I am trying something different today. I will be posting a bit of writing that is fictional yet at the same time, based on reality. As I get ready for my NaNoWriMo project for November, I am practicing so to speak, with a different story than the one intended for the project. I had learned quite a few decades ago that one can’t write anything without having the self exposed. What appears, even in a work of fiction, are the various faces of oneself; conscious faces and unconscious aspects. In depth psychology terms these would be the faces of complexes and archetypes. In writing fiction, one likely ends up telling more truth about oneself than if one was to sit and write a serious non-fiction tome. The simple act of letting it all out through telling a fictitious story allows the inner censor to be bypassed.
Enough of the technical jargon. I bring you the first few words of a new story.
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It’s strange sitting here in my office, surrounded by my books, knowing that there won’t be anyone coming for counselling today. The room still has the comfortable chair that I re-upholstered long ago and the wooden swivel office chair that I rescued from the local school, which were the choices for my clients upon entering the office. Beside each chair little wooden folding tables hold a box of tissue, a small brass vase holding a few artificial branches of greenery, and a coaster upon which I would place a cup of tea or coffee. And yes, the framed degrees and certificates are still hanging on the wall to let clients know that I have jumped through the hoops to earn the right to be a therapist.
As I look around my office, remembering the faces of many of my clients, I am aware that some things have changed since my last client sat in the soft chair, a woman who came to solve her problems at work and at home, relationship problems. There is more clutter now. On the bookshelves, some books are pulled from their normal resting places with their spines proudly displaying their titles and authors, and are now sitting on top of other books or they stand in full frontal position so that I can see the pictures on their covers. Other things besides books are also on the shelves: a flashlight that doesn’t work, a rusty bell that belongs to one of my children, a small clay head of an Indian chief made by my son when he went to some sort of camp or other, a clay chalice made by me when I took part in a mythology workshop, two little bits of sea shells from a trip to Cuba, a radio lying on its side where books are supposed to be placed, and a small tripod for my camera. My desk is even more cluttered than my bookshelves, mostly with books, and technology bits and pieces, as well as a cold cup of stale coffee.
It has been a few years since my last client was here. I had found myself not listening to her story. I had disappeared into my own story, likely triggered by something she had said or some way she had said it. I don’t remember much of that last session other than its ending. When the hour was up I told her that I wasn’t going to be able to take any more appointments. I offered her the names of two other competent, in my opinion, therapists with whom she could continue receiving counselling services. Naturally, she was stunned by this abrupt end to our therapeutic relationship. I had just broken all the rules about how to bring closure to treatment with a client. It wasn’t that I didn’t know how to do it right, god knows that I had been through the process enough times; but it was simply that I couldn’t do it right at this time. I couldn’t continue giving therapy to others because I was too broken. Something within me had snapped and I needed to withdraw and find a way to put the pieces of me back together again. That was eight years ago.
Today, I am sitting in my office, sitting here at the keyboard of my newest laptop while my other laptop is busy ripping yoga dvd’s for my wife, trying once again to tell my story. I have begun this story many times over the past eight years with the result of about a quarter of a million words of anguish poured out. For eight years I have been emptying myself of real and imagined injuries and wounds. There is a difference this time in my writing. I am not trying to remember and understand the woundings of childhood, youth and adulthood. This time I am trying to explain who I am today and maybe how I got this way. This time, I am writing without wearing any clothes.
Yes, you heard me right; without wearing any clothes, stark naked, naked as a jaybird, starkers, in my birthday suit, nude, clothes free, au naturel, or as is sometimes heard, skyclad. All of my previous attempts had been written while I was wearing clothes.
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