In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book, people lose their memories. They label hammers with the word “hammer.” My partner is a little like this. I just came upon this couples contract we made HANGING ON OUR REFRIGERATOR! It’s like last night, reading auditioners with my zipper down. In other words, how many people have I had at my house that read that contract? I am afraid to learn the answer. I hope that all members of the theatre company are so involved in relating to each other that they don’t read refrigerator stuff. (Of course, I DO. I read everything on people’s refrigerators and I memorize the contents of their bookcases. This is how I decide if they are cool. So UNBUDDHIST of me!)
Back to my partner. Or, her imitation of Garcia Marquez’s book. Which is to say that luckily when people come over, no one goes in her room. She has stickies and signs all around the bed, reminding her to, well, breathe. Meditate. (More than this I will be shot for disclosing.) She even has a quote by Pema Chodron and if you’ve read my Pema Chodron blogs you will now understand why we are in couples therapy. My partner hangs Pema quotes on the wall and calls Pema, Pema. I am the only one in the house who calls Pema Chodron, Pema Chodron. That is because I don’t know her personally. No one else who lives here knows her personally either. But, apparently, I am only a quasi lesbian bi-sexual since I DON’T GET PEMA CHODRON.
So, 100 Years of Solitude or post it notes and refrigerator revelations. Please forgive me for making this analogy with the title of a book by one of the greatest writers of our generation.
I am aware that the title is also a metaphor for the loneliness in my marriage. In all marriages. Every time we know we are separate, the chasm yawns open and we feel all 100 years in a single moment. Then we come close, and time stretches and bends again.
Enough poetry. In other words….on to COUPLES THERAPIST NUMBER THREE.
What, you might say, do we think we’re doing? Well, we had a hope that #1 would be it, but, well NOT. So interview, interview. Hope to find someone GOOD AT HER JOB.
It is important to say that #2 is still in the running. You can place bets on whether we end up with her even though she has no boundaries and I think her office smells of dog. Today, walking out into the early evening of Cambridge, Massachusetts, after our interview with therapist #3, I posited that perhaps #2 turns into a dog between clients. My partner suggested an English sheephound. Then my partner stated that couples therapist #3 reminds her of a poodle.
I do not EVER accuse my partner of enabling my inappropriate humor because I DON’T WANT HER TO STOP! Who else am I going to share these lovely moments of displaced emotion with if not the person who is MAKING ME GO?
So, #3. The poodle. It really is an unfair and totally accurate analogy. #3 is a meditator, and you can truly feel this in the clarity of her energy. She also has something vaguely French in her accent, demeanor and name. Her office is a like a hippie boudoir, with an air purifier and scarves thrown over old furniture. She is, like a poodle, incredibly intelligent and does not hold back on telling us we’re very dysfunctional. Or, waffling, that we have areas of dysfunction as well as areas of commitment and love.
REALLY? You mean we’re HUMAN?
I, for some reason, became very eloquent in this session. I said that we were currently in a kind of honeymoon and that I hoped couples therapy would keep us from falling back under the spell of our habits. #3 then commented on my ability with the English language. It was a nice gesture but I AM STILL IN DEBT FOR MY LATEST IMPRACTICAL DEGREE IN THE ARTS SO I BETTER BE GOOD AT IT.
I know, I know, these people can’t do anything right with us.
But, at least I impress myself with my own insight and eloquence, which just goes to show that #3 might have a had a point when she said I need to learn not to get lost in things. Like, myself? I would like to say that being an artist entitles me to a certain amount of self-involvement. It at least entitles me to write a blog about myself because I find myself so fascinating. The fact that I find everyone and everything else (except my German mother…but then why do I keep bringing her up?) fascinating keeps me from being unbearable, but please.
I AM AN ARTIST. Getting lost in being present (or not so present) is what I do.
Only now I suppose if I’m a quasi-Buddhist I’ll have to do it mindfully.
Oh. My. God.
But, back to my latest insight about intimacy. #3 (I just can’t cross the line into calling her The Poodle, though clearly I am dying to) had an insight about this thing I call standing in the fire. She said it’s about being willing to experience whatever impaired our original capacity to bond. That’s the fire. All the fraying of that capacity. The way it burned. Not to be connected when we were young, and full of need.
We are all still young, always. And the fraying remains. We get connected, and fear sears through us with the cold fire of doubt. That we can ever trust. That we can love without having our vulnerability exploited. That we can be known fully and not lose our sense of who we are. That we can let go, experience love, and then its inevitable loss.
I’ll tell you a secret. I care about being loving. It’s all I write about, it’s what I have spent my life dedicated to learning. I thought I was ambitious and driven, but every time I had to choose, I went for love. Not safety, security, conformity. Love itself. Trying to keep it from fraying…failing…rebuilding, learning, paying attention. I have wanted to be loved, badly, as we all do. But I wanted to know how to love well. To see my partner, my friends, without my attachment to them, to care about their well-being, not what I wanted or wished for or even needed from them.
So, I go to the DREADED COUPLES THERAPY. And, I have to choose. The Poodle or the Sheepdog.
Of course the Poodle is a femme straight woman who is sooooooooo far from queer. And the Sheepdog is a gender non-conforming lesbian.
I’m probably a cat. But my partner is either a Golden Retriever or a Lab, so my bet is we end up with the Sheepdog.
I need to be a very large cat. I am channeling panther as I write. Panther, panther, panther.
Metta for cats and dogs everywhere. I deeply apologize for this metaphor, which originated with my partner and is therefore ALL HER FAULT.
(And I’m not sure I even like The Sheepdog. Or any couples therapist, anywhere.)