The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing

 

2/12/15

6:32AM

Authenticity

A

S, good morning. Let’s talk? How are you?

S

I was awake for about an hour in the middle of the night. I was wondering how this moment would go, facing this transcript after what has transpired. 

A

Arms around you, around everyone. Let us do what we do every day. And listen to the tick tick tick. 

S

E called me yesterday morning. She said she too did not want to fight. We discussed the email exchange some. 

A

How did it go?

S

I can’t remember except that she said something painful to me—that she needed to maintain her self-respect in the context of me. It, again, made me feel like a monster—a bully. It was a version of this: I think it is really important for you to be able to express your anger.  And I think that we also have to talk about my limits around that. Everything now, in the light of the February 12, 2015 day, makes more sense though, A, as you know. 

E

Last night when we finally met we talked again about the email exchange. You pointed out that the only thing that got noticed in the snip you sent was not Anomaly’s appearance and her relaxed attitude around men but rather my reaction to how the E-doll was treated. It is true; I asked if you were being hostile based upon how the E-doll was portrayed. And it became, really, a dialogue about me—my boundaries and limitations around your anger. I also state that it was hard not getting transcripts and you showed me the eighty pages you printed and said—

S

—this, this is the hard work. Do you have any idea how painful this is? Transference does not burn off in an instant. 

E

Right. 

S

I explained last night how hard I work to scrape and crawl and get some air and health—that the therapy has been so endlessly painful that I must, must, must change but that the change is so wrenching. Last night before I left for therapy I printed all that I’d transcribed and not sent to E and then read it all in one sitting before going to therapy. The impression I got was of someone in an enormous amount of pain trying with all their might to make the most of it and to make their way through. I felt awful for the person writing this and then realized with sadness that this person is me—trapped—trapped in some very painful perplexing dynamic and trying to get out. I bring my thick packet of pages into therapy. 

E

I asked you if you thought that perhaps the E-doll was becoming, and I hesitated for emphasis…a victim?

S

And it occurred to me that yesterday I said that I do not want to become strong by pummeling E. And I read some more things too from yesterday’s transcript to E. I read about how upsetting this email exchange with E was and also how I have been haunted by what E said to me long ago after the Flood—about being very fucked up. I also said that I thought the nugget for me around my anger in therapy was never truly being heard and felt and joined—if no one empathizes in an authentic way the pain of what occurred and the anger too just does not dissipate. In fact, the pain and anger both just get worse. I say how hard I have worked to call everything Sandbox Past, to leave anger at the door, to declare transference over on January 6th. But I realized yesterday afternoon after E’s call that healing and resolution can only really be achieved through being heard. 

A

Empathy. 

E

I then tell you that you are essentially asking me to empathize with a degrading bully—not those words exactly but I essentially call you abusive and degrading—not all the time—but I say that you are asking me to empathize and hold you and, S, I say I cannot. I cannot be there for you this way. The air in the room has turned me into a victim and you into an abuser. 

S

And in this moment I feel an odd calm come over me; it is like my limbic system shuts down to allow for the clearest mind, a cloudless blue sky a top a golden field, crisp, sunny, and I say this is one heavy load here…to be putting me in a place of calling me an abuser—a degrading abuser—heavy, heavy stuff she is laying on me. It is such an accusation and one so foreign and mostly off to me that I sit and shake my head and twirl the heaviness of it all in my mind. 

E

I say not all the time. It’s how the E-doll is portrayed. Sometimes. I ask if you, S, can empathize with a bully and you tell me yes, that you understand that your brother could not help it and that he was as helpless a child as you were and that you do not blame him. 

S

We discuss anger in the session and E’s theory is that I have good feelings for her and then anger takes over as a mechanism to prevent the dependency that I fear—dependency on someone who has hurt me very badly. And I agree. 

E

I bring this up before and after I have told you that I cannot and will not be there for you as a degrading bully. 

S

And while the theory on anger and dependency is likely correct what is more important to me in my blue sky, golden field, cloudless day of a mind in this moment is the trap that I am placed in; for me to heal my anger and pain around therapy and deeper pain too, I need for my pain and anger to be heard, to be felt. I say this and I mention the example of the Flood—that I’m left without ever being reached for, joined. I am left without clear explanation, left without being healed around it. 

E

I tell you that the Flood was horribly scary for me. I admit this. And that your reaction that evening when you came in after the Flood—anger—that I simply listened quietly. I assert that I was not Dead Therapist—your perception—that I was simply listening. 

S

And the dots quietly, in somber fashion, begin to connect for me; E can’t help me with my pain and anger around the Flood because she can’t be there for me in my anger and pain. She cannot be there for me as she perceives me—at least in this excruciating moment—as a bully and so she detaches leaving me even more alone and sad and angry. I am left to conclude with my blue sky mind, that I am the victim twice on this one—the victim of a therapist who uploads her notes about me accidentally and also of a therapist who cannot be with me in the anger. She spikes my anger and then when it occurs, I become something unmanageable, a bully.

E

I’m not always scared of you. And I do not always perceive you as angry and a bully and berating. 

S

I’m sure that’s true E—but do you have any idea what you’re saying? Again, I return to what feels like my mantra of this day, that I cannot ever process the enormous pain of what has happened to me in my therapy—and it’s legitimate—because my therapist cannot show up for me in a way that validates and eases it off. She cannot contain me and suddenly that idea of containment makes complete emotional sense—the lacking of it sits clearly in my gut. 

A

This is correct, S. In fact, things inside get worse for you—you reel and my Not Gods you try on your own to process it. Thousands of pages you process. But S, you cannot do it—you keep coming up empty or rather filled—filled with anger and pain. And you do not realize why you keep failing over and over and over again. You scrape and crawl in an attempt to free yourself of this horrific therapeutic pain and as you do, you are able suspend uploading for an entire week. This suspension is indeed wrenching but you make it through. And towards the end, you send E one tiny snippet—one page in eighty. And in this snip she detects the E-doll not being treated well and it takes over everything. Eileen accuses you of being hostile and the conversation bends and swerves but mostly what is zeroed in on and the topic that is covered is that you are bullying the E-doll and by extension, bullying and berating your therapist. 

S

Yes. Breathing. 

E

And then, and S you will never know if this was planned or unplanned, I tell you that…

S

Yes?

E

I tell you that I was abused. 

S

The words feel casually slipped into the conversation, a cat jumping, light-footed, up into my lap as if these words had been spoken a thousand times before. And I sit there, with this cat in my lap; I pet this creature for it seems to know me from long ago. 

E

It is me. The real me. I finally come clean. And it all gets clearer to you now. 

S

Eileen cannot help me with my anger and pain around her actions in therapy because she was abused and reacts to my anger at her as if I am her abuser. It is a heavy, heavy, heavy role for me to play and I allow this role E has given to me along with this kitten on my lap; with my blue sky and golden field and sunny day that has taken over my mind, I let all these things sit inside and outside of me. 

A

E cannot contain your anger and as such, S, it never gets dissipated and healed. 

S

I say this and E agrees. 

E

I tell you that I’ve been in therapy for four decades—and still am—and that I’ve not healed, nor do I expect to at this point.

S

And I begin to realize that this is why that one night E says to me that knowing more about my abuse won’t heal me or make me feel any better—she cannot and will not promise me this. Last night I see a portrait in plain sight of therapy never healing the therapist, a doctor handing out medicine that never works for them. I see living proof of this in front of me and also in my lap, this kitten now that wants stroking. I see someone who sits for forty years in therapy…still unhealed. 

E

I had come to tell you last night that I could not and would not tolerate your berating me via the E-doll in your transcripts but our conversation made me realize that this is doing a disservice to you. You will not heal this way. But since I never healed, I react to your anger towards me as you abusive, degrading, bullying. And in doing so, your anger and pain do not get processed—in fact they get worse. 

MLG

E can’t contain us because her container has leaks and holes. 

S

I am incredulous that my therapist’s counter-transference finds me a bully through writing a caricature in my Sandbox but I appreciate the eventual candidness for it allows me to figure out what to do with more clarity. I’ve learned a lot over two years and two years is not forty. 

A

What else?

S

I asked E if she remembered her abuse. 

E

I say yes. 

 

MLG

Everything has changed. And nothing has changed. 

S

What do you mean, Monkey?

MLG

E as we know her has changed and everything we look back upon will have new light and filtering and it will make new sense. And nothing has changed; we are all still here, all still healing, all still tick tick ticking away. We move towards Towards with E or without E. No one can stop a heart on its way to healing. 

S

Thanks for that, Monkey. 

MLG

Sure. 

S

E, thank you for taking the risk and for letting me know your background and why it is not possible for you join me and to help heal me. I never once in my life have acted a bully, ever.  I have portrayed the E-doll and have said things about you too in my Sandbox that have been mean spirited and fueled with an unmanaged rage. This rage and anger are for me to sit with, another cat on my lap.  Your truths are new for me to digest as they also have jumped up, up, up. 

 

A

S, your therapist has triggered dark and fiery rage for things present and past. And she was not equipped to be there for you when this occurred. This has been a good portion of what you have been contending with inside for the past nine months. You’ve done a heroic job of trying to make this productive. But try and take some time to digest that you did not ask for this, that it’s not your fault and that anger for both what has happened to you in your therapy—and your life—is natural—and needed—to heal. You should not ever, ever take Eileen’s counter-transferential reaction to you—her accusation that you are a berating bully—and internalize it. 

S

I state that her accusation gives me absolutely nowhere to go. I am pinned and trapped by it. For if you can never be validated for the anger—in fact you are pushed away for it—you not only do not heal, you get worse. 

MLG

And because illness feels like punishment,

an enormous effort to be good

comes out of you--

like the good behavior of a child

 

desperate to appease

the invisible parents of this world,

And when that fails,

there is an orb of anger

 

rising like the sun above

(Tony Hoagland, Emmigration)

S

Right, Monkey. We try and try to be good—to stuff our anger—but yesterday pieces get put together in ways we never could have imagined. And there is, inside a deep feeling of quiet, of grief and also too, validation. Something has not been right with this therapy, with how I’ve been feeling. And now, now I have a pretty good understanding as to why. 

E

My disclosure may have been a parting gift for you, one that connects dots and sets your heart free of me.

S

My hope is that it is the beginning of something better and new—for you—for me. An ending and a beginning both at once. 

S

I see that I strive for happy endings but I see that this is likely, for me, the oxymoron of a lifetime. Important things generally do not end completely happily. Flesh is torn and fabric hangs from the fence as you jump and get caught. And sometimes, in your heart, what is too important simply does not end and you keep it close; it is a bird you would rather hold onto than set free. 

 

MLG

Releasing birds is overrated. Sometimes they like to just sit on your shoulder and outlive you.

 

***

 

Dedicated to hope and healing and authenticity between two human beings who begin to really level with one another on a quiet evening on February 12, 2015.

 

This concludes Sandbox Volume Nine.