My therapist asked me to read the letter he asked me to write out loud to my father represented by an empty chair. A powerful technique that I have used with my own clients. I declined saying that it would be boring. And it would have been. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Why would it be boring? I put a lot of thought into that letter.
I went for a run much later the same day and when I got back I realized why it wouldn’t have worked. The letter is written in English, but with my father I communicated in a rather obscure dialect. I should say what is in that letter out loud, but in my dialect (that I never use anymore except when I talk to my mum). I think I will do this in our next session, although my therapist may understand this dialect only partially. At least he will hear the sound of it and how much more different my voice sounds and how even my face changes. Each language emphasizes different aspects of our personality. That language was my world. If that dialect had been the language our world operates in I would have become, I don’t know, president. This will sound ridiculous, but that dialect – when I can use it in a setting where it’s respected (the tiniest of setting unfortunately) I feel a confidence I never feel in any other language.
I also realize how much of me is gone and how my being cut off – forever – from that dialect that shaped my childhood and which I long loved dearly plays a role in that.
I mean, seriously, how much puss does one have to squeeze out until the wound can heal?
The letter can be read on this website if you have the password.
About that having seen part after part of me stripped away. It’s like a long time ago I went off to fight in a crusade fully equiped with a splendid caravan, saw everyone around me die, lost most of the stuff I carried with me, and ended up in some abandoned village in a desert, with, I don’t know, one knife, half a shield and a ripped chainmail vest.
With some benign local villagers staring at me puzzled, intrigued, entertained, maybe a bit concerned: what the heck has washed up here?
The picture is a screenshot from the movie The Postman with Kevin Costner.