The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing

 

 

6/18/15

7:24AM

Authenticity

 

A

S, how may I help you? How may I serve?

 

S

Hey, A. I am not sure but I think I got kind of triggered last night. I saw a photo of Eileen online. 

 

A

How did it make you feel? What did it bring up for you?

 

S

I think mostly that she gets to move on. And I’m left…to wonder. 

 

A

How do you know she moved on? How do you know she’s not left also to wonder?

 

S

Because, A, I was the patient. 

 

ALL

Kinda. 

 

S

Yesterday, and I’m ashamed to admit it, I began writing to E—

 

MLG

Correction: I began writing to E.

 

S

Monkey began writing to E. It was a sarcastic slam against T and I was referring to my therapy as Camp Prison. I began to look over my past entries and I wanted to send her the one on diagnosis. I wanted to show her that we’ve stumped Teresa, that we are not really falling into any type of diagnosis and that I’ve been released from the twice weekly protocol if I’d like. It was kind of a slam against therapy and therapists I think. 

 

A

Do you miss Eileen?

 

S

I don’t know, A. Missing implies that there is resolution in the finding or getting back. I think the pill I am trying to swallow, the one I swallowed enough to leave, is that there is no resolution to be had. That the resolution if there is one lays inside of me. But my Not Gods it feels so lonely. 

And I feel, also, without family somehow. That it’s all such an incredible farce. I see the denial in my family with every breath I take. And I see my Sandbox as weapon, my sword that finally—maybe—begins to slice through that denial for me. 

 

A

S, denial does not melt or fade away quickly, gracefully or completely. And the acceptance of what I just said around denial takes a good deal of time.

A

How are you feeling about your edit?

S

Okay—maybe better than Monday. I did a formal, or what looks like a formal, table of contents. It felt pretty good. I felt like it was one step closer to becoming a reality. 

 

MLG

We have written a book. We are here, we are here, we are here. 

 

S

Yeah. 

 

MLG

We’ve written one book, two books, three books, four. Wait a minute and we’ll have written more. From our introduction: 

 

The Sandbox, in its eleventh volume and now over four thousand pages long, is still in use today. I have come to learn that the process of recovery is one of recovering, lengthy and ongoing. 

 

A

You want your Sandbox to be read. You want your story to be told. You want to end the denial that has painted every wall of every room that has divided yourself from your self. 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

The denial, S, is killing you. 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

The denial around your deep past. The denial around your therapy. 

 

S

In my Not Letter to E last night I told her about the E-doll’s only remaining or nearly only remaining line “I think I’m a pretty good therapist.” I wanted to slam her. I knew though that despite me hauling out a new message in email that I’d never seriously send a thing to her. I’ve gained a great deal more control these past few months. 

 

A

How are you feeling about T?

 

S

I suppose it takes time. Eileen knew me for years. There was chemistry. T is a whole other deal. One that I feel is perhaps just what I need. 

 

T

I will not play games with you. Never. 

 

S

I know. 

 

T

I will not be unclear, not lead you on. I will not over promise but, if you’ve not yet noticed, I am much more positive and constructive than your previous therapist. 

 

S

Yeah. 

 

MLG

What passage would we like to read today in therapy?

 

S

Dunno.

 

MLG

Maybe our 6/9/15 entry. Or maybe we can not read something very E-relevant. Like that wrenching letter we sent to her before we left where we tell her how much she means to us. 

 

S

Way to make me cry, Monkey. 

 

MLG

If we don’t re-cry over E we won’t be able to move on just like she’s moved on—a thousand and one million miles away from us. On the last night we see her she says she will never, ever, ever forget us. 

 

S

Thanks, Monkey. 

 

MLG

E loves us big. She tried so hard and failed so miserably. Her payment for her effort? We slam her but good in the exit door. Fuck you, we say to E. We are leaving you and not telling you about our consults until we are nearly gone.

 

E

Thank you, Monkey. 

 

S

I left because the therapy was hugely unproductive and painful. Eileen grew mean, her memory lapses terrible. She lashed out at me. I couldn’t take it anymore. 

 

A

S, it is very very hard but you are feeling big feelings inside—conflicting feelings—again. And it’s okay. Resolution was not built in a day—if ever. 

 

S

She gets to move on. Everyone moves on. 

 

A

Indeed. You left Eileen but it is you, S, that feels abandoned. 

 

S

I left because I could not get what I needed. Because I was being abused by the therapy. 

 

A

Every alley way in your mind, every passage, every trail, every main drag and side street, every single one took you to a place of knowing that there would never be resolution with Eileen. 

 

4/21/15…

 

Hi E,

 

I feel clear about what I want. It all sounds so simple but it has been a long and winding road for me to get here. I want two things: open door, open heart. 

 

We are unique, amazing, complicated. And oh...aren't we a pear. 

 

I must go and untangle our knots--my knots--elsewhere--but deep down...I want...you...there...open door, open heart. Always. 

 

Let's talk more tomorrow?

 

Sue

 

A

And then, S, the next night you pack your bag and ninety minutes later…you are gone. 

 

S

Yes.

 

T

The resolution you seek must be found inside your own self. It is only when this happens that you can potentially ever seek external resolution. 

 

MLG

How do you resolve something with another person by yourself?

 

S

I think it’s called coming to terms, Monkey. 

 

MLG

Coming to terms sucks. 

 

S

Truth. 

 

MLG
Do you believe our words from SBV1 about terms now?

 

How can I go back to that garage and tell that nine-year-old what would become of her? How do I let her know that although it wasn't her fault, she will pay a price? Authenticity tells me I can't find words. That the page should remain blank to represent the pain, the emptiness, the terms that I will NOT come to. There are no terms. This Sandbox has none.

 

But I think again, remove myself from the voices of absolutes, and reconsider. Let the negotiations begin, I say.

 

The terms, I declare, include the rest of my life, as long as that is, but it's mine. I get to shape my own hourglass, control the flow a little bit more, less free fall. The terms also include a heart the size of not one but two moons because it has been expanded with so much pain, a heart that will be unable to not hear or see someone else's pain because its ears and eyes have grown so large.

 

S

The words still hold true. I think if I can get through this it will mean to me that my heart will be easily able to take in someone else’s, someone who has been hurt very badly. 

 

MLG

Can we even peak at our letter to Eileen? The one where we tell her how much she means to us during the final week?

 

S

It’s so sad, Monkey. It makes me cry big time. 

 

B

Up, up, up, S? Onto my park bench?

 

S

Hey, B. 

 

B

I have big soft hands and a heart that’s even bigger and softer than my hands.

 

S

How are you?

 

B

I am happy and at peace. 

 

S

Yeah?

 

B

Your tears mean we are healing. 

 

S

I’m so sad, B. So incredibly sad. 

 

B

I am here. I am here. I am here. 

 

MLG

Arms around S. Everyone, up, up, up. Together. 

 

B

S, you’ve spent a few months bracing against some deep sorrow so that you could move to a safer place. Now that you are safe, please, let it rain. 

 

S

Okay. 

 

B

I am here, calm, enjoying the rain. Deep down our love for Eileen is there and her love back is there too. 

 

S

You, B? The one who stands—and sits—for never forgetting?

 

B

I do not forget the love, when love is something we need to be reminded of. 

 

S

I so want to reach out to E. 

 

B

Breathe and draft an email and see how it feels. This is your life, our life, to live, to lead, to shape. 

 

S

Love you guys—all of you. 

 

ALL

And S, we love you. We are here. We are here. We are here. 

 

 

***

 

 

A letter written that I will likely never send. 

 

A

Consider reading this letter to T. 

 

Hi E, 

 

I am not sure if you will be happy, angry, sad, shocked to see my name appear in your inbox. Let's hope that whatever it is, that it's a good feeling. 

 

I am a few months into the new deal here and I find myself wanting to reach out and say hello. Things are quieter which is what I've needed. I have been swimming many laps in Lake Clarity and this morning found myself pondering resolution--if it's possible to happen between two people if they never speak again. Can resolution be found inside one's own self? Is that the only true way? Or is that more like "coming to terms" which feels kinda like the ugly step-child to resolution. 

 

I do not, at this point, know. 

 

I made a set of buttons and attached you will find Leon modeling the one I think I'll choose for today; Park Bench Park. While I'm quite sad at times, Blanket feels at peace in Park Bench Park. And he is quite okay with my sadness. 

 

My therapy is going alright--like I said--it's just calmer. The New Person realized fairy quickly that my Sandbox process is gold. So there is a very big embrace of it. Points to her for that. Monkey likes to say that she has a heart shaped like a tool box and while I tend to agree, the therapist is not completely thrilled with that characterization. 

 

She, like you, doesn't really care about diagnosis and is more focused on goals to achieve. I do believe I have some new fangled hybrid I call "dissociative disorder meets writer."

 

I wrote about this in an entry I call Found in the Finding (attached.) It's not a new concept but one I am beginning to cozy up to---that finding self for me is finding my words but in the process of doing so I find myself too a writer. Perhaps this is something you knew all along. But it never occurred in force to me until the volcano began to erupt.  

 

I have finally completed what I feel to be a very solid edit of the first two volumes of the Sandbox which I feel are...foundational. It required about ten weeks--mostly Sunday afternoons. For about five hours after a long run, I would lay in bed and really just allow whatever needed to happen inside happen so I could sort through whatever section I was working on. I opted for not chapters but section titles...each one a reminder to me to never forget what the time meant—the essence of what I was going through. It is a fabulous way to integrate one's self—to keep going back to your own table of contents. It too is attached. 

 

In this moment I consider you my kind of former therapist but when I look back I see the relationship, again in this moment, for good or for bad, as something beyond that scope--other-worldly. Like we'd never have lunch but might go bowling. Or not. Or find each other in our dreams  or in another lifetime or maybe we'd run into one another at a cafe on one of Jupiter's moons. 

 

I see that I continue without you but I see too that deep inside I would like to continue with you but with a heart that feels better, clearer, more...resolved if that's even ever possible. 

 

I hate platitudes and salutations as you may remember (most hated are Best of Luck and Take Care) so with that I will leave you with what feels authentic which is to say that I have a great many feelings in my container about you and about us. 

 

S

 

6/19/15

7:06AM

Authenticity

 

I never send the letter. But I read it to Teresa along with all of yesterday’s transcript. And I cried most or a lot of the session. After ceramics when I got into my car I cried. People in and out of the class, months go by and me…there…with my feet…stuck.

 

I cried while driving home and when I arrived, I sat in the car in front of the house and cried. Finally I went inside. And cried there too. 

 

Not sure why. Maybe it is a lack of diagnosis, a lack of knowing what is going on with me—why I’m crying. A touch of missing Eileen but deep down…no. Getting her back means nothing for I never had her to begin with. There is no getting back. Whatever I am missing…is not her. 

 

I cried, I think, for the struggle. How I make feet, and go to ceramics class and join another studio for more time with the clay. How I go to therapy twice a week and how I have a Sandbox now 4332 pages long. 

 

I cried for the trying, the endless, endless trying to be…productive. To make the most of whatever it is in front of me. 

 

I cried for the life that frankly, I have no idea what to do with. Is my future about this Sandbox? Or about getting out of it? 

 

What is the goal? 

 

If I’ve found myself in the finding and find myself a writer is this all I have to write about? A mostly blacked out past that becomes maybe a half a percent more illuminated after four thousand pages and and many thousands of dollars worth of therapy?

 

My life with Pete…is. It will be. I am no longer questioning if he’s the one or rather, if a “he” could be the one.

 

I feel…committed. 

 

A

Hard work. Clear lake.

 

S

Yeah.

 

A

S, sometimes when we take a time out from our life which is what you have been doing the time-out becomes a time-for-change. You are shifting. The only way to shift authentically at this point in your life has been to, for lack of a better word, come to terms or at least to face more who you are, truly and deeply inside. Your world opens up to you, painfully but more fully and as it does there is a profound loneliness for this world is mostly unshared. As you begin to move forward in bringing your internal world to the outside, to the sunshine, your table of contents now in a format that speaks to a presentation that could be viewed by a world outside of the very, very small one you live in now, you become scared, overwhelmed, sad. The denial you have lived in, for fifty years, S, is beginning, ever so slightly——to come to an end. 

 

S

Is this why I cried so much yesterday?

 

A

Indeed. And for the struggle, for the view of your own self, page after page, day after day after month after now going on a few years, a Sandbox with so much fluidity moving forward each day that you conclude yesterday that your edit will never catch up to you nor, S, do I honestly think you want to. 

 

MLG
We like being ahead of ourselves. It gives us something to do, things to catch up on. 

 

S

I was not happy with Teresa yesterday. I let her know that her simplistic observations after my reading were not helpful. 

 

T

I heard you. 

 

S

She said something like it must be hard to let go of the first person you told your truth to (meaning Eileen.) And I think the truth is that I spent a very long time letting Eileen go—the whole relationship or most of it was about this loss of someone I never had. And Eileen is not the first person I spoke my truth to or if I did it was long, long ago. I think what the truth is, is that Eileen was the first person to either recognize or hit upon that I seem to find myself best in words—that words are key to me, the writing. 

 

A

You then read T the passage about finding the kid in the garage with her blank sheets of paper. How now you write on those sheets for her. 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

A very difficult dot was connected here. It is truth—that you now write for that child who could not have ever grasped what to say—who was never even very conscious. It is very, very profound. Teresa is not good at expressing or mirroring how profound, how painfully and accurately you have rendered this experience. 

 

S

Yeah. And A, this worries me a bit. I do not mean to be mean but when Monkey says her voice is like a stop sign it means that it fails to be infused with much in the way of depth or tone. I’m not sure. It is truly like someone has taken the wind out of her sails. She feels depleted to me. 

 

A

You would prefer someone to somehow feel and validate what is happening. 

 

S

I think so. She tries too hard to wrap up, simplify, punctuate, foreclose. She’s more project manager than therapist. Honestly, A, I’m not sure she’s the right fit for me. I am not deeply dependent upon her, not really all that attached and now is truly a decent time, a fork in the road where I think I honestly need to think if I want to continue. 

 

A

Is it one bad session perhaps and we are generalizing too much?

 

S

Maybe. 

 

A

What would have been a better response?

 

S

Well, I want to say that while I’m all for telling people what I need, I’m done helping a therapist hone their practice by spoon feeding them instructions.

 

T

There will be significant repair work to be done. You don’t like me much right now. 

 

S

I don’t. I don’t feel connection. I want to count up the number of good insights you’ve given me and divide by the payments made and determine the cost per insight. 

 

T

You are angry with me. 

 

A

S, your Sandbox packs a punch and you took a few swings at Teresa in yesterday’s reading. She struggles with what to say—how to find the right nugget to comment on in the right way. She is trying hard. She sees she’s not, presently, succeeding. 

 

S

I told her I didn’t like all her rules and regulations and how she straight-arms against Eileen and how it felt to me like she had this “come to me when you’ve gotten all that therapist stuff straightened out” attitude. She argued that she was the first to say that there was significant repair work to be done and she’s right. But I get this vibe about her—like she does not know how to properly play this game around Eileen. I told her I sense that she lacks experience in this realm. 

 

T

That’s true. Your situation is unique—from a variety of perspectives. 

 

S

Why the hesitation to take me? What did you need three days to think about? If I would be easy enough—a good deal for the money? 

 

T

You are beginning to feel more deeply the pain that your relationship with Eileen caused you. You cannot trust much moving forward for you have been harmed. You begin to get a glimpse of how much harm was done in your relationship with her as you begin to assess how you feel about me. You are not capable of falling in love or rather getting close to or dependent upon another professional. I said that there would be significant repair work to be done and I meant it. I did not and I do not get into details as I do not want to borrow trouble or trigger you. But if you want to know how I really feel, personally, if it were me, it would have crossed my mind to sue her. She should not be practicing, at a minimum. She harmed you, S. And, as you see yesterday or feel or observe, she gets to walk away from the car crash. And you, S, you do not. You are in a hospital, now, recovering from the damage which is, in my assessment, significant. I will do you no harm. Please allow me a couple more months where while you may be unable to connect deeply with me you, at a minimum, will be able to rest quietly and without anyone spiking you. I will give you a place to read from your Sandbox if you would like—and I will try better to understand what it is you are saying and feeling and what your needs deeply and truly are. You are not easy, not uncomplicated. You work extremely hard and your work is unusual and artful. You are a lot to take in, a mystery I want to not solve but want to help you solve. You have been harmed, S, in your therapy. It all may have been well meaning and even good when it began but it evolved into ugliness, so extreme that eventually you had to do the last thing on earth you ever wanted to. And that was to leave this person. It took enormous courage and more pain than you are willing to even consider reviewing at this point. But you left because you had to save yourself. 

 

And you’re with me now. Maybe for not long or maybe a good long time. We don’t know. But I will not harm you. 

 

S

Okay. 

 

T

You are hard working and so, so hurt. You are not abnormal. Everything you feel and express, S, is normal and healthy. You should cry every morning for a long, long time. A lot has happened in your therapy and in a past that knock, knock, knocks at your door. And you answer as your heart returns to the scene of the crime. Sometimes it’s just the rattling of the wind through the leaves in a tree marks a return. Or the way the flowers around the Lake smell when you run. Or the sound of one particular particular splash of the water as a body propels its way forward in the pool. 

 

Every day you come back, S, to who you were…who you are. 

 

A

And then we return. We turn our weary neck back…

 

MLG

And we see. 

 

S

Oh we do. 

 

MLG

And we feel. 

 

S

And we remember. 

 

B

We remember.

 

S

But oh Not Gods, I wonder…who…who do I write to and what for? What, oh what, Not Gods, do I do now?

 

(From the finale of the Sandbox, First Draft.)

 

 

6/20/15

5:29AM

Authenticity

 

I have done a ten week training cycle but miscalculated the day of my race. It is tomorrow, not today. So I will miss it as I’m heading to Vegas this afternoon. Instead, I will do a race—with myself—a time trial. A race of one. I have found a long country road for I want this to be a road race. 

 

I dreamed last night that we were at a Thanksgiving gathering, the whole family. It was quiet—no one really speaking. There were small groups of people, gathered at different long tables. I was with my mother and brother Bob; my mother made a comment that it would be interesting to hear what growing up was like for me. My brother Bob just looked and raised his eyebrows.  

 

I said nothing. 

 

While making coffee this morning the scene with Z that I took out in my edit, where we are in L.A. for Debbie’s wedding, at that tiny gym, where he says goodbye and I never get off the treadmill, comes to me; I wonder if it should be added back in. 

 

I decide to leave it out and if needed I will put it back in. I believe I called that section removed something like, In L.A., In His Shoes

 

It was about what it must be like for the abuser to be able to move on with his life without consequence. And how, I imagine anyway, I believe I would be unable to move on without somehow working and working hard on forgiveness, how one apology one night years ago in Vegas would not do the trick. 

 

But because the victim, me, has no visible signs of harm—I’m not dead, not crazy, not outwardly suffering, there is nothing to really be remorseful about. My brain has taken care of business, done its job, sequestered myself from myself to remain safe. 

 

Until now. Until this Sandbox. Until I begin to wake up. 

 

I printed out my current Table of Contents and gave a copy to Barb. It was so much work to wake up to everything that TOC represents, so much work too to sort through everything with an open heart and mind, so much work to gain enough clarity to do so. And so, so much work and pain to pull myself out of the enormous regression and dependency Eileen sparked to be able to get clear enough. I feel incredible pride in this TOC and also, the more I sit with it, the more I look and peruse and remember, the more I play with this spine that is me in words, the more together, the more whole I feel and become. 

 

I am here. I am here. I am here. 

 

I survived, I see. I have survived enough to tell my story. In my own way, in my own time. 

 

I have found the person who loves me deeply and well, through thick and through thin, who respects me and who sees me, my power, all that I can be, who recognizes and finds giddily that, turns out, I am more than I could have ever imagined. 

 

This person who finds me and loves me is…me. And right by my side as I discover my self, there is…Pete. 

 

I reflect back to my spine in words, my TOC, and I recall the first entry where I struggle to talk with him—how stilted and and turned off and far, far away I am. I see, with my edit, how I make sure to keep an eye on the progression with Pete. 

 

Today we are stronger than ever. 

 

I work. My Sandbox works. To hell with therapy and therapists and their guidance or lack thereof. To hell with how they try to steer a ship so large they best just step aside and admire the size, the grace, the steady flow of its direction towards health.

 

I say this not out of some egotistical lack of appreciation for the help of others; I say this as a way to step out of the mode I’ve been in for so long, looking for answers somehow or guidance or the right therapist to do the trick. When all along I’ve created this enormous, original process that, come hell or high water, just works. 

 

Enough of somehow expecting something from Eileen or Teresa or whomever when, all along, it’s me who has the goods. Me. 

 

This is said and felt not out of anger. But out of pride, out of product produced, out of results achieved…for the most part…on my own. 

 

It takes a village but the village it has taken is not one really built by some therapeutic relationship; it is one I have built, painfully and slowly in words, in sections, in volumes, in waking up, in friendships along the way. It is a village where Pete and I live together in the center. 

 

I wake this morning with this clarity inside that shrinks the importance of therapy and therapists. It does not eliminate therapy but puts therapy in its place with its proper perspective. And by doing so, it puts me, my Sandbox, my process, my talent, my life, my Table of Contents—my life’s spine—center stage. 

 

I am here. I tell myself. I am here. I am here. I am here. 

 

I have survived and found my own way, in my own time with my own team. 

 

I am here, I tell myself. 

 

Not Gods, I am here. I am here. I am here. 

 

***

 

This completes Sandbox Volume Eleven.

 

Dedicated to my beloved Pete.

Then, Now and Forever.

 

 

~ ~ ~

 

The Way You Look Tonight

 

Someday when I’m awfully low

When the world is cold

I will feel the glow 

Just thinking of you

And the way you look tonight.

 

Oh but you’re lovely 

With your smile so warm

And your cheeks so soft

There is nothing for me

But to love you

Just the way you look 

Tonight

 

With each word

Your tenderness grows

Tearing my fears apart

And that laugh

That wrinkles your nose

Touches my foolish heart

 

You’re so lovely

Never ever change

Keep that breathless charm

Won’t you please arrange it

‘Cause I love you

Just the way you look tonight.

 

***

 

MLG

SQUEAK!!!!