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An experiment with radical honesty. One of your frequently used words is visceral, and it's often how you describe me. Yesterday I realized that when about to cry, I will unconsciously bite into my tongue with my left incisor in order to feel something else. I caught myself doing it and realized it's been a habit for... forever? How unconscious we are of the sensory experience of ourselves! When do I notice what my mouth and tongue feel? The next thought: the desire to know the inside of your mouth -to run my tongue along your teeth and palate. Bliss.
You know I love you, but you want to hear me say it. Why? Is it professional curiosity or personal curiosity? The need to hear "i love you" goes beyond the therapeutic relationship. Coxing all my feelings about you into full acknowledgement is the stated goal. It will strengthen the work we are doing. All true. Beyond that, I know that YOU want to possess every detail. The 'you' underneath the suit -the living, breathing animal. That's how I want to relate to you: as an animal, a man. No suit, no leather chair, no appointment books, no waiting room.
Details about you. You drink black coffee and funnily, vitamin water. Your clothing consists of mainly blue and grey hues. Your eyes (also blue) brighten when you speak of a trip to Crete and the rocks collected there. Your voice is very breathy (which I find seductive). Your office is clean, but the desk is scattered. When you aren't sitting in your chair, your imprint remains -evidence of many hours spent there, listening with concern. When something I'm saying really ignites your interest, you rapidly change posture and take up more space in the room. Your foot almost touches mine.
About your eyes. There is kindness in them. I've noticed some weariness there too. The weariness isn't as noticeable until you light up about something, which makes the contrast apparent. There's some sadness present, and I wonder how it got there. I've only seen you flustered once -you called me by a different name, immediately corrected yourself, and told me your wife had cut her hand. Just a few times you've seemed somewhat shy with me, and once dropped your scarf when you saw me in the hallway. I don't often notice eyes, but I notice yours. Softly penetrating, intent.
About rocks. I love them because they speak to me of satisfied inertia. In some ways I am jealous of how they unselfconsciously enjoy their own complacency. I myself enjoy complacency but feel an associated tinge of guilt for it. I brought you back a stone (a pebble, really) from my travels. It wasn't the stone you were meant to have however. The one I really chose for you is still with me because I wasn't brave enough to give it to you. It is heart-shaped, but not saccharinely so. It's worn and tough. It's very satisfying to hold.
An incisor and a tongue. The incisor -used for cutting and gnawing. The tongue -a moveable organ for eating, tasting and speaking. They both want some part of you. I wrote before that I'll sink my top incisor into my tongue so as to distract myself while I'm suffering. Is that how I'm using you? Would I sink my teeth into you as a passionate distraction? My love is a distraction, a transference, anything other than real. Except it is real, as real as what anyone else would feel, and likely stronger. I feel too strongly. 100 words aren't enough.
You once said that more than any other client, you felt the need to tell me who I am. It was a surprising thing to say, and you seemed to hesitate. Do you perceive a meek, buried identity sitting across from you on the sofa? In spite of the connotation, I felt strangely honoured. I thought to myself, "I'm distinguished from his other clients." I wondered if you wanted to say more but didn't. Sometimes I think you'd enjoy nothing more than to see me completely let loose, wild and free. I'd like to experience you in that way too.
Taboo. What's taboo in fantasizing about you isn't necessarily what would be the most obvious -like having sex. That is tabooed, but not really unexpected. Rather, what about thinking of you loafing around in old boxer shorts watching mind-numbing tv? Drinking beer and having lewd conversations with a high-school buddy? There are also aspects of your inner-life that are so hidden, your closest confident couldn't even guess at them. Shameful thoughts. You surely have them. I speculate at what those thoughts could be, and that seems more forbidden than a sex fantasy. Although I have those too.
When I was on the hilltop in France, you were the only person I truly missed. I spent hours trying to meditate-away my desire. I would sit in Vipassana, following trails of thought regarding my inappropriately-placed affection. I would make an earnest intention for it to fade. At night I would masturbate thinking about you. So contradictory, so darkly comical. A traditionally repentant Catholic would have these thoughts whipped out of her, except that would just arouse me more. I wonder if it's shocking or pathetic for an imagined reader. They must think, "this poor bird's beyond help."
Confessions. I've been turned on by bondage as early as I can remember. An early recollection is of playing cowboys and Indians. I would sabotage myself from winning because I wanted desperately to be tied up by the Indians. I didn't know why I wanted this. There were graphic pictures in my school classroom of Jesus undergoing the Passion. In one illustration, he was bound in chains; it aroused a novel sensation between my legs. Another illicit pleasure: watching Taz catch Bugs Bunny, tie him up, put him on a platter with an apple in his mouth and season him.
The first time I came to see you was for an initial consultation. I ended up telling you about my most personal dream, to my surprise. In it, I cut myself in half, drowned the resultant upper half in a kitchen basin, and ripped out my heart -all while a male onlooker watched. It was such an intense thing to tell someone I was meeting for the first time. I didn't want to scare you off -instead, you became dramatically more interested. You spoke of our next appointment as a matter of fact. I became your client in that moment.
You've spoken with conviction that as part of this process, I "get to affect" you. You've also said that it's impossible for me to be disruptive (because that was my worry). Isn't affecting you inherently disruptive? I do affect you -but I don't know
, because our time is supposed to be about me. I want to know the
but it also scares me. My love comes from a decent place. The way I know is that I don't want to disrupt your outside life: your family, career, everything you've built. Disrupting your inner life might be a consolation.
Challenges for you. I must be tricky to navigate. Historically, my relationships with men (going back to my father, even) are disappointing. Does it feel like I've chosen you to remediate my relationship with a gender? The trouble is, rather than feeling better about men, I've decided you are a notable exception, and I love you even more because of your exceptionality. When you asked me what feelings I'd like to stop having about you, I answered that I actually don't want to stop feeling the way I do. Your hand jumped visibly. I felt like I had been unfair.
We are both therapists in different capacities. You come to know your clients' lives intimately but never touch them, whereas I touch them before I even know them on a basic level. If our roles were combined into one, it would be too much, too powerful. I have a daydream of you coming to see me as a client. The tables are turned, and I'm your therapist. I would help you feel good and at home in your body. I would keep the focus on your needs. I would maintain healthy boundaries. I would secretly delight in who you are.
The halfway mark. Have I said half of what I want to say? I felt phoney calling myself a therapist yesterday, although the word is in my title. I massage people. The clients come back though, and they view me with credibility even though I'm woefully low on experience (another reason calling myself a therapist seems fake). I often feel that I'm faking it until I'm making it, but the 'making it' part doesn't come. 'Making it' doesn't come because I give up first. I want to delete everything I've just written. This is more embarrassing than anything before it.
"The truth about stories is that's all we are." A drunken stranger left that in my notebook. Remarkably, I knew who she was quoting and love the book it came from.
that all we are? My neurology teacher once said "everything we'll ever experience is a muscle contracting or a gland squirting." Our endocrine system releases oxytocin, a hormone which creates an experience of love. It's released during moments of trust, bonding and empathy, but also during sex, childbirth, and massage. Muscles, Glands, and Stories. Action, Emotion, and Creation. How did beings such as we come to ponder these?
In my experience, men don't seek women who've developed their inner lives. The drive is to fuck the hottest attainable girl -one who will bolster a hollow shell of self-worth. It's a reductionist statement. From experience though, I lived with a man who represents it fairly accurately. I allowed myself to be enchanted by his charisma. He was mainly interested because I was younger, flexible, financially insecure and submissive to him. It's recipe for success to have a girl like that. He actually believed he was taking care of me. He gave nothing of real value: acceptance, compassion, comfort.
The vast majority of my sexual experiences have been with men, though I consider myself bisexual. I love women. I'm feminist. But I get off on such demeaning shit. It's 'woman-centered' but not by any means feminist. Images and video of women being tied up, ejaculated on, sucking myriads of cocks. I also get turned on by my own sexual objectification (somewhat unpredictably). Did I not
castigate S yesterday for how he relates to women? I would sometimes greet him at the door when he came home from work, on my knees with my mouth open.
So much darkness is spilling out. At least it seems dark. My intent was to write exclusively about you, but unsurprisingly, life doesn't lend itself to compartments. Messiness. These are all things I should have already told you. And more. So much marinates within me; I'm overly marinated. How could it be easier to talk to you? Your care and interest is fully present,
session. We're both very careful with what we say. We both choose words deliberately. A couple times in session you were shockingly direct -I loved it. I don't want to be free unless you are.
Grace touches by it's sudden manifestation. That is today - a magical confluence of factors that enabled grace to make its appearance like a rare bird in a winter forest. I watch and observe, startled by its stark beauty and flightiness. I'm feeling freer.
I haven't decided if I'll share these writings with you. I've been operating under the premise that I won't. I would dilute what needs to be expressed if I were writing for you instead of me. I feel like I must share. My dimensions have changed, and I don't want to go back to my old size.
I depend on your presence in my life. It's a startling experience, needing someone. I've accepted, even embraced, the emotional need. I trust you with it. Paying for your time (even when you wouldn't require me to) enables me to feel a measure of... I don't know...agency/ability to delineate our relationship. It reminds me that we're operating within the frame of professional guidelines, and I need that reminder. I'd love to smash those fucking guidelines though. Another interrelated reason: I don't want to be like my mother -smothering, oppressively expectant, suffocating. I'm showing myself I'm not like that.
When I was 6, I saw a dead blackbird in the alley. I froze with awe. I stared for a long time and didn't know what to do. I had never seen death. Eventually, I put it in my schoolbag. When I got home, my mom knew something had happened. There were no words in me, so I emptied out the bag on the floor and the dead bird fell out. I think I'm that way in therapy too. I drop the black bird of unknowing and awe down at your feet, trusting you know what to do with it.
Joseph Campbell said that dreams are private myths. In your last REM-induced manifestation, you were blending pieces of a blender in a blender. It felt like a koan to solve. Here's a crack at it: therapy is a way of taking all the broken pieces of me and 'making something'. Our relationship is a 'tool' being used in that process, but in the dream, the tools are being used as an ingredient. Fuck that hurts my head.
In the dream about babysitting your kids, mythic me was searching for an socially-permissible way to get into your life.
Rrose Sélavy. Say it out loud. "Eros, c'est la vie." Love? It's life.
Other people's love can seem like a Michael Bolton song, whereas a personal experience of love is an art house film -original, poignant.
80s hits: "I want to know what love is; I want you to show me" "You're the only one who really knew me at all; so take a look a me now." Cringe. I run from cringe-inducing experiences, when maybe I should just belt out that Phil Collins song. I could embrace karaoke and sing out to every drunken soul who'll listen.
I think about visiting you decades from now. No one will know or care in forty years that you were once my therapist. They'll just see an old person visiting an old person.
What if your family wasn't there for you, and you were alone? What if you were scared or lonely? If life turned out that way, I would visit you. I know myself well enough to know this is true. We all inevitably face illness, pain, dematerialization. Our bodies become errant. I can accept it on a general level, but impossibly, I want you to be an exception.
What is a tortoise without its shell? Multitudes of creatures have shells: walnuts, lobsters, coconuts, snails...people. What are we without them? Writhing, meaty insides. It makes me think shells are not "bad" -in fact, they are useful. Brutes surround us, and shells are therefore necessary.
When can we let someone into that space -the space between the keratinized exterior and the writhing naked self? The innermost beating heart. The heart itself has a protective exterior, the epicardium. Danger is everywhere. Gird yourself, nature says.
But what could be more dangerous than letting no one in at all? Feel me.
Your wife. I dreamt I was having a conversation with her at a dinner party; she was witty, acerbic, and in no way threatened by me.
I imagine you would love her for these qualities. She couldn't be bothered to wax her pubic hair or smile stupidly at everything you say. She's fiercely herself and she doesn't suffer fools. She's cutting like the edge of glass. Does she hurt you?
I don't know why I'm projecting all this speculative shit on her. I don't want to see her in an adversarial way. I admire her without knowing her at all.
Someone who tells a good story captivates entirely.
"There are stories that take seven days to tell. There are other stories that take you all your life."
The stories I love are fluid; they appear unstructured and dreamlike, but like something intricate, a design emerges with perspective. I've added intricacies when much remains unwritten. I've explored vulnerable territory, and neglected some terrain. I've gone to great lengths to be anonymous, so why don't I write into being every urging? It takes surrender instead of effort. Like saying "I love you"
I love you.
There. It's out in the world now.
When I first learned to write letters, I didn't understand how they formed words. I thought that if I wrote any string of letters in any combination it created a word that had meaning. I would write something like:"RDUITJXE" show it to my mom, and ask her what it meant. I was totally incredulous when she said it didn't mean anything. It HAD to. Words seemed mysterious and powerful to me then. Magic things.
This is how we fashion our lives. We make our assemblage with trust in the mystery, then ask what the creation means. Who answers us?
I love it when you laugh. I'd give up this whole exercise if I could regularly see you laughing out loud. It's like insight felt in the body without overwrought mental analysis. It's liberating and exhilarating and transient.
I've thought so much about how you could love me the way I want you to. We won't touch sexually. There won't be complete abandon or casual everyday referencing. You will remain unknown to me in many significant ways and that feels like a loss.
And yet I've experienced your love in authentic and satisfying ways. You give openheartedly and without reservation.
The Tip Jar