The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing




I wonder if I’m getting places. And then I wonder not. 

I am.

Getting places. 

I need only look to where I was last year—one year ago—for I have now including today four years worth of entries, all dated 12/21/XX.


I was cocooned with Eileen, telling stories, accessing parts, trying on parts, rehearsing without consciousness who would get the part, who would stay with me…remembering what I could, using these parts to take me on a new spin in words…nothing perhaps new but the perspective…larger screen , closer up…red…the palette was red….blood red, crimson red, any shade of dark red.


I was asked to pay Eileen more to read me…and although this hurt, felt like another arm’s length bracing against me, a way to use dollars as a wall between she and I…I swallowed, paid and…wrote. 

I wrote about anything and everything. Until the day I realized that it was getting me nowhere. 

Looking back I was still trying to understand why Eileen gave Notice—for “personal reasons.” These reasons remained unclear to me and still are. 

I remember though when something inside clicked and I hit the brakes—I knew going into 2015 I’d be around this track and if I were to keep going round it I would become a victim. And I knew not to choose victimhood. 


I was eight months out of therapy working hard on shrinking down the material and often times still being stabbed by the pain of Eileen. I remember a moment, nearly in a trance like state, getting out two pair of shakers I wanted to send to her, a Christmas gift. I prepared a box, even painted a huge E onto it. 

And then…I caught myself as if waking from a dream and stopped. 

But it wasn’t an easy stop—not a switch that turned off my longing for her—it was just a painful voice of reason saying…no. As if I were an alcoholic, drink in hand, drink to lips, catching herself and putting the drink down. 

Not easy. Not painless. 

But I never sent that package. 

And it was only a few days ago that I threw the box, the one with the E painted on it, out into the trash. 

Anyway...on 12/21/15 I see I am working on dependency with Teresa. 


I want to know what kind of salt and pepper shakers I should give you. Or if I should. 


How would giving them to me make you feel?




Do you want to feel little?




And now today. 


I’m clearer. Ten thousand miles away from ever wanting to pull out a box, paint an E on it and send Eileen some of my art. 

Way beyond wanting to give Teresa something too. 

Homey won’t be playing those transference reindeer games ever again. 

I’ve found my narrative, only recently I’d say, with some clarity that lives beyond the type. I am in touch with not every moment but enough of it. 

I have four perpetrators: Zok, my mother, my father and…Eileen

I am a detective who has solved the mystery. And rather than toss all the paperwork that’s been on my desk, I’ve opted to file it now into drawers, ones I can access that support what is now a fairly well organized case. 

Narrative on the top, flow beneath. I believe I am down to brass tacks these days. 

Flashbacks of abuse that threatens to take my life away. 

Brass tacks.

Yesterday in therapy I spoke about the flashback I experienced Saturday morning, the highly specific memory of being shoved down in snow, what it feels like to access my own breath and to keep my access very still. My breathing is my secret. I need to keep it quiet to survive.

I speak to anger, how it comes long after if never. Anger is far down the emotional totem pole; fighting off the bully doesn’t work—it’s futile—being clever, being quiet, being…charming…works. 

Having faith perhaps not in God but in something…works. 

These thoughts—and feelings—about survival and anger are not things I only drop onto the page or up onto a website and leave behind. I carry them, deep and heavy, in my gut, in my life, in my consciousness. 

I am clear about this. 

I’m also clear that my clarity is not something discovered or gained in therapy. Nor does speaking about these things in front of my therapist make it any better. 

I get irritated yesterday in therapy for the rote, lazy, easy grab just like I did a long, long time ago in therapy where Teresa seems to reflexively think that “witnessing” is so critical. I remember, very early on, she said, when I was reeling about Eileen, that it must be hard to lose the first person I tell my stories to (e.g. witnessing) 


Eileen wasn’t the first person I talked to about things. 

Eileen was a lot more complicated than that.

It was not about losing a witness. 

It was about losing a mom. Long ago. And then about the confusing, painful whiff of a mom I got from Eileen—-of at first what it would have been like to have had a decent mother. 

And yesterday in therapy…also not about a witness. 

Not about about sitting in some office talking about abuse and anger and survival.

It’s not about finally understanding it all on some mini couch in front of a therapist—of my life being reduced to a dirty little secret. 

All that work—all the finding and the clarity—this mountain I climb? I climb on my own. 

I will not—cannot—give the therapy the credit. 

I’ll never—ever—give credit where credit is not due. I did that for two years—reaching to give the therapy—the damaging therapy—credit. I tried for years while in and afterwards to find the good in that therapy—in that abuse. 

Silver linings and lemonade. 

Sick to death of them both. 

Not one ounce, not one speck of credit to the therapist or the therapist’s venue for epiphanies and mountains I climb on my own.

I am remembering bits and pieces these days of that movie Ordinary People. I remember the moments where Judd Hirsch who plays the therapist, gets the boy who had to let his brother’s hand go—the brother who drowns—the therapist gets him to see those moments of trauma—that in order for him to live he needed to let his brother go. 

It was this flashback…and epiphany…and healing all wrapped into one kind of moment. 

And it happens inside this therapist’s office. The therapist guiding and witnessing the client into this new life…into a phase of healing…into a state of happily-ever-after. 

And I call… bullshit.




Because that’s a fairytale. At least in my experience. 99.999999999999999999999999% of the work I do is my work. 


I’m not doing much.


You’re fine. It’s broader than you. I think that there’s only so much a therapist can do and I think therapists go into the profession—perhaps—thinking they’re more Judd Hirsch than is really possible. Therapists kind of have this thing going on: on the one hand they want to be in this place where all the action happens—the big movie climax moments. On the other hand, they draw boundaries to keep their life nicely sanitized from the mess. 


If we were a movie what would our epiphanies look like, sound like, feel like?


They would not look or sound like much of anything. Except perhaps the glow of a keyboard just as the sun is rising…just like it is right in this moment…6:47AM on December 21st I can see the trees lit up, black silhouette against a dark orange sky. 

It would be me…tapping away…me…creating pages…me finding parts…me trying, desperately for thousands of pages and days trying to understand what is happening to me and why…why all the pages, why my Parts, why this relationship with this therapist hurts so much…why is she writing me weird notes…and poetry…why she dropped my Sandbox so suddenly…why she asked for money…pages pouring out in Parts and also me solo too. 

It would be me…tapping away like I do now…angry at myself for not knowing, angry that I cannot seem to wrap my arms and mind around everything…angry that what feels clear in one moment flits away in the next. 

It would be the hard work, the daily grind, the never ending mountain that I climb. 

It would be the failing over and over and over again. 

The one step forward and ten thousand steps back. 

It would be me who writes the truth that in healing we fail. And in failing we heal. 

It would be me who sits alone with all these pages and now a website that remains unvisited. 

It would be me…my life buried…my trauma buried. 

Me…a dirty little secret that goes thankfully for my perpetrators…away quietly. Me that goes on to quietly deal with what happened to me—privately--at my expense. The price being not only in dollars but in my life, how it has played out over decades and now each day in this process. 

This is what it looks like. Me. Every single day. Here. Alone. Tapping now with the sun fully up. Trees now set against a light somber sky. 

This is what healing looks like, a daily practice, a daily grind, a mountain climb with grief in my gut that I carry on my way up.


But we carry less the weight now of the therapy on our back


I agree with that. That therapy with Eileen fades more into the background as I go. 


Hard work, clear lake. 


Hard work, slightly lighter pack. 



Therapists suck

A necessary evil

Some are okay

Some are the devil

They want to be god

But not after six

Not on the weekends

Or if the slightest bit sick

They want to be god

In their controlled little den

They want to be god

When it’s convenient for them