Here some more major players enter the stage. They would provide a lot more help and be around for a lot longer than I initially thought. I most probably owe my life to them, as I do to many other things.
But let’s go slow. After my abortive attempts with the previous psychologists, somehow we managed to stumble upon Psycare. According to my mother it was fate (for all I know it might have been) that we finally found someone good after all the lousy (or just plain incompatible) ones before.
Here was where I met Dr. Harold Hudson for the first time. Back in those days I did not know how fortunate I was to have found Psycare. I went through quite other therapists before finding them. First was someone who specialized in sexual dysfunction (which I most definitely did not have) to my school counselor (who was completely and utterly useless) to a lady (and I use this term very loosely) who actually told me that my life was good, that I had nothing to worry about and that I should feel grateful to my parents. Talk about a wrong diagnosis.
But I took an instant liking to Dr Hudson, and I recall during our first session actually being able to disclose quite a lot of personal information. It has been about fourteen years since that initial meeting, but I can still remember him smiling and observing that my mother and I cared a great deal for one another. Well, if only he knew…and given his expertise, I think he did indeed see what was lurking beneath the surface.
We clicked so well that I began to go to Psycare regularly. It would have been great had therapy been able to Fix Me and Make the Problems Go Away. But unfortunately that was not to be the case. I would later learn that therapy doesn’t do that…it does a hell lot of other good stuff, but not that precisely. Also, psychology circa 2001 was definitely much different from what we have today. It was still very talk-based (not that there is any problem with that) There were no neurological interventions or similar techniques, because they were still being researched and discovered at the time that I started going.
I tried to get my parents into therapy. My mother, even despite her hatred and derision of psychology consented to sit in on a few sessions. I doubt her involvement did much good – all she did was sit stone-faced throughout the session and answer questions in the most perfunctory a manner as possible. It was like transplanting home into the doctor’s office.
My Dad did visit once or twice as well, but it wasn’t very helpful either. He did not have my mother’s complete and avowed disdain of all things psychological, but he was too emotionally distant to really connect with or do anything. He once told Dr Hudson that he was trying to give me a handle on my problems and the latter said that all I wanted was someone to just listen and be there. That seemed to be out of his limited abilities.
I remember being SO UPSET that my parents did not seem to want to make the effort and get well alongside me. Oh, how it hurt back then. What was the problem? They were intelligent, they were smart, they both had Masters’ Degrees for goodness sake! Of course in those days I did not realize that the Masters’ Degrees WERE the problem. They had so rationalized things in terms of words and books and thoughts and ideas that they were unable to get in touch with their own feelings, selves and wounds.
More than ample evidence of this came in my early twenties. There was a particularly rough period in which I got so bad and screamed so loudly that the police were called multiple times.
I think my mother was afraid that I was going insane or something? She had finally agreed to come into Psycare with me again after years of not going. We went into session. Dr Hudson spoke to us for about half an hour…I can’t remember what he said. Like I said I was in a really bad place at that time.
He then asked to speak to my Mum. He did, and after that he called me in. I will always remembered how he looked when he delivered the news – he looked so, so sad and tired. Hey even therapists are human.
What news? He put it very simply. He said that my mother was incapable of being my mother anymore. That she had rationalized everything so powerfully that it was impossible to get through to her. Those weren’t his exact words, of course, but that was the gist of it.
I sat there, stunned. I didn’t really know what to say. if Dr Hudson said it it had to be true. But on the other hand…I come here and pay money to hear this? It was more than a bit hard to take at that time.
I went back and told my sister and my father the news, and they came in at a different date and we talked some more and…I can’t remember the details. I would revisit that memory more than a few times in the next few years, hoping against hope that he was wrong…but knowing deep inside that he was right.
But back to 2001. I saw Dr Hudson on my own for a while. Those days remain quite a blur to me. I know that he helped me out a great deal but I cannot remember exactly what transpired. These would have been the years directly at the tail end of my suicidal period and beyond (eighteen and above) and so that is only to be expected. I think that if had been able to see a competent therapist early it would have made a great difference but by the time I started going to Psycare regularly a lot of damage had already been done.
I trusted him as much as I trusted anyone in those days. I think that back in those days, he was the only adult I trusted, and then even then, not that much. Abuse and trauma will do that to a person. Though in the early days I think he was sort of like Jesus to me (this coming from someone who didn’t believe in Jesus) I would later also learn that that was called transference and was pretty common.
Transference! Now there’s a word to conjure with. Overly rational, brilliant, wounded youth that I was, I swore that I would “figure out” transference the same way I would “figure out” being a teenager. I’m chuckling at myself now as I write this. Over the years there would be boatloads of transference. I saw my Dad in Dr Hudson, my mother in Florence. I shouted at them (only once or twice though) I thought they hated me, loved me, scorned me, were proud of me. For the longest time I wanted Florence to do more and I felt an hour was WAY too short. All perfectly normal behavior in therapy. It is a testament to their skill that I cannot recall any countertransference (though in the mental state that I was in for most of my sessions I doubt I would have recognized it had it occurred.)
Who’s Florence? Another therapist working at Psycare. Somewhere down the line (you’ll see where) Dr Hudson transferred me to her. So many years later and I know nothing about her. Which is probably as it should be! She is definitely an old-school kind of therapist – no physical contact or divulging of personal information. Except for two grey hairs she looks exactly the same as the day I first saw her.
Skilled as she was it took many years to finally trust her. It was around five years (or so) before I started talking about games in therapy, another two more before I spoke Japanese (now THERE was a major breakthrough if there ever was one!) and only three to four years back before I mentioned Evangelion.
I owe her my life and more. To which she would most probably say that she only facilitated things and that the work was all mine. That’s Florence for you.
But you see, that’s probably true as well. The best example of what goes on in therapy that I’ve found is that the therapist is a doyenne of the museum of your mind. They show you what goes in there, the rooms that you kept under lock and key or didn’t even know existed. It’s a tour with no destination in mind other than what you might set for it. They ask what this exhibit or that is about, what it means, what it signifies, and that 64-million dollar question – how does it make you feel?
Florence’s name appears quite a few times in the book and with good reason! In a life filled with so much tumult and strife, she and the other staff at Psycare were a rock and anchor on which to rest. Though in the same breath I must also say that there are quite definite limits to what even psychotherapy can achieve. In the end you are only there once a month or so (or in my case, usually once a week) There is still a lot of life outside of that to be lived.
Therapy remains quite amazing to me after more than a decade of it. Sometimes it seemed that I would go there and talk about the same old things and waste my money on an hour of having someone nod their head and smile sympathetically. That was at least my mother’s (and quite a few other people’s view of it) And then two years down the road you would be walking down the street and remembering that session and going like OH MY FUCKING GOD what happened?
There were periods I didn’t go for weeks. And then some when I only went once a month. Another stretch of three months or in which I cried for every session, sometimes five minutes after coming in the door. It’s different each time.
Things shift again and again and your world view shifts with it. Truths are uncovered. Old dreams die and new ones awaken. You go into another space, beyond yourself, beyond the world and all your previous notions and conceptions. Though that only happened after the five-year mark or so? It’s a different experience for everyone. Some days I just went in and I was all “I hate my life and I hate my mom and I hate everything and ARRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH” and that was ok too.
I sometimes feel I’ve lived my entire life in that small little room to the left of the entrance, with the whiteboard and papers and crayons and books. The pains that I’ve felt and the wonders I’ve seen. The blade was there more than once, shining its light on that poor, sad and frightened child. The tears and the fears and the screams and shouts that could never have been made anywhere else.
I’ve talked about everything in my life there. Childhood and relationships, work and games, books and of course that most important of things, feelings. The ability to feel – so basic and yet sometimes so hard to reach.
I know nothing about you
besides your name.
you know everything about me
my hopes and dreams
triumphs and victories
worries, pains, losses and more.
you know about my parents’ divorce
my struggles with society and school
all the details of my childhood
sordid and innocent both
the warp and weft of my thoughts
the very metier of my soul.
I can only wonder about you
sitting in front of me, calm as always
you have see me cry
break down and get up again
shake in fear and anger and pain.
but you have never been anything
other than calm
helpful and alert
what must you yourself have been through
to reach this place
of serenity and strength both?
there are other besides me
we only see each other an hour every week
that time is unlike any other.
sometimes we start late
and sometimes early
appointments are made, kept, and sometimes broken
we’re all human, after all
and business is business
even if what transpires in the space between us
is anything but.
for your work
for your patience
your love, if I may say that
for all in your care.
what passes in these rooms
on sofas, couches and chairs
is beyond just a monetary transaction
it’s hard to explain
a kind of intimacy beyond friends and lovers
but all who have experienced it
will know what I mean.
so today once again we sit together
I talk and you listen
(and sometimes, rarely, the reverse happens)
you never judge
only look on with eyes kind and strong
and at the end of our hour together
I feel so much better that it is no chore at all
to say thank you.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Psycare are the best of the best. Not to mention the kindest of the kindest. There were some particularly harrowing episodes (including one where I tried to barricade my mother in her room) and they always came through for me. Dr Hudson’s wife even agreed to see me once because it was an emergency and didn’t even charge me any extra.
This book wouldn’t have been written without them. I’m very sure I wouldn’t even be sitting here without them! They (along with other things) most definitely saved my life, and I am eternally grateful.