I Am a Repetitive Ego-Maniac Grieving


Don’t go back and read your old blogs.  It’s really depressing.  How often I say the same things over and over again.  I mean, really.

I mean, fine, I am obsessed with making fun of therapists and convincing the world that going to therapy is stupid and I seem only to be able to do this by going to therapy and writing about it.  But, it is repetitive.  And I seem to brag about myself a lot.  Especially in comparison.

But the sad is…I probably can only say that I miss Don and I miss him and I miss him and the why I miss him doesn’t change and there aren’t really words for this anyhow.  Or these words:

There is a keyhole that hovers over

my right shoulder.  Behind it a wind hisses

and sighs.  Behind it the world is dark cloud and

sheets of fog that roil up against the sky as if

to erase it.  I can feel you, sucked up through

that hole, sucked past the dark, I can feel

you gone.  I can feel the you in the place you

used to be, I can feel your voice that does not

answer and I can feel you loving me, I can feel

this body of mine, this beating, this rupture, I can

feel when I don’t want to feel and the sleep that

does not come and I hope you are meeting yourself

as if for the first time, I hope you are discovering

whatever lost thing you left this world to find.

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Accusing the World of Lunacy after Couples Therapy


I have decided that everyone on earth besides me is completely insane.

This is because my partner and I have friends who seem to be raising their eyebrows at our stories of puppets and various animal names related to couples therapists.  They don’t laugh at the jokes.  I imagine them thinking, “Well, you know Lyralen & partner, wherever you go, there you are,” OR “The common denominator in these stories is you two,” OR “They can’t all be that bad, can they?”

The reason I believe that everyone on earth besides me is insane is because OF COURSE THEY CAN ALL BE THAT BAD!  THEY ARE THERAPISTS!

I have come to see that people believe therapists are sane and that therapy works.  Um.  NO!  NOT!  INCORRECT!

Now I am going to take three deep breaths, calm myself, and write a narrative on this subject.  Ohm.  Ohm.  Ohm.

Thank whatever/whoever for Buddhism.

Okay.  I will admit that wherever I go I seem to be there.  With all my remarkable luggage, florescent pink, blood red, tie-dyed, you name it.  I will also say this:  I know it is difficult for therapists to do a good job with me.  From the moment I walked into the community health center when I was 17 years old, sucking on health food candy after giving up cigarettes, my hair in little girl barrettes, my brain whirling around Spinoza and Kant because I was doing genius training by teaching myself the philosophers from Aristotle and Plato on up, I was too much for them.  I truly did need help, there were problems in my family that were much too big for me, and I couldn’t talk about them directly.  My therapist was a 27-year-old hippie who had camping pictures of herself and her husband thumb-tacked to the fake wood walls of her office.  I’m sure she meant well, but she had no idea how to reach me, and I couldn’t help her outside of showing up and occasionally dropping a verbal informational bomb as if it was nothing.

I wasn’t a neurotic 17 year old who was going to grow up into a neurotic woman taking too many pills.  I was a girl trying to save more lives than her own.  It’s much easier to be a therapist to the first woman than to the second.  With the first one, you can sympathize and offer opinions.  With the second, you better get out of your desk chair and strap on a sword, because protection will be needed, and you better figure out how to provide it.

Yes, wherever I go, there I am.  Spinoza and Kant, Ayn Rand and the Gnostic Gospels, poetry and 70’s rock and roll, the need for a warrior much more than a listener.

I recently took a vow to tell the exact truth about how much I hate being in couples therapy as I’m sitting in couples therapy.  So, I go in, describe the relational difficulties in my marriage in a very succinct manner, and then I talk about how I hate therapists and don’t want to be there.

I have to say, it’s very rewarding to tell the truth in this manner.

The Santa Claus Puppet Therapist reacted by saying, “You must have been triggering all those therapists who fell asleep, hit on you, fired you, told you they loved you over and over again, etc.”

I was like, “I wasn’t even telling them the grief or loss or anything.  Well, I might have told the sleepy one something the day she fell asleep.”

Wherever I go, there I am.  Call me the human catalyst.  Put me in a room, and watch what happens.

I have a hypothesis.  I don’t think therapists are all that smart.  If you’re smart you become a neurophysicist or…a writer, for example, who is obsessed with philosophers and their replacements in our culture (therapists).

Therefore, consider this blog a theorem in which I prove I am the only sane person in the world.  At 1:30am.  Wide awake and coming up with blog topics, one after another after another, each one somehow about how therapy sucks.

I seem to have gotten a little obsessed by this subject.

And I am going back again on Friday at 5pm, with my partner, to the Stork Man, for session #4.  I think we did 5 with the Sheepdog, who still hasn’t refunded our extra accidentally prepaid copayments.  Do you think she’s expressing anything by withholding that money?  I mean, it’s got to be illegal or something, right?  It’s been well over a MONTH.

But, NEWS FLASH!  I actually bonded with the Stork Man last session.  For a few minutes.  I mean, a nonverbal warmth moment.  Which means I better come up with some really great insult to keep him at bay on Friday.  I mean, I wouldn’t want to feel close to a therapist, now would I?  Even if he is a stork.

I am working for sanity, all the time.  Madly, truly, deeply.  But with the world as it is…I have my work cut out for me.  Therapists, everywhere you turn.

Is There Normal? Somewhere Out There?


I remember the last time of grief in my life.  Was it worse then?  2002.  I didn’t have much work, and I lived alone in a tiny studio outside NYC, and there was nothing to do to escape it.  It was like being run down by a tank.  And then getting up a better person, because the relationship I’d lost hadn’t been good for me, and letting go made more room for love.

Today I missed Don with a sudden acute sadness–having an interaction with someone and remembering how though I had paranoia when I collaborated with Don, occasionally, mind you, then realizing that it was, after all, Don.  I mean, we had some power struggles we didn’t talk through.  Neither of us was anywhere near perfect, and sharing control is always hard when it’s not totally wonderful, which it was a lot of the time.  Mostly, there was kindness and today I remembered how he talked to me when we were disagreeing and how I never felt less as a person when we disagreed.  That’s not my usual experience.  And not my experience today.  Usually someone says something–it could be me, it could be the other person–and it’s off to the races with blame.  How we human beings hate to feel uncomfortable.  How we seem to be wired to think it’s something, anything, but what’s inside ourselves.  And maybe Don and I would have gotten to that place, but in seven years of knowing him, I think he said one judgmental thing to me.  And I think I said one judgmental thing back.  It was so rare, that kind of track record.  It meant so much to me.  I knew he trusted my goodness, and I certainly trusted his, which made me better as a person.  If someone trusts me, I feel I have to live up to that trust…with Don, it would have been like breaking a promise to a loved child, watching his face crumple…I have never, ever been able to stand to seeing innocence hurt.

So I miss Don.  I miss sinking into that feeling of safety he seemed to provide for me.  I wish I had been able to tell him this.  Not just that I loved him, but how much, how rare and precious it was for me to have these very unfamiliar feelings of unguarded vulnerability.  Nothing but honesty would do with him, and I loved that.

Here is what grief is: crying in public places, mostly the gym, or CVS, or my car.  It is also this incredible forgetfulness, and inability to sleep through the night.  How hard decisions seem.  But also how I want to do something I love, how I want to give myself some life while I can.  Because it was frankly terrifying to watch him get ripped out of this world with no warning, in this utter meaninglessness, no reason, all kinds of error, nothing to make sense of in any way…and to know this will happen to me, too, and to everyone I’ve ever loved.

In the middle of this, I have remembered how much I love poetry.  The terror in Sharon Olds, the grief in Mary Oliver, the wisdom and pageantry of Galway Kinnell.  And I have this strange clarity of vision.  My partner started to have conflict with a friend, and they exchanged words, and then some nasty emails (why email?  the worst choice for communication about the very personal), and here I am, the queen of reactivity, telling my partner to identify her part in it and take care of that and only that.  Clean your side of the street, I’m telling her.  Forget about the other side altogether.  I know how hard it is to do that when you’re triggered and upset, how you want to defend, explain, how you want the other person to change, how vulnerable it feels, how dangerous, even, to say, yes, I hurt you, I’m sorry, all the while in your head saying, and you hurt me, too, and worse, and your behavior was worse than mine, and you don’t understand, etc, etc.  I said to my partner, At some point we just have to listen to each other in spite of all the unskillful communication.  We have to know the other person is frightened and hurt.

Of course, do I listen to my partner this way?

I plead the 5th on that one.

I mean, have I turned into the Buddha?

Or, more likely, a Jesus Christ wannabe?

I wrote the character of Jesus into my latest play, and he says, at one point, “To be divine, you need to forgive them while they’re hurting you.”

I don’t think we’re made that way.

But you know, I forgave Don.  It was easy.  When he hurt me, he knew it, and he said something.  And I didn’t forget who he was when he hurt me.  That is the temptation, to throw all we know away, and to see only the person in the moment of unskillful behavior.

I wish I could grow up and forgive as I’m being hurt.  But right now, the best I can do is to know that whatever is hurting me is something I’ve done to someone, at some time, because the list of my unskillful behavior in my 20’s alone is truly astounding.

I can also miss Don.  Who was overweight, who spilled his food, whose car was a mess, who stayed up all night gaming, and who never spoke to me with anything less than the belief that I was a good person.  Which I am.  I miss that he never forgot to see that.

I would like to take what he gave me and give that to the world.  Seeing the good–not fantasy, not illusion–but the true good in who a person really is.

If you’re scared, it’s hard to do this.  Think how scared so many of us are so much of the time.

Metta for all people.  May we be well, may we be happy, may we be safe and protected, may we be at peace with what is.

That goes for you, too, Don.  Wherever you are, I am sending metta to you, with my whole heart.

A Visit to a Christopher Durang Play–OR COUPLES THERAPY AGAIN!


Seriously.

So, 3 sessions with the Stork Man, who we actually both kind of like, and who is ridiculously knowable for all of his quoting Eckhardt Tolle.  But, I am the Queen of the Backup Plan and my partner kind of likes having an out, too, so we decided to interview this new woman for comparison.

Let’s call her Santa Claus.

Actually, I don’t care what we call her.  Because all I can say is that I have always loved Christopher Durang, and once, at the Stage Source audition, when an actress did a comic monologue, and all the producers were like, “Who wrote that?  Was that a Durang piece?”  And I was like, “I wrote that.  Where did she get that?”  (I HAD written it.  And turns out I had given it to PP and she coached the actor.)  Anyhow, the point is I was in heaven for weeks because people thought I wrote like Durang.

Beyond Therapy is probably my favorite Durang play.  It contains a cast of insane characters, the therapist being the most insane.  She plays with a Snoopy puppet (I am obsessed with Snoopy) and can’t remember her clients’ names.

So when Santa Claus pulled out the gorilla puppet and the turtle puppet to illustrate the typical couples dynamic, I almost couldn’t believe it.  I mean, I was living a Durang moment.  Of course, the gorilla was me and the poor turtle was my partner, and I am never going back to see Santa again, but still.  So Durang, with the gorilla trying to gobble up the poor turtle, who just keeps pulling back into her shell.

I would like to say, on my own behalf, that I’m not often that needy.  Most of the time I’m doing what I’m doing right now, distracting and entertaining myself, while my partner, who no doubt would like to talk about our feelings about Santa Claus not being very jolly or giving good presents, watches the Patriot’s game.  I can be pressuring, controlling, hyperactive, etc, when I’m not creating something or making fun of someone (in only the most spiritual possible way, of course) or meditating and noticing how I am persecuted by inanimate objects.

I am very disappointed that Santa Claus didn’t turn out to be on my side.  Instead, the stork looms up Route 9 in his house by the park, bringing babies to the elderly in his spare time.

Or something like.

I got to be in a Durang play.

I can’t even tell you how that makes my day.

I hope someday to play the therapist in love with Snoopy.  The fact that it isn’t much of a stretch doesn’t mean I wouldn’t enjoy the hell out of it.

Happy Turkey Day to all of you non-Durang people.  May someone act out your relationships with puppets for you between now and the end of the year.

It is an experience worth having.  Or at least blogging about.

 

The Stork…Guess What I’m Talking About?


Yes, couples therapy.

We are at it again, seriously.  Session #3 with the straight guy, who right now we both kind of like, but since that can swing back and forth at a moment’s notice, well, all you can do is stay tuned in and hope I am inspired to write about it (or that I am inspired and able to keep from talking about my partner or her issues except in the most superficial and non-blaming way, because as I’ve said before, writing about your partner’s intimate life on the world wide web is not the way to keep a marriage).

So, we were out at dinner with another couple, good friends of ours, and I said to my partner, “I think of this one as the Stork,” and she said, “Yeah, that fits.”  And I was like, “He’s really tall, so I tried to think giraffe, but stork kept coming up.”  And then the guy in the other couple said, “Do you name all your couples therapists after animals?”

My partner and I looked at each other.  And I was like, “No, only the last two.  Before the Sheepdog and the Poodle, let’s see, there was Oingo-Boingo and Niminy Piminy.  Names seem to go in phases.”

Then I had to tell the story of how I had my individual therapist in my email address book under “Dimwit,” but then I emailed her and she could see that, which did not make her very happy.  The other couple found this very funny.  Very, very funny.  I had to take the nickname off, and it was the only time I ever got caught in this little game.

Let us hope no other therapist reads this blog.

Metta for therapists.  Even though I don’t mean it.  I’m just not that spiritual.  Still.

When It’s Over, It’s Over


The good thing about making things public is that it becomes very hard to change your mind.

All day today I felt kind of shitty.  Of course, the fact I stayed up finishing the theatre version of Saint John the Divine in Iowa until 2am, and then got up before 8 didn’t help.  But the truth is, I’ve been seeing I have mini meltdowns whenever there are endings.  I didn’t quite catch this one–the lovely Marc Ewart had to listen to me rant for 5 minutes (or ten, because when I’m ranting I don’t exactly count).  But, 5 minutes, 10, poor Marc, but it’s forgiveable.  I mean, I’m ending 8 years of my life.  It’s…well, terrifying.

And this slam, my 28th (not counting the franchises…if you count them, then over 35), was the best one I’ve ever done.  It was a terrible amount of work, and I have some bonusing to do–again, the lovely Marc Ewart–but all the business decisions were sound and they worked, so it was the best artistically and it was also the most lucrative.

And I hate the administration.  I hate creating and printing the scorer sheets, ordering and picking up programs, doing budgets, checking reservations over and over again, marketing, posting, press release writing, making the calendar and organizational structure.  The sad thing is that I kept thinking it would be worth it some day–not just worth it politically, or to create opportunities, or to make socially relevant art–but worth it to me, to my own growth as a spiritual being on this planet.

I’m not meant to be an administrator.  It stymies what is best in me.  Administration is about containment, and I am at my best when I am setting things free.  Creating the slam concept, figuring out how to make it work–that was the good part.  Picking plays, promoting actors, teaching them, mentoring, directing, writing parts for my students–that’s part of setting free.  But the day-to-day business of the company put me in a cage of my own making, and mostly I just chafed against the bars, trying to get free.

Which is all to say that I am very sad.  I miss my friend Don.  I want him to be here, I want to be talking to him about directing Saint John the Divine in Iowa, I want to be worrying if he’s ready for it, if he’s too new to directing, I want to be tempting him back into theatre, I want to be tempted myself by how much I trust him, I want to see if he’ll succumb again, I want to see if he’ll finally say no.

I am so scared about my next.  Buddhism is about accepting what is, and in this case it’s accepting that being a producer, an administrator, is not me.  And it does not give me the power to create the art I want to create.  It keeps me from doing it.

Today I left the gym, got in my car, and started crying.  I cried all the way home.

In this culture, I’m supposed to be okay.  Already.  Not even a month later.  I’m not supposed to be in this place of spinning, and when everything stops–which it does, sometimes–the way I MISS HIM.  I miss trusting him.  More than anything, I miss that.  I miss the safety.  I miss his good heart.  I miss the sense of easy welcome, I miss knowing when I call, I’ll hear gladness in his voice.  I miss listening to him–he talked too much, and he told me the same very personal stories over and over again, but I loved him, so I didn’t mention my photographic memory, I just listened, and because I listened, I got to hear the one or two small things that were new, and inevitably very important to have heard.  Sometimes I think that was my best gift to him–not the artistic collaboration or opportunities, but just listening when I knew most of what he was going to say.  I didn’t resent it.  Isn’t that a miracle?

Can I walk into my life knowing I am a creature that is meant to set things free?  Can I be the very one I am, because I might wink out like that, that unexpectedly, so unfinished?  Can I love better?

I am sad about not doing slams any more.  Even though it really was always kind of bad for me.  No.  It was bad for me.  It was a great thing, but not so great for me.  It didn’t feed my soul, and I was very confused by that, because slams are great, really great, they are a good thing on the planet, and I made them.

Can I walk into my life, drawn more fully into the selfish, into the thing that sets me free?

I wrote the character of Jesus into my play these last couple days and I realized that the most important relationship for the minister character is that one, the one she has with her own spirit, with the Jesus who comes to her, whose pain she comes to understand.

I am obsessed with the passion of Christ.  I am obsessed with the idea of forgiving people in the very moment that they are hurting you.  Because I am not that person.  Mostly.  I am not.  But I can imagine it, and how it goes against our very biology, the very structure of our brains, and yet our spirit has this capacity to cut loose from its moorings and become something so big, so full of light…it’s happened to me.  It was terrible.  Wonderful.  The awful freedom of unending expansion into being everything, which is the end of the self, and the beginning of something I don’t understand.

And then I return.  To this moment.

In which I am sleep deprived.

I hate endings.  I know they need to be marked, and some people marked this for me, because I forgot to.  I think they must care about me to do so.  I don’t really think about that.  What other people feel about me.  I am a John Sarno recruit because what I think about is whether I’m doing enough or not.  Whether I’m being good enough for people, whether I’m for them.  Tonight there were some people who were for me.

In the ending of everything, there is that.

All the people around Don’s bed, holding onto his warm hands, his small feet, silent, witnessing, for him.

We should not be alone in the things that end.  There should be someone there who is for us, who knows the very one we are.

I think that happened, unexpectedly.  A Snoopy toy and some flowers.  That simple.

May I keep falling in love until I die.  With the very same list of people.  With the daily detritus of life.  With unending expansion and tiny details.  Not metta.  The passion of existence.  When the life inside is so big, you can’t say it.

May you feel that life in me, streaming toward you, Don.  May you feel it, all of you who I have ever loved, and will love again.

An ending.

And a long blog to deal with it.

Why Am I a Glutton for Punishment OR Couples Therapist #4.


Okay.  I went in and told the truth.

And I like the truth.  It’s so wonderfully painful.  As an artist, which means I enjoy my own suffering and use it as fuel, the truth is on my side.

The couples therapist told us that he himself tried about every therapy out there and found most of them didn’t work.  The only one that does work for him is IFS, because it isn’t psychological, it’s psychospiritual.

DING!  Let the meditation gongs ring.

Then he worked with my partner for a while…they all do this, did you notice?  I come in, make my opening statement, and then they go to her and stay with her.

BUT, she did not make her angelic face.

AND, he asked me if he’d stayed with her too long.

Are you getting the idea that he might be less than certifiable himself?  Or at least, certifiable in the same ways I am.

I know this, remove the spiritual and healing doesn’t happen.  BUT, new age bullshit unrigorous let’s pretend we’ve forgiven the hurts we haven’t forgiven to look good is NO GOOD.  I’m as into fake healing as I am into therapy in general.

Anyhow, he also said he hoped I wouldn’t be as upset by this session as the last one.

Which would be hard to top, so I think we’re good.

The top number of sessions is about four.  I’m wondering if we can break the record.  Up and down we go.

PS–This guy also said if you make your partner responsible for your happiness, life is one long roller coaster ride.  Which I already believe.  So, even better.