I told you during sessions last week that I had an image in my mind of what the last few weeks of therapy have felt like. I tried to draw it, but I can’t draw, and so I gave up. You asked me to describe it in words, but giving it expression didn’t erase the image from mind. And so I have put it together from some pictures that I found, so that I can show you how it feels. But I still don’t think that it will go away.
If I had to summarise the last few weeks of therapy, I’m not sure what I would say. My memories of them are patchy and I really have to reach to pick out the various threads. I have experienced an internal inertia to writing things down. I’ve had a large number of dreams that felt interesting, relevant and significant, but again there was the same inertia to trying to record them. It feels as though so much has faded and been lost, and all that is left is a sense of having gone down many paths, but stopping on each, part-way. I get so far, and then another occurrence, another topic, presents itself – uppermost for discussion. We change course, and it feels as though things have been left hanging.
I know we’ve spoken before about the fact that if things are important, they will inevitably resurface, perhaps in a different way. I’ve seen it happen, and I know it’s true. But it feels as though the number of ‘loose ends’ and the number of paths traveled down, is overwhelming.
And at each part-way-point, it feels as though I leave a hurting younger part of myself, with no resolution. A part whose presence I acknowledge, but only briefly before I have to say ‘wait here, I need to go and attend to something or someone else’. Often I will divert onto another path, where I leave another mourner. Sometimes, I am the mourner – when the path leads to the raging inferno of turbulence and anger in my marriage; or to what feel like the dying embers of its future. I feel as though I’m either firefighting (or in some cases, fire-starting), or chasing down rabbit holes. Sometimes it even feels as though I have nothing to say – until I find myself, for a time, on another path to….where?
I feel as though I’m crying out for a thread to follow, for some sort of coherence. I want to look back over the last few weeks and be able to see a journey that I’ve been on; a journey that makes sense, with milestones that I can cling onto. I want to see the progression from the ‘me-then’, to the ‘me-now’. And yet my own actions have been working against me; the lack of a written record, a smaller than usual number of blog posts, hardly any dreams recorded or discussed. I have reinforced this lack of coherence, my self.
Somehow this all reminds me of the discussion we were having last week, about wanting to know, and to be known. It feels painful when I ask questions about you, that you refuse to answer. It feels painful knowing there is so much about you I don’t know. And you were absolutely right when you said that there is far too much that goes on in my life and in my head, to be able to make all of those things fully known to you within three hours per week – and that is very painful too. You spoke of the difference between knowing a person and knowing things about them; the former being an experience, and the latter being a collection of facts. I think you wanted to reassure me that I can be known even if you do not know everything that happens in my life; and that I can know you despite knowing relatively few facts about you.
And yet I have a strong desire to know some event-facts and some feeling-facts about you, and in particular about the time in your life before you trained to be a therapist. I want to understand who you were as a teenager and young adult; I want to know how you felt, what experiences you had. If there was one big question that encompasses all of the others, it is this: what happened to you and in you, what did you do, in the journey of your own becoming? What has made you, you? How did you travel, emotionally and physically, from you-then, to you-now?
My first ever blog post was about the moving experience of reading Susan Hill’s ‘Howards End is on the landing: A year of reading from home’. It is an autobiographical tour through Susan Hill’s personal library – a memoir hung on books, using her discovery and rediscovery of her collection to tell of the stories and memories they evoked. . What made the book powerful for me, was the compelling idea of being able to look back on a what seemed like a coherent life; the sense that the same person (albeit perhaps with different characteristics) travelled from one point in life, through such-and-such set of formative experiences, to arrive at another point – changed. But still, in some mysteriously fundamental way, the same.
The only thing that ties all of these meandering thoughts together, is the sense that I have no origin, no coherence, no permanence through time. No wholeness. It’s why I was fascinated, recently, when I had a long email conversation with an old school friend I hadn’t spoken to for twenty years, to hear her accounts of us as children, and her view of me then, which persisted for her, now. She had numerous memories and I had virtually none, and it was like hearing her talk about a different person – save that some of her recollections of my words and actions, rang very true.
There are things here I cannot yet grasp. Confusion about origins, about identity, about being and coming to be. And it feels as though all of my actions over the last few weeks- the jumping from path to path, the lack of a written record – have been half-consciously aimed at reinforcing or acting out those confusions. There was an incident recently, where it felt as though my reactions to a difficult session were like a greatly fast-forwarded version of a way of reacting to (or guarding against) events, that probably took years to develop as a child. In some ways, these last few weeks feel like a sped-up replaying, a mirror, or a condensing, of life as it has been over the years. It’s my way of showing it to myself – and this is my way of showing it to you.