The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing





I went into therapy thinking I’d do EMDR but as Teresa began to ask questions about the transcripts I’d sent the past few days it turned into something else. 


And that was?


Just a session. But not just a session. 




It was about home, about my leaving it, about how sad it makes me to this day. It was about loss. Teresa walked me through some things, including thought about how much I loved my parents’ bed because I would cuddle with my mom in it and watch TV with her. About how I likely kicked myself out because of what happened with my father. 

The sequence of events around that period of time are fuzzy but I think in general that this is right. 

I remember walking out of the bedroom after that scene with my father. 

I remember thinking to myself that this kind of thing should really hurt but that it didn’t and I registered that I registered nothing. 

Perhaps this is where I got the broader idea to feel nothing?

I think I remember thinking that this feeling nothing made me feel tough. 

Teresa was curious to know more about that afternoon, when I took that deep living room breath and stopped being me, essentially. 

I think it came after that incident. I’m nearly positive it did. 

I do not think I could take in what happened with my father. I remember feeling guilty for it feeling kind of good. I think I registered it was disloyal to do to my mother but I’m not sure. 

It was the living room though for sure where I took that deep breath. I was clear that I needed to stop going into the bed. I needed to kick myself out and stop being such a baby. 

Maybe it was my oldest brother who called me a baby. Or who did so in my mind because he was so mean. 

I needed to grow up some day so I chose that one. 

If you love something with all your heart that you know will end, you need to end it sooner rather than later. 

This applied to my life back then—and now too with things like therapy. 

It is how I feel about home—about being unable to truly and officially land in one spot together with Pete. Once you have this home you need to declare that someday you will be leaving it. 

If you stay uncommitted there’s nothing looming in the background whispering that it will all end. 

Except, in truth, there is. 

But still, this is a game I must be playing with myself. 


Be grateful that you were able to go very deep with Teresa, to shed tears about how much, how desperately you loved and love home, and how much sadness you have to this day in losing your home. 


I wrote in the book: You’ve lost your mom to the hairbrush, your dad to the spoon. Your brother is trying to suffocate you. You are young, blind, asleep to what is going on.

I re-think this and wonder if I lost my mom in those moments of it was after what happened to me in that bed. Or if I’d been losing her in bits and pieces all along, and the part I loved most, snuggling with her in bed, was cut off after what happened. 

It registers as painful. 

There is a before and after in my mind. I think of the memories, the summers, the winters, that frozen basketball net dangling in a winter storm, the beautiful reflective icicles that seemed to grow and form everywhere, how, despite my problem, the abuse, my mother’s leaving, that these memories, these little disconnected fish and images that flit in and out of my consciousness are deeply meaningful to me. 

They could be my before memories. Before I turned to ice. 

I don’t know. 

After just feels so dead to me, like a stagnant hot summer’s day where you can never find a breeze or comfortable spot inside or outside. This is how it felt inside to be me, to never find any place that felt peaceful. 

I suppose before, despite it all, I found peace in the before section of my heart. 

In that bed, I think. In those evenings where I could snuggle and watch TV with my mom. Those nights were few and far between and they were only nights as she was gone to me otherwise. 

I lost that snuggling, that safety, the thing I loved most in the entire world. 

It was all I had left really and it was gone.


This time with her was precious like a gem for it was rare. 


Yes. And, A, I was old enough and I do remember walking away from that bed that afternoon with my father knowing that this is what fucks up people’s lives but that I could handle it, that I was somehow untouchable because I discovered that feel-nothing drug--the dissociation. 


We realize today that perhaps this great blow and the numbness we felt afterwards gave us what we needed, a big hint that dissociation worked and worked wonders. It allowed us to be strong and cold and to feel no pain. 


I think so, A. I felt tough. 


It is okay to go over this, to cry, to untangle, to understand for, S, there is nothing more important in one’s life than to know one’s own self and story. 


Last night I had a hard time getting to sleep. I felt those fish flitting around, but also I felt just really really sad to contrast the sharper memories I have now of my parents’ bedroom to what I saw last month, to being there to inventory all my father’s medications. 

In my mind, the basketball hoop frozen in the backyard now contrasted with that same backyard I saw last month that my father, due to his mobility issues, could not even walk around in. 

My heart seemed to open up wide after I’d filed that complaint, finally some room to feel me and my family. And it ached incessantly for my father. How I loved my father, missed him, felt sudden and enormous compassion. 

I could feel my love for him…and the loss of him long ago and this impending loss loss too. And when I arrived home from that trip I cried for days. 

Loss is surrounding me, A, like a snowstorm. 

But I love snowstorms so this metaphor is wrong.


Allow, allow, allow. We go deep in our mornings. Not every minute of our day will be like this.