22. May 2013 · Comments Off on Stratagems · Categories: N. Staying Alive, Take Bull by Horns · Tags:

Dr. Lowen says here you have one female and two males.  Send your son to boarding school.   He’ll come into his own there.  That’s what saved the British aristocracy.

I don’t know about the British, but it is working for us.  Herb says he doesn’t want to go to therapy anymore.   I ask Dr. Lowen to see him for one session to evaluate our situation.

After that, Herb says we don’t need therapists anymore and I should call Dr. Lowen and quit.  I say no, I must tell him in person.

It has been a year since we started.

Dr. Lowen says people go to therapy the way they approach life.

Your husband does not believe that therapy will help him and that he must solve his own problems.

In your case, you think the therapy will succeed if you put your whole effort into it.  You know, I’ve had patients that I work with for years to get them to fully accept a painful truth before they can move on.

With you, as soon as we uncover something you accept it and then you present me with the next step.

I say I’ve read all your books.  They are very clear.  Then I describe my own case.  Am I accurate?  He nods.  You remember everything.   You should write.  Not philosophical tracts.  The most interesting thing you could ever write about is your own life story.

Oh no, I could never do that!  Think of all the people involved!

Not now, he says, you’re too young.  You have years to enjoy life fully.

For what you came to do, I must say that we are done.   Never again will you fall for a man who sabotages himself.

Your fantasy was to be chosen by a king.   (In Dr. Lowen’s terms a king is a man who has come into his own as a man, who is his own man.  Every man has the potential of being a king.)

Your husband is a king.  Your father was a king too.

But your husband is a wounded king.   He is in a bind.   He has a tremendous life force which up to now has maintained his defenses.  But he did not use his energies to go forward with his own achievements – to take his place in the sun.

I have to say that as sick as he is he really loves you.  You gave him a place in the heart.  But for a man, that is not enough.  He cannot live through you.

I still love him.  I want to stay with him.

Dr. Lowen will not tell me what to do, but I can sense his disappointment.  It is as though I went through rehab and just said that I am going back to drugs.

You have a right to your own happiness!

We have a dispirited back and forth.

Finally, he says that he has to warn me.  It may be years, he says, but as he gets older your husband’s defenses will break down.  If he so much as pushes you in anger, you have to leave.  If he turns to violence against you he won’t be able to stop.

I say goodbye, but I don’t do goodbyes well.  This is one of the worst.  I leave Dr. Lowen with a heavy heart.

05. May 2013 · Comments Off on The Abyss Yawns Open · Categories: C. 1 to 4 years, Take Bull by Horns, The Beast · Tags: ,

I see the boy at the top of the slope just as he is coming down.  His bicycle has a bell – rrring – rrring – rrring.  His white shirt is blowing, the wind is in his hair, he has the widest smile.  Rrring – rrring – rrring.  Oh, how I wish I could do that!  I lean forward on the balcony to see him speed by.

I see the bus coming at the bottom of the street.  I hear the crash, but I can’t see because Ah Seem has grabbed me against her tunic.  I know the boy died.  I feel the horror filling up inside me.  It makes me sick.  No one says anything about the boy.

The next morning, when I go with Ah Seem to the park, we pass the crossroad.  Ah Seem pulls me along quickly, but I look back and I see the bloodstains on the road.  The horror comes back.

I am not yet three.  How can I know death, why do I feel that horror?  But even when I learn these things later, I would never again feel horror in the same way.

I become sick.  I remember Dr. Gomes with a big needle I don’t want.  Then a lot of darkness, of shadows, then my mommy’s face, then my daddy’s.  Dr. Gomes is here too.  They smile, but they are not happy.  They blur, and I go back to sleep.

But I wake up.  I learn a new word: crisis.  It’s what I came through.  I get a lot of hugs.  But I still want to sleep.

Weeks go by.  One day, a man carries a bushel basket into my room.  Look, Ah Seem enthuses, your godfather, the big judge, sends you a big present!

I am too tired.

Ah Seem reaches into the basket.  Look!  There are many pretty packages!  She holds out a brightly wrapped little package.

Too tired.

She opens the package and sets down a little pink glass pig with a curly tail.  Then she puts down an even smaller pink piglet with a curly tail.  There are two more.  They are so cute.  What else is there?

Ah Seem hands me a package.  I want to know what’s inside.  You can open it, she says.  Soon we have little goats, buffaloes, dogs, swans.

I pull aside layers of soft tissue and find a glass dragon with many colors.  Ah Seem laughs as she holds it up and makes it dance.  Good fortune!  Good fortune!

The dragon sparkles and reflects a shaft of sunlight into a million dancing lights.  I want to go outside with my dragon and make it dance in the sunlight and show everyone.


glass dragon

The Glass Dragon

I see Chico turn the corner to our house.  He is a young man who rides his bicycle from the farms to bring us eggs and milk and vegetables.  I wish I could ride a bike.

We have only one bicycle, my mom’s.  I can’t even reach the pedals.  There is no chance of getting a child’s bicycle until the war is over.

I try getting on my mom’s bike.  I can stand on the pedals and ride without sitting on the seat.   But I haven’t learned to balance myself on a bike.  I look down the long slope, which is paved with cobblestones.  If I stand on the pedals and go down the slope, I can turn on the road at the bottom and the bike will just keep going.   I will be riding the bike!

It is working.   The bike speeds up, but the cobblestones slow it enough that I don’t have to use the brakes.  It is exhilarating!  As I get to the bottom, I hear a chorus of cheers and whistles from the high wall of the barracks.  I turn to the left, and just as I hoped, the bike keeps going.  I pedal it around and circle back.

I see who was cheering.  The soldiers applaud and wave.  If I were surer of my hold on the handlebars  I would wave back at them.  I hope they can see me smiling as widely as I can.



 Taking the bull by the horns

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Military barracks.  Our house was up the long slope to the right.

22. March 2013 · Comments Off on The Broken Wall · Categories: I. 11 to 12 years, Take Bull by Horns


broken wall

Except for one small two-story concrete apartment building on either side of Star Street, our group of wooden houses is at the very end of the street.  Beyond us there is only the steep grassy slope leading up to a mansion in the distance.  We can see the mansion and a mesh wire fence, but we can’t see that it’s on the same road as our school.

I know because Amelia invited me to her house.  She lives across the road from our school.  After tea, we walked all around the road but we could not see our house from there.

Amelia and I talk about things that I can’t talk about with my street friends.  I know she will still be my friend at school even though I can’t invite her back.

There is a broken wall across the street from our group of houses.  It is what is left of an apartment building.   Most of the wall is about four feet high but part of it rises almost ten feet from the pile of rubble at its base.

The broken wall is probably left there to keep people from falling down a gaping hole, several stories deep, which the gutted apartment house left in the ground.

ShuttlecockI am kicking my feather shuttlecock.  A few small children count as I kick.   They stop counting even though I don’t miss.  They are looking at two street boys who have climbed up on the lower end of the broken wall.   One boy glances down nervously at the other side of the wall and quickly jumps back down to the rubble on the street.   He lands on a small hole and twists his foot.  He limps away.   He sits on the street, rubbing his foot.  The other boy calculates better and lands firmly.

A few more boys approach the wall.   Two of them climb up.  One pulls himself up to the higher section.  Carefully, he walks the length of the wall.    Everyone is watching him.  He does not turn his head.  He does not look at the pit.  He keeps his eyes on his feet.  Then he scans the rubble and moves one step to the side.   He stretches out his arms like a swallow and leaps into the air.   The children gasp.

The boy lands firmly.

Wah!  Wah!  The small fry are in awe.

I run towards the wall.   I climb up.  The boy still on the wall lets himself down.    I struggle and pull myself up to the higher level.  I turn and stare down at the pit.  I walk to where the tough boy had stood.  I spread out my arms and I leap.

I land just as the boy did.

What was I thinking!  I don’t know.  I just wanted to do it.

Small rocks start to fall on the street.  They’re coming from the direction of the mansion on the hill.   All the tough boys run towards the hill.  At the upper part of the slope, ten or twelve children, boys and girls in party clothes, have come down from their fence and are hurling rocks at us.

We start throwing rocks up at them, which don’t get very far before they roll back down.   The snooty brats think this is hilarious fun.  They keep throwing rocks at us as they back up towards their fence.

Suddenly, flames shoot through the grass on the far side of us.  I am startled at how fast fire travels through the grass up the hill.  We rush down before the flames change direction.  We can never outrun them.

When the children on the hill see the smoke they leap over their fence, shouting, and race back to their mansion.   I hear the fire engines up on the Peak road.

The tough boys have scattered.

As I run towards our house I see that there is no one on the street.   An empty street in our neighborhood.  I’ve never seen that.

11. March 2013 · Comments Off on Rising Water · Categories: I. 11 to 12 years, Take Bull by Horns

I have been coming to this beach all summer.  I know every rock and sea creature that is likely to scurry about.   I decide to explore further along the rocky coast.  I am delighted to find a small sandy cove nestled against the steep rise of the rocky hillside.

I climb down and sit on the cool, wet sand.  I have a whole new view of the sea here.  I watch the clouds and daydream.

Suddenly, a rush of water startles me.  Instantly, the water is up to my waist and rising.  To my side, the water is rising over the rocky coast.  There is no time to go back that way before the waves start dashing me against the rocks.

I know what I must do, immediately, before the next wave comes in.

I throw my body forward and swim out towards the sea.  I have to swim past the rocks before I can turn back in to the beach.  I don’t wonder if I can do it, I just do it.

I don’t remember swimming back to the beach, which of course I did.  I also don’t remember feeling fear or panic.

Once I read about a man whose head was in a lion’s mouth when he was saved.  He was asked what he felt when he was that close to sudden death.  He said that at the last moment, his horror and fear were replaced by a sense of complete euphoria, and he felt no pain.

I sometimes wonder if something like that happened to me that day.

girlWater copy