In Treatment 2-- Oliver, WEEK 7

Oliver and Bess are in the waiting room. Paul invites Oliver in but he doesn't want to go. Paul says he and Bess will be in the office talking and Oliver is welcome to join them if and when he wishes.

Bess looks very uncomfortable and says she knows Paul hates her because she is doing everything he told her not to. Paul asks how Oliver is handling it. She says he is handling it very badly, that if nothing else Oliver has learned to express his anger. She tells Paul she had been certain Paul would be on her side in the beginning. She says when she cam to pick up the turtle she saw he was alone so she thought Paul would be sympathetic. Paul tells her his job was to advocate for Oliver. Bess reminds him of the warning on planes that the parent should use the oxygen first. Paul says she needs to attend to Oliver now.

She rather bitterly says she had Oliver in the first place because she didn't know what to do when she graduated. Then spent 12 years focused only on him to discover she does not want to be in that life any longer. Bess tells Paul that Oliver told her he is happier with Paul than with Bess or Luke, that he wanted to live with Paul. She tells Paul that he was Oliver's best friend and she is taking him away and he will never forgive her for that. Luke arrives unexpectedly.

He says he was at the old apartment packing up things and he needed to talk with someone. They talk about Oliver being so angry. Luke tells Paul he is spending the next few days with Oliver before he leaves but he doesn't now what they will do given Oliver won't speak to him. Luke says he was remembering when they first moved into the apartment, before Oliver was born. They share stories of what it was like and they laugh together.

Paul notes the ease they have with each other. Bess says it is because it is over now, that Luke knew long before she did. They had each been trying to get the other to be different. Luke sadly says that all this time and effort all that they are is two people who shouldn't have gotten married. Paul suggests that maybe now they can begin to work together as Oliver's parents, that he is the one thing they have done together. Bess says she has to go back to the apartment. She suggests that Luke could take Oliver that night. She says she is going to see if she can get Oliver to come in and talk. He tells her that though he has been hard on her, he admires her courage.

Luke ruefully says he has the next 2 1/2 days to make up for the past 12 years. He thinks it will be a disaster -- the plan they have worked out. He is not happy being a divorced dad only seeing his child on the weekend. Paul asks if he feels he has failed. He says he does, because he didn't want to be like his father. He says he has already lost him. Oliver won't come to him when he has problems. He says he never learned how to take care of him, that he always passed him off to Bess. Paul asks if he loves his son. He says yes, of course he does. He rues having let Bess take Oliver without a fight. Paul tells him what matters is what kind of father he is going to be now. Oliver will always want his father so he cannot give up on himself or Oliver. Luke asks Paul for any tips. Paul says there is a good chance things will get worse before they get better. He will have to let Oliver be angry and take it, keep showing up. Take it step by step. Be there.

Paul and Luke go out to try to get Oliver to talk with Paul. Luke tells him he knows he is angry but it is not Paul's fault. He tells him he will be glad he talked with him later on when he is not so angry. Oliver looks up and reluctantly agrees.

Paul and Oliver go into the office. Oliver tells Paul he didn't help him at all. Paul says he is sorry he let him down. He tells him he cannot solve his problems but he can talk with him about everything that is going on, that it might make him feel less alone. Oliver tells him this was his last day of school and they had a party for him. His nemesis Eric was not thee because he got hurt. Maya got him a going away present. He says he will miss his house, that it was weird when his dad came to help pack. His parents started to cry and he hated seeing that. Paul tells him he once saw his dad cry and he got angry because he wanted them to be happy. Oliver asks what he did. He says he stayed angry for a long time then he understood and felt okay Paul tells him to ask them when he needs to understand and when he can't get answers, to call him and they can work together. He asks Paul if his son lives far away. Paul says yes. And he misses him all the time. He tells Oliver what it is like for him and his son. He gets up to make a call. He calls Oliver's cell phone. Oliver says this is dumb but he looks pleased. They role play what they can talk about and how Oliver can tell his parents things. Paul says he thinks Oliver is going to be okay. Oliver says he will call next week. 

Oliver smiles and the session ends.

I melt when I see Paul work with a child. He is so good at reaching Oliver in just the right way. This whole ending was done superbly, from the time with Bess, to the piece with Luke and Bess and urging them to focus on being parents together in a way that we can hope they will be ale to do now, to his support of Luke. Luke needed that support from Paul, needed to have the capacity for good parenting he has named and reinforced, and Paul did that in a masterful way. Luke's face softened as he began to see a way that ultimately he and Oliver will be all right.  

We know that Paul is going through with his son what Luke is with Oliver. That Paul's son is very angry with him and that Paul is ding his best to allow the anger and keep showing up. Because like Oliver, his son needs to know that his father will not stop loving him because of the anger. This is not an easy task for any parent, to receive the anger without striking back, to maintain an open posture and be there waiting until the day the child is willing to come to him or her. Paul himself waited too long and so was not able to do that with his own father, so he missed what he is hoping Oliver and his own son will eventually come to. 

Again, we see how Paul can and likely will continue to help Oliver. By making the call to him an going through what it would be like to talk with him, he lets Oliver see that moving won't kill the relationship, that he will still be there to help him. Just telling him would not have accomplished this with the depth that actually enacting it did. This was masterful on Paul's part. Oliver will be all right and he will continue to get wat he needs from Paul and from his parents as they grow up with him.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.