Many months ago, I asked my therapist what her favourite piece of piano music was, as I wanted to learn to play it for her. She (of course) asked me why I wanted to know! And she also said that her choice would vary, depending on the moment. But most importantly, she said that what she really wanted to know was what I wanted to play.
At first I think I saw this as just some kind of psychotherapy avoidance tactic – just another way of ‘getting out of’ personal disclosure. But we talked about it several times, and it became clear that this was another instance of her being genuinely interested in me, and in what I like and need, and in what those things can tell her. She was very keen to emphasize that my sessions are my space, and very much about me, and this was another example of an occasion where it would be most helpful to think about came into my mind when I said that I wanted to play for her. She also made the very valid point that one reason why I was asking was because I might feel as though I had to please her, and so focusing on what I wanted to play, was another way of demonstrating that I didn’t need to do that.
I told her that I didn’t know what I wanted to play. Which was one reason why I asked. However, a few months later I came across Ludovico Einaudi’s ‘Giorni Dispari’ and immediately knew it was what I wanted to play for her. It was beautifully simple and moving, and it moved me to tears on a number of occasions.
I immediately came to associate this piece with her. And in the run-up to the therapy break it was intimately tied up with feelings of impending loss and separation, and both the playing and the listening were often accompanied by heavy crying.
I am learning this piece for her. I am practising it more diligently than I have practised anything in a long time! Not because I want to please her, but because somehow, I want it to be fitting for her. I want it to be a task that I undertake with her in mind, and I want to put the effort in to make it sound as beautiful as I can, just as I want to give of myself and put all my efforts into our sessions.
I am still practising. I’m not quite there yet. But by the end of the therapy break, or soon after, I hope to be. I may fear therapy breaks immensely, but I want to be able to look back on this one, and know that I learned to play, and shared with her, the piece that I really wanted her to hear. The one I chose. The one that’s all about me, at the same time as being all about her.