This post has arisen from a belated response to an OS friend who reached out to ask about me. It was just a short message, not insistent but provocative. It reminded me that I had once felt I belonged here, that I had made friends here and that I would like to return again - but that if I did return I must contribute, reciprocate, engage.
In my work I experience extraordinary intimacy with my clients; it's tempting to substitute that professional privilege for friendship. Likewise, it can seem preferable, at times in one's personal life, to be a 'friend in need' than a 'friend indeed'. It can be far too easy to slip into the role of comforter and listener, to present strong shoulders and protective arms. It is certainly far easier than baring one's soul in remembering and rhyming here on Open Salon. This is what marked this hiatus for me, I acknowledged today: abandoning the free speech on my blog for a full speech, a language as terminal as the trauma I sought to evade. This full speech, this resort to only analysing and intellectualising, I realised, was only resistance. And now that I have recognised it, I owe it to myself to interrogate this online absence and ask, where else I have failed to be present?
What, I hear some of you ask: is this resistance in the analyst?!
Yes, I admit, it has been far easier for me to retreat behind the couch, behind knowledge, and deny my own neurotic vulnerability, my lack. I have not only withdrawn from OS friends but also from my real-life friends and family. The tragedy and pain within my own circle has proven harder to contain than that I face in the clinic.
... So, let me share an edited version of the response I sent earlier...
* * * * *
...I miss the company on OS and the chat. I don't miss the snarking, etc., of course, but I miss the comfort and genuine caring that is also there. I tried posting a couple of times but usually it was when I needed a moan unfortunately!
As you know, my husband got laid off ..... Many of my friends and family, too, have been visited by tragedy and pain ... and it's been chaotic and painful for us at times dealing with the stress of all this. I've upped my hours in the clinic and lecturing but there's only so much I can contain in this work, so that's not a solution. It's generally quite ambiently depressing in Ireland these days, I'm afraid.
In my clinic now there is much more despair and suicidal ideation among my clients, and it's quite often contingent upon very real circumstances: redundancy, financial constraints, illness. This has not been a 'happy isle' or even a 'blessed isle' for quite a while. The national low mood has been compounded by the serial dismantling over the past twenty-five years of all our idealised historical institutions: the church, a 32-county Ireland, the banks, the Gardai, the doctor, the family, and most recently, the Fianna Fail party, of course. I find it quite ironic that John B. Keane's 'The Field' is playing in the Olympia at the moment (with the original non-Hollywood ending, apparently).
I have checked in to OS from time to time and read some of the articles but I have had to limit my time surfing online in order to get some sleep! I've discovered Twitter - but, of course, Twitter is an information-sharing network more than a social network. It's also meant that I've had to limit my ranting and moaning to 140 characters, an arbitrary limit but a necessary one most of the time. I use Facebook to stay in contact with my extended family (my Ozzie OS friends may be interested to know I have acquired an Ozzie in-law). The ultimate result of all this online connectivity has been that the first question every one of my family/friends ask me on meeting up is, how I get any sleep these days!
OS brought me back to writing and I still write. Maybe only 140 characters but regularly ;) . I'm still writing poetry and I'm told that my lectures are very entertaining, being quite witty and anecdotal. So that 'convergence' I aspired to in my bio is definitely closer to being a reality.
You're very kind to check me out. I do want to come back to OS and it will be easier for having had this contact.
* * * * *
Since writing here on OS I have discovered a new articulation. I'm not Randy Pausch and I'm not ready for the Ted podium, but I'm more comfortable with ... communication? Hmmm, that's interesting, I'm not sure what that noun should be.
Ah, yes, that transference again! OS, what do you do to me with your screened silent demand? Of course, I have not been about 'communication' but rather its direct opponent: 'encryption'. Haikus and rengas and clever turns of phrase and witticisms; Facebook status updates and pseudonymous Twitter aphorisms - what would Freud have made of it all? No, the limited release of Twitter's one hundred and forty characters is not going to be enough any longer.
:: (sigh) ::
I realise now that through this online discourse I was seeking containment, a containment I could not seek off-line. In the real world, I had positioned myself as the anchor for others, the resolute lynch-pin with boundless energy and strength. I was in danger of believing in this ideal creation myself. I would have believed, had it not been for a siren's call ...
Thank you, OS friend, for drawing me back from that unwitting precipice. As you see from this post, I was still clutching that ideal position in my initial response. But in responding to you, I returned to Open Salon; I brought myself back here and I logged back in and I re-discovered 'psychomama'... and something has shifted.
Yes, it will be easier to return for having had this first contact. What an absolute miracle transference is! I had been quite happy in my neurotic denial until this provocative intervention and I could have continued carapace-building without question, if not for an OS friend. A friend indeed; a friend who knew my need and interpreted it as desire.