Sunday, August 17, 2008

In the Belly of the Beast

They are sitting as far apart on the tan, expensive, overstuffed leather couch, with pillows at either end, as far as you can get from each other. They are unmatched bookends with a thousand volumes between them. Jake is slouching, resting his right elbow on the sofa arm, head down in hand while his left hand awkwardly brushes nothing off the log of his jeans. Jake is very handsome in a styled scruffy way. He has longish brown curly hair, shoulder length, blue denim work shirt and jeans with a hole in the left knee.

Amy sits at the opposite end of the couch stiff and upright, nestled against the other arm of the sofa as if being any closer to Jake would send her to the bottom of some horrendous abyss. She fold her arms across her chest like a defiant child, and looks straight ahead at nothing. The silence is thunderous. Tension so thick, it seems any sound would break the sound barrier, like a soprano hitting the highest note possible, shattering crystal into shards of glass.

Amy is gorgeous. Short hair, perfectly coiffed, it fits her tight angular angry face. She is wearing a Giorgio Armani pin striped suit and a simple string of pearls around her neck. Professional, tailored and very much in vogue in the corporate world.

Their careers are as opposite as their marriage and dress code appear to be.

Jake is a carpenter, cabinet maker artisan and musician. His passion is his music. He loves to craft with his hands and write his own music. Amy is a high ranking executive in a business conglomerate, a world which hires and fires people as swiftly as you spit out sour milk from it's container.

The world of opposites which once drew them wildly and passionately together, now threatens to rip that world into shreds.
They have been married for 12 years.

They are at opposite end of the spectrum. Amy is pregnant and does not want the child. Jake wants the child. They are here, in this psychiatrist's office to decide whether or not to go ahead with the birth. They already have a 10 year old boy. This is enough for Amy, but not Jake.

The bickering between Jake and Amy begin immediately and nothing is sacred. Jake accuses Amy of having an affair with her boss, which Amy denies, then accuses Jake for being overbearing, jealous and obsessed because of his lack of "performance" in bed. Words fly against each other like bullets.

The psychiatrist sits across from the both of them in his own comfortable chair. There is a square black coffee table separating the unhappy couple and the shrink, a physical reminder that there are boundaries.

The psychiatrist is here to allow them to speak about their feelings. The shrink is a moderator, a referee of sorts. The married couple is here to make the decision together- whether to abort this baby or not..

The couple spits venom at each other, but I immediately take Jake's side. He is likable, still in love with Amy, loves his son and seems to take the brunt of the relationship gone wrong. He wants to continue family life and make it work.

I do not like Amy. Not exactly the motherly type. She is callous, cold and too self absorbed. She is more interested in her career than her family.

Their weakest and most embarrassing qualities are thrown at each other like arrows, like the way Amy feeds her son to Jake's accusation of Amy having an affair with her boss, to indifference to sex with Jake. Everything once right is now wrong. Raw, dirty and unfair accusations bounce back and forth looking for a place to lay blame. The only interruption is Jake or Amy asking the shrink to side with them on a particular issue. The shrink is good. Obviously not his first couple in crisis, he hands out no answers, just throws back the questions.

The shrink brings them back time and time again to the issue at hand. True, this couple has many issues, but the decision they came to make has very little time to be resolved. If an abortion is to happen, time is a factor.

For the next couple of weeks, the sessions play out in much the same way. More accusations, more blame, more hurt.

The third week Amy opens the session by admitting that in the past week, she has slept with her boss.

Jake is crushed. You feel his pain, his tears and betrayal. Jake is angry but pleads with Amy that he will do anything to save this family, this marriage, this home. He loves her no matter what. He wants this baby more than ever.

Suddenly Amy loses it. She begins to scream at Jake for "not fucking getting it at all".

"You just don't get it do you Jake? I don't want this baby! I don't want to be a mother. I'm not even a good mother to our son.
I want my life as it is. I want my career, my freedom, my job. I want to work and travel and not be tied down by a fucking baby. I am telling you right now Jake, I WILL NOT LOVE THIS CHILD!! I will hate this child and this child will mean nothing to me. Do you want to bring child into this world knowing that the mother doesn't want it? I am too selfish and don't give a GOD DAMN about this baby. You will have to raise it and give this baby what it needs, but believe me Jake, it will always know that it's mother did not want it. It sickens to me think about bringing up another child into this fucked up world and this fucked up relationship. I cannot do that to a child. The child needs it's mother and I will not be there, now or ever."

Amy then storms out the door. Both Jake and the shrink sit there is silence. Finally Jake leaves, turns to the shrink and says,
"Thanks a lot, I came here so you could help us decide whether or not to have this child, now you have ended our marriage."

After a few minutes the shrink gets up to close the door and rearrange the pillows on the couch.

While arranging the pilllows, something catches his eye on the couch. He leans over to look. In the area where Amy was sitting is a puddle of blood.

The decision was made for everyone.

From “In Treatment”, the HBO series based on the Israeli Series "Be 'Tipul"

I sit back from the TV in amazement. Suddenly I like Amy. A lot. She may be self absorbed, but she is honest, brutal but honest.

I visualize an almost abstract picture of my mother- pregnant with me and what disgust she must have felt. I would be a bastard child that she never wanted. She never married my father, just fucked him one night in the back of the White Tower Restaurant. I was a mistake, a mistake she never let me forget. I am the mistake. What did she say when people noticed she was pregnant? Did she smile? I doubt it. Who did she blame. Did she pound her stomach with her fists and wish the child inside her would die? Nothing but backdoor abortions in the 1940's, otherwise I wouldn't be here.
Was she disgusted with herself? As I grew older and put more weight on, was I a mirror image in which she hated the both of us even more? She had a weight issue also. She hated men and I was afraid of them.
Unlike this TV series, she had no options, probably had no one to talk to either. But we both survived.

It is clear to me now, my mother was on her own journey and responsible for what she made or didn't make of it.

I am on my own journey, so very different from hers. I am responsible for my choices.

The way I see it, our paths crossed once, and only once.

Maybe that's all we needed from each other.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

The Price of Healing

Dr. Lubin writes these scalding words on the white board with her fiery red marker. This is the topic of the week for the trauma group. I sit in silence as my fellow comrades in this battle of survival, list what their experiences are with this hot topic of the week.

In the past 1 and 1/2 years we have become mirrors of each other, partners with each other, similar to long term friends, couples who know each other's secrets, finish each other's sentences, laughing as we do. It's a secret club. At times we open the door to each other's pain by asking questions instead of pushing buttons or just being with the moment, as sad and as heartbreaking as it is. We know we cannot change what has happened in the past, but we can change what happens in our future. A year and a half ago, most of us thought we didn't have a future. We have learned how to listen deeply and lovingly to each other. We have a spectacular teacher. Dr. Lubin sets the stage.

We are at times a funny little dysfunctional family, but always working towards that common goal of healing our wounds that have penetrated us physically and emotionally. Difficult to know which one hurts the most.

It's a tough group. No one lets anyone get away with anything. We call each other on our strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. We remind each other of who we are and how we have made it.

The Price of Healing..........There are so many roads I can go down on this one. The Price of Healing Where do I start? Where do I end? Do I end? What has this almost 3 year journey cost me?

The Price of Healing..........How do I describe the depths of dissection my entire life has gone through? Every thought, word and deed I have ever done has been examined, ripped apart, and put back together in some form of functional fashion? I have felt like a frog on the table being dissected in biology class. Nothing left to the imagination. Everything on the table.

The Price of Healing..........Is it the friends I have lost in the past 2 and a half years because I have changed? Is it my voice and my words that offend them, after finally finding it after 57 years? Is it not accepting how I have finally learned how to say NO and mean it? Or is it I have somehow touched on something they have always been good at hiding and they are afraid of being seen for who they are and what they have done to me? I've caught their act and I am now wiser.

The Price of Healing.........Is it the time and commitment I have made to myself with intensive therapy twice a week, so intense and crippling that I was accused of being self absorbed?

The Price of Healing.........Exposing a brother who had sexually abused me along with others who were supposed to be "protecting" me? The dentist, the deacon, the neighborhood baby sitter?

Yes, there is a Price of Healing.

But I would not change one thing about the past 2 and a half years. I am finally moving on.

My mother, the very first perpetrator in my life, set the pace.

It's been 20 years since her death. I have run the gamut of feelings all my life of love, hate and fear.

She didn't like or love me. That I know. I have searched for all these years to find out why. But only she knows why.

Neither myself or my brother have put a grave marker where she is buried. I always thought that she never liked what I did anyway, so why bother. I've long since stopped wondering why my brother didn't.

The Price of Healing.........In several weeks I will be standing with Dr. Lubin at my mother's grave. I finally have gotten her the grave stone she deserves. I think it's time. I will stand there with Dr. Lubin, and I will most likely read something I have written and I will say a prayer for her at her grave. And I will thank her. I will thank her for giving birth to me. I do so love this journey I'm on.

It truly is time for her to rest in peace.

Too bad that The Price of Healing isn't always as simple as just buying a grave marker.