I’ve had to make the choice lately between professional and personal writing, between the boundaried and the lightly bordered, between my own emotions and the semipermeable guise of being a therapist. These two emotional worlds can sometimes meet, even in writing, but there are times when I am compelled to toss aside the measured and meted, when it needs to be about my needs and untidy emotions.
What do you do when your head is full of other peoples’ stories, when life is built around work and family, and all your reading is of a psychological nature? When do the filters become a part of you, and you become a balanced, careful self, incapable of indulgence? So often I glide and elide along the thin surface of my own subconscious, focused on what lies beneath the surface of others.
I sometimes crack open at night. Two nights ago, back on one of those short binges of 3am sleep interruptions, I woke up crying, missing my father and reminded again of the permanence of death, the absolute quality of the absence. But more often than not, I wake up anxious, worried about the boy, about a client, about the crumbling state of the world. These are the things I cannot touch in my waking life, not while keeping the brokenness together, while showing others that to be broken is to be human. There is no other way. Once we accept this, we can take those broken parts and reshape ourselves again and again.
I’m an optimist. I’m a weakling. I am strong beneath the weakness, vulnerable under my self-obscuring cloak. I play a role and I am a role. The mask can become real, but at night it melts into me and I am fifteen again, letting the ache roll out of my chest, as sure of myself as a toddler, a bundle of this way and that way, a rummage of self and other coexisting in contradiction.
There is no selfishness in this sense of self, just me in all my messiness.