Couch Talk (Part I)

I’m no longer trying to do the impossible. I should be relieved. These two sentences would make a good beginning. I could write them down in seconds, if my laptop were in my hands. The two opening sentences are a beginning, and as soon as I leave this room, I’ll write them down in the spiral notebook that I often carry with me for such creative moments. Sometimes Monday is a slow work day for me – wait, that’s not true – and no new editing for this week was in my email inbox when I left home, also where I work, so maybe I can focus on these words, images, and thoughts when I return home in little over an hour. Four times a week I walk fifteen minutes to this four-story building where I spend fifty minutes on a couch, and fifty-four or fifty-five minutes in the building, if I include the minutes in the waiting room on the ground floor beforehand. The impossible has become possible, on good days, and I realize that these words have left my mind, and the psychoanalyst seated behind me has something new to think and imagine about. I speak many more words and sentences than appear here. For years I attempted to write about this experience of psychoanalysis, speaking whatever comes to mind while lying on a couch, the other human being in the room out of sight, speaking occasionally, without ever having experienced it myself. I thought that my years in psychotherapy and training to be a psychotherapist would be enough, although I knew better. And a writer friend who’d been in psychoanalysis and knew I was trying to write psychoanalytic fiction suggested I experience it myself. Maybe I wasn’t thinking at all. Today seems to be a good day. I’m speaking and writing spontaneously for seconds or minutes at a time.

How many minutes have I been here? More important, how many minutes remain? It seems early in the fifty-minute hour for this question to come to me. I’m aware that I’m anxious. I awoke earlier than usual, and I was surprised, and a little anxious, that I hadn’t received any emails with editing work to do, which I often do on Monday mornings, from one or two clients on the East Coast. Maybe this Monday feels slow because I’m doing everything possible not to face whatever is bothering me. I’m afraid of something. I say this aloud and wait to hear something, anything, from my therapeutic partner, seated behind me. I imagine her as my therapeutic partner. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time together in the last year. In a way, today feels as if this were my first experience on the couch. A lot of sessions feel that way, as if Mary and I were meeting for the first time. Mondays can be difficult because of the weekend break after the intensity of the previous week. It took me several months to realize this, and I attempted to minimize the inevitable feelings of dependency, but then, during following Monday sessions, I felt an emotional separation between us, followed by a sense of closeness, which might be what I’m feeling right now. As if out of nowhere, I recall that my very first time on this couch was also on a Monday, and that I struggled to speak whatever came to mind. Do I speak these sentences that have written themselves in my mind? For a moment, speaking itself feels impossible. Trying to write whatever comes to mind is difficult enough.

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