Distance without a Name

His first words were about someone else. Our fifty minutes together had started seconds earlier. I found myself rewriting the last sentence in my head: our fifty seconds together had started minutes earlier. Part of me didn’t want to have this session with him. Did he just say something about me? He seemed to be speaking about a recent trip to Madrid. Maybe I missed something. How much could I have missed in a minute or two? My own question surprised me. I knew from years in this chair that much could happen in and between two minds and bodies in a hundred and twenty seconds. We’d been separated for over a week. Separated was my word, not his. Or maybe he’d used it, too. I felt an ocean of distance between us, although we were seated across from each other. A dream from the night before came to me, in which I walked through the rooms of the apartment where I’d lived in Madrid, how many years ago I wondered, when I’d believed that the therapist in me wanted only to write for the rest of his life. I realized that I’d yet to record the dream on paper. I wasn’t an artist. That wasn’t true. Writers were artists. I didn’t feel capable of drawing or painting the dream. My former Jungian psychotherapist would surely challenge this last thought. I imagined her encouraging me to allow the unconscious to speak through whatever I created on what had been blank space. The man across from me sounded frustrated about how busy he’d been in Madrid. He didn’t seem to enjoy his work much and all of the traveling it involved. Suddenly, or maybe not, my mind was a total blank. I heard him say something about losing too much time to all of his traveling for work. My associations to his words led me in various directions. Might he be saying that he felt he was traveling too far in his mind during sessions with me? Was he suggesting that our work together was a waste of his time, or that he was losing too much time having these psychotherapeutic conversations with me? Something was missing. It seemed to be my lack of presence in the session. Emotionally, I was somewhere else. He was silent. Were we now two blank minds? I wanted to wake up, so to speak, before it was too late. Every second counted.

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