This period of work lead Kathy to once again re-state her goals and once again use her creative writing to work though critical insights in the final nine months of treatment. She wanted to recapture her powerful, alive self who had split off and gone into hiding after Dan died. Her approach to this task was to write a story of "Susie" who was alive, vulnerable, and powerful before Dan died and who disappeared because of feeling responsible for wishing him to disappear. Susie hid for five years. No one tried to find her or even knew she was missing. Susie re-appeared in adolescence in Kathy's first sunshine period and she blossomed. Every wish she made came true. Others noticed her. She won awards and admiration. She fell in love. But suddenly her father who was possessive, envious, and jealous, ripped it all away. Recognition always lead to punishment. He banished her. Susie regretted her achievements as she saw them hurting her parents who retaliated brutally. Clearly Susie had hurt everyone by her outstanding achievements and connections with others. Susie's alive self went back into hiding and disappeared so that only her functional self appeared and performed so efficiently in school that she graduated a year early and began college. After suffering so long in boarding school, however, Susie's alive self was allowed out again for one year. Once again she blossomed and thrived in a sunshine period. Her alive self was allowed out for short periods following long punishing stretches of robot-like functioning.
Kathy's mother arrived for a visit at this point as Kathy was coming to terms with many issues surrounding her brother's death. Mother's visits often brought back symptoms of Kathy's depression and this occasion was no different. But what was different about this occasion was that mother was different. For the very first time in Kathy's life, mother actually talked to her about Dan. Kathy could hardly believe her ears when mother said, quite matter-of-factly, "My goodness! James is taller now than Dan ever grew to be." A few days later, while they were all in a park, Kathy's mother noticed an injured man in a complicated neck brace. "Oh," she said, " Dan wore a brace like that for the three days he was alive in the hospital." Kathy began to see that mother suddenly was making progress in her own grieving. Kathy came to session and claimed, "Now I can grieve for my brother rather than for my mother's son." She spent weeks crying in pain about all the details surrounding her brother's death .
This grieving process lead Kathy to write another story. This one was about three women: Kathy, mother, and grandmother. It was the re-told story of their lives before, during, and after Dan's death. It told a richer, fuller, clearer picture of each of these women - and especially of Kathy disguised as both the alive, vulnerable, feeling Susie and the functional, robot-like, automaton Kathy. The story articulated Kathy's currrent understanding of how the events in her life lead her to believe she had evil powers and deserved punishment and under what conditions she had to either hide or be free to shine in the spotlight. Working on the story in the treatment enabled Kathy to feel less responsible for the suffering of her entire family as she studied the dysfunction across the generations and long before Dan's death.
Then suddenly one session a full year since that curious hour following the Tianaman Square Massacre in China, Kathy began to explain the significance of her reaction. She began the session with the insight that she had been in denial of Dan's death for all her life. In fact, she actually had been searching for her brother all of her life. There had been such a lack of closure on his life - no way for a seven-year-old to understand what had happened to him. She reminded me of how upset she'd been during that strange session a year ago and how she had seen the Tianaman Square Massacre as representing a loss of innocence - "like when innocent people become blameworthy suddenly, like when Dan died, and father and I became blameworthy." Kathy explained with amazement, "I didn't understand this then, but I realize now that one fantasy I maintained was that he would show up one day and a likely place for him to show up would be in China. That's because when I returned to school, immediately following his burial, the teacher was giving us a geography lesson. She had a big globe and she said that if you took a shovel and dug a hole deep into the ground right where we were and went underground and all the way through, that you would end up in China. And at that time, I suddenly remembered the shovel digging into the ground at Dan's burial and I thought, 'Oh, I see, so that's where he is. I'll look for him.'" As our session ended, we both laughed in awe at her creativity in coping with that overwhelming trauma.