Week 7: Jesse

Jesse is with Paul and then we see Roberto is there also. Jesse says he took the train to RISD and he didn’t have enough money for the ticket so he decided to try to dodge the conductor but he was caught. And he called Roberto, who was in Buffalo and drove 8 hrs to come pick him up at the police station. Roberto says he paid the fine and it was okay. Paul wants to know how this led to the decision to end therapy. Jesse says they talked in the car and he decided he was fine now. They talked about Marissa. Roberto doesn’t like the language Jesse uses. Roberto says he asked Jesse about the therapy when they were driving back and Jesse said they talked about Marissa. Roberto says Paul has gotten the wrong picture. Roberto says they figured out the problem -- he wanted to go after Karen when he heard she had contacted Jesse but Marissa had said to let Jesse handle it. Roberto is a judgmental toward Paul. He asks why he didn’t call him last week when Jesse said he was suicidal. Paul said he exercised his judgement. And did Paul tell him to take a train to Westchester to see them? -- and he characterizes them very negatively. Paul asks to talk with Jesse alone.

Jesse tells Paul about the train to RISD. And he said it was kind of fun. He claims to have offered the cops blow jobs. He called Roberto. Lots of bravado. Paul asks if he thought of calling anyone else. Paul asks if he thought of calling him and asks why he didn’t. Paul asks if he had been angry and had run away to send him a message, is this is what happens when you don’t take care of me message. Jesse comments on all the books and says they have no books in his house. He asks how long he has been there and when Paul says a couple of years, Jesse says it looks like he has been there forever. He tells Jesse he had lived in Baltimore ad tells him a bit about that history. Jesse asks why Paul is answering his questions, is it because it is the last session. Paul asks if that is what Jesse wants. Jesse says Roberto drove 8 hours to get him and he sounds so pleased that he came and that he showed him he wanted him. Roberto hugged him and he felt like he was really his son.

Paul asks for more about the conversation on the way home. Roberto told Jesse that it was his idea to adopt him. That he had a hole in his heart ad the hole closed when he saw Jesse and held him the first time. Paul asks if he had ever felt that from Roberto when he was growing up and Jesse says he had never really had a problem with him. Paul asks more about the talk about Marissa. Marissa had been upset and felt inadequate when she couldn’t comfort Jesse as an infant. That she is nervous around him and he gets nervous in response. Jesse says now it all makes sense, that it isn’t his fault. The problem is her not him. Paul says he sounds relieved. And that it can be empowering to see parents as human with problems. Jesse says he feels much better but he is agitated. Jesse says seeing Marissa as flawed and weak is not confusing or upsetting to him. Paul challenges that and suggests that comes from Roberto. Paul said he was worried about Jesse last week and after they talked he felt okay that he was not suicidal. Yet he told Roberto something different. And maybe he told him that so that Roberto would not withdraw from him again. They spar about reading minds. Paul returns to last week. And reminds him that he asked Paul to join him for ice cream because he knew it was important for him to be with his parents and now he is punishing Paul for turning him down. Paul tells him he can have both of them, his father and Roberto. But if he closes the door on Paul, Paul won’t come after him, he can’t. He asks if Jesse understands that. And he says yes. Jesse wants to go then. Paul says he is afraid that Roberto is trying to turn Jesse against Marissa because he slants it so negatively. Jesse asks why he wants to ruin it. Paul says he is worried that everything will get buried, the photography, his sexuality, all of the work they have done. Jesse asks why it is important to him. Paul says because he cares about him. And Jesse says it is so fucked up. Roberto comes in and tells Jesse to apologize for using that language. Jesse says he is sorry and Paul says he is also. They start to leave and Paul asks that they wait a minute and he gives him the photos and letter that he left before. They leave.

Paul watches out the window as they get into Roberto’s truck.


Paul is having the kind of week that would make anyone feel discouraged. One by one, patients are leaving, being angry or disappointed in him and he is clearly upset by this. This time it is Jesse.

Jesse is punishing Paul for not doing what he wanted last week. Paul has that right. Jesse does this by acting out and then drawing Roberto into an alliance against Marissa and Paul. Jesse is so desperate to have a father, a father who will make him feel wanted, he happily changes everything he tells himself in order to have this with Roberto, as he might have with Kevin had he enabled that. Jesse has bounced from male to male, starting with the guys from the bar to Nate to Paul then Kevin and now back to Roberto. And now that he feels he has Roberto, he cannot tolerate Paul because Paul’s questions and interpretations threaten what he wants to believe he has.

It seems clear to me that Jesse made sure he painted a negative portrait of Paul to Roberto in order to support the alliance he wants with Roberto. And the two of them, Roberto and Jesse, then closed ranks and made Marissa the problem, which allows Jesse to shed any responsibility for problems he has with her.

Teenagers can do this kind of thing, turn on a dime and rewrite what they tell themselves. Years and years ago I worked with a 15 year old girl through her pregnancy while she worked out what she wanted to do with the baby and what she wanted for her life. As soon as the baby was born via c-section, she left therapy and told everyone she had had appendicitis and denied ever having been pregnant at all. This was the way she had to cope with the huge event in her life that was birth and the surrender of her baby for adoption. Jesse is doing something somewhat similar to protect the narrative he so desperately needs and wants to be true. We can hope, as I did for that girl so long ago, that when he is older, he will remember that therapy was once helpful to him and return to do the work he needs to do to deal with the wounds of his life.

I will be writing a post looking at the patients this year and Paul's work with them later this week.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2018. All  rights reserved.