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DECONSTRUCTING BRIAN
Session 9
by Randall Morgan

Ok, here is the session with Brian and Lydia after the walk out by Justin. Brian is pretty raw and Lydia reaches back into his history with Justin to help him understand his feelings. R.

Doctor's Notes: BK phoned my service last night while he was suffering from an anxiety attack. He attributed this attack to the departure of his partner, JT, following the revelation that BK had been intimate with another man. I have been treating BK for approximately eight weeks for depression, anxiety, insomnia and other psychological issues. (See history, and see medications prescribed.) I spoke with him last night and discovered he was suffering the classic symptoms of an anxiety attack: Shortness of breath, panic, nausea, heart palpitations. I conducted a bio feedback calming exercise over the phone, and prescribed light sedation so he could sleep. We agreed to meet this morning. He arrived on time, but uncharacteristically disheveled. His jeans appeared slept in, his shirt was untucked and wrinkled. He was unshaven and wore dark glasses that I asked him to remove. These are manifestations of his psychic break, because he is fastidious about his appearance. Fashion precision supports his self-image as a man always in perfect control.

Excerpt from Transcript:

Doctor: Taking the day off?

BK: Yeah. Slow week.

Doctor: How was your night?

BK: (Voice flat and without emotion.) Not so bad.

Doctor: I see. When did it improve?

BK: I guess your medication did the trick. It knocked me out. Thanks. I'm not sure why I felt so, uh, anxious last night. I think I was just overly tired. I drove a long way to Boston in bad weather, caught a flight to New York, hit traffic over the airport and on the ground...long night. And I didn't sleep much the previous night, either. I get kind of crazed when I'm that tired.

Doctor: Are you suggesting your anxiety was caused by fatigue?

BK :( Shrugged.) I suppose that aggravated everything.

Doctor: By "everything" do you mean the fact that Justin left?

BK: That was part of the problem.

Doctor: What was the other "part", Brian?

BK: What the fuck are you doing?

Doctor: What do you mean?

BK: I was starting to feel better about things, calmer, and now you're trying to upset me again. Why?

Doctor: Brian, you know what happens when you cut your finger and it gets infected? Sometimes your body will skin over the wound, but all that really does is seal in the toxins. The infection grows and soon you're in a crisis situation. The same is true of your emotions. When you are wounded, emotionally, your protective instincts kick in and attempt to seal over the open wound. You don't heal, you just let the hurt fester until a serious break occurs. I want to prevent that. I want to deal with your current wound, clean it out, give you a chance to heal. First we have to deconstruct your careful defenses so that we can get to the heart of the wound.

BK: What if I don't want to be deconstructed? I spent a lot of years building these defenses. I've also found out that all the emotional crap people carp about is a load of bullshit. It's painful. Who needs it?

Doctor: If you didn't want to know your own emotions, Brian, you wouldn't have come to me.

BK: I came to you because I couldn't sleep!

Doctor: And your insomnia is caused by your emotional trauma. It's all connected. So let's put away the denial card and use this time wisely. Recap what happened.

BK :( Delivered the events leading up to the call in a smooth, uninterrupted monotone. Looked up at me when he finished.) That's it. The whole sordid story.

Doctor: How do you feel right now?

BK: Numb.

Doctor: Talked to Justin?

BK: No.

Doctor: Plan to do so?

BK: Up to him. He's the one who left.

Doctor: So it's like that?

BK: It's like that.

Doctor: He's at fault?

BK: No, Lydia, of course not. I'm to blame. I'm always to blame. Justin leaves me for another man, it's my fault. I'm a heartless bastard. I wasn't romantic enough for him. I put my job over his needs. I fucked around, tricked. He had every right to leave me for someone who would be all the things I was not. He's the angel, I'm the bad guy. I know all that.

Doctor: Brian, that was when Justin left you the first time. The circumstances are entirely different now.

BK: I know that! But if I was to blame the first time, I'm surely to blame now!

Doctor: Ok, Brian, let's examine that first time. When did you know something was wrong?

BK: I don't know. Ever since the bashing, things had been different. On my birthday, on prom night, I felt as if we shared something big. We reached an understanding. Fates being what they are, he got bashed and forgot all about the dance, the kiss, and the feelings that we shared. Erased. I was at the hospital every second for that first critical week. After that, I came late, because of my job, and watched him sleep. When he got out, I tried to help him remember, I tried to give him back his spirit, his confidence. His mother asked me to leave him alone, so I did. Then she asked me to help him, so I did. He did come back, slowly. When he couldn't draw, I got him a computer. When his father crapped out on his tuition, I paid it. When he was afraid to be touched, I eased him into it. When he wanted a commitment from me, I moved him into my home, my life. I fed him, I dressed him, I educated him, and I fucked him, I...I loved him. But it was never enough.

Doctor: Explain, Brian.

BK: When I was aloof, tricking constantly, trying to get him out of my loft, he couldn't get enough of me. When I tried to have a relationship with him, I was constantly being judged. He set the rules for our relationship, no kissing, no second date, no spending the whole night out. I lived by those rules, even when he didn't. Which I don't think he ever did, truthfully. The rules seemed to change somewhere along the line, but no one told me.

Doctor: What do you mean?

BK: He started sneering at me, judging me quietly for doing what I thought we agreed to do. He didn't come to me and tell me we needed to change the rules. Instead he treated me like a shit for doing exactly what we said we could do. I was the beast. He wanted this and he wanted that, but did he tell me? No, he told other people and pouted. He punished me but I was never sure why. I just know he stopped approving of me somewhere along the line, and that made me feel like shit. Once I was his hero. Then I was beneath contempt. And that was his chance to leave me.

Doctor: He was seeing someone before he left, of course.

BK: Yes. I didn't know it at first, but yes.

Doctor: And how did it hit you?

BK: From all outward appearances? Not at all. Inwardly, it hurt. If that was the kind of man he wanted, why did he waste time with me? And why did he come back to me now? I'm still the same jerk I was when he left me.

Doctor: Are you, Brian?

BK: I guess so.

Doctor: I disagree. You're seeing me, and not just to sleep better. To understand yourself, why you're so blocked, what you can do to change. Why you're unhappy. That's not a man satisfied with the status quo. Why do you think Justin came to New York to live with you again, Brian?

BK: (Coldly.) Maybe he wanted a free place to stay while he launched his art career.

Doctor: Ouch. You believe that?

BK: (Sighed, ran fingers through his hair) No, not really. I'm not sure why he came back.

Doctor: Because he loves you?

BK: Me or some fantasy of whom he thinks I should be?

Doctor: And who would that be?

BK: Looks like me, smells like me, walks like me, lives in my loft, but has the personality of June Cleaver.

Doctor: (Laughed.) Plausible?

BK: I don't know. I never said I could be faithful. I said I would try to be, I said I loved him and I do. I did try, I met Jeff. I didn't plan on meeting Jeff.

Doctor: And how do you feel about Jeff, Brian?

BK: I'm not sure.

Doctor: What do you think?

BK: I admire him, I like him, and I'm comfortable with him. I'm attracted to him.

Doctor: Why are you comfortable with him?

BK: I don't know, but I can tell you what I think. I think it's because, in some ways, he's like Mikey. My old friend. Mikey gets mad at me and bitches at me, but he never judges me. I always know that, underneath it all, he loves me. Warts and all. He never looks at me as if I have shit streaking my forehead. When I fuck up, he tells me and then he forgives me. I don't have to try and guess what he wants or what I have to do to make him happy. Jeff is nothing like Mikey in most respects, but he is in one very big way: he accepts me for who I am.

Doctor: Brian, does he know who you are? Do you?

BK: Good point, but he seems to like what he sees. I don't wear any facades with Jeff. What he sees is the real me.

Doctor: And Justin?

BK: I think he still sees who he wants me to be. I thought we were over that, but no more. I see the fantasy still rules the relationship with Justin. Maybe it's because he's so young.

Doctor: With Jeff, were you at ease sexually?

BK: Yes, it felt very natural. It was easy, exciting but not competitive.

Doctor: What do you mean by "competitive"?

BK: Sometimes tricks have to assert themselves, to show they can be the BOY.

Doctor: Explain.

BK: You know, they want to top you or make you suck their dick, just to show you they aren't submissive.

Doctor: Does topping mean being the active partner during anal intercourse as opposed to the passive partner?

BK: Yeah, Lydia. (Laughed.) I'll make a fag out of you yet.

Doctor: Do you usually take that role?

BK: Usually, yes. Especially with tricks. I lost most of my interest in being the bottom after I outgrew my twink years. But sometimes, with someone I trust or whatever, sometimes, it's nice to roll over.

Doctor: Do you ever roll over with Justin?

BK: Yes, sometimes.

Doctor: And Jeffrey?

BK: (Hesitated.)Yes, we switched off.

Doctor: Does that surprise you?

BK: Frankly, yes. A little.

Doctor: Why is that, Brian?

BK: It was our first time to fuck. Can't remember the last time that happened on an initial bout of fucking.

Doctor: Does it concern you?

BK: (Laughed.) It's just sex, Lydia. I don't lose sleep over that kind of thing.

Doctor: Would Justin?

BK: Probably, since everything seems to bother him lately.

Doctor: Brian, you are still very, very angry at Justin for when he left you the first time. Do you realize that?

BK :( Frowned.) Why do you say that?

Doctor: I don't say that. You do. In many overt as well as subtle ways. In fact, I think you're feeling a lot of rage over what you view as his betrayal. Rage you've never allowed yourself to express, rage that is now coming back to poison the relationship you are currently attempting with the same man who betrayed you.

BK: That's not true.

Doctor: Isn't it, Brian? Were you not angry at Justin when he left you?

BK: No!

Doctor: How could he do that? He was the first person you ever cared about romantically. How could he just walk away? Did he not see how hard it had been for you to open up as much as you did? Didn't he realize you had done as much as you could do to be a good partner to him?

BK: Stop it...I deserved what happened.

Doctor: Why didn't he tell you what you were doing wrong before he just left you? Why didn't he give you a chance to change things? How could he overlook what you had done for him?

BK: I was a terrible partner, I screwed anything that moved...I gave him a hustler for his birthday.

Doctor: You walked into a room full of eighteen year old kids, all staring at you and giggling and whispering, your nightmare, and you did it for him. You took him in your arms and you led him through a beautiful dance, leaving no room in the universe except for you two. You did the one thing you swore you would never do. You gave your heart to someone in front of a room full of witnesses. And then... and then he simply forgot.

BK: (Winced, exhibiting extreme pain.) Not his fault, he got hit... almost killed.

Doctor: And he left you because you were not romantic enough, even though you had given him the most romantic moment of his life, and the memory of it was locked away in some obscure corner of his mind. He made you feel unworthy of his love. He made you feel as if you didn't deserve to share his life. That there was something wrong with you. You, the man who wore his blood soaked into a scarf against your heart until he was safely home from the hospital. You were not romantic enough to deserve his love?

BK: Yes, god damn it! (Stood, paced over to the window, turned to face me, his features drawn with pain.) That's right! No one could love him more! No one! He was the only person I had ever allowed myself to love, the only one I let inside, and he owed me something for that, Lydia! He owed me something for that. I didn't know how to do it, I had no role models growing up to teach me about love and respect, I could only operate on pure emotion. If I wasn't doing it right, he could have told me, showed me. I was trying! I was learning! I was attempting to hold onto some shadow of my own self image while becoming a different person for him, and he left me while I was in the middle somewhere, no longer Brian, but not yet evolved. He cut out my heart and left me standing there like a fucking idiot!

Doctor: And you were hurt.

BK: Yes!

Doctor: And you were angry.

BK: No...ok...yes! Yes, I was angry! Happy? I was fucking angry and hurt and miserable and sad and ashamed and scared. Is that what you want to hear? He ripped me up! And no one could know how I felt because Brian Kinney is not allowed to bleed. No one could help me, comfort me. Brian Kinney is not allowed to feel pain. No one could sit up with me at night, because Brian Kinney is not allowed to cry. The iceman suffers alone and in silence and keeps it hidden.

Doctor: There is no iceman in this room, Brian. And you're permitted to express any emotion you may be feeling. And no one will ever know.

BK: (Met my eyes, his realization melting the mask of his features.) Christ, is he right, Lydia? Did I lure him away just to hurt him? To pay him back? Am I a complete sociopath?

Doctor: You're no sociopath, Brian. And I honestly believe you have strong feelings for Justin. But you also have a residual rage that you have to resolve. Unless you do, you're doomed to a cycle of punishment and retribution.

BK: (Rubbed his closed eyes with his fingertips.) I don't believe it. I love him. I didn't do this to get back at him. I never planned on Jeffrey.

Doctor: It's not about Jeffrey, Brian. If it hadn't been Jeffrey, it would have been another catalyst. You had to vent that rage, your psyche demanded it.

BK: And in true Brian Kinney fashion, my retribution hurts me more than anyone. I lost him.

Doctor: You haven't lost him yet, Brian, but you certainly might. Ask yourself this, are you happy with him? Does the good outweigh the bad? Is this someone you want in your life on a daily basis?

BK: (Sighed.) I already know the answer to that. Yes.

Doctor: And Jeffrey? Are you willing to sacrifice that relationship to the good of your partner? Are you ready to walk away from Jeffrey?

BK: (Hesitated. Grimaced, shook his head.) I don't know.

Doctor: Brian, that's a question you need to be able to answer.

BK: Can't we go back to being friends?

Doctor: Can you?

BK: I would want to try. I don't want to lose him altogether.

Doctor: How honest are you being now?

BK: About?

Doctor: About how important Jeffrey has become to you.

BK: (Long pause.) I am so fucked up.

Doctor: You are deeply conflicted.

BK: Shrink speak for "fucked up". What do I do now?

Doctor: I suggest I meet with Justin alone. In the mean time we work on your issues of rage and your confusion regarding Jeffrey.

BK: What would you tell Justin?

Doctor: Only that which is within the four corners of the release you will give me in order for me to talk with him, Brian. Nothing more.

BK: Lydia, it wasn't Justin's fault. I have no right to be mad at him for leaving me. Not the first time, not this time. My rage, as you put it, is my own fault, not his.

Doctor: Brian, the truth is somewhere in the middle. As big a surprise as this may be for you, the bad guy is not always Brian Kinney. Sometimes there are no bad guys, only unhappy people.

BK: It's too late anyway. He's gone.

Doctor: I think you're being overly pessimistic. Let's just see, shall we?

End of excerpt.

Doctor's Notes: BK experienced a major breakthrough today after I relentlessly confronted him about his repressed rage towards JT's first exit from their relationship. He finally admitted that anger existed. He has spent over a year denying he was angry or hurt or lonely, taking all the blame for their fragmentation and feeding his image of low self esteem. He still has a long way to go before he can understand every relationship issue does not have a clear hero or villain. He must deal with his longstanding rage before he can hope to repair his relationship with JT. If, in fact, that it his goal. His ambivalence about Jeffrey suggests he may be experiencing a significant fissure between his feelings of love for JT, and his desperate need for emotional security. Jeffrey has come to symbolize emotional stability and safety to BK. While the road he faces is long and torturous, he has at least taken an important step towards self-realization.

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Disclaimer: The television show Queer As Folk and its characters are the property of Showtime and CowLip Productions. No money is being made. Stories and discussion are intended purely for the entertainment of fans of Queer as Folk, the Brian and Justin characters, and Randall's writings.
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July 25, 2004