The past week I’ve uploaded nothing to Eileen. It is an act of independence and also safety. But I fall off the wagon, and yesterday afternoon I send her a paragraph in email. A revived Part has arrived. Her name is Anomaly; she appeared briefly long ago. She is the Part that fell in love with Pete. Anomaly questions all the maternal transference that has been fueling this dynamic with Eileen. She asks who this E-doll creature is, what exactly is her purpose.
The E-doll bites her nails and cowers in deference to Anomaly. She tells her that she is my therapist/muse/friend/transference-container.
Eileen writes back and tells me I am being hostile in my portrayal of her part, the E-doll. She then calls and apologizes for saying this. She pleads on the phone for us to go back to the warmer relations we had long ago and adds that she needs to put limits around me expressing my anger. I feel as if I’ve been called a monster for how I am managing this therapy in my Sandbox, and I tell her so. I add that we can’t just go back to warmer relations, that denying what is happening is the opposite of what therapy is supposed to be doing.
Despite the uncomfortable call, I go in for my appointment. I print out all that I’ve transcribed in the week since I’ve seen her last. I want to show her how much I am going through, how painful it is to not upload to her anymore, how the volume just keeps exploding inside me. I explain how hard I work to scrape and crawl and get some air and health — that the therapy has been so endlessly painful and confusing that I must change but that the change is so wrenching. I tell her that I am frustrated and angry at how things are going in therapy and that if she can’t empathize then I can’t heal.
She tells me that I am bullying and abusing the E-doll and that I am asking her to empathize with an abuser.
I state that her accusation gives me absolutely nowhere to go. I am pinned and trapped by it. If you can never be validated for the anger and are instead accused of being abusive for having it, which I’m not — you do not heal. You, in fact, get worse.
She backs off.
You’re not always abusive, she says. It’s in how the E-doll is portrayed.
She then asks me if I can empathize with bullies like my brother, and I say yes, that he was a helpless, unknowing child.
She seems to take this in as something she never in her life had considered before, and then, out of nowhere, she confesses to me that she was abused, that she’s been in therapy for four decades — and still is — and that she does not ever expect to be healed.
As she speaks, I can feel a cat jumping up and onto my lap, one I’ve always suspected has been in the room. And as I say how sorry I am, how unfortunate this is, I subconsciously stroke this cat, knowing deeply now that this cat, this confession, these accusations of me being her abuser are clearly not mine to own.
She says that she had planned to tell me, in therapy tonight, that she could not and would not tolerate my berating her via the E-doll in my transcripts. But then says that our conversation made her realize that this is doing a disservice to me.
She agrees that I cannot heal this way.
I conclude firmly now that Eileen is unable to contain me because her container is marred with leaks and holes.
I am incredulous and saddened that Eileen finds me a bully through writing a caricature in my Sandbox. But I appreciate the eventual candidness because 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.
I think this morning of birds, how Eileen loves them. And I wonder if she is a bird I must release. I know she is not well. But I know, too, that I cannot bear letting go. I see so painfully now that important things never do end happily or easily, that flesh is torn and fabric hangs from the fence as you jump and get caught.
Releasing birds is overrated. Sometimes it’s easier to let them rest on your shoulder and outlive you.
If we don’t let go, Monkey, I am scared we’ll never heal.
Please don’t make me let go.
I am here. I am here. I am here. Arms around you. I won’t leave your side.
I dream first last night that I am so worn out I can barely raise my head. I am ashamed of this fatigue, so tired I can barely stay awake. I then dream I am trying to haul someone elderly and disabled up steep, tentative steps. I capitulate. I cannot do it. I am not strong enough. I get ropes and make a pulley, and the person is lifted. But I’ve concluded that this — what we are doing here on these steps — cannot be sustained.
In an instant I am transported elsewhere, and I have made changes that allow for a radically different life, an easier life, and one filled, as dreams would have it, with joy.
Quiet but deeply earned joy.
You are crying, S.
The climb feels sad today.
Rain on Mt. Integration. Too much fog to see the summit.