Last night I was asked to consider why I present my story the way I do. Why I don’t reflect. Or rather, why me now does not reflect on me then. I suppose that’s because me now has no idea what she thinks of me then. And not just that, but I’m not sure the passage of time allows for me to get the distance I need to fully reflect. I’m still inside.
I sat in T’s office last night, and we had The Talk. She told me that in ten years, I will find a different meaning in my material. Even in one year, writing the story, I will find a different meaning than the one I find now. She asked what meaning I was trying to draw from my book as a whole.
“I…I’m not sure,” I stammered.
She sank back in her chair. “I have to ask you some difficult questions.”
“Hit me.” My arms were folded in front of me protectively, and I shifted, suddenly aware of the unconscious words my body language might be speaking.
“How did you view the relationships with the women you wrote about? I mean, back then.” That was not the question I had expected. She must have realized this, because she continued, “Let’s try again. Were you friends?”
I thought about this for a second. “Well, no. Friendly? Yeah.”
“It took me well into the first chapter to realize they were professors, not fellow students. I kept asking myself, why would a student care about this paper? Homework? A student wouldn’t, but a professor would.”
“Okay?” I had absolutely no idea what she was trying to say.
“You didn’t think it was weird that you went to professors, not peers?”
“I didn’t have peer friends.”
“I’m not sure? It’s just really hard to connect to people, I guess. I know, I know. It’s weird. Sad.”
“You make so many mentions in the chapter about being alone. About not having anyone to go to. So what does it say about you that the people you do go to are these women? These professors?”
T waved a hand in the air and laughed. “You don’t have to answer now. Just think about it. I told you, difficult questions.”
I nodded, saying nothing.
“It seems to me that the meaning, at least from the chapters you gave me, is about relationships, and what they mean.”
That wasn’t what I was trying for in the writing. But as I rode the subway home that night, as I lay in bed and pondered the question, I could only think about power relationships. I picked them because I wanted someone to tell me what to do. What is it about me? It’s that I have always had relationships that told me what to do next. Where to go, what to wear, who to be. And it was a default; I went to the power relationship because I was lost without it. I didn’t know how to have peer friends, and I still don’t. I feel separate from everyone, and that’s a separation I have created myself. I feel like I felt that I had a right to professor/student relationships because I was certain of my role as a student. But I didn’t have a right to peer/peer relationships because I was uncertain of my role as a person. I still am.
The MFA–a therapy program in academic clothing.
T also mentioned last night that I should find a therapist here. Not because I’m crazy, or because I’m losing it, but because therapy would help me to learn how to reflect. And when I can do that, I can make my writing better. Stronger. If that means therapy again, I guess that’s cool?
So what IS the meaning? My book isn’t just about rape. It’s about how abuse completely fucks with the course of all the things. How it screws you up irrevocably; how it’s incredibly difficult to change the tape that abuse records into your brain. It’s about power, and who does and doesn’t have it. Who we give it to, and who we take it from. And why.
In other news, I think I’ve found the thesis adviser I want. Anyone that can make me really think in this way is okay in my book.