Tuesday, October 21, 2014

midterm

This evening
The mother
She asked me:
           “Should I hit him back?”
With regard to her son
Now
           It was a sincere question
           Asked through no small amount of tears
And such was the context
I didn’t for a second think she was joking

My response:
“It doesn’t look good.”

In that ironic way I have
           Which I’m still hoping
                     has its way of conveying more
           than anything I could say less dry

Just WHO would be learning WHAT from THAT?
which is what I did eventually say
don’t worry

But the distance
           and resolution

between the usual baseline of self-doubt and inadequacy
          which I pray to G-d never goes away
when I sat down with her
knowing intuitively what she was going to want to know
          what we all always want to know
          in that moment
          when we suck at something so epically bad

And the Tennyson Center that then kicks in

There must be consequences
There must be opportunity for him to make repair
There must be a safety plan
             (Hope that it won’t happen again
             Figure that it will)

But there cannot be hands laid on him lest the county hear from me

That conversation is up to her now
But make certain that it ends somewhere in the ballpark of
           “You are mine
            And I love you”

The midterms I’m taking this week
           mean something
           This I know


           It’s good to know

Monday, September 23, 2013

secured

"You're gonna miss me when I discharge, AREN'T you?? I've been your longest client and the most engaged of ANY of them."

I just looked at him and grinned.

Because while both assertions are debatable
and we would have that debate
Again and again
We would have it
There is always a ring of truth to all his hyperboles and occasional allegations

And maybe I’d humor him on that day
with a simple ‘Uhn-uh’
Just for the little charge I know he’d get out of it
Like when he pokes and prods
Opposition-ating and Defying
(easier than Acutely Stressing)
his way through the sea of youths in a 24/7 shit show
a Disorder, if you will
saying with his Bx’s
what he can’t say with his words

I got thrown away before I could crawl
The one home that kept me couldn’t be bothered to keep me
from seeing exactly what Dad did to Sister
and then couldn’t be bothered to keep me

Every piece of rhetoric I’ve ever been given is that Family--
FAMILY
--is unending
--is safe
And every reality I’ve ever gotten is that Love is conditional

I am not secured 
And I am detached
And yeah, I am reacting
But this is where I was sent
And you’re the guy who got assigned
And you are not going to ignore me now.

Connections get forged through hard work
And yes--
Attachments
And he was
is
Nothing if not hard work

So we agreed
That I would not ignore him
(not that I was planning to)
That we would hold each other mutually accountable
to our assignments

No matter the weeks after the full benefit of treatment
that turned into
needless
months
of languish

For each one, my report to the County reading between lines in attitude
What I could not write out in words:
“Get him
the fuck
out of here.”

Lest his world become that much smaller
Which it did
Lest he have nothing else to do
Which he didn’t
But ruminate on the monsters in that world
which the local news was making all too plentiful at the time
and reminding him daily:

unsafe
devalued
unsecured

And what exactly can I tell him?

That didn’t happen to you...
it just happened.

But it did happen
to him.

That the monsters aren’t real?

They’re real
And under his bed is about the only place they’re not hiding.

More hard work
Entailing much immersion with stuffed animals
and me learning all of their names
and dedicated night staff tucking them in with him
(His idea)

More attachment
Making sure there were surrogate stuffies
for weekends and days off
(My supervisor’s idea)

Ritual (side)hugs
Never less than five to end a session
(His idea, supported by my supervisor)

All the while I aged in clinical years
a factor of 3 to 10
holding the social service’s hands
pulling over a finish line
what seemed curiously either like heels digging in or an immobile body slumping over

Whatever

I don’t judge
I just make lots of phone calls
And occasionally curl up into a fetal position of my own.*
*(Truth)
Then I judge.

Because the longer he’s here
The harder to make the transition
The needed goodbye
The more difficult for it to be a healthy one
Because when exactly has he ever had that?

But there we were
On that last session
In his new home
a temporary, hopefully long-term, one
but one I fought hard for and knew I could trust with him
Less Stressing
Still occasionally Defying
But well on his way to Adjusting

Saying goodbye
(Not his idea)

“This is hard.”
All he could say.

“You’re ready.”
All I dared to say.
No less than five small hugs.
Then one long full one.

“This is hard.”
He repeated.
                       (for both of us)
     This time looking right at me.
His voice shaky
Uncertain
 
But secured.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

so there

That thing where I have a light fever
I’m teetering between consciousness
     and the extremely inviting third nap on a sick day

Suddenly it’s ten years ago and 700 miles away
     The last time I saw her in person

     It’s a random flashback
     I know it’s just a flashback
           And yet I am so there
                and can’t do anything about it

And I remember the last thing I said to her
     With the misguided intention of communicating
          That I am Standing My Ground
          The Line is Here
               This Thing I’m Trying to Pass Off as Assertiveness
                    Will Finally Make You See that I’m the One



When really I may just as well have been saying
     I’m Just Gonna Refuse to Grow Up For Just a Little Longer
               If That’s Okay With You
      I Hate Change
                and This Really Should Just Validate Your Decision 
                To Move On With Your Life

                But It’s Going to Take a Few More Months For Me 
                          To Find Other People and Other Sources to Focus On
                               Take One More Year For Me to Make
                                         a Superficial Gesture of Letting Go
                               Take Two More Years for me to Deal With This in its Totality 
                                         and Get Over You
                               Three More Years to Get Over It
                               Five More Years to Realize It was Never About You
                                         you were just the important person that got in the way
                                                   -sorry about that-

               Six More Years to Really Understand Letting Go
               Seven More Years to Really Come to Peace with That
               Ten More Years With the Help of a Light Fever To Help Me Realize

                              What a Really Dick Thing That Was to Say To You

That’s when I come to a second later
                    "What the hell was that?" I whisper
          and I panic
     wondering if I’ve done anything else with my life 
          for the last ten years
          hoping lessons were able to be learned through other avenues
               pretty sure that all has been well
               and all shall be well
                         by means of grace if nothing else

Fevers are terrible things
And yet

          The only reliable means of time travel I have yet to find

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

as though dead


“Do not be afraid”

Says the sound of many waters
Saying that death is a thing of the past
a key to be turned

And life is a certainty
Provided that you do turn that key

Now that is a fearful thing

But I've come to trust living beings in drag
Their faces shining with full force

Theirs is the most consoling of hands placed on me.
You'll just have to trust me on this one.

(from Rev. 1:12-20)

also, for Stuart

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Report: (some explicit language)

Denver man again survives holiday trek home on I-70 stretch of western Kansas without clawing out his own eyes for amusement.

“Praise the living Christ--!” he was heard to mutter through gritted teeth and clenched jaw as he turned off the 250A exit of the eastbound lane toward I-135 southbound.

When asked how he so specifically remembered the precise exit number, his face darkened and he assumed an agitated posture.

“Yeah, pretty sure,” he sneered in a sarcastic tone. “[What] the fuck else was I supposed to pay attention to...?”

Having endured the same drive several times now, the motorist noted that each time the soul-numbing experience evoked a response of self-harm to cope with the sensations of futility, oblivion, and lost dreams typically associated with western Kansas.  Though the man reports no history of any such self-harming ideations while not on I-70, in western KS, he says the “‘I-70 mindfuck’ is always the same.”

“This time I came very close to digging into my eye sockets.  Last time I pondered taking a go at my radial artery just to see if it’s true what they say about unoxygenated blood.”

The motorist noted that the normal mental and emotional decompensation follows a similar pattern with each drive.

“I leave Denver pretty upbeat and excited to see loved ones for the holidays.  But by the time I leave Limon (eastern CO, and indistinct from western KS), it starts with ruminating on that one thing I did wrong at work the day before.  By the time I pass Hays (KS), I’m screaming at my dog that died when I was eight for running away.”  The man even confessed to going so far as condemning his friends and family, though they’ve done nothing but remain in the native region from which he himself chose to relocate five years ago.

“Is hell measurable in actual miles?” the man further mused, reliving the anguish. “Two hundred and fifty would be my guess.”

While the man’s relief was somewhat dashed, as in past trips, by the realization that there was still nearly two hours yet to drive in Kansas from Salina to Wichita, the sudden appearance of hills, bare trees, slight variations in color across the prairies, and even shoulder trenches with some weeds, on the sides of I-135 seemed to cheer him immediately.

“Is that a tumbleweed???” he asked excitedly.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

but today, Mr. President


Oh Mr. President
My President
The motherf-ing President of the United States
Don’t agree with you on everything
As you’d well know if you have in fact read the emails I write you when I don’t

But today

What they didn’t ask you today
What they couldn’t think to ask you in that moment

Mr. President
By taking this rather surprising stand on this ridiculously controversial issue
at this point in the election cycle


Are you not in fact making a politically calculated move
to energize your liberal base
to curry the vote of this nation’s youth
to ultimately expose the fact that your opponent has no actual...well,
mandate 
by his party to run as their nominee
to put the culture war right smack dab in the center of the national consciousness 
just so you can say tomorrow
“Look, I’m done with that...
I do hope no one else is still stuck on this.
Can we go back to talking about taxing rich people?”


(and possibly to distract us for the moment that we are living 
in a second great depression)

And could you not in that moment
Have grinned very slyly
Cocked your head slightly
and responded

“Yes I am, Robin.
And what are you doing with the rest of your day...?”

Saturday, April 28, 2012

paced


Last night I hated the kid

The outburst
that followed what I thought was such a great session
nothing healing
but nothing I thought would lead to his fist slamming into a window

It was not to be an early night

Today I hate the paperwork
the followup
the check-in
the debrief
the clean up

Are you still fucking crazy today
or do you just have an asshole for a therapist?*
‘Cause I’m fine with either really

Tomorrow
a safety plan will be in place
He’ll be calm again
Acknowledging me as the person for his questions
Fighting hard to take responsibility
or more likely not at all
And since no male figure has ever taken responsibility for him
Ever not beaten up the schizophrenic mother who loves him
How exactly do I hold this against him?

In a week or two
possibly it or something similar will have happened again
and it will dawn on me
again
that I can’t fix everything
or even most things
And only hope can be my judge
that he might remember

I tried

that I stuck with him
though I could not traverse that gulf
I stood there
I stepped into that fire
not at all the same one he’s in
one of my own choosing
but a fire nonetheless
and it was unpleasant

And I did not try to pull him out Dr. Doan
I just stood there with him
(or paced restlessly as it were)
I could do no other

But if the experience of the one that pulled the gun on me that one time is any teacher
And I be a fortunate human
And even if not all 11 year-old psychotics are as lovable as other 11 year-old psychotics
But as equally deserving of G-d’s grace as me
I may yet love the kid by the next progress note

[*Italics denotes thoughts I would never ever ever say aloud to a client and are used for poetic purposes only.]