This morning I made an edit which changed “My girlfriend thinks a psychiatrist cured [my nightmares], so I can’t reach out for comfort.” to “My girlfriend thinks the psychiatrist she recommended cured [my nightmares], so I can’t reach out for comfort.”
Both sentences involve the conflict of keeping secrets from a significant other, but the second sentence gives the girlfriend more weight. She’s been with the narrator long enough to notice a problem, recommend a psychiatrist, and see the treatments (she believes) work. I had been struggling to impart the seriousness of the relationship without resorting to a clunky “live-in girlfriend” or “long-time girlfriend.”
Point one: I knew Laura had recommended Tom’s psychiatrist, but it wasn’t on the page. I’ve got to be careful about re-reading things with fresh eyes. Or get back in a writing group.
Point two: I communicated the conflict and the seriousness of the relationship simply, in a way that’s invisible to the reader.
I may remain unpublished but I’m getting better at this shit.