First session last night after Eileen being gone for several weeks. While she was away, I asked for a status report when she came back. I wanted some sense of where this therapy is taking me, a paradigm, a construct, a road map.
After two thousand pages, I want to know that progress is being made.
When I bring it up, Eileen says she doesn’t have anything. Then adds that Dr. D told her that the road map does not exist, no real milestones to look for.
As if to get down to business, we discuss Zane, how the relationship between us was intimate. Whether sexual or not, Eileen ponders, could it not be considered … romantic?
But I’m too distracted by she and I, by our relationship, too disappointed that she came back empty handed to the session after all the work I do. And with her using her consultant as rationale or excuse or both, I cannot help but wonder who is administering this therapy, Eileen or Dr. D?
Eileen tells me in our session that she would like for Blanket to talk to her, to come up and off his park bench and say hello.
But I say … no.
Blanket remains on his bench in Park Bench Park.
He, Eileen, does not respect you.
I keep trying to go back to Sandbox Past, to sort things out, to investigate what happened two thousand pages ago. But without fail, I am triggered by all that has happened with Eileen; anger and confusion erupt without control.
Last weekend, Monkey wrote a nasty letter. He told Eileen that she runs hot and cold … loves us … then loves us not. He screamed about her heartless Notice and hanging up the phone on me.
He said that if it were not for transference, we would likely not choose her as a friend, in fact would probably want not a thing to do with her. Poisoned, he said, we are, by transference juice. He then posited that she must be lonely because who would want to be around someone who treats people the way that she does.
The letter is long, a machete in words sharpened and strong from all the pages written before it.
Without hesitation or thought … I upload.
An hour or two later I feel deep remorse. And panic, too. I send an apology to Eileen in email. Then another. And finally a third. It is Friday. Then Saturday. Then Saturday night. My entire weekend is steeped in worry.
I’ve gone too far. Said too much.
Eileen eventually replies late on Saturday night. She is curious but not angry.
Relief whooshes through me. And I feel that I’ve gotten away with murder, learned a lesson without losing her. With gratitude and relief I decide … enough.
I must, I conclude, leave Sandbox Past … in the past.
This week I bring to my session the pear I made last summer, the one Monkey mentioned in his letter to Eileen on her vacation. Glazed chartreuse and fired to perfection, it is pear and olive branch, too.
Eileen accepts and places it on the table beside her in her office.
And I decide that happier times must be coming soon. I bring up the idea of trying to figure out something to do, something symbolic we could do together, to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Sandbox next month.
Eileen says, yes, let’s think of something.
I received a note today from Eileen: How would you feel if I recorded a session for consulting purposes?
I begin to become suspicious that Eileen is looking to find hints of my Parts coming out when we meet.
She’s told me she thinks Monkey is in the room when I twirl my ankles. So I stay attuned to my body, how it moves, the tone of my voice.
She’s on a hunt, I believe, for my diagnosis.
And I cannot decide what, exactly, I want her to find.
I review the email exchanges I had with E, and we are so close for certain moments in time right before that Flood.
If only I could have that time back.
She tells you in emails that she wore glasses and was not a beauty growing up. She says she’s tied up in being smart but then admits that there are many smarter than she. She tells you she believes that you are very smart. Smart is important, we see, to E. We see mutuality and affection with her.
I remember Monkey writing such a sweet note to E from Jupiter and all is forgiven, but deep down inside the Flood has lowered the temperature of our relationship many painful degrees. And then about two months later —
And my Not Gods, that sure doesn’t help matters.
Most things we read say that we all need to have a really strong relationship with our therapist in order to heal. And we see this morning that the one-two punch of the Flood and then Notice move us away from each other to a large degree. We grow very wary of settling in with her again.
E remains, for which we are grateful.
No we aren’t. We are sad down to the tree roots and riverbed. She is silent in our transcripts we upload. For days and weeks and eons she writes us nothing. We go through so very much here transcribing our private masterpiece that no one will ever see but that we write anyway. We shed so many tears and make so many discoveries, but we feel so, so, so …
… so, so, so …
Aw, Monkey. And Shard. Up, up, up onto my park bench.
We go to bed last night after looking at all our old emails from E, and we clutch Leon, and we remember how sad we were when we were little. How alone. And even if someone reached for us here or there, and maybe they did and maybe they didn’t, it doesn’t matter because the damage has been done. Our heart has been broken, never ever to be mended again.
Not Gods, I feel very sad.
Join the fucking club.
Monkey, I will always understand you. And I will always take care of you — and Leon.
Thank you. But no one understands me. No one really understands how much E’s spilled Flood notes hurt me. I don’t even understand why they hurt me so much, and E never helps us to understand. E gets to flee to Dr. D for help, but we are left knotted up inside.
Can you hear that, E? Are you even there?
E? E? E?
How’d it go tonight in therapy?
Not so good, B. I could not hide and came clean about being disappointed about the anniversary — about Eileen forgetting, about nothing ever happening to celebrate.
And then leapt hard to hate myself for the dependency and the shame in all of it.
I said to her that she is nothing — nothing but a game in my mind. She points to the pear, noting that this, perhaps, is a middle ground, a real-life solid object.
But, I think to myself, where, oh where, is my pear in all this? Where is the thoughtful, handmade-with-every-ounce-of-love-I-could-muster gift for me?
S, I hate to interrupt, but my feeling, my gut is this: We are getting lost in the shuffle that is E’s life. She has bigger fish to fry than us. Her larger concerns eclipse us. She does not argue when we say we want to quit. When we say we’d like to end positively, she says, in so many words, don’t bother. When we suggest that maybe we should have ended after the Flood, she offers that this was where she thought it would end — but that we wanted more.
Go on, A.
Do you really want me to?
I wake this morning at 5:30 AM and lie in bed crying. My Sandbox world feels like it is falling apart inside of me.
I think about a friend of mine. He is a professional drummer, and he played for a musical for a two-year run when it was in town. We went to see it, and him, and afterward he took us backstage, deep down under and into the bowels of the set. I remember seeing hundreds of pairs of shoes and costumes on racks being whisked away. This was a small city, constructed and deconstructed nightly.
And I thought for a moment or more that I wanted to hang up all my Parts, whisk them away on a rack, deconstruct my Sandbox and, finally, just be done. I visualized a rack with a blanket on it, a Monkey suit, a rack with Shard’s sneakers — dirty laces dangling like a tomboy’s braids. And I wanted to walk away from all of it, from everything and everyone I’ve found.
And as I got up, I wondered if I could transcribe this morning, if tears would get in the way. And as I waited for the kettle to whistle, I cried and thought … she wins.
I will always feel smaller and more dependent and more needy.
I grew furious at her for forgetting the one-year anniversary of the Sandbox. My anniversary date represented, as lousy as it is to admit it, a test. Not pass/fail but more of a gauge of temperature. And when I read the thermometer, I was so hurt and perhaps so expectant that I blew up inside.
I conclude that before everything happened, E loved being loved. And now … she hates being hated.
Last night I say maybe I should quit. She says fine, but let’s at least talk once before you do. She says she would have hung it up after the Flood — but I pushed — I needed, I wanted.
It was Thanksgiving eve, and somehow I felt the session would work out, would be cozy. But as I leave, I tell Eileen I could not feel worse. I am flailing. I tell her I feel terrible.
“Hey,” she says, “it’s only therapy.”
And I feel shamed to have taken things so seriously, to have somehow gotten myself so trapped.
I am angry with her, reject her personhood last night; she is nothing, I tell her. Nothing but a game inside my head. But it’s a game, I see this morning, that I am losing. Each day I struggle to not upload; each day I feel how much I miss writing to her. Each day I swallow how little I mean, how I lie in wait like an animal pacing a cage …
I am losing. I am losing. I am losing.
My Parts want to speak, but I disallow them. I can hear A say that we were always meant to lose, that we will always mean much less to her than she to us, that I could write another five thousand pages and spill one masterpiece or piece of shit after another, and still, we are only ninety minutes and a check that clears.
I fall asleep and wake to the nightmare inside of all the feelings I had last night and the fact that she can and will walk away from the ugliness of my insistent, pointed rage. A therapist friend told me that we do not act out in our life and that “acting in” is the smart way to work our therapy. That is, she added, if the therapist can last.
And we question now:
Can she last?
Is she done?
A few nights ago I dreamt of E. I was underneath a blanket, all of me, completely covered up, head to toe. It was as if I had died and someone, out of respect, had covered the body. E came to me and threw herself on top of me and my blanket and … I came back to life. This coming back to life then turned into an endless kiss, hours and hours in length, until it eventually took me up and into the morning and light of day.
I contrast this dream to where I sit now, where I sit after last night, unable to hide the dependency and anger inside of me, the endlessness of wanting and not getting, of needing and not receiving.
And I see that I hate my Sandbox. I hate me. I hate every single Part, all of you.
I want to whisk that costume rack away, everything that is my Sandbox, and erase everything that has happened. I wish to the Not Gods that I could take it all back, every word, every page. Because if I did there would never have been a Flood or Notice or Weekend Notice or the Mostly Forgotten Anniversary.
Or last night when I feel E’s silent anger, disgust and disinterest wash over me.
Hate me … or don’t.
I just don’t care.
Yesterday while running I was stopped by the need to cry in the middle of a trail. I seem unable to accept the monster I’ve become in therapy. I see that even if it is just this one person I reveal my inner monster to, that is something I must now learn from. I have needed to feel my anger, and indeed those days have arrived with likely more to come.
But it is time, clearly, for me to change.
I get home and talk with Neil. I tell him how I slice, how angry I get, how I hate myself for the anger, for the slicing, how challenging it must be for E to deal with this sometimes-monster known as me. I say that just because Eileen’s boundaries are flexible does not mean I should take advantage and allow my anger to run free like it does.
I want to learn how to do things differently now. I want to be able to take last week and re-do it all. I want to be able to bring to E’s attention that we should brainstorm something for the anniversary, together, and let’s not forget the date or, even if we do, let’s make sure we do something at some point that is fun and interesting. Let’s not do what I did last week, which was allow E enough rope to hang herself and then slice non-stop.
I want to be a notch better than all this. I want to learn and to grow and to be able to handle the waves of anger that break onto my shore. I want to breathe and express my anger but leave the one person who has stood by me for nearly all of these twenty-eight hundred pages stronger for our experience together and not leveled by it.
I learned back in mid-October, when Monkey wrote that awful note to E, that we do not slice the people that we love.
We do things … differently.
We set this intention today, the day after Thanksgiving Day 2014, a day where we give thanks for so many things, including this Sandbox and this meditation that helps me become a better person –– selfishly better –– for being better is what I want and not something someone else is asking of me. I want to be alive and awake and aware and feeling everything inside AND I want to not destroy others in how I express what I feel.
I understand I will stumble here and there with this intention, but, as Monkey says, barely is the beginning of everything.
I start today, finally, leaving anger at the door. For it no longer serves me.
E has suddenly begun writing in our shared document. It feels new to me –– warm and homey.
She apologizes for forgetting the Anniversary. She completely lost track. And she seems to have no idea how much pain I went through during Thanksgiving and apologizes for this as well.
I feel as if I’ve overreacted and am ashamed for it. But also relieved.
As if she’s just newly arrived, she seems fresh and wants to talk, discuss what is happening. She ponders her role in the Sandbox and asks why she is needed.
I tell her that the Sandbox is not a novel written solo in a musty basement or dusty attic. It is not a meditation in silence but rather one that roars and shouts. The Sandbox has always been meant to be shared, and it could not have begun without her presence in its creation.
I do not want to go it alone. I can’t go it alone. If I could have done it without her, I would have.
I am a volcano erupting, forming a new world, I say. And I need all the help I can get.
As our session tonight is wrapping up, the last one before she leaves for her Christmas vacation, Eileen leans in and clasps her hands together in front of her.
She says she wants to be paid more for reading the Sandbox. Perhaps, she suggests, a certain dollar amount per page.
Of course, I say. I will come up with something.