My own words insisted that I listen to them. There wasn’t much else for me to do. The silence in the room reminded me of what I’d just said: I really felt bad that I had to reschedule our next session. I knew that wasn’t true. I didn’t feel bad at all. There was something else I had to do that day. The word “really” demanded my attention. Listening to these sentences in my head, I felt that I was overconfident about what was happening in my mind. How could I know if the words in my head were insisting on something? My spoken words ended the silence, and I heard myself say that I wanted to postpone our next session. I corrected myself. I wanted to reschedule it, which I’d said a minute or two earlier. But it was too late. My words had spoken. Were my words separate from me? They were expressing things against my will. Suddenly, my will, whatever it was, didn’t seem important. Our next session would be important, and I realized that I didn’t want to reschedule it. I wanted to be here on that day. She would be away for a week after that. The word “separate” returned to me. I felt more than thought that I didn’t want to be separate from her. It would only be a week. She wasn’t my mother. The words in my head were overwhelming me. I needed inner silence. I also needed a name for what I was experiencing.
There was no time for me to do what I wanted. I wished I knew what that was. Time was running out. I glanced at the clock across the small room, and I realized I was anxious. The couch was between me and the clock on the window sill. My sense of time in this room would soon change. The couch’s lone occupant would arrive, I hoped, in fourteen minutes. Time was on my mind. Or maybe my mind was lost in a mysterious sort of time in which seconds and minutes weren’t part of the equation. Or maybe they were, but I would never know for sure. Was something trying to figure itself out in my head? A long moment seemed to refuse to end. Then I turned my chair back toward the desk and checked my email on my laptop. There was a new mail that must have arrived in the last few minutes. A colleague commented on the book our study group was reading. It was difficult reading for me. The book was antiquated somehow, as if I weren’t satisfied with it. Maybe it wasn’t satisfied with me or my work with patients. Or maybe I was antiquated. Perhaps I needed to change how I worked. This was too much irrationality and uncertainty twelve minutes before a session. What work was I referring to? My own inner work was the most important, and doing it was the only way I could help anyone else. Time always seemed to be running out. Maybe I had to forget about time and numbers, for a minute.
I thought I heard him say he was sick in mind. It didn’t sound like something he would say. How could I know what he would say next? He was supposed to attempt to say whatever came to mind. Sick in bed came to my mind. Why was I questioning his associations on the couch? My job was to listen. Perhaps he was judging himself for something he’d done either in reality or in his imagination or in both. Fantasy was important in this room. He’d stopped speaking. For how long had he been silent? His words, sick in mind, returned to me. I heard myself say aloud: “You sound sad, as if you believe that you are sick in mind and that you can’t recover from it.” “I feel as if I were in bed and I don’t want to get up.” Maybe he felt trapped, in his mind, in his body, and he experienced himself as helpless. Perhaps I felt trapped. Trapped and helpless reminded me of his words, sick in mind. Now I remembered more of what he’d said along with those words. The words had come to him in a dream, in which a man, who stood nearby in the darkness, said that he was sick in mind. Awake, on the couch, my patient seemed to believe the dream figure’s words. Was I somehow this figure in the darkness? I imagined myself lying down. Maybe the middle-aged man before me on the couch was ready to get to his feet and walk out the door. I would become the one sick in mind and unable to recover. Time was running out. In a few minutes we would separate until next time. Until then our focus would be his mind.
There’s no tomorrow. It’s Monday. I’ve had two coffees this morning. I’m awake. What’s so important about today? Maybe two or three of these sentences came to me as I crossed the threshold of Mary’s office. The fifty minutes wouldn’t last long. The session had already started, when I’d left the waiting room and walked up the stairs to the second floor. She glanced at me as I passed her on my way to the couch. What might have been on her mind? I hadn’t filled it with anything yet. Maybe she saw something on my face as my eyes moved from her to the couch. The couch was why we were here. I could never seem to focus on it before I lay down. I was afraid to look around. The silence in the room intimidated me. Why might there be no tomorrow in my mind? It seems a good question. Both of us were in our respective positions when I mentioned the no tomorrow. She said something. I think she said Monday. The back and forth between present and past tense in my mind is confusing me. Maybe it also was confusing me. How can there be a tomorrow if I haven’t arrived in today yet? I wanted to speak about my thought regarding the couch: it was why we were here. The silence in the room seemed to say that I wasn’t ready. Ready for what? I wonder. Today, tomorrow, or yesterday?
It took me longer than expected to write about my narrator becoming lost in a bookstore. He was a psychoanalyst in need of some moments alone. When I sat down at my desk to write for a while, I imagined myself in my reading chair, a book in one hand and a glass of wine or beer in the other. I’d been in another room for much of the day, seated across from others, one at a time, most of whom had much to tell me. I could relax now. Writing was my evening form of therapy. Seven o’clock was too late for coffee. Something was missing. There was one place where I would find that something. My narrator, my psychoanalyst, would help me reach that place. So I decided to remain in my writing room. Seven o’clock was early. I needed a writing prompt. Moments later a book found me on one of the shelves, and I returned to my desk, reading a particular page that I’d just come across by chance, and before I reached the bottom, I wrote down in my journal whatever came to mind. Maybe minutes later, my psychoanalyst found me, in my imagination. He’d also had a long day, and as he walked home from his downtown Seattle office, he stopped at a bookstore that he didn’t remember seeing before. No book or author came to mind. He wandered from fiction to psychology and was ready to leave when an idea came to him: he could find a chair and be still for as long as necessary. He was surprised to realize that he was afraid of becoming lost in his own mind. Maybe he did need to sit down. He could keep moving or become still, even for ten or twenty seconds. I sensed that it was time for me to stop. My psychoanalyst and I would meet again soon, in that bookstore, and we would discover what he did next.
I don’t know what time it is. I want to know. But my eyes remain focused on these sentences. A clock is only a few feet away. A glance in its direction might reduce the anxiety I’m experiencing. Instead, I remain with the anxiety. It’s not going anywhere. I hope the previous sentence isn’t true. Slowness comes to mind. Am I too slow in my mind? Perhaps anxiety slows things down, and to think a thought becomes more complicated than I would’ve imagined with a cup of strong coffee in one hand. Things should be slow in my mind. My body was moving all weekend. When I woke up this morning, Monday, I wondered whether my mind and body had been communicating with each other since Friday. I’ve been disorientated today. Traveling can do that to me. Was it physical or mental traveling, or both? Something seems missing. Maybe I’m waiting for an intuitive thought to arrive. I would need intuitive faith for that. Am I capable of such faith? It feels good to return to my inner world on paper after spending three days away from either my journal or laptop. These are the words and images as they come to me. There’s much that hasn’t made it into a sentence. There’s always more than we can handle. The previous sentence worries me. I don’t like to admit being overwhelmed. These sentences have helped me reach a calmer place inside of myself. Maybe that will change in a moment. This work keeps my mind active. I’m alive in my mind. I still don’t know the time. Maybe I’ll glance at the clock in a minute or two. If I trust my intuition, these sentences will decide.
(This comes from a chapter of the book I’m working on)
I never expected to see Mary when I came out of the restroom. There she was, seated on a chair, observing a little girl, a patient, play with something on the floor. Moments became minutes. I wanted to say something, anything, so that she knew that I saw her. Later on, I wondered what I meant by that. Then she motioned me with a hand to remain silent. I smiled and left the waiting room for a couple of minutes. When I returned, both she and the little girl were gone. How old might Mary’s patient have been? I thought she might be younger than six or seven. My mind went blank. It was time for me to take the elevator up to the fourth floor. As I left the elevator and walked toward my psychoanalyst’s office, I realized that I’d wanted Mary to acknowledge my presence downstairs in the waiting room. Without warning, I stopped moving. I remembered the words that had come to me downstairs: I wanted Mary to know that I saw her. More words came to me: she should’ve focused on me. I started moving again. Her door would be open. The little girl would be with her mother, and Mary could focus on me. I imagined Mary standing outside her office and motioning me with a hand not to come closer. The image was so real that I feared I was hallucinating, which felt like a bad word although I knew it wasn’t. It described a particular state of mind. Maybe I wanted to be that little girl and have Mary observe me playing with toys. When this last sentence had come and gone, I found myself facing a closed door. This was her door. I wasn’t mistaken about the day or the time. Should I wait, knock, or perhaps take a peek inside? In any case, we would have lots to talk about.