The Sandbox

Amnesia, Art, Healing

 

3/15/14

7:04 AM

Authenticity

I need to keep looking up, not to the sky or the clouds or the ceiling, but to the word Authenticity. I must focus and try harder than ever to get to what is authentic because I am flooded with confusion.

 

Monkey

What’s going on?

 

S

Did you read the document from E?

 

MLG

The notes? From our session this week that she uploaded to our shared space?

 

S

Yes. 

 

MLG

I couldn’t really read them all. What do they say?

 

S

There’s a lot of stuff, Monkey. She talks about how she was bullied as a kid for being smart, how she was skinny and unpopular. 

 

MLG

We did not know. This is very sad. 

 

S

She says that she feels she was getting tired in our session, so she starts to show off by intellectualizing and talking about Proust and Miles Davis. 

 

MLG

What else?

 

S

She says she likes you, Monkey. She likes playing with you. 

 

MLG

E loves me most. 

 

S

She says she’s jealous of Isabelle because she gets to just play. 

 

MLG

What does that mean?

 

S

Maybe she wants to be our friend instead of our therapist. Maybe she wants us to want her like we want Isabelle.

 

MLG

Is E gay?

 

S

Apparently more than we thought or knew. In her notes she asks how is she to stay loyal in her marriage when she has feelings like we do for women. She says we bring this out in her. Her lesbianism. 

 

MLG

Whoa. I feel really funny. Squirmy. 

 

S

Yeah, I know. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do with that. Or even if we’re supposed to share this with her. We go to bed squirmy and wake up this way, too. I feel so challenged right now. 

 

MLG

B? Can you please come over?

 

Blanket

S, how are you?

 

S

Hey, B. Not so great. I feel like I want to go to the ER. 

 

B

Aw, it’s gonna be okay. 

 

S

I sent Elaine an email and asked if I was supposed to see these notes. At first she said yes. Then in the next email, no. In a third email she is saying maybe, in time. She ends by saying that because we’ve weathered worse, she is confident that this will all work itself out. 

 

B

Wow. 

 

S

But B, we haven’t weathered worse. And just like the knot in my stomach, it doesn’t feel like it will work itself out at all. 

 

B

That’s our grief ball inside us from long ago. 

 

S

I don’t believe she was ever going to share these notes with us. 

 

B

I agree. 

 

S

Am I safe?

 

B

That’s the key question. 

 

S

I am so turned on. And so ashamed of it. I thought to sleep with her — spend a few hours or maybe a few weeks or months fucking each other, constantly, like barely get out of bed. Is that authenticity?

 

B

It is. 

 

S

I wanted to go down on her and afterward insist that I kiss her for a very long time — not just because I want this but because she would then be forced to see exactly what she tastes like — in her own mouth, down her own throat.

 

B

S, I am so very sorry this happened.

 

 

3/17/14

6:35 AM

Authenticity

 

S

I was having dinner with my friends, and in my mind Eileen pulls me away into a corner. I feel like I am being hijacked. 

 

MLG

We are buried beneath E’s spilled beans. And cannot find a way out. 

 

S

B, can you tell us what our weather is like?

 

B

It is exploding like the sun, complicated like our riverbed, wet like you feel down below. The landscape is vast and swirling. We are a far away planet with complex weather systems. We are … Jupiter. 

 

S

Storming for hundreds of years, we are more Jovian than Earth.

 

MLG

Can we see E on Jupiter?

 

S

No, Monkey. 

 

M

Have we left her back on Earth?

 

S

Yes, Monkey. 

 

MLG

Can’t she help us?

 

S

She says in email that she would like to, but she can’t. Her words are like knives stabbing our clouds. I am crying now all the time but not sure why. 

 

MLG

Dear E, 

 

You have hurt us beyond every moon we know, even here on Jupiter where we have seventy-six of them. At first you say your spilled beans were on purpose, and now you say they are not. You are dodging and dishonest. You hoped and pretended your beans would have no effect. You are a therapist. How could you think we would not have stormy thoughts and feelings? We have lost faith and trust and gained a fist in our stomach that won’t stop punching us. 

 

Sincerely, 

 

Monkey

 

3/18/14

6:37 AM

Authenticity

 

S

B, how is Monkey?

 

B

He is staying at a very peaceful B&B on Jupiter. I think we want to protect him from all this. He should not be too involved. I will do some looking into the Jupiter sheets and pajamas he’s requested.  

 

S

Overwhelmed by this, B. 

 

B

This is a Flood and a snowstorm both — a creation coming not from within but from outside of you. Know that it is not just about a mistake made, either, but about how this mistake is handled afterward.

 

I ask that tomorrow night when we see Eileen in person that you allow her to assess the aftermath, the snowdrifts that sit in the driveway. Allow her to look up at the sky, feel the snow that reaches for her hips. Allow her to gauge the fatigue in her own back. And wait. And watch. But do not shovel this driveway yourself. This task is not yours. 

 

S

Her snowfall. Her responsibility. 

 

3/20/14

8:17 AM

Authenticity

 

After all the reeling and confusion inside, I finally drive to my appointment. I get there early and am sitting in my car when I see Eileen walking into the building from the sidewalk. She looks slow and vulnerable, and my heart feels overwhelming compassion and love for her. I feel confident, in this moment, that we will work it out, that she will wrap her arms around me, guide me through this tangled mess inside, and that I will love her for it. 

 

Instead, when I sit down across from her, she looks at her notes and asks, distractedly, as if nothing ever happened, if we have anything to go over.

 

And what was maybe four feet between her chair and mine becomes an ocean. 

 

I ask how could she not think I would not be hugely affected by what I read?

 

She says she does not see why these notes are a problem and challenges me to justify my confusion and my pain. 

 

I can feel the gears inside of me shift, like the moments when Stella went down, a clarity that I was standing on the line that marked a before and an after. No longer were we both on my side anymore. I’d entered a boxing ring, a court of law, a battlefield, fighting against the very person I loved and needed most.  

 

I tried to remember her notes, which almost felt beside the point now. I struggled to say that I did not know she was bi-sexual or lesbian and that my challenges were also hers. 

 

She said she thought we discussed her sexuality long ago. 

 

No, I said. Never. How could she not know this? Who was she mistaking me for? 

 

Sitting across from me, not reaching, not helping but instead challenging and minimizing me, I was miles out to sea and she would not be swimming to save me.  

 

I asked where the therapist that I loved had gone, the person who would help me to find myself and figure things out? 

 

But that person had vanished, and in her place sat someone I did not know, someone who had turned cold and away and against me. 

 

I was there nearly two hours — a half hour longer than I should have been. When I got up to leave, she looked up from her chair, warily, and asked if I would be terminating. I said I didn't know but that the last thing I wanted was a traumatic break with my long-term therapist who was helping me to process trauma. 

 

And then I left. 

 

B

Please remember: This was not something you chose. 

 

S

But it’s something I must deal with. 

 

B

Yes. 

 

S

I am worried about her. When I left last night, she seemed dazed. I emailed her to tell her this. And that I loved her. She’s been my person for so long. She then called early this morning and said she wants me to come in again tonight at 7 p.m. I asked if I have to pay, and she said she would not charge. What do we say to Monkey?

 

B

Monkey gets shielded. Let’s not bring him in until we feel safer. I have put him up at a wonderful place. Jupiter milkshakes every day. 

 

S

I miss him so much. 

 

B

You’re doing the right thing, S. We’ll take the blows, and he can stay protected. Slowly we will let him know what is going on. He loved E the most, and he will be the most hurt by all this. 

 

ThereThere

S, just a note to say I am here, I am here, I am here. You are doing well under some highly challenging circumstances. Please keep reminding yourself: her snowstorm, her driveway, her shovel, her responsibility. 

 

S

Thank you, ThereThere.

 

 

3/21/14

7:46 AM

Authenticity

 

When I see Eileen again, for the second night in a row, things are calmer. 

 

I request and require that I be heard, and I am. I parse out her accidental notes to demonstrate how confusing and painful these are to me. Unlike yesterday, I am prepared, ready to defend my position. I am sharp and hard and clear.

 

She tells me that she is a mess, confesses to bad boundaries and a weakness for erotica. She tells me her health is not good, her lungs are weak and that she’s not sure how long she’ll be able to work; she wonders out loud if I could do better with someone else, someone with more energy. 

 

She says she has sought consultation and supervision and has begun letting colleagues know what has happened. I ask what they say, and she tells me that they are all devastated for her. Her colleagues, she says, keep asking if she wants a sexual relationship with me, and she tells them repeatedly no, that she’s not interested. And that she never has been. Fortunately, she tells me, having sex with her clients is just not something that’s ever really challenged or interested her. 

 

She tells me that therapists are not as fucked up as people think but that she is one who is. She, she says, is very, very fucked up. 

 

She tosses disclosures out like birdseed. And I pick them all up, detached, like one of her colleagues, able to see her side more than my own. I am, at least for these ninety minutes, able to fly above it all.  

 

But as soon as I get back into my car, driving home, alone, the ugliness and shame and chaos take over inside. 

 

3/23/14

6:05 AM

Authenticity

 

S

I am wondering when to talk with Monkey. And what to say. 

 

B

He’s listening. I put an intercom in at the B&B on Jupiter so he can begin to hear. 

 

MLG

Hi, all. 

 

S

Hey, Monkey. How are you?

 

MLG

Is the coast clear? Is E there?

 

S

We’re not sure. 

 

MLG

Have you figured out if she’s good or bad?

 

S

Don’t know yet, Monkey.

 

MLG

Do I stay on Jupiter?

 

S

Let’s keep you there for a while longer. Is it okay for you to be there?

 

MLG

I have found some great red clay up here to play with. And I have Jupiter milkshakes brought to me, too. 

 

S

I miss you so much. But I am glad you are safe and happy. 

 

MLG

Can someone please tell me what exactly happened?

 

S

There was a flood, Monkey. A pretty bad flood. And we are not quite sure what it all means or what happens to us next.

 

MLG

Is Eileen still reading?

 

S

She is. 

 

 

3/23/14

6:54 AM

Authenticity

 

A letter postmarked from Jupiter …

 

Dear E,

 

I begin this letter to you not knowing if it will be a short post card from Jupiter or something longer than Proust’s In Search of Time Lost. All I know is that we woke this morning with me talking to you in our brain and considered it important enough to continue into the type. 

 

I am on Jupiter, as you know, which has been interesting and beautiful, but since we are five times farther away, the sun looks just like an average star vs. the magnificent ball of fire that used to wake me each morning back on Earth. 

 

While away I have made many red clay bananas, and I have thought about things. More recently B put up an intercom so I can get the Sandbox news from home. But, as you can imagine, despite how this beautiful planet swirls and storms and despite the exceptional accommodations, I miss my sunrises, I miss being able to step on firm ground (it’s gaseous here), and I miss you, too. 

 

E, I know that the others may feel differently, but from my perspective out here, I see that our journey together is one that has required many leaps — of trust and of imagination. Together we silently have gasped at all that has been happening, how large this has grown, how unknown and how … exciting. 

 

Could you even in your wildest dreams believe that I would be penning you a letter from Jupiter? 

 

It has been my journey, but ours, too, because without you it would not have begun. Your importance to me, E, is beyond the type. Just seeing your name, your big blocky E, is like a ripe yellow banana piercing my heart. 

 

E, I wanted to let you know that I believe in your goodness. And that you never for one second really meant on purpose to harm us. And that you may even have gone to your own place on Jupiter to escape the pain of this flood on your end. I know this, E, because I know that our riverbed contours, deep down, are similar. Otherwise, I would never be here, right now, writing to you from this B&B on Jupiter. 

 

Your friend, always. 

 

Monkey