Friday, January 23, 2009

sex, lies, and 40 years later... the internet

These greeting cards are pieces of a bittersweet memory from 1970 to 1973, and the messages are quite romantic. I saved the cards to always remember a man I loved named: Lou. But, this was a dark and layered and mysterious "love" because Lou was not just a man... he was my therapist.
Lou looked like Al Pacino in "Serpico." And he was married with several children. I'll be brief...
I began seeing a therapist in about 1970. His office was in Greenwich Village and after just a few sessions I came under the seductive spell of "erotic transference." I grew attached and I was dependent. I fell in love, or thought I had fallen in love. The feelings were not yet mutual. There arrived the day when Lou told me he was moving his practice to Staten Island. I was not ready at all for the separation and I was emotionally devastated. So, I followed him to Staten Island and became a twice a week ferry regular.
The longing for him until my sessions each week was unbearable. I was vaguely aware back then that transference was a common feeling when in analysis. And I had fallen deeply in love with my therapist. Lou sent a real mixed bag of messages; by turns flirting with me and allowing me to believe the feelings were becoming mutual, and at the end of each session he drove me back to catch the ferry. But, in the sessions he would emotionally push me away. He pulled me in and gave me hope and played with my desire, and then confused me by pushing me away with his mercurial whim. He vaguely promised to soon meet me for lunch in Manhattan and then in the next session he told me to find another therapist. I returned home filled with longing and I was confused and desperately unhappy. I was in anguish. I wrote him long love letters in which I poured out my heart.
He sent me greeting cards for Valentine's Day and my birthday... copies hang at this blog (configured with folds to fit.) The saga continued for several years and well.. as it goes with time, the hypnotic spell eventually broke and I ended the "therapy." One day, just like that.
About eight years later, in 1981... I tried Lou's old number and I called. I needed closure. Lou was very excited and happy to hear from me. He was now divorced. He started calling me twice a day. I had to tell him to calm down. So, we had dinner at a Manhattan restaurant. He sat there all pompous and smoking a nasty cigar. We went back to my apartment and well... anyway, when he left he hugged me and I knew it was a good-bye forever. He had not changed. He had told me over dinner his experience with me took him to a place where he made a decision to never allow physical contact with a patient in a session ever again. The man was a fast and quick study!
I look back on this episode of my life now and it is totally meaningless. I am not angry. I feel nothing. I know this goes on. I watched "In Treatment." Lou was verbally unprofessional, unethical, and his behavior was inconsistent. He did not know what to do about me and he could not handle and come to terms with his own feelings. I hope in real life transference is being handled properly by those who have fallen under it's seductive spell. I am happy I saved all of Lou's cards because I am reminded of what I believed to be what Diane Keaton has called "the sweet anguish of love..." in my specific situation in all it's full-blown and enabled delusional glory.

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