This will be a post in progress as I reflect on the season -- so there will be additions to it as the week goes by.
One thing I thought of this morning is that this year we got glimpses of other patients Paul works with. I think this was quite helpful in a very subtle way as these others seem more ordinary as patients. So we can fairly conclude that the 4 patients we have followed have been those who most touch into Paul's own issues and thus present significant challenge to him. No therapist could stand the stress of a practice full of people like this -- it would simply be too much, so we rarely have more than a very few at a time.
Although there has been chatter about Paul's boundaries and acting out this season, and I have written about this, actually he has not really done much of it at all. Last season Paul was deep in his own crisis in his marriage and this gave rise to what we saw happen with Laura. Though he has had to deal with the aftermath of divorce, and of course with the lawsuit, nevertheless, on the whole this has been a year of resolution and so his personal stress has been decreasing. If we think of the two seasons together as a single year, which they seem roughly to be, then the crisis which marked the early part has been resolved by the divorce and this season shows us as he moves into a new normal. In the background is the building of new relationships with his kids, his own emergence from the devastation of divorce, development of his new practice. Through the windows of his office we have seen the season change from the snow of winter to spring as indeed is true in his life.
Gina is reading a letter. She puts it away in her desk. Apparently Paul is late.
Paul tells her he has asked his lawyer to call him while he is there if there is news about the hearing. He decided not to send the letter after talking with Rosie. Paul overslept and missed the hearing -- his lawyer had told him he didn't have to be there and he knows he didn't want to be there. He asks Gina about her life.
Gina says she wants to know what his lawyer thought about the hearing. Paul tells her he thought it had gone well. Gina reflects that he has been under enormous pressure all year. He compliments her on how she looks. Paul tells her about when he was in grad school and how all the students were so in love with her. They were fascinated with her ad wanted to know all about her.
Paul asks what is happening with her today. Paul's phone rings and it is his lawyer. He asks her to stay. The judge was livid at Alex's father for wasting everyone's time, that there were no triable actions of fact. The case is being thrown out. Gina smiles and tells him how happy she is.
Paul is talking with a lesbian couple when there is a knock on the door. Walter walks in on them.
Walter starts talking about having been released from the hospital. He, his wife and daughter drove to their summer place on Shelter Island. Paul asks how it was. Walter says Connie and Natalie were tentative with him. He says he wanted to be alone in his office there but they kept asking him why. He wanted to be alone. He wasn't able to tune out his wife. He went to his office and saw Natalie watching him, and felt like he was being babysat. Paul relates that to how h kept an eye on his parents when he was a little boy. Natalie brought him tea and asked to sit with him but he didn't want to talk with her about himself. He says he got clippers and start cutting brush and pruning. Paul relates the brush clearing t the work they have been doing. He relates to the week before, to the way the last session went. Walter denies any memory of it. He denies any memory of the two Walters. He denies the emotional connection to the talk about the lost Walter. Paul reminds him that he teared up when they talked about them.
Oliver and Bess are in the waiting room. Paul invites Oliver in but he doesn't want to go. Paul says he and Bess will be in the office talking and Oliver is welcome to join them if and when he wishes.
Bess looks very uncomfortable and says she knows Paul hates her because she is doing everything he told her not to. Paul asks how Oliver is handling it. She says he is handling it very badly, that if nothing else Oliver has learned to express his anger. She tells Paul she had been certain Paul would be on her side in the beginning. She says when she cam to pick up the turtle she saw he was alone so she thought Paul would be sympathetic. Paul tells her his job was to advocate for Oliver. Bess reminds him of the warning on planes that the parent should use the oxygen first. Paul says she needs to attend to Oliver now.
She rather bitterly says she had Oliver in the first place because she didn't know what to do when she graduated. Then spent 12 years focused only on him to discover she does not want to be in that life any longer. Bess tells Paul that Oliver told her he is happier with Paul than with Bess or Luke, that he wanted to live with Paul. She tells Paul that he was Oliver's best friend and she is taking him away and he will never forgive her for that. Luke arrives unexpectedly.
Paul in his kitchen when the phone rings. It is April asking to come in for a last session.
They start in silence. April complains that her hat itches and that it looks ridiculous. She says Daniel gave it to her. She let her mother tell him because she was afraid he wouldn't react. She tells Paul that the tests show that the mass behind her spine is shrinking. Paul says he is relieved for her and asks how she feels. She says she doesn't know.
Paul asks if she was surprised by the results. She asks if he is alone there, where are his children. He says they live with their mother. Then she tells him that Kyle and Sienna broke up and that he gave her a necklace to a wishbone. She is cynical about this, says it is too late because she is gone, that the girl he loved is gone, doesn't exist anymore even if she goes into remission because she will always have to tell people she has had cancer. She tells him she is repulsed by the idea of sex and thinks that part of her that wanted it is gone. Paul tells her that she is involved in recovering and desire will come back. She says he is right.
Mia arrives and Paul greets her. She is quiet, appears very collected and professional. Paul asks if she got his message. She says she did. She says she hit bottom at the end of the last session and then it got worse. Then she says she has decided she is stopping therapy.
She tells Paul she appreciates what he has done but she thinks there is something wrong if every time one goes to the doctor one feels worse. Paul asks if she expects him to persuade her to stay. Mia guesses he is angry with her for wanting to leave. Paul says the last thing he wants is to keep her there and make her feel worse.
She tells Paul she called her father and asked all the questions about her childhood. Her father got angry and turned it on her and attacked her and told her everything was her fault. Then he left saying he didn't want to talk with her again. She says thanks to therapy she has lost her father. Paul points out that she lost the version of her father she thought she had. Mia believes Paul wants her to lose everything and be shattered. Paul suggests to her that losing the fantasy of her father could open the possibility of moving on and having a good relationship. Mia wants none of it. So Paul suggests they take the remainder of the session to wrap things up.