In Treatment -- Jake & Amy, week 7

Thursday is not my favorite day of Paul's week. Jake & Amy time again.

Paul opens the door and Jake walks in. He says Amy is waiting in the car. Jake talks about how nice the neighborhood is and how much the house Paul lives in is worth. Paul says they have lived there 22 years. Jake says he hiked the Appalachian Trail when he was 17 -- the trail goes through near Paul's house. Jake asks if he and Paul might have become friends if they had met long ago.

Jake says they drove there together today -- part of the new plan, to be accommodating. Then he starts complaining about Amy's driving, that she won't talk on the phone while driving, despite the fact that she treats the car as a place to do business. So she pulls over every time. Paul asks why he doesn't drive. He says he fell asleep at the wheel a few years ago and ever since she has been the one to drive and that he hates being driven around by a woman.

Amy comes in, saying she is late this time to make up for being early last week, then says she was late on purpose to let Jake and Paul catch up. Paul states that Amy was there alone last week -- Amy bristles and says Jake knows that. Jake says he was meeting with a potential client and Amy archly asks if the client is buying. Jake backs off. Then says Amy's boss is working her too hard. She snaps at him to stop it, that he is annoying.

Jake turns to Paul and expresses bewilderment.

Jake says they have had a nice week. Jake says he has become her lap dog now, referring to the prior session when he told her how much he needs her. He is upset because he thought they had a good week, that being nice is not easy because it is never good enough. Amy says he keeps talking about himself. Jake asks her what she wants. 

Amy says she shouldn't have come, that she is in a bad mood and Jake has been great. Jake says he really thought he had been giving her what she needs. Amy laughs and says she finds that funny. Then she says to Paul that the way Jake looks is the way he looks when he is about to hit something. Jake asks what she needs. She complains that he is tender and boring.

Paul asks what she wants. She says she wants to go home, that it was a mistake to come. Her stomach aches.

Paul asks if she would like tea. Paul asks her what it feels like. Amy says it feels like her stomach is cramping. Jake sneers. Paul asks if she has had it before. He says it happened the first time when her father died. She says it happened outside an ice cream store, that is where he took her and where he died. When she went in to get another cone, a car ran into him and killed him. Paul asks if she saw it happen. She nods and says after it did, a wave of pain passed through her stomach. The paramedics arrived and she and her father were each put on a stretcher. She was taken to the hospital. She says she doesn't feel her mother ever forgave her. For what, asks Paul? Jake tries to comfort her and she pushes him away saying she had done terrible things and then blurts out that she had sex with Ben, her boss, after her session last week. She says it was awful. She says after it was over she planned to come home, tell Jake and then quit her job but she couldn't tell him.

Jake starts to laugh. Amy asks how he can be laughing. Paul says maybe he is relieved and Jake says that's exactly it. He says it has always been a huge nightmare, the thing he feared the most and now it has happened and a weight has been lifted off his shoulders. He says he feels bad for her, sorry for her. That he thinks it is sad that she has done this after he told her how much he loved her and wanted her. He ays he doesn't feel jealous or angry.. He says he has imagined this many times and he has never imagined behaving as he is, without anger. He says he feels sad for her, for them.

Amy says Jake is right that there is a connection between what happened in the office when Jake said he loved her and what she did. That she had been feeling she would lose control. Jake asks how many times it has happened. She said once and won't again.

Paul asks if maybe she wanted him to get angry because she doesn't trust his tenderness and how hard he has worked to be good to her. So she does something that she feels is repulsive. That maybe she has never forgiven herself for leaving her father on the curb to get an ice cream. And maybe if she is bad, someday someone will forgive her.

What do you see in me, she asks Jake? He says he loved her. She questions the past tense.  She tells Jake she deserves it, that he can hit her if he likes. He says they have to pick up Lenny. She says it's too early and asks that they sit there in the quiet with Paul. She asks Paul if Jake will forgive her. He tells her to ask him. She says nothing. The session ends.


Amy acts out because she needs to be forgiven, forgiven for what she believes is her responsibility for her father's death. This is business she brought with her into the marriage. And notice again the connection with food, eating, and something bad happening resulting in stomach issues. Amy and food and her body have a deeply conflicted history and relationship, involving both her troubled history with her mother and now, we see with the linkage between eating and her father's death.

Jake's reaction is not so strange. He has been imagining this revelation for a long time, has rehearsed it again and again, carried it with him like a sack. And now that it has happened, he no longer has to fear it but it is also true that for him, it happened long ago, the first time he imagined it. Or perhaps the first time when he was with Amy, because he was the man she cheated her first husband with.

Notice how relatively little Paul said in this session. He didn't need to say much as things were in motion when they came in. He made well-timed and good interpretations but otherwise stayed out of the way of what was unfolding, allowing them to use the space as a safe place to let out what is going on. But we have only begun to see what fallout remains between Jake and Amy.

© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.