The search for self

Dear Norman

My time with you stretched between 1991 and 1992, in hindsight; I should have continued with you after I went back to Sydney in later 1992. It would not have been difficult, I was still in Melbourne several times a month.

I had asked my GP to recommend a Psychiatrist, he had said I was the last person he would have expected this request to come from.

About all this comment proved to me, was that I was a brilliant actor

The parts of my life needed to be melded into some sort of whole

The emerging gay Bruce, the business Bruce, the damaged child Bruce, the father Bruce, the ex-husband Bruce, the unfulfilled lover Bruce, the hyper active Bruce, the angry Bruce, the successful Bruce, the unworthy Bruce, the ebullient Bruce, the dark Bruce.

These were the conflicting strands I wanted to bring to you, I knew instinctively, the potential for my life to unravel but I did not know how to stop it. I needed help.

I had seen my eldest brother die ignominiously, I had seen my elder sister unravel under the strains of a marriage in ruins and demons I could only guess at, I had seen my elder brother destroy a life of promise in the pursuit of imagined grandiosity.

Terry and Margo had thus far, seemed to escape the curse, but I was next in line after Steve, Chloe and Jerry, the “Curse of Calare” haunted me.

I was successful beyond my dreams but the fear of failure lurked just below the surface.

I would arrive once a month at your Collins Street practice, ready to disclose a piece of me and slowly, the conversation would turn.

I would start to talk about issues in my life and you would tell me stories of your past, I thought this was wrong, but now I see some sense in it.  Everything in me was buried and hidden, you used your experiences to tempt me to go to places, I probably would not have gone.

Did it work? I am not sure, but I do know; it would be years before I found this level of honesty with a Therapist ever again.

There was no secret in my dealings with you, I had told everyone about my search for Bruce. I would meet friends for dinner and the conversation would end in laughter as someone would ask me about “Normans problem” this week.

I feel bad for the times I sat at dinner tables with Gabi, Sue, Myf, Barb, Pat and others, regaling them with stories of Norman’s mother or of other events in your life

I remember one night, someone, who I didn’t know that well, asking “Aren’t chats with your Therapist meant to be confidential?”

I laughed and replied “the confidentiality is meant to be Doctor/Patient, I don’t know if it applies the other way”

Were you a charlatan or were you what I needed?

This question has stayed with me for many years. Perhaps, the time I have spent thinking of my experiences with you, is indicative of the effect, you did have on me.

I am certainly not sorry about the time I spent with you, my only regret is not staying with you for longer.

There are much worse things to be said about people.

Thanks (I think!)



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