Yesterday I shared my current love for Annie Rogers’ books The Unsayable and Shining Affliction. Today I thought I’d preserve some of the things I marked as “to remember” from Shining Affliction.
“What you fear most has already happened.” This is the first line of a poem that Rogers writes and shares in this book. What a powerful statement. And it is so, so true.
“Tea Bags is “magic” and has a relationship with Ben, but Tea Bags also has a relationship with me – I animate the puppet, but Ben treats the puppet as I have treated him. Tea Bags might also be an extension of Ben’s body; Ben wants to bring him boots after all, though Tea Bags has no feet. In short, Ben has found a way to put himself into Tea Bags’s “skin”, to guess what the puppet might want as an extension of what he wants. In this way, he is able to guess what a little lost bear needs and to make a tender response.” Ah, such complexities of people and our play!
“I feel suddenly wary. Everything within me is about to be named, boxed, contained and controlled. My hands rest on the arms of a green chair, but I feel as if they could life up and life me out of here. But they are still, lifeless. The top of my head lifts off (a strange sensation), and with it my answers to his questions life and float out of me into the street where they mingle with the smoky breaths of passerby. There is no need to explain anything, I realize.” As someone who is always reaching for words, written and spoken, I’m intrigued by elective mutism and I feel like this scene (where a doctor is asking her why she’s in the hospital after a breakdown) gives me a glimpse.
“I know already how to listen to different silences. There is a silence that lies in hiding, waiting for words, but the words of the speaker are carefully censored, for all but the ones the listener waits for go unheeded, denied, into this silence. This silence leaches confidence and vision from the speaker, so that the telling itself becomes unnatural, estranging, annihilating. This silence is a bog, thick. There is no breathing space within it. But there is also a silence that opens out, as a simple wood door opens out on a clean white field, cold, its long slope strewn with stars. This silence breathes and expands. This silence waits for words, too, and it welcomes the unexpected ones, the uncanny, disturbing, and surprising ones.” Another thing that I’m reading for school is Barbara Stevens Sullivan’s book on Bion and Jung, so I’m learning about Bion’s K, the concept of being totally open to what is true in this present moment, and I feel like this latter type of silence expresses that K.
“The philosopher Heidegger writes, “What withdraws from us, draws us along by its very withdrawal, whether or not we become aware of it,” in What is Called Thinking. He goes on to explain how drawing towards withdrawal can shape who we are: “Once we are drawn into the withdrawal, we are drawing towards what attracts us by its withdrawal. And once we, being so attracted, are drawing towards what withdraws, our essential nature alread bears the stamp of ‘drawing toward’.” Another way of saying this is that the gaps in memory draw us into memory, whether we know it or not.”
“In each moment in every life, there is a gesture hovering, to move toward or away from a truth.”
“I see suddenly, very clearly, that her trust in me changed as she acquired more and more clinical training and experience, until I felt, in the last year we met, that what I said to her hardly mattered. She had her interpretations all ready, and my words were fitted to them. Anything that did not fit could be attributed to my ‘denial’ or ‘resistance’.” This is at the heart of Rogers’ troubles with her therapist and it really strikes me to the core. I think it is the risk all therapists run of getting wrapped up in the academic side of things and forgetting to see the person in front of them. It’s a risk I’m afraid of if I move into this work myself. It’s an area I never want to stop being vigilant about.