Monday, April 27, 2015
I can’t be the only therapist to look at a client and see pathetic, despite our natural and learned compassion. Not in the way of Gary Larson’s The Far Side psychiatrist with his session note: “Just plain nuts!”
Rather, observing someone enclosed in her tear-laden mantle of wrong suffering, and knowing the mantle won’t ever come off. It has replaced mind, spirit and backbone.
These are the men and women whose identity was “kick me” from childhood on. Every adult in their life was raping, drugged, id-based masturbatory and malignant – just plain fucked. Sticking a twenty-five-year-old Child Protective Services caseworker into this torture-scape is to Windex the prison cell window: It can add an antiseptic clarity – or film – to the experience, but not anything else. Women who come from this background carry their neediness into the world and call it love. But actual love they do not feel: The middle-aged woman who condemns her own daughter but “bonds” with her granddaughter or someone else’s child. She, clenching the child like a life preserver, is ultimately excommunicated and never knows why.
They will have fibroid tumors, fibromyalgia and endometriosis, irritable bowel syndrome, bleeding ulcers, lupus, arthritis at age thirty-five, knee replacement at forty, chronic fatigue, ovarian cysts, a side show of other somato-emotional exotica. They will be misdiagnosed; they will fire their doctor, get a new one, finally cut out the offending organ that was sickened by rape or rage. They will look ten years older than they are, worn and sick.
The client is pathetic and very hard to love because she has never become an adult in any way, and that is unbecoming. Worse than being unable to stand on her own two feet, she does not want to or even understand the idea. Therefore she would not even want to fake it, which in her case would be noble. She is dedicated, moth to flame, to her aged mother, still drinks and bites the cold witch’s tit. She sees herself as giving – the shirt off her back and car rides and babysitting and martyr’s toil to bosses, but nobody appreciates or notices her: They can’t see what’s under their feet.
I would very much like to help this client, but defeat is everywhere. She can neither grow strong nor regress to her deepest wounds. She can only whine and be angry about everything and never see the child under the ice: herself.