In Treatment -- Sophie, week 9

Our final session with Sophie.

Paul is making a phone call. He is calling Laura and leaves a message saying he is hoping they can maybe have a coffee.

Sophie comes to Paul's office. A man calls to her and it is her father. She asks what he is doing there. He hugs her and says she is a knockout. Sophie asks him how he knew she would be there. He tells her that her mother says she was seeing her therapist. He tells her he hears she did really well at the trials and asks why she didn't call. She tells him she was tired. He says he couldn't come, couldn't just show up. And then he asks what's going on, is she angry with him?  Sophie looks uncomfortable with him. He claims he gets crazy when she doesn't call him. She says she did call. That her mom always answers her cell phone. He tries to get her to skip her therapy session but she says no. He starts asking her about therapy what she talks about, does she talk about him. Then wants to know what she says about him? And is that why she is behaving strangely? Then he says he is coming in.

Paul answers the door with balloons in his hand. Zach asks if they are for him and Paul says no, they are for Sophie. Paul tells Zach that he can come in only if it is okay with Sophie. Sophie says it's okay. Paul says he thinks it would be better to schedule a joint session next week so he and Sophie can prepare. Sophie insists her father agree to next week. Sophie goes out after her father and says she will tell Paul to let him come in. Zach says he won't go back now because he is humiliated. And is Sophie really taking Paul seriously? Zach says he raised her to be smarter than this, then Sophie says you didn't raise me. Zach says he can't believe what he is hearing. Sophie goes back to the office.

Sophie tells Paul Zach is humiliated. Paul tells her he can't let him in without an appointment. Sophie asks if he would say the same thing to someone else. Paul tells her he understands how her mother feels because Sophie always defends him, even though Zach invades her private space. Sophie wants to make her father happy. Paul reminds her that she is the kid not the parent. 

Zach knocks on the door. Sophie asks Paul to let him in, that she wants to talk to him. Paul complies.

Zach is hostile. Paul invites him to sit down. He turns to Sophie and says that she said he didn't raise her and wasn't there. Zach made a list -- he tells her that every morning from the time she was 6 until she was 10 he would get up with her, take her to practice and then take her to school. And he stayed up late every night to help her with her homework and got tutoring for himself in math so he could help her. He cries and said he would hold her when she couldn't sleep. Sat with her in the hospital when she got injured. Sophie moves to comfort him. Zach says it kills him when she doesn't call for 2 weeks. She says he didn't see her for almost three years and it didn't seem t bother him then. He says they spoke every day on the phone and she says that isn't the same. Sophie confronts him about abandoning her, about taking so long before he left his second wife, even though he knew all that time she wanted to live with him.

Then Sophie says for him to go, to leave, she doesn't want him in her life. That he can't just come and go in her life. Sophie says he doesn't know her. That Palu knows her but Zach doesn't. Zach turns to Paul and asks what he hears. Paul says he hears great anger and resentment but also a great desire for him to fight for her, to reclaim her. Zach tells Sophie that he never stopped loving her. Sophie asks what the difference is, he chose his second wife and that he can't undo it. Sophie tells him he can't put a family back together. Then she asks if he knew she tried to kill herself. She tells him it wasn't an accident that she had, that she rode her bike into the car because she was tired of being alive and then she tells him to leave. She insists that he go. She says, "It's MY therapy" and holds firm. Zach gets up and leaves.

Sophie sits again. She says I kicked my father out. Paul says she has discovered she can kick her parents out or let them in as she wants. Sophie thinks she won't see him again. Paul suggests that he may change from this. That Sophie has changed.

Sophie tells Paul she is going away to Denver to train. That she wants to be by herself, to take care of herself, without her mom or Paul. Paul tells her she can call him any time she wants. She takes her balloons and goes to the door, They hug and she says goodbye.

Paul's daughter opens the door. Rosie says sophie used to go to her school. Ad asks if that is her dad and says he looks cool. Rosie says Kate seems tense. She asks if they are talking about everything. Through the window we see Zach and Sophie sitting on the grass talking.


Though it is a resolution that comes faster than I would expect to see in real life, what happens this week is very satisfying, wonderful fruit of the work Pal and Sophie have done together.

Paul held the boundary for Sophie, kept her father from having his way until or unless she wanted him in and thus again proves to her that there are indeed adults she can trust. So when Zach comes back to the door, Sophie is ready to let him in and to tell him what she needs to say because she has the safety of Paul's office and Paul to support her. It is very clear throughout her interaction with her father that in his narcissism he has made everything about him. But this time Sophie isn't buying it from him, isn't willing to let him off the hook. That he was a good father for her first seven years does not excuse the last years when he has not been around nor the fact that he did not take a stand with his second wife when Sophie really needed him. In a sense Paul is the father to this new Sophie, a Sophie who can speak her truth and hold her ground even against the charms of her father. This all bodes well for her, though it is unrealistic to think that everything is okay for her now.

It is poignant when Rosie comes in, wanting to hear from Paul that their family will be all right -- as they look out on the scene of Sophie and her father finding their way into a new relationship with each other. Dare we hope that her wishes are well founded?




© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.