like it if I wasn’t treated like a little sister. I’d like to be taken more seriously. I’ve been wrestling for over a decade. I’m getting a little sick of people acting like I’m two years out of wrestling school!”
As Ria’s voice started to rise in intensity, Ned raised an eyebrow.
“I’ve worked my ass off to get this far!” She continued. “Do people REALLY think I’m happy working indy shows in pissant towns for shitty payoffs?! I don’t see my friends clamoring for me to jump back in PRIME! The fans aren’t buying my merch! Does anybody actually give a shit about me?! I don’t need empty fucking words, I need action!”
Dr. Ned leaned back in his chair, arms still folded as they were previously. A subtle smirk had found its way onto his lips.
“It’s really quite simple, Ms. Lockhart,” The Good Doctor postulated. “There is only one person you can truly rely on, one person who will truly care. It’s not friends. It’s not co-workers. And believe me: it is not the perpetually unsatisfied antisocial horde that is professional wrestling fandom. It. Is. Yourself.”
As Ria did her best to let her outburst dissipate, she allowed Ned’s words to seep into her head. He scribbled down on the legal pad, subtly nodding as he did. He put it down and suddenly clapped his hands loudly.
“Well! I believe there was progress made here today, much to my surprise. Thank goodness for small miracles, yes?” Reform said dryly. “Do the exercise I laid out for you and for heaven’s sake, woman, start putting yourself first before you waste more of your career than you already have! Now… you may go.”
Ria stood in front of the mirror of her bathroom the next day. She gazed forward, studying her reflection for what felt like minutes, but was only about 30 seconds. Inhale, exhale. What good would this exercise really do? She hadn’t ever taken Dr. Reform seriously in the past. Lockhart shook her head. She was doing it again, letting doubt get in her way. Just do the stupid exercise.
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m not good enough.”
Less easy. She felt her vocal cords tighten a bit, her voice wavered slightly. Her cheeks warmed.
“I’m not… good… enough…”
There it was. The tears welled up and began to flow in short order. She was ashamed, disgusted looking at her reflection. She had said the words before, she had these thoughts before. Staring into a mirror and confronting herself? She sounded like a loser, like a coward. It hurt. Her failures hurt, her indignity over the truth hurt… Her tears were her pain, free flowing as if the dam had burst. She couldn’t keep looking. She bent over, burying her face in her forearms. She sobbed for minutes on end, no shyness about releasing her anguish.
It took some time, but Ria eventually got her emotions back in check. Her focus locked back onto the mirror. A piece of her wanted to just walk away. She could lay down and take a nap, maybe call a friend to talk about her problems. She pushed those thoughts out of her head. No more half measures. No backing out.
“I am good enough.”
Not exactly believable. Maybe she should’ve waited a bit longer? Was not taking a break a mistake?
“I am good enough.”
There was a bit more bass in her voice this time, a bit more conviction. She couldn’t just say the words. Lockhart had to do her best to believe them.
“I am fucking good enough!!!”
Roared like a queen. For as low as she had been moments ago, Ria felt a high she hadn’t felt in a long time. It was an exhilaration unlike any she’d felt in recent memory. It was like winning a hard fought battle. The difference was that her opponent was herself. This war had been going on for most of her life. Usually, the best she had managed was a stalemate. But this? This felt like a breakthrough, like her side had made some significant military advancement of some sort. She didn’t want to lose this. That meant one thing… It was time to put herself first, starting now.
Dr. Ned Reform stared down at his watch-adorned left wrist while sitting in his lounge chair, irritated. At the end of the last session, he had instructed Ria Lockhart to meet him at his office on this day at 1:30 PM. It was now 1:45. Despite the generous pay, this was unacceptable, boorish even! He reached into the chest pocket of his dress shirt, producing his phone. No contact from Lockhart. He had other things to do. Before Ned could stew any further, the door to his office swung open.
“Well it’s about time!” Reform snarled. “Do you understand that I’m a… a…”
The doctor’s words trailed off as he saw her. A curve hugging spaghetti strap dress, black in color, forming an inverted V between her thighs. The outside hem stopped just above mid-thigh. Six inch Jimmy Choo stiletto heels connected to straps that crossed from her feet and up her ankles. Hair extensions that would be hard to spot if you had never seen the woman, causing a cascade of waves halfway down her back. Her mane also had streaks of golden blonde throughout. Her lips were painted in a pale pink, looking plump and lush. Large Louis Vuitton sunglasses obscured her eyes. A Chanel purse dangled off her left arm while her right hand held a Starbucks cup. She was the very definition of a sexpot. This was Ria Lockhart.
“Oh hey doc.” Ria nonchalantly said, her tone bordering on uppity. “Yeah, sorry I’m late. I was on my way here and got hit with a craving for an iced chocolate from Starbucks. Those incompetent idiots had to make it THREE times! Like, seriously?! How hard is it to make a whole milk, caramel drizzle up and down, white chocolate mocha sauce, caramel syrup, no whipped cream, 2 brown sugar sachets iced chocolate?!”
Reform rolled his eyes and cleared his throat, his disgruntlement apparent.
“Ms. Lockhart, I believe I made it clear last time that these visits are a privilege,” Ned sternly reminded Ria. “I certainly have more pressing matters to-“
Ria stomps over so she’s only a few feet in front of the Good Doctor, cutting off his train of thought. She bent forward, lifting her glasses so she could lock eyes with Ned. These were not the eyes of the compassionate, caring woman from even a month earlier. Ria’s blue-gray eyes were cold, hard, vacant. The intensity with which she glared at the therapist was palpable.
“Let me explain something to you, Dr. Reform…” Ria growled, the volume of her voice low but the tone harsher than a Buffalo winter. Ned’s eyebrows raised up in surprise. “I don’t care about your time. My time is what matters here! I am what matters here! Appreciate that you helped me see that, but you are lucky to be graced with my presence!”
Ria stood up straight, a flick of her finger dropping the glasses back in place. After an uncomfortable pause, an annoyed sigh came from Reform.
“Well then…” He began. “I think it best that we make this our last session. I’m not sure there’s much more help I can offer you.”
“Uh huh.” Ria dismissively said, more focused on her phone than anything Dr. Reform was saying. He gestured a hand towards the door.
“Leave,” Ned cooly said. “Go get into a flying car with John Travolta or some such. I have no need for your vapid nonsense distracting me from other work that could be done.”
Ria dropped her phone into her purse before her stone cold gaze settled on him once more. Even with the glasses in place, her contempt weighed heavy on the air.
“Keep talking to me that way and I’ll pierce your ears with my heels.” Ria snarled. A split second later, her composure returned. “Besides, your office sucks anyway. There’s no champagne here.”
With that, Ria sashayed her way towards the door. Dr. Ned’s sight lingered on her assets until she walked out. Snapping back to reality, Reform looked upward towards the ceiling.
“I’ve created a monster. Is there anyway that this could come back to my detriment?”
A beat. He shrugs.
Ned pulled out the legal pad situated next to him and began to write.
A special thank you to Joe, who allowed the use of Dr. Ned Reform and also punched up his dialog. ❤️