Wednesday, September 19, 2007

"Don't let me be lonely tonight"

Dave Pitonyak has written a great deal about loneliness being the greater disability for folks with a lot of labels (in other words the people I work with every day).  It’s worth reading when you get some time to really think about what he’s saying.  


I spent much of the day running around, because there’s just so much going on at work that there doesn’t seem to be a moment to sit still and gather my thoughts.  Mercifully, my clients remind me to do so- usually simply by needing me to be still and listen.


The three men I see on Wednesday afternoons almost always leave a very strong impression on me.   All three guys have had music therapy with me for ten to twelve years, and our work is often intense.  


The last gentleman is still sitting with me many hours later.  During our session he was shoving away instruments.  He actually took them off the cart in order to shove them across the room.   I asked what or who he needed to push away, and he looked at me (oh.).  He’s struggling with a lot of feelings about me of late, and we alternate between his being very happy to see me and feeling very sad dealing with the limits of our relationship.   If this sounds familiar, it’s because I talked about the same person on September 12th.   


A (countertransference) song that has come up before in our work together is James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight”- which is 1) a gorgeous song, and 2) has that wonderful tangle of emotions in it.   The part of the tangle that came to my mind as I watched my client pushing (and then re-pushing) the drum and mallet across the room was


“Go away then, damn you.

Go on and do as you please.

You ain’t gonna see me getting down on my knees.

I’m undecided, and your heart’s been divided.

You’ve been turning my world upside down.” 


© 1972, 1973, 1978 James Taylor


[You can give a listen- at your own risk- to what it sounded like below.]


I sang that part, and then I sang the whole song (I had to do it without my guitar, because I couldn’t remember most of the chords), and he started to move very quickly around the Music Room, pausing to “bump” into me a few times.  


Much of the session was spent with him appearing to want to leave- moving me toward the door, messing with the knob, and pushing my hand up to the door.  The effect, for the most part, was one of “You, Roia, are forcing me to stay here against my will.”   And I said to him, “You know?  We’ve worked together for the past ten years now, and this thing with trying to leave while we’re in our session has been an ongoing theme for our entire history together.  And here we are, ten years later, and I still don’t seem to have a very good idea as to why.  I feel perplexed and uncertain.  Like I’m always doing something wrong.”  And then I wondered “Do you feel that way sometimes?”  He looked away.  


When it was actually time to go he didn’t leap up immediately.   As we walked back he mostly chose to walk on his own (usually he catches my hand or a few fingers and holds on).   I reached out to keep him moving when I saw a car approaching us, and he pushed my hand away.  “I guess that would be another round of ‘Go away then, damn you’, eh?”  


When we arrived in front of his home, he quickly sat down at the table and chairs which are placed outside his front door.  He looked so utterly dejected, and I got such a sense of sadness that I understood at that moment that he really wasn’t pushing me away at all- just trying to cope with his unhappiness that our time for today was ending (and trying to make it last a little longer).  


I know I often talk about uncertainty in my work.  This particular moment, though, did not feel uncertain at all to me.  Obviously I couldn’t articulate the details of his feelings, but it was pretty darn clear that all that effort to “leave” the session was not really about wanting to leave.  


It took us a while, but he was eventually ready to go back inside.   


If I may...(since it is one of my favorites)


Do me wrong; do me right.

Tell me lies, but hold me tight.

Save your goodbyes for the morning light, 

But don’t let me be lonely tonight.


Say goodbye and say hello.

Sure ‘nough good to see you,

But it’s time to go.

Don’t say yes, but please, 

Don’t say no.

I don’t want to be lonely tonight.


Go away then, damn you.

Go on and do as you please.

You ain’t gonna see me getting down on my knees.

I’m undecided, and your heart’s been divided.

You’ve been turning my world upside down.


Do me wrong; do me right.

Go on and tell me lies, but hold me tight.

Save your goodbyes for the morning light.

But don’t let me be lonely tonight.

I don’t want to be lonely tonight.


© 1972, 1973, 1978 James Taylor


Gabcast! The Mindful Music Therapist #0 - "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight"

This is how it sounded.



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