the old shame back again

-o god o god my life’s hard!

he was sitting on the kitchen floor, the light was on, one of these middle of the night things.

-so hard.

I sat down next to him, put his head against me till he stopped sobbing.

—-what is it, hon? I asked. -the job?

He shook his head yes. There was a dish towel handy and when he started crying again I dabbed his face.

Of course the job, the job, the job, what else? He’s a psychotherapist who treats women whose fathers were shamed.

After the war they shamed the men and now he treats a generation of daughters, the women whose fathers were shamed. A teacher forced in front of his students and…a man with a wife who had to…grandpa in the rain…

–really a lot of it is normalizing these details, taking the shame out of saying what is hidden in the ellipsis he told me.

-Put anybody else in the same situation. Would you judge them?

That’s what he asked me.

And it’s a kind of healing but he’s afraid on nights like this that it is just symptomatic relief, that the sickness lies too deep.

-Once you know your fathers are afraid, you women…

-it’s not exactly…I mean we knew it. We know it. How could we not know it?

He studied at one of their schools that’s where he went to med school and did his training so of course with the new government they made him…his patients… And that’s what he remembers, on nights like these.

He rocked against my body, rocked and cried.

I don’t hate him any more — how could I?


4 thoughts on “the old shame back again

  1. I feel as if you mostly write a form of poetry, so here’s what I got from it: (1) “Come back, Shame!” (2) We all do the best we can with life, and try to live with the consequences. (3) Psychotherapists have a particularly rough time, since they spend their lives listening to other people’s emotional problems. If they aren’t psychologically rock-solid to begin with, it’s difficult for them to avoid “catching” emotional problems themselves. (4) I wondered if you were making an allegory about children of Holocaust survivors. An interesting post.

  2. this is a story about. a psychologist whose country was conquered by invaders (or possibly an inside group) who used shaming the men as a psychological strategy (much like the US did in Iraq) and the affect it has on his relationship with a woman he is close too.

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