Invisible Illness
Published in

Invisible Illness

Not Myself

I don’t think the police are trained for this. I’m sure the MTA employees handle a lot of challenging situations, but still, I’d rather be in the hands of my therapist.

It felt so strange yesterday to be sitting on the same couch I always sit on, talking to the same therapist, but not as myself.

Evidently my therapist already knew about Sewer, had talked to her before. This must have happened when we worked together in the late ’90s, but I have no memory of it. At the start of the session I told my therapist I was scared of two possibilities. One, that we’d dredge and come up with nothing of significance and it turns out I’ve forever been making a huge deal out of nothing. Two, that I’d discover scary things I don’t really want to know about myself.

The only item that qualifies as a retrieved memory came when I heard myself say, “I have to be over at Mr. McCormick’s at ten o’clock, because that’s when Mighty Mouse starts.” That happened at the beginning and startled me out of the trance momentarily. “Ten o’clock! Where did that come from?” I was very surprised, pleased with my little “find.” And yet now it feels like I always knew that Mighty Mouse started at ten. Near the end of the session when I came back again from the trance (trance does not feel like the right word, but whatever you’d call it when I get myself out of the way so other parts of me can talk), I said, “Nothing happened,” meaning no new information. This time my therapist looked surprised.

I am sure I did not remember anything of significance about what went on inside Mr. McCormick’s house. But on another front, I did learn that there is a part of me who hates this therapist. Can’t stand her, feels no bond, no trust. Maybe that’s the part I didn’t want to know about myself, a part of myself I didn’t want my therapist to know about.

But this seems necessary. Because if Sewer is the part that holds the memories, the one who flushed them away so I could continue my life, then my therapist needs to get to know her. I was not completely blacked out when someone associated with Sewer was talking. I was overhearing the conversation. But like a dream, the conversation disappears in a mist when I come back. I remember fragments and feelings. A very strange feeling was the satisfaction I felt, tearing my therapist to shreds, watching her struggle to respond. And I can sense that it was only the start. There’s probably more shredding to come.

Someone was saying that there is no way an “untouchable” can come into someone’s living room and sit on their white couch. My therapist has light colored upholstery in her office. I was imagining what her living room at home looks like. She said something about a transition.

Then Bob* intervened to end the session with a joke. He said, “Like a shower, you mean?”

My therapist and I both laughed. I popped out of the trance, and saw that it was a few minutes before the end of the hour. I told my therapist, “Bob did that. See, it’s time to end? I told you you didn’t have to worry about this.” She had insisted as we were getting ready to do this work that she needed to schedule empty time after my sessions in case she can’t get me put back together. She is not very good at keeping track of time, which I’m grateful for, really, because it means she’s totally focused on the interaction.

Someone was pissed about the shower joke, but I was glad I had a chance at the end to tell my therapist, “I still like you.”

She said, “It’s ok,” and began talking as if other parts of me were still sitting there. Whatever she said did not compute. I said, “I don’t know her.” I meant that she was talking to the wrong person. She wrote something down. I like it when she takes notes. I feel like she works really hard, is 100% focused and serious. I know she thinks about our sessions between weeks, because she comes back with questions, new insights. When we said goodbye, it was warm. She was trying to let me know with her eyes that it really was ok about Sewer and the things she said. It was ok for Sewer to sit on her light beige couch, and talk shit. It was ok for her to come back and do it again next week.

Sewer may not like my therapist, but I do.



We don't talk enough about mental health.

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