In Treatment 2-- Walter, Week 7

Paul is talking with a lesbian couple when there is a knock on the door. Walter walks in on them. 

Walter starts talking about having been released from the hospital. He, his wife and daughter drove to their summer place on Shelter Island. Paul asks how it was. Walter says Connie and Natalie were tentative with him. He says he wanted to be alone in his office there but they kept asking him why. He wanted to be alone. He wasn't able to tune out his wife. He went to his office and saw Natalie watching him, and felt like he was being babysat. Paul relates that to how h kept an eye on his parents when he was a little boy. Natalie brought him tea and asked to sit with him but he didn't want to talk with her about himself. He says he got clippers and start cutting brush and pruning. Paul relates the brush clearing t the work they have been doing. He relates to the week before, to the way the last session went. Walter denies any memory of it. He denies any memory of the two Walters. He denies the emotional connection to the talk about the lost Walter. Paul reminds him that he teared up when they talked about them. 

Walter tells Paul about a dream he had that week. In his dream, his boss tells him it wasn't his fault and he apologized to him and offered him his old job. But in the dream  he couldn't speak and he woke up in a sweat. Paul wonders if perhaps he doesn't want his old life back. That he genuinely didn't feel the strain he was under before. 

Walter tells him he did make him think about his father, in the way he looked at Walter when he walked in on the previous session. His father had insomnia and worked the night shift. He would come down and want to talk with his father and he would look at him in a way that made him feel his father wanted to get rid of him, as he felt Paul wanted to. He talks about having fixed drinks for his mother and then worrying she would fall asleep while smoking in bed. Paul says yes, they were grief stricken, but Walter was lonely and needed them. The parents seem never to have had time together for Walter. He remembers his own sons used to spy on him the same way he had on his father. He thinks his sons aren't interested in him and doesn't want to think they are.

He tells of his family moving and of rising his bike back to the old house. Paul suggests he did that to try to find his own old self, the self he was before his brother died. There was nothing in the new home except duty and loneliness. Walter is moved but says he won't cry because he knows it made Paul uncomfortable and disgusted him. Paul asks if he cried when Tommy died. He says he started to cry, but his father picked him up and shook him and told him not to ever cry in front of his mother. Paul asks if that was when he started to shut down. Walter asks why the split Paul has identified is a bad thing because he has done well. Paul tells him the dutiful part of him got praise and reward, but he lost something important. He got rewarded for not paying attention to himself, to his wants and needs. So the only way to feel valued is to carry the weight. Walter takes a drink of water and says Walter the CEO is gone now.  Paul tells him the crash was already inevitable when he first came to see him. Walter say he knows he missed his life, that he is 68 and hasn't lived one minute for himself and what is he to do with that? Paul tells him that this is the time to stop taking care of everyone else. Walter asks if this is what he wanted, to break him down?

Paul tells them they can put him back together but there is another route, a deeper route that will allow him to discover parts of himself he doesn't know. He will have to come more often. Walter asks if he really wants to spend more time with him. Paul says he would like to be with him.

Walter gets up and asks when they start!

Okay, I am gushing now! Another terrific session. And good work with a very tough patient. But Paul had begin to get through to Walter several weeks ago when he saw him in the hospital, when Walter was unable to intimidate him. And last session when he opened up the two Walters and helped him begin to see the split off vulnerable part of himself that had been so long lost. 

This week we see only the faintest hints of the hostility and aggression that so marked the early sessions with Walter. We see a man who is ripe and ready for going further but who needs to know it will be worth it. This is exactly the kind of work Jung talks about as essential for the last third of life. It is the opportunity to change the outcome of the story one has been living. Paul is able to help Walter see that he can change the ending of his story, can find a new meaning in the rest of his life, so that life is not lost.

Natural life is the nourishing soil of the soul. Anyone who fails to go along with life remains suspended, stiff and rigid in midair. ... From the middle of life onward, only he remains vitally alive who is ready to die with life. For in the secret hour of life's midday the parabola is reversed, death is born. The second half of life does not signify ascent, unfolding, increase, exuberance, but death, since the end is its goal. The negation of life's fulfillment is synonymous with the refusal to accept its ending. Both mean not wanting to live, and not wanting to live is identical with not wanting to die. Waxing and waning make one curve. C. G. Jung

We cannot live the afternoon of life according to the programme of life's morning,
for what was great in the morning will be little at evening,
and what in the morning was true will at evening have become a lie. ~  C.G. Jung

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.