(excerpt from my book “The Memory of Vinegar and Oil: Origins Unified”)
I’LL START WITH JOSHUA.
“Hello Dr.Beltram, Long time no see.” Joshua said as he handed me a cup of hot coffee. I pulled back the lid and took a sip.
“How was it that you weren’t able to do any phone sessions?” I asked, starting the session.
“Yeah, it sucks to do phone sessions, so far away. It’s like dying a little bit. A part of you is asleep,” Joshua said.
“Tell me about that sensation of dying a little bit and falling asleep?”
“Well, that you are not here. I wanted to go to sleep, to lull myself to sleep.”
“To avoid something?”
“Maybe, avoiding. Missing something, missing a face, somebody…”
“Does anything come to mind about missing a face that makes you want to fall asleep?” I asked
“Hmm. Maybe my dad? I would go to him at night when I was scared. I was maybe three years old and he wouldn’t wake up, even when I shook him.”
“Did he eventually wake up?”
“No. He was dead and I didn’t know. I kept squeezing him, rolling him, ruffling his hair. I opened his eyes, his mouth, but he was cold pale. He didn’t talk to me, he just didn’t.”
“He didn’t see me anymore. I wanted to wake him up so badly,” he said, crying now, a desperate cavernous cry of all three years old.
I sat like that, containing his pain and listening respectfully.
After a while, I said, “I hear you. I am here for you.”
“Yeah, but you disappear too!”
“Yes, I disappear like your dad.”
“And I hate you when you do that, because you give me this bad feeling in my belly,” Joshua said.
“Do you think that bringing me coffee has something to do with that?”
“Can’t you just accept it, Doc?”
“Yes, I can accept that you want me to be awake and here for you.”
“But everybody near me is neither here nor there.”
“Like your dad?”
“The last time we talked you were telling me how you choose girlfriends who are like that. They come and go. Do you remember?”
“Oh you remember? How about that,” he said and sniffled, the tears were winding down.
“How about that?”
“Yeah, I see where you are going. I choose people that I expect to leave me so I re-experience that old feeling of being abandoned by my dad when he died.”
“And you chose a therapist that does that in a way but is also available by phone every week for you?”
“So you really don’t have to bring me coffee to keep me awake. Alright, Josh?”
“Yeah, I guess so,” he said, sounding like a three year old caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
“No, it’s important that you see that, Joshua. Not everybody will leave you like you expect. That’s in your mental script, a very old one that you now can let go.”
He sat up. “Well, yeah, I still missed you”
“It’s important to verbalize that, that you missed me and what I represent to you.”
“So that I don’t act out, right, with the coffee?”
“Because if you do that with somebody else, things would be different right?” After a pause, I added, “What would happen?”
“There would be projections, misunderstandings, expectations, blah blah, blah….” He said.
He left the session smiling.
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