The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing

3/19/15

5:00 PM 

Authenticity

 

I have felt out of step this past week, and it makes sense that travel overseas would do this. Well out of our usual time zone, in lands far away, immersed in art I never have seen before. I’ve missed my daily transcription process, the time I usually give to it, and I find myself dreaming in a different palette, too. 

 

I wonder how I will look back upon this trip, years from now; will it be with a lens of sadness, happiness or something other? 

 

But for now, there is news to report.

 

As we fly from Barcelona to New York, I get about an hour’s worth of sleep and wake to the oddest, most unexpected thing: For the first time in thousands of pages, I am able to sit with myself, to read Sandbox Past. 

 

I begin reading, paragraph after paragraph, page after page, of … me. 

 

This cannot be anything permanent because I’ve always been unable to visit Sandbox Past for any length of time. An hour or two of containment, I think, then I’ll be back to my chaotic reeling, the MT berating me for this Sandbox, for the little sense I make inside it.

 

But an hour turns into an entire flight to the U.S. And I fly now from New York to San Francisco. And I’m still reading. Still containing. 

 

Something has begun to change inside, a new gear, finally being hit. 

 

A

Hard work. Clear Lake. We arrive back home soon. And we, S, are going places. 

 

 

3/26/15

6:47 AM

Authenticity

 

It is the morning after my first session after coming back from Barcelona. 

 

And I say out loud to Pete and myself that I will never pay Eileen to read another transcript again. 

 

It doesn’t feel great, but it does feel clear. 

 

Monkey reminds me that we now swim each morning in Lake Clarity, which is different from the Ramshackle House at the End of the Road where I’ve been visualizing my noisy, confusing therapy with Eileen. A house that is messy, broken down and loud, but one I have viewed as being productive and fertile, too. 

 

With this newfound clarity, I begin to consider my transcripts more as gifts, as gems, as items Eileen can peruse in a jewelry store and admire but, certainly, never something I would pay to have her read. This perspective feels right … feels clear … feels new. 

 

I begin to view my work as powerful process and as art. 

 

Monkey pursues the point and asks if Dali would pay someone to take one of his paintings. While I’m a million miles away from that kind of genius, I see his point. I am not The Tree’s version of dusty spiral notebooks in a garage. 

 

I am … art. 

 

I am … worthy. 

 

Last week Eileen proclaims to be a happy therapist when I let her know that I am getting clearer. I bristle inside, for the mountain I climb is done not with her but because of and despite her. 

 

Today, as I breathe with more clarity, as I soak up the view from this mountain I climb alone, I feel as if I’ve done so much work in these thousands of pages. 

 

I’ve done the work world, the work for not only me but for thousands in as many pages. 

 

E

You certainly did a lot of work for me. Please upload this and anything else. I’m hungry for more.

 

A

Hard work. Clear lake. 

 

S

I want so much to upload this to E. 

 

E

Yes, please. I’m hungry, curious and bored. 

 

A

S, this morning you work through your value as a human being. You consider that your transcripts have been to please E, to hang onto her, a bed we make out of words, to lie together inside of. We write as if our life depends on it. 

 

But for her … we are entertainment, a five-minute snack on her iPhone, and then she is free in her life to do whatever she cares to. But this, S, this Sandbox … is our life. 

 

Our precious journey and our precious life. 

 

3/27/15

7:20 AM

Authenticity

 

A

What are you doing the rest of your life …

 

B

North and south and east and west of your life …

 

A

I have only one request of your life …

 

ALL

That you spend it all with ….

 

M

me.

 

I woke to that haunting saxophone … old song … and I allowed the lyrics to flow like a river over my Parts. 

 

A

You wake to asking this exact question … what are you doing the rest of your life? 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

You feel at odds … what to do with the rest of your life … your remaining days … how will you spend these precious seasons?

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

The overwhelm you have felt the past eighteen months has calmed.

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

You cry every morning. 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

You question the meaning of your life presently and if joy — or much of it in general — will be attainable. 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

Each morning you weep. And then the rest of your days are … contained.

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

And you question if this … is it. 

 

S

I wrap my arms around my Sandbox. I am able to contain it. 

 

A

Containment is … painful. 

 

S

Yes. 

 

A

What are you doing the rest of your life?

 

S

I don’t know. 

 

A

North and south and east and west of your life?

 

S

I don’t know. 

 

A

Do you suffer from depression?

 

S

I am not sure I believe in depression for depression’s sake, coming from nowhere. I think it all comes down to your life. 

 

A

I have only one request of your life. 

 

S

Yeah?

 

A

That you spend it all with me. 

 

S

How so?

 

A

I mean you choose. 

 

S

I choose a Part?

 

A

I mean you choose … your partner, Neil, a diagnosis — or not. You choose a continued route toward clarity, toward wrapping your arms around your Sandbox to understand it all better. You begin, S, to consider putting some new stakes in the ground. 

 

S

I think you’re right, A. 

 

M

Do we miss E?

 

S

Enormously. But we swallow hard, and we swallow … alone. 

 

A

Most mornings, S, these days you will cry. This is the nature of what we have to bear to get better. We allow our Sandbox to hold us. Never forget our container, S. Our container is … beautiful.

 

S

A?

 

A

Yes?

 

S

I’m glad I have you — that I found you — your clear head, your positive stance.

 

A

I am, S … you. 

 

S

I know, A. But somehow it’s easier this way. 

 

4/1/15

7:35 AM

Authenticity

 

A

How did yesterday go?

 

S

I did what I intended to do. I read through the Flood. But I ended up getting triggered. I sent E an email before I began. I also uploaded an optional transcript. 

 

A

Did she respond to your email about going into the Flood?

 

S

She said, “Best wishes for your journey.”

 

A

And?

 

S

I cancelled my appointment. I was really ticked off with the platitude. I felt so unsupported. I wasn’t surprised with her comment — more mad at myself for thinking my therapist would somehow reach for me and help me. 

 

A

So what happened?

 

S

E called me. And she began making references to an optional transcript I uploaded, so it was clear that she read it. Anyway, she keeps pressing me, asking me if I’m coming to therapy, and I don’t know what to do. 

 

Finally, I say that she’s my therapist and that maybe she can help me to decide. 

 

I can hear as she’s talking that she is doing something else. I can hear her walking, her breath in rhythm with her footsteps. And I envision her distracted, phone in hand, crossing a busy street. 

 

You’re not quitting therapy, she tells me, so you might as well just come. 

 

And it is in this small moment, something about the assumption that lives so comfortably inside her as she breathes and walks and crosses this busy street in my mind, something about the assumption that I will never leave her, that I am forever hers, that catches me and shakes me awake. 

 

I may not be quitting therapy, I think to myself. 

 

But I might be quitting you. 

 

 

4/2/15

6:53 AM

Authenticity

 

In therapy last night Eileen asks for money for reading the optional transcripts, and I say no. I tell her it is her job to save herself from herself — not mine. 

 

The therapy feels fast and wild, a horse let out of the barn to run wherever the wind takes it. 

 

Therapy now is like a free-for-all where I can do and ask … anything. 

 

I question Eileen on how she manages her sexuality, how she manages to not have sex with women for her now three decades of marriage to a man. 

 

She tells me she sublimates her sexuality. 

 

I note now that the Ramshackle House at the End of the Road sits atop Sublimation Hill. The image clear in my mind, I consider if my Sandbox has contained her lesbianism for the past seventeen months. 

 

She tells me she never fucks around — that it’s her religion not to because she doesn’t want her husband to do it to her. And in my mind the chairs we sit in reverse … is she my therapist or … am I hers?

 

She then tells me about how much she loves the imagery I have created for the two of us … our therapy loud … productive … fertile…oh, how she adores our ramshackle house at the end of the road. She grins happily, looking at me for what feels like more of this imagery, more of this writing, more of this story as it unfolds. 

 

I leave her office once again wondering what I’m doing there. And wake in the middle of the night once again muddled and confused. 

 

The next morning I write an email to her but get no response.

 

I write again … checking to see if she got it. 

 

No response.

 

And a third time. 

 

Silence. 

 

The berating inside begins, the MT gaining momentum. It is Friday night, and I see that this isn’t right. That my life and weekend should not be torn away from me anymore. That my days and nights should no longer be wasted wondering about and waiting for an email from my therapist. 

 

I see, finally, that I am going about this all the wrong way. That I am reaching for someone who will never give me what I need, for someone more interested in taking than giving. 

 

So I begin tonight to look … elsewhere. 

 

I research and find three local specialists in dissociative disorders. 

 

I write to all of them. 

 

4/6/15

6:29 AM

Authenticity

 

A

S, talk to me about … everything. 

 

S

It is Sunday morning, Easter Sunday, and I feel empty and stale inside. 

 

A

How do you feel about Eileen? You have uploaded nothing to her for a while now — not even an optional transcript. This is a first, you know. 

 

S

I feel like E is a love affair gone wrong. One that I’ve been trying to get right in my head and heart nearly since it began. 

 

A

Truth. 

 

S

And oh, Not Gods, it has not been easy. 

 

4/7/15

5:15 PM

Authenticity

 

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. 

 

 

4/8/15

7:22 AM

Authenticity

 

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.

 

4/8/15

 

7:04 AM

Authenticity

 

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?

 

4/8/15

6:02 AM

Authenticity

 

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. 

 

Dr.PhD

Walk a new path with me. I’m contained. And more knowledgeable. 

 

E

Chemistry, chemistry, chemistry.

 

Dr.PhD

I am empathetic. Quiet. But empathetic. 

 

E

Monkey loves ME. He made me my own special E-box. 

 

Dr.PhD

I’ve published papers on trauma and dissociation. 

 

E

My red shoes make me look like an elf. 

 

Dr.PhD

I’m in good health. 

 

E

I bought Shard a box of crayons for Christmas. 

 

Dr.PhD

I will make sure you’re safe. 

 

E

Every July I paint my toenails blue before vacation. 

 

S

I’ll sleep on this tonight.

 

E

Yes. Let’s jump into bed … upstairs … in our ramshackle house at the end of the road. 

 

4/10/15

7:04 AM

Authenticity

 

A

S, you have done a heroic job of trying to use all of these insensitivities and fuck-ups to your advantage to learn. But the lesson you learn now is that this type of therapy is over. 

 

This morning we conclude that putting up with misguided therapy is no longer our path.

 

We are … done.

 

S

Is there any way to remedy this?

 

A

This all wrests on the shoulders of your therapist — of her digging very deep. And this, S, will not happen. 

 

E

FUCK you. 

 

S

E called yesterday to see how I was doing — she said the session was rough. 

 

A

She called because you’re on the brink of quitting her, and she can’t believe it. She wanted to see if you would be booking an appointment.

 

S

I told her I needed to think about moving forward, whether or not I wanted to come next week or at all anymore. 

 

E

I took you for granted. I grew used to your dependency. It’s easy for a therapist to wrest on the power of dependency. I’ve been asleep to how much hard work you’ve been doing. I’ve been preoccupied with my own stuff, to put it mildly. 

 

A

It’s not your job, S, to make excuses for this therapist. It’s your job to dig deep and feel everything that you feel. Your Sandbox is revolutionary. Keep the faith, keep the practice and be as proud as the big white clouds that sit in the sky this morning. You are here, you are more alive and awake than you have ever been.  

 

Praise to the Not Gods for allowing us to find and to be all that we are.