I have long had this image of Self-Loathing as either a dirty, shuffling wreck of a woman or someone very haughty with sharp fingernails and a sharper tongue. It turns out, however, that behind that disguise, SL may in fact be a little girl.
In therapy this evening, E approaches SL as a defense mechanism. I begin to argue, “But wait, what if SL is right? What if I did make it all up?”
As we go back and forth on this topic, it seems that E is not talking to me. She is talking to a fierce, stubborn girl. I am still there as myself, watching it all, but all my adult reactions are tucked away as I just let the angry girl talk.
The girl can’t tolerate even the idea that my father might have molested me. She is indignant at the suggestion.
E asks her a lot of questions, and she responds with some of the things she loves about her dad: how much fun he can be, how silly, how he thinks she is smart and is proud of her for that, how he likes that she is good at math. He’s gone at work a lot but when he’s around, he acts like he likes to be with her. She knows he loves her. He wouldn’t hurt her.
E is quite gentle with this girl and acknowledges how important this attention from her dad must be to her. She didn’t get it in a lot of other places. She can’t bear to give it up. She’s worried that if adult Q even opens up the topic of something negative about her dad, that might undermine her connection to her dad. No, no, no. It’s not true. It can’t be.
So E asks if the girl would like me, adult Q, to show her that I see all the good things about my dad. This is the first time that the girl says yes to anything. I agree to make a book or a collage or something. Then E tries to talk a little about how grown-ups can be both good and bad, or they can be good and do a bad thing. But the girl is not having any of it, and E agrees we can save some of that for later.
It’s a strange session, and I leave feeling exhausted, but at the same time, a little relieved. I finally have something to do besides just yell at SL to go away–which wasn’t working anyway. And though I know it may not make sense to some readers, it makes me oddly happy to think of pulling together a lot of my good memories of time spent with my father.