Thursday, July 26, 2012

love, therapy, cliche (foreword)

This is the plan--I will write something long related to therapy, related to me, but not necessarily only about me. I get writing materials from my personal experience, of course, but I'll fib, like I always do, to make it interesting for me.  As a way to dream, because I think there is a permeability between fiction and possibilities.  Just don't ask me what's true or what's real, because everything in it happened, even if it wasn't true, because the line between the real and the fictitious is porous, definitely porous.

The inspiration came from my own therapy sessions, my therapist, and from Eve Sedgewick's "Dialogue on love."  I wanted to incorporate my therapist's notes during our sessions like Sedgewick does as well.  I told my theapist about it, and he was going to give me copies of his notes.  But something happened, and I ended my sessions much too quickly and awkwardly for me to get them.  But more on that later. 

In any case, here's hoping this will run its course completely and not haphazardly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

love, therapy, cliche (iii)

Wednesday March 8

Poor guy.  I really think I scare him.  He takes such deep breaths, as if each inhalation is an attempt to preserve himself.  I tell him, I haven't been honest with you. I think I should be, but I haven't been.  I wonder if therapy can be effective at all if I am not honest with you?  He doesn't know.  He says he'll have to think about it.  And he does.  He comes back with this answer, he says, you know, I think even if we are in therapy forever, I still wouldn't know everything about you, all of your thoughts.  I say, that's true, but I'm not talking about just my thoughts or just anything. I'm talking about the thoughts that are relevant to the problem.  If I am not honest with you about the problem, how can you help me fix it, right?  Right.  Right, so I will be honest.  I show him my letter. 

It does not go well though.  I mean, it does, but at the same time, it doesn't.  I've let go of that burden, I've exposed the truth, and I feel relieved, free to not be hurt, free to not need anymore.  I always need to do this, confront them, expose them for what they are, then goodbyes are easy to do.  So that part works.  But the other part, the one I fear but hope not to happen, that part doesn't work.  I'm scaring him.  I overwhelm him.  He is too young, too inexperienced to fend off my emotions.  Now I've gone and ruin him.  He is left speechless, his feelings muted amidst the ramblings of my own. 

I try to explain to him that while he is the intended receiver, he is not the object of my emotions.  He is only the priest who forgives in place of God.  I know why.  I tell him, a disturbance has caused it.  I tell him, part of it comes from the victimized psychology of sexual violation.  That's why I, the subject that's been violated, think it's the only form of relationship available to the violated self.  And in red, I say, my obsession is for the body language.  Because my body was violated, I now love the body in place of the love I lack for my self.  I tell him, but it doesn't have to have a tragic ending.  From this, perhaps, we can arrive at an entirely different place, where the body speaks a language completely void of violence.  My body may have came from violence, but your body does not, and that is why I am so in love with it.  In your body, my violence does not exist.  Instead, it is where love begins.  That's why physical presence takes over me.  I confess, I cannot resist the body that is in front of me.  I notice every little thing, especially little things, like fingers, and eyebrows when they are raised.  Then I notice the length of the face and I compare it to the length of the torso.  The flexibility of the antecubital joints.  The smell it gives at different times of day.  The hairs on each knuckle, each arm, and from these I imagine the rest.  I cannot deny the presence of a body, it overwhelms me.  This is why no matter how much I want to love God, I cannot be convinced.  Maybe this is how it is possible to be free of our violent past even if we cannot erase it, through the body of another.


Friday, march 9, the phone call.

My suspicion is confirmed.  My fears have made me into a perpetual liar.  I lie all the time, everywhere.  This knowledge makes me feel more wretched, which compels me to lie in order to cover up my self hate.  I want to call him and tell him this, but I am afraid that he will find this truth to be repulsive, and then I will have no hope left of redemption. 


Saturday, March 10, the phone call I want to make but did not.

I want to call him.  I want to say, hi, this is quan.  I have a heartache.   I believe I am displaying  somatic symptoms of a heartache.  I can't breathe.  I have shortness of breath.  I feel a sternal pain.  I have palpitations, a heavy feeling like the mountains are lumbering on my chest.  I am fatigued, experiencing insomnia and loss of appetite, except I eat all the time because I feel so empty I have to fill myself up with food.  I also want to say, I don't know how I have survived these heartaches before, I have completely forgotten, and I have this intense desire to cry but I can't, it's stuck.  Help me get through it.  Stay, until I dont' need you anymore, then you can go, and I will have learned this lesson for sure this time and will not repeat it.  i swear i will not repeat it.  

So many things I want to tell him.  For example, I want to tell him too about the improvement that I must have made because of therapy.  My husband tells me I seem much better, less combative, less angry, more open to reason and discussion.  I know what he will say.  he will ask me, how that makes me feel.  i will tell him, it doesn't make me feel anything.  i don't have a feeling to respond.  i only have a thought, as i listen to my husband praise my progress in therapy.  i think, i am a very good liar.  i have fooled him.  and it seems, i will have to continue to be an even better liar.  i still have myself to convince.


Monday, March 12

I am an asshole.   I call and call and call, because I feel an intense immediate need to tell him that I am an asshole.  I need forgiveness.  My congregation of disappointments.  Actually, before I think I am an asshole, I first think I suck, and I'm depressed.  My congregation of disappointment paid me a visit.  I feel like my legs have been chopped off, and now I am even shorter than before, except I am not any closer to the ground at all.


Wednesday, March 14

I tell you, I am an asshole.  I tell lies.  And my husband congratulates me on being a better, happier person.  I tell him, my therapist will be happy to hear that.  In fact, my therapist doesn’t say anything about that.  Instead, he asks me how I feel about that.  I say, I don’t feel anything.  Just like I said before.  In fact, I think it makes me a very effective liar.  He asks me what I mean.  I say, my husband thinks therapy has made me a happier person, more reasoned and logical, less angry, less confrontational.  But I am not any of those things.  I simply don’t care enough to be sad or angry, and that, funnily, is making for a better marriage.  My therapist asks me, what do you mean you don’t care enough?  I say, simply that I don’t care enough about my husband or the marriage.  I don’t care to invest my emotions into it.  Therapy didn’t make me different in the relationship.  My therapist asked, what about being different for yourself?  Do you feel any different for yourself?  I think he is right.  Yes, I guess so, I say, I feel I am different, even if it is only because I don’t care, but whatever the reason, the fact that I am not so emotionally invested and taxed all the time makes me happier for me.  And that was good.  That was a good ending to a good session.  The better ending was after the end, while on the way out, I said again how nice the weather outside is, how warm.  He said, yes, spring is here.  I say, it feels like so, but there are no flowers.  I am always pessimistic.  He says, not yet.  He is hopeful like that.  And he is right, of course.   


Thursday, March 22.

This week spring begins, so you leave to go on a hiatus.  I am left to survive my weeks on my own. 

This week I was sick.  I got sick on Sunday, the day you went on vacation.  It is now Thursday, one week and one day since you've been on vacation.  I am still sick.

This morning, the sun is a big round dish of red facing me at the end of the road.  It seems to say that if I can just drive to where the road ends, I can touch it.  So I make myself large, then reach out and pull up all the telephone poles and electric lines and radio towers and railroad tracks and sad sagging houses and cold dark buildings and blinking traffic lights, the criss-crossing of wires on more wires, pull them up like weeds until there is nothing left except me, the road, and the pulsating sun rising where it ends.

I keep thinking, when it's a choice between music or church on Sunday, I would choose music.  You're more likely to know God that way.

Bây giờ bạn đang làm gì vậy?  Bạn đang nghỉ mát ở đâu?  Bạn đang ở cách tôi bao xa?  Hay bạn đã không đi đâu cả mà đang ngồi ở nhà đọc sách?  Bạn đang nằm, hay đang ngồi gác chân lên ghế?  Bạn có nhớ tôi không?  Tôi thì nhớ bạn lắm, và không biết làm gì với bản thân trong những ngày không có bạn bên tôi. 


Monday, March 26.

I've decided that my therapist looks like an ape.  In real life he doesn't look like an ape so much, but in pictures, he does, especially when he takes it standing next to a gorilla.  He's quite ugly, in fact.


Wednesday, March 28

I want to bake him a cake, but that would be too cliche.  Very traditional, in fact, when I'm trying to be anything but traditional.  I come early, sat in the car for twenty minutes, smoked my cigarette.  I want to slow my breathing down, to take it easy, to prepare myself for when I see him again.  it's been two weeks.  and i have not died, my self has not dissolved, neither in ecstacy or in pain. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

love, therapy, cliche (ii)

It has not been long. but it has never needed to be long. somethings they just happen suddenly and unexpectedly, and they disappear just as quickly. that's what makes it so difficult. i never expect it to come, so i am never prepared to receive it. then, before i could get use to it, properly take part in it, it is gone, and i am forced to mourn for a something that i hardly knew. i know tonight i will not be able to sleep, but it doesn't matter now, it's too late. love is like that, i already know what will happen but it's too late to do anything different. i've been sitting there for too long. long not because i was there long. not because i've loved long, not decades in years long, but centuries of feelings long. isn't that another cliche. centuries of feelings. and i didn't even know that i loved him. i just one day decided that i do, just because it does not seem right to call it anything other than that. no other name fits what i was feeling. it's strange that way. i say, i've loved him, not because i know for sure that it is love, but only because do not know what else to call it, so i give it this name which carry the most emotions that i can think of. it seems fitting, this not-quite-love, because while it carries as much need and want and longing as love, it has no purpose as love has. it doesn't have an end in mind, only what it would like to do, places it would like to be, things it would like to say. perhaps because it is inappropriate. it knows that it is inappropriate. that it will destroy that which it loves and also itself. maybe that's why it doesn't quite dare to call itself love, only i call it that because i don't know what else to call it. nothing else to call it but that. desperation maybe. wordless desire to name my feelings. to name it so i can recognize it and know it. because to know it is better than to agonize and drown in it. drowning, that too is a cliche. the problem with naming is that which you name will out-grow its name. it is inevitable, it will become too big to be contained in the name that you give it. and then, once it has escaped from its name, you know you have lost another one. that is why i hesitate to name. it always takes me a long time to find the right name for things. friend takes a while. care takes longer. love is the longest. because it grows the fastest and is the most fickle.


the great thing about therapy, it seems to me, is that the therapist is both one and all, a spokeperson for the universal. like a priest who can forgive in place of God, and God is God for love and acceptance and community. how many times i look up at windows and wonder about the people behind them. their lives. where they come from. what they need. who they love.

Monday, July 23, 2012

ngày không còn dài; thank you for coffee

hôm nay tôi đi 
tìm gió rộng
quạt mát nắng bực dọc.
bây giờ thời gian tính bằng năm rất ngắn,
hồi hộp không biết khi nào sẽ mất hết ngày mà
ngày không còn dài nữa
chỉ còn tôi.


dear d,

thank you for our conversations,
our monthly coffee rendezvous
across the city,
never mind the midnight double shifts, the stalled traffic home, the unfed dog.

thank you for coming,
even though the coffee shop is crowded and dingy
and coffee's not great,
but the croissant is cheap and the refills are free,
and there's always a table by the window for us.

because i am always needing
your eyes, kind as sun-warmed lake,
they look at me like i am full
of goodness, waiting,
like i am hilarious and worth all the world's time
so convincingly
that i don't care
if i am not.