Friday – Chicagoland Speedway
Dale sits there, listening intently as Chase detailed everything.
He was proud of the pair for breaking down what happened and sharing their feelings with each other. He was shocked to see how much the simple image had affected Chase, but understood where he was coming from with that. He felt himself twirl with emotions, from good to bad, as he just sat there listening.
He was surprised when Chase recounted the tale about the shower. He was in shock over the trail of events – how could that just happen without memory? He was glad the pair had connected, but also understood the continued concern from Alyssa right now. In truth, he was as equally concerned about Chase himself, too.
“Certainly, this is something that I should’ve addressed before we flew out here to Chicago – I know that now,” Chase continues. “From advice from Jeff to seeing the way it’s affecting Alyssa, I should’ve said or done something. But I just couldn’t bring myself to speak about it. I also apologize for causing the rif-”
“You don’t need to apologize,” Dale cuts him off as he glances up, finally. “I only went off on you because of how much I worry about my little girl. I know better than to do that because you always are looking out for her. It just came out of anger, okay? And while I understand your concern for my well-being in not wanting to bring up certain subjects to me, don’t ever think that. I can handle anything if it makes you both feel better. I’ve been there, remember?” It also didn’t hurt that no matter what, Dale always had a tinge of blame on him for what happened to Chase no matter what was said.
“I get it. I just felt bad about opening old wou-”
“Don’t ever!” Chase simply freezes, nodding his head in acceptance. There was no way around it. “Now, obviously I can get why you were off your game since you were worried about him, from emotions to a re-occurrence, no matter what he told you. In exchange, he was trying to give you leeway to focus solely on your game while handling things his typical way – which he is slowly realizing, like always, is a complete failure.” The couple couldn’t argue with Dale, simply nodding their heads in acceptance.
“Like I told Alyssa, she doesn’t need to worr-”
“I can’t help it, Chase! I love you – damn it, and I’m sorry but that comes with love. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to have to handle it.” Dale glances over at Chase, intrigued to see his reaction to Alyssa’s words.
“I understand; it’s the same way that I keep worrying about you, too. But, really, I’m being honest here. There’s a reason why we put in certain precautions about where I go and who is around me – like always making sure someone I can really trust is there, because we know this is possible.” He then glances into her blue eyes. “I have everything under control here, and to be honest – being at the track, cheering for you is when I feel my best without a worry. It allows me to forget everything for a couple days. If you can keep telling yourself that, and understand that I am going to handle this in which way I need to, then I ask it gives you some comfort. I don’t want you to throw away this year because of me.” Alyssa nods her head, accepting.
“I can try, okay?” She questions and he nods his head, accepting. “And Dad, can I ask that both you and Kevin cut some slack to me and Chase? Obviously you get it now having heard everything…” Dale nods his head, knowing that a talk was probably in order with Kevin. He would understand anyway, having been there when the photos were dropped off.
“As long as you give Kevin and the focus they deserve, I can request that for you,” Dale offers and Alyssa nods her head, accepting. Some compromise was better than none. “And Chase, I know it’s hard and difficult. But you have to know that you’ll work it out, okay?” Chase nods his head.
“Well, I’m going to go check on that back-up car. Thank you for understanding…” Dale and Chase both give her a quick hug before she leaves. Chase then glances back at Dale, knowing there was more to be said.
“Go on…” Chase instructs as Dale lets out a sigh, leaning back against the wall.
“Please tell me that you haven’t thought of running from this….” Dale pleads as Chase looks down immediately. “Damn it, Chase!”
“But I haven’t, right? Isn’t that the key?” Dale watches him closely as Chase looks back up at him. “I thought about it that morning. I’ve thought it about it a couple times since. But I could never, ever do that. We’ve talked about that. There’s no way I could just leave her.” Dale nods his head, remembering the discussion.
“I just don’t want a repeat of what happ-”
“That’s not going to hap-”
“It’d be 10 times worse because you’d break her heart into piec-”
“I promise you – that’s not happening!” Dale simply accepts the words from Chase, trusting the young man before him as always. It gave his heart some comfort in trying to work out the pieces moving forward. “Is that all?”
“Are you trying to avoid discussing this, like always?” Chase sighs, and shakes his head no. He knew he couldn’t do that…..
“I just didn’t know whether you were done or not.” Dale crosses his arms, having a couple other thoughts on the mind. He couldn’t erase his own discussion with Regan and Tony now.
“What about just giving up? Is that become a thought?” Chase was surprised by the question, but understood the reasoning. Dale had heard the previous rant and knew where the mind could go at times like these from experience.
“Once or twice….” Dale shakes his head as he could hear the warnings from Tony on repeat.
“You can’t be doing that, because it just takes that one thought for the rug to be dropped out from underneath you. In no way whatsoever, you can’t ever give up.” Chase knew that, remembering the couple of times he had spoken to Tony. It was all about baby steps.
“Those thoughts don’t last for long – and to be honest, I have a safe word to go with that. If I feel that down to the point of almost hitting rock bottom, Regan and I agreed that all I have to text him is “bubbalicious” and he’ll be right there to have my back, and figure it out.” Dale couldn’t help but smile. It was no wonder why Regan was confident in Chase’s future based on steps being taken he hadn’t seen himself.
“Well, if you can’t get a hold of Regan, please, text me.” Chase nods his head, accepting. It was why he had texted Dale that morning at the house. “And I meant what I said. You’re going to figure this out…”
“So how do I train my mind to just forget that image and stop having those thoughts?” Dale remembered the image clearly himself, as he takes a deep breath.
“Every time it begins to pop in your head, repeat what actually happened. Repeat that she was just laying there, tied down, restricted from doing anything, not tormented in anyway. You just have to keep reminding yourself till it’s stuck in your mind. It’s like they told you and Alyssa for nightmare and retraining yourselves; give that nightmare another story attached to it.” Chase nods his head, accepting.
“I’ll give it a try….” Dale then pulls him into a hug.
“I meant what I said – every word.” Chase nods his head. “I got to go take care of business, but you know where to find me.” Chase nods his head once again as Dale heads out on his way.
Chase sat back on the couch, letting everything soak in as he tried to process the advice while focusing on the future ahead. He knew he could do this – he had done it before. He just needed to keep taking it one step at a time. This conversation was a step in that direction. He just needed to get through the weekend smoothly, followed by the meeting with Eric this week – that’d be another couple steps. Then focus on the rest of the things going on around him, and maybe he would figure it out over time.
Maybe he’d get back in a racecar before the year was done yet after all.
Regan worked his way through the garage area, having finished his work with MRN Radio for the day as he double checked his text messages. He smiled as he had found the meeting spot, seeing Dale leaning against one of the JR Motorsports trailers.
Dale gives Regan a finger nod to follow, and the pair immediately head inside with the door slipped closed behind them. Dale didn’t need Chase knowing that he had gone to seek out Regan after the conversation.
“You said this was important?” Regan questions and Dale nods his head.
“When did you and Chase come up with bubbalicious?” Dale questions as Regan looks on surprised.
“Is everything oka-”
“You don’t need to worry – too much. I mean, he’s fine and she’s fine, but there are some concerns. Just please answer…” Regan takes a deep breath, thinking back.
“It was probably the second time that we talked about things in how it could be tough at times and he was still battling with these emotions and brain tricks they were causing. It was probably a couple days after I met up with you and Tony. Like I said then, I knew he could get a hold of somebody if it came right down to it and start doing the right thing.” Dale nods his head, remembering. It was a little therapy in knowing Chase had actually followed those details.
“I just gave him the same offer, too, in case you’re busy. Let’s just say that you may be getting it sooner than later…” Regan then looks on concerned.
“I asked if everything was okay, Dale…” Dale takes a deep breath, knowing there was no other way to explain this than to break down all the details of what had happened since Wednesday. “Oh my….”
“Yeah…” Regan leans back against the counter, trying to figure out something to say.
“But he said that he’s going to take the right steps, correct?” Dale nods his head, remembering Chase’s words.
“He has an appointment scheduled with Eric on Monday I believe, and he asked me for advice on what to do about that photo thought.” Regan could respect that as at least there was the right steps being taken.
“But you still called me….” Dale crosses his arms, glancing outside as he watched Chase and Alyssa walk by together.
“Let’s just say that I don’t fully believe he has the grip on it that he wants us to believe. There’s more than just that image, and you know that yourself. Besides, he’s thought about running again and the thought of giving up…” Regan wanted to curse out loud immediately, but knew that wouldn’t help the situation. He needed to give reassurance to a rough situation.
“While none of that is good, let’s take a couple steps of faith here. He at least spoke to you about it and broke down what happened – even if it took some interesting circumstances. He also admitted both of those facts to you, while stating strategies to be taken. The first step is admitting you have a problem – he’s done that. Therefore, I don’t know if I’m as panicked as you are.” Dale wondered if maybe he was worrying more than he should – which was nothing new. He was glad that Regan was always understanding about that, though, and willing to explain things.
“But you’ll be on alert for something in case?” Regan nods his head.
“You don’t have to ever question that, Dale. I’d do anything for him….”