Feb 23, 2022

Around this time I went back into therapy through the county—with Helen, a psychiatric social worker like my mother—seeing her once a week for free. She was a former nun who had left the convent after falling in love with a priest, though they didn’t wind up together—and as with Drs. C and F, she was assigned to me. Coincidentally, Harry wound up seeing her too. I wrote:

“I’m afraid I’m too fragile for therapy, that it mobilizes more pain and rage and self-doubt that I can stand at this point in my life. Last night I couldn’t stop the flood of feelings that broke through after my session with Helen. Sleep only briefly interrupted it.

“Last week I’d felt comfortable with her—and grateful—by the end of the session. I’d thought she might be someone I could work with. But yesterday’s session left me feeling discouraged. I think she felt it too because she said at the end, almost apologetically, “Well, one step at a time.” I didn’t feel any relief afterwards—or that anything had been accomplished. Instead I felt annoyed by her suggestion that wanting something from my mother emotionally was what was keeping me in her home.

“Later in the evening, wrathful feelings started crowding out other thoughts. I thought of the circumstances, internal and external, that have kept me a prisoner in this house. I wanted to scream back at Helen, ‘You think I wanted to come home when I left L.A.? You think I didn’t know what would happen to me? I hated coming home. I dreaded the toll it would take on me, knowing from previous experience that it would. It was like entering a black hole and not knowing if I would ever find my way out again.’ I was in a rage at the time—at all the circumstances that put me in the position of having to go to a home that was no home, at myself for being so ineffectual, so helpless, that I had to crawl back there. As in the movie They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, I felt I should be taken out and shot.”