The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing




I dreamed last night that Eileen found her way into Teresa’s office. She was hissing at me, bringing things out of her files that were pure fiction. She played a song that I’d sung and recorded for her but I knew that this had never happened. But, here she was, presenting it as evidence. 

I knew, deep in my heart, that although she had “evidence” that it was not truth. 

I knew, deep down, that I was strong. And sane. 

And that she was neither. 

I woke up, feeling confident that this would be the week Eileen would be hearing from the Board. And to ignore that I have feelings about this would be wrong. 

I saw Teresa yesterday. And the appointment seemed to help sort things out—from a lot of perspectives. Of all the things that were swirling inside of me, and there were plenty, Teresa seemed to think, without invalidating any of those things, that the main driver of the pain was the trauma around leaving—the dissociation I did long ago and then the re-traumatization I experienced in the therapy. 

I think she’s right. 

She explained that this could be an opportunity for me to really come to a place of assessing and owning everything that I feel around this present experience of my therapy with her, including leaving it. 

As she spoke I could feel those fish flitting around me, ungraspable emotions. 

It felt very similar to how I felt long ago about my entire story. I remember laying in bed on Sunday afternoons, the months after leaving Eileen, trying to figure out what exactly had gone on. I would sort through hundreds of pages I’d written and never gone back to until then, feeling those fish swimming around but being unable to grasp them. 

With time, as I pulled what I thought were particularly relevant pieces from my narrative, as Teresa helped me to understand why they might be relevant, I began to piece things together. 

It was slow work, painstaking work, the proverbial needles in a haystack kind of work, but the work…worked. 

I found my narratives—about my deep past and about the therapeutic trauma. Or I mostly did. And I’ve been able to mostly hold a lot inside of me. 

But perhaps I’ve hit a part of my narrative that’s not yet healed. And that’s the leaving that I was forced to do, the holding my breath, the jumping out of the burning building—the building that wasn’t just a building—it was my home. 

To eject yourself out of your own home is traumatic. And as a young child I did so with consciousness emotionally to survive. 

As a child, around eight years old, I knew I could no longer spend any more time in my parents’ bed because of what had happened to me there with my father. 

I knew too that at some point my brother Bob would leave for college. I knew some day my one protector in life would be leaving. 

I assessed the landscape and could see things I knew I could not survive. 

So I chose to freeze myself. I became Shard. Which was an act that worked until it didn’t anymore. Until I began to change physically and I began to feel trapped in a body I hated.  My wings were flapping wildly to get up and away from my own self but I was unable.

The rest seems to be a story of managing. 

Of forgetting. 

Of blindly and desperately chasing my independence. 

Of blindly and desperately chasing unconscious needs. 

Lots of blank spaces in this life of mine, oceans it feels like of unconsciousness. 

Until perhaps few years ago…when I began to wake up. 

When I slowly opened my eyes and my heart, when words began to come to me in torrents, when parts of self began to find me in those words, forcing me to let them free. 

It was the leaving I did but perhaps as I sit this morning with I think maybe, more importantly, it was the leaving that was done to me that preceded this separation of me from me. The leaving my mother did. The leaving my brother Bob did. The leaving I felt from my father who, in those moments, changed for me from my father to something…other. 

This leaving fish…it’s a hard one to grasp at all let alone sit with. It may not be one fish either, it could be thousands, a school of schools. 

Which makes me wonder if I’ll ever capture any of this let alone heal it. 


We can only find answers by asking questions. 


Asking questions is the beginning of answering them. 


Another thing. 




When I got home from the appointment with Teresa I could feel a shift. I could feel the transference that always seems to settle in without any choice or consciousness. Having been helped to understand the intensity and reason for my emotions the past several days I was able to see that Teresa was a trained professional—nothing more or less. Which is what I need. But I was able to see all of these hugely inflated emotions around leaving her—the mini-couch, etc. and I could see perhaps what she is seeing, could step outside of me for a minute and see that I was replaying some very intense stuff that had little to do with the truth of the relationship with her. 

Relative to Eileen, I’ve not felt enormous amounts of transference with Teresa. But yesterday made me think that it’s been there. The dosage has been much weaker and the dynamic much more controlled and steered in such a way to strictly benefit me. But I could see that it was there. And I could see why edging in any way towards the topic of leaving, given the transference, could easily set off a tsunami of feelings for me. 

As the session was ending Teresa asked if I wanted to meet again on Thursday since we already met this week. 

And when I woke this morning I was composing an email to her, stating that I was good, that our conversation seemed to really calm things down for me. And that we could skip Thursday and just meet the following week. 

But as I lay in bed composing this email in my mind I began to compose a completely different one. 

This new email said that perhaps EMDR might help me understand this leaving piece better. That perhaps it would help me gain some insight that would help me heal. 

I remember the one session I did and how it benefited me. 

It was a little under a year ago. 

The focus was Eileen’s notice. 

It was about the pain of that—her abrupt, with no reason, leaving of our little world together. 

The EMDR served to inform me in two ways. First, Blanket appeared to me. And it struck me that I knew him from long ago. I realized that Blanket had a lot of my father in him, an insight that I’d never been conscious of before. Also, though it was not immediate, the EMDR seemed to be telling me that the therapy with Teresa moving forward really needed to be taking into account the pain of the psychotherapy with Eileen—versus continuously diving below it for deeper past dynamics. It was a message from my brain and heart that the infection that needed to be addressed moving forward was the previous therapy. 

Which, as it turned out, looking back, I think was correct. It was a broad navigational correction that would not, I believe, have occurred to me otherwise. 

So I wonder if an EMDR session might help in these moments. If there might be some insights to be gained around the leaving piece—-with an openness to anything coming up. 

I’ll run it by Teresa. Perhaps use Thursday’s session this way. Or not. I am open and trust her judgement.