From Couch Fiction: A Graphic Tale of Psychotherapy, by Philippa Berry, 2010
From The New York Times:
“Just because I go someplace doesn’t mean you lost me,” Jeffery, my therapist, said. Crouched on the floor, my back to him, I tried not to listen. “It’s true I do other things, but that doesn’t mean I forget you.”
Moments before, as we sat facing each other, our session nearly over, I’d learned that he owned a boat and would be sailing to New England when he went on vacation. I found out because, for the first time in the five years I had been seeing him, I’d been brave enough to ask. “This is a big step,” Jeffery had said. “Are you sure you want to know?”
“Yes!” The conviction in my voice belied my trepidation. If I knew specifics, I could no longer pretend his only life was in his office.
I had a problem with what Jeffery called object permanence — in my case, understanding that people I depended on emotionally continued to exist when I couldn’t see them. Staring at the carpet, I tried to reconcile the information about his sailboat with the two versions I had of him. One was the Jeffery in a skin container whom I saw in my twice-weekly sessions. The other was an amorphous being whose molecules floated loose in the atmosphere. His magical version watched over me between sessions, knowing everything I thought and felt and did, day and night. But if his skin container would be sailing in New England, he couldn’t also be in the atmosphere. I would lose my connection with him. A part of myself I called Outside-Me understood that Jeffery was permanent and didn’t stop existing when I couldn’t see him. Inside-Me was still learning that. It’s what we were working on in therapy.