I had a consult with a dissociation specialist, a PhD, someone I reached out to last Friday. Monkey’s begun calling her Dr. PhD.
I gave her a summary of what has been happening in my therapy to date. She listened intently and said I’d been through quite a bit.
I asked her what to do: stay or leave.
She avoids answering the question and instead says that in order to do the work you need two things: You need a relationship with a therapist. And you need to feel safe.
She pauses for what feels like a long time. And looks me in the eye. And says that familiar can often times feel safe when it’s not.
This, she tells me, is where things can get very tricky.
I sent E a message saying that I had an appointment with Dr. PhD and that I learned some important things.
I do not hear back.
I see these days the only thing consistent with E is her inconsistency. She’s either really responsive and warm in email, or she is silent. Last week it turns out she wasn’t being silent or angry — her email was not working — but I was so spiked and sensitized and paranoid I’d done something wrong that I thought she was ignoring me.
I think about my appointment with Dr. PhD and note that a discussion around my safety in therapy might not be a bad topic.
Yesterday I never heard back from Eileen about Dr. PhD. I waited until noon and then called and left a message.
She called back and said, yes, she got the email. And she was not sure what to say.
So she said nothing.
I can’t tell if she’s angry with me for seeing someone else, if she is sick, if she is distracted, if she doesn’t really care. I feel lost. Like I’ll never see her cards, that she always has the option for secrecy cloaked behind some therapeutic justification.
I wake this morning with such distinct storming inside the past few hours lying in bed I could not sleep. As it rained inside my mind this morning, I kept being haunted by Eileen’s demand in February for me to tell her how much I was going to pay her for the next three weeks — the three weeks preceding my going to Spain.
She demands, nearly yells at me — just tell me what I’m getting for the next three weeks.
And it becomes clear now that the therapy is hijacked by her: E’s payments. E’s needs. E’s anger at me for trying to leave.
As I lay in bed this morning, I just allowed the rain inside to pelt at my windows — at the windows of this ramshackle house at the end of the road. But there was no E there with me. And I thought to myself that I always said that my relationship with E was loud — productive but loud — that we were the couple that fights and fucks a lot.
But curled up in this storm, alone, hearing the raindrops splashing onto the roof, I felt that there was no fucking going on … that it was only fighting. And that perhaps it has only ever been fighting. And pain. Pain I’ve turned into productivity because, well, that’s something I’m very good at doing.
The Sandbox: a thirty-eight-hundred-page example of the lemonade we make from all the lemons we have to contend with. In life. And in my therapy that is supposed to help me but becomes no longer about me.
Still, I cannot help needing and wanting her. So I write, wanting nothing more than to hear back.
And I hear back … nothing.
I then ask myself, alone in this storm:
Do you feel safe?
Before therapy yesterday morning, I called Eileen and left a message. I wanted to see if she’d been getting my emails and, if so, why she was not responding. And I wanted to talk to her to prevent our session from going off the rails.
She called back, and when I asked about getting my emails, at first she says no … then yes.
I say that I am confused about things, about email, about what is going on, and she begins to yell at me. She asks if this is an emergency. I say no. She then says she’ll see me at six, and when I try and speak, she hangs up on me.
I realize as the rest of the day plays out that things are destined to not go well, that Eileen will try and ignore hanging up on me just like she’s ignored or walked away from all of her assaults in the past.
And true to form, when I arrive, Eileen pretends as if hanging up on me never happened. But I disallow this. I tell her that it is unprofessional and cruel to hang up on a client — in any setting.
I add that if she thinks I have lousy boundaries for emailing and calling that she is the one to blame — that it is she who has created this monster.
She asks then if I am quitting. And I respond by asking who exactly benefits from this question: her or me. I pose that perhaps she could try something new, that maybe, in her wildest imagination, she could ask a question that might benefit … me.
She asks me to tell her what I’ve learned about boundaries.
“You mean your shitty, inconsistent, shaming, painful boundaries?” I ask.
I tell her that her lousy boundaries, when I was on the good side of them long ago, were delicious — everything I ever wanted. But since the Flood I have done nothing but suffer — deeply, endlessly, chaotically.
Walk a new path with me. I’m contained. And more knowledgeable.
Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry.
I am empathetic. Quiet. But empathetic.
Monkey loves ME. He made me my own special E-box.
I’ve published papers on trauma and dissociation.
My red shoes make me look like an elf.
I’m in good health.
I bought Shard a box of crayons for Christmas.
I will make sure you’re safe.
Every July I paint my toenails blue before vacation.
I’ll sleep on this tonight.
Yes. Let’s jump into bed … upstairs … in our ramshackle house at the end of the road.