Therapy is about living in multiple time points at once…….
“Why do you think he avoided you as time went on?” Blue asked.
I cringed. Wasn’t it obvious? The Carpenter had turned away in the park when he thought I didn’t see; he didn’t tell me that he was coming to Manhattan to visit someone else until after he had returned home. He wanted our conversations to be long, but limited their number. Over time, he was discovering who I really was, that I was toxic to him.
“No. He avoided you because it was painful, for him.”
That couldn’t have been it. He regretted starting something, and wanted to take it back.
“That doesn’t explain the flirting long after you were an adult.”
I let my hand rest on my head where it hurt.
“He gave you some things that you desperately needed, and triggered other things that you did not need, things that were not good for you. If you ask for what you need from the right people, you won’t have to give the store away. Give what’s precious to people who can give it back.”
I was alone that Friday night after the boys were tucked in, while David’s plane was zooming toward Egypt. Six days he would be gone. Who could I ask for what I needed? Who would give back anything precious? Could I hold it together for six more days and long winter nights? I don’t think so, I told my in-laws. I don’t think this façade for the kids will last. In the time it took me to hang up and redial to leave a message on Blue’s voice mail, David’s stepmother had called back, to say that she would be flying down from Massachusetts the next day to spend a few days. I cried from relief and exhaustion. I stayed up late to keep crying, to get a jump start on the grief, the re-grieving. I fell asleep to the silent recitation of what Blue had said.
The next morning the boys took turns running in to find me in the guest bedroom. I answered their questions and acknowledged their snippets of conversation in between listening to Blue when he returned my call.
“I’m impressed that his stepmother is coming,” he said, “I’m impressed that you were able to express your needs in such a way that she offered to come.”
Mama, what’s this map doing on this shoebox? Alexander asked in my right ear. I don’t know. That’s just the style of the brand. I liked the design so I thought we should keep it. What’s J-41? he pressed. Those are coordinates.
“I’m impressed that you called me,” Blue continued in my left ear. I had never done that before, despite the many times he had urged me to. Yes, I acknowledged, that had been terrifying to do.
“Do you see how this works?” he asked rhetorically. “The more you reach out, the deeper those bonds become, the richer the relationships become, and the easier it is to ask for what you need.”
Someone will be there, he promised.