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DECONSTRUCTING BRIAN
Session 13
by Randall Morgan

Here it is a little early. Had no time to give to my editor, Darren, so don't blame darren for the rough edges. Enjoy. R.

Doctor's Notes: Once again, we are conducting this session by telephone since BK is still in Pittsburgh. With his permission, the call is being recorded.

Excerpt from Transcript:

Doctor: How are you?

BK: Tired.

Doctor: Sleeping?

BK: Sometimes.

Doctor: How long do you think you'll be there?

BK: Awhile. I've arranged with New York to work out of our offices here for the time being. Just until everything stabilizes with Justin and Molly.

Doctor: Has there been something new?

BK: (Paused.) Yeah. Justin matched Molly. He'll be her donor.

Doctor: That's good, isn't it?

BK: For Molly? I guess so. To be honest, it bothers me.

Doctor: What bothers you about it?

BK: I don't want him to go through it. He's had enough doctors and pain and medical crap.

Doctor: Are you advising him not to do it?

BK: I can't do that. She's his sister. And I want her to get well, too. I'm torn. I wanted to be tested, but because I'm gay, they won't take my marrow. They're only taking Justin's because he's her sibling.

Doctor: How does that make you feel?

BK: Angry.

Doctor: Why?

BK: It's just more crap being thrown at gay men in the guise of AIDS panic.

Doctor: I see.

BK: I'm negative. What's the big deal?

Doctor: Do you feel as if it's a condemnation of your life?

BK: That's exactly what it is.

Doctor: How does that make you feel?

BK: Like a loser. Like everything I believe in is for shit.

Doctor: Explain.

BK: I've never apologized for being gay. I've never had those doubts about what a terrible thing it is to be queer. I made up my mind to just live my life the way I was meant to live it, and if others didn't like it, fuck them. Now the power structure comes along and tells me that while I have no symptoms or traces of any disease, the mere fact that I'm gay prevents me from saving someone's life. If not Molly's, some stranger, because I was prepared to donate to a bank so some other kid may be helped. It's wrong. Some kid could die because I'm gay. Or even worse, because I refuse to lie about being gay.

Doctor: I see. Brian, AIDS is a huge fear factor to people. Most are somewhat ignorant about what causes the disease. Some remember the cases that arose before we knew what to do to ensure the integrity of blood products. Part of the strict screening process is to allay that fear. But also, HIV screening is time delayed. You can have the virus in your system but it won't show up in a test for weeks, even months. If you were not sexually active, and you had a clear test after six months or more of celibacy, then perhaps that would be a mitigating cause. But you are sexually active. You have to look at it >from a liability stand point, not as a slam at you, personally.

BK: It feels personal. AIDS is prevalent in the straight community, too.

Doctor: Unfortunately that's true. But let's get beyond your overall disgust with what you view as a prejudice and get to the core of your concern. You're afraid for Justin.

BK: (Paused.) Yes.

Doctor: I think a discussion with his doctors would help. I'm no expert in the area, but I believe that the procedure is non-invasive, and very safe.

BK: I already know all that.

Doctor: Then you also know your fears are largely irrational, right?

BK: I guess so.

Doctor: What's really bothering you, Brian?

BK: (Sighed.) I'm so hung up on his sister. I know this will be a horrible time for her. They'll start what Jeff calls her "conditioning", which is a nice word for torture. I look at her, and she appears so frail, so paper thin and fragile. I don't see how she can even survive this conditioning. And I probably won't be able to see her. They limit her visitors because of the immunity problems, and Craig Taylor, her father, will use that as his excuse to ban me.

Doctor: Were you close to Molly before all this happened, Brian?

BK: No, I didn't really know her at all. Saw her a couple times, is all.

Doctor: So this bonding with her has been since she's been ill?

BK: Yes. So?

Doctor: What are you reminded of, Brian?

BK: What do you mean?

Doctor: When you break down why you've become so attached to this little girl, what springs to mind?

BK: I don't know what you're getting at. Some fear about Gus? I've thought of that. How I would react if Gus were ill.

Doctor: Quite natural, but no. That doesn't really explain your instant attachment. What does, do you think?

BK: I'd be a monster if I didn't care what happens to her. I'm not a monster.

Doctor: No, of course you're not. But Brian, your attachment to Molly goes beyond the issue of being a human being who hates seeing a child suffer. It's much deeper than that, isn't it?

BK: (Angry.) Are you trying to suggest I'm some kind of fucking pedophile?

Doctor: No, Brian. I don't think your interest in Molly is carnal.

BK: Thank you, Craig. (Sighed.) Where are you going with this?

Doctor: It's called displacement, Brian.

BK: What am I displacing?

Doctor: Your feelings of hopelessness and guilt and inability to protect when Justin was bashed.

BK: (Paused.) Go on.

Doctor: The memory of standing by helplessly when he was struck, of the aftermath of the bashing, when you didn't feel welcome at the hospital, of the fear that he would never recover. Remember all those emotions, Brian. Don't repress them for the moment. Remember that pain you felt.

BK: (Quietly.) I've never forgotten.

Doctor: And now his little sister is in trouble. Again, you're helpless. Again, you feel unwelcome. Again, you fear she may not recover. And now you have an extra layer of guilt because you are unable to help her since you're gay. Do you see the connection?

BK: (Exhaled slowly.) Shit.

Doctor: It doesn't mean your feelings towards Molly aren't genuine. They are. It just explains how you got there so quickly and so deeply.

BK: She acts like I'm her protector. And I can't protect her from anything.

Doctor: You can't cure her, Brian. But you can offer her emotional support, which you seem to be doing. What you can't allow yourself to do is to internally assume that role of protector. Because if she doesn't recover, it's not your fault. It's no one's fault. It's just a sad and horrible fact of life. You can't afford to take on that emotional burden right now. You don't have the emotional reserves to handle it.

BK: It's too late, Lydia. I already feel that way.

Doctor: And I'm trying to get you to understand that these feelings are overly enhanced by your history with her brother. You have to separate the two. Care for her, be there for her as much as you can, but don't assume a role with a built in path to disaster. Your partner in this situation is Justin. Be a support to him, shore him up, be strong for him. Don't become so lost in your confusion towards Molly that you put him in the role of the comforting partner. She's his sister. He's the one who gets to be the most affected by this horrible situation.

BK: Christ, you're right. I am doing that. I am letting my feelings run all over me. And Justin has been stronger, comforting me. It's upside down.

Doctor: Don't repress your feelings towards Molly. They're good and they're real. Just seek a balance. In the long run, it will serve her well, too. Because she will respond positively to your encouragement, more than to your fear and pain. My guess is they will let you see her when she's in isolation. Because she'll insist upon it. You will need every reserve you have to deal with her in such a painful situation. Before then, you need to find that balance, Brian.

BK: You know, I had a little scene with her father, who hates me because of Justin, and who has been violent with me in the past. He said something to my mom, and I just went medieval on his ass. I slammed him up against the wall and scared the shit out of him. If my mother hadn't intervened, god knows what would have happened. Maybe that was wrong. Maybe I was assuming a role I have no right to assume.

Doctor: Violence is never right, Brian. It does sound as if the extreme emotion you feel towards Molly set this in play. What's been the outfall of that encounter?

BK: Justin followed me out into the parking garage after he saw it happen. Believe it or not, we had sex. Right there. In the garage. Behind a wall of cars. He blew me.

Doctor: What prompted that reaction?

BK: He told me it kind of turned him on to see me slam Craig around. I had the opposite reaction. I was feeling sick about it, physically ill. But when he started on me, the sex displaced the shame.

Doctor: And the outlaw aspect of having sex in public, did that enhance the experience?

BK: Yes, frankly, it did.

Doctor: Then what happened? Were you discovered?

BK: (Laughed.) If so, no one complained.

Doctor: Anything else?

BK: Yes. I slammed him against the wall, kind of like I did with his father, and I fucked him.

Doctor: Right there in the garage?

BK: Well, we were in a dimly lit corner, with the cars blocking the view, but yeah. In the garage.

Doctor: From what you've told me about your sex life, that's not so extreme for you, Brian. Why does it seem noteworthy? Is it the timing?

BK: No. It's the fact, for the very first time since we've been together, we rode bareback.

Doctor: Explain.

BK: No condom.

Doctor: I see. And that's significant to you?

BK: Yes. I never do that.

Doctor: Then why did you?

BK: I had nothing on me, and I knew I had to fuck him. And he wanted me to fuck him. And there was just no waiting. As soon as I did it, I felt this horrible sense of dread.

Doctor: That you infected him?

BK: It's not impossible.

Doctor: It is if you're HIV negative, Brian.

BK: But what if it's dormant, like you said?

Doctor: So you have been careless before with other men?

BK: Not since I was old enough to have a brain. Sometimes, when I was just starting out.

Doctor: Then you know its not possible, Brian. Unless you've had unprotected sex in the last year, I wouldn't worry about it at all. The virus has a dormancy period, but it's not multiple years.

BK: Logically, that's true. But I was still afraid. What if I contaminated him? Then he contaminates Molly? I could be responsible for killing them both.

Doctor: Stop. I certainly recommend that you practice safe sex, Brian. For your own health. But it is almost impossible that you infected Justin. Get a test today if it will make you feel better. But Justin can also infect you. He was with another lover. How much do you know about their practices or about the lover's practices? If Justin were infected, you aren't the culprit. But he could infect you.

BK: (Sighed.) I guess.

Doctor: But they will have HIV tested him as part of the screening. I'm sure it was negative, and I'm sure you're both fine. But this is a good reminder of why safe sex makes sense. It removes the fear factor. Even irrational fears. What happened with his father after this?

BK: I think my mother talked turkey to him. She has a way of making even grown men feel foolish. I know that for a fact. When I went back to Molly's room, I apologized for losing my temper and he accepted my apology and didn't ask me to leave, which was his concession, I guess.

Doctor: Good. That will make it easier for Molly and her mother.

BK: Maybe. It's a frosty détente, but whatever.

Doctor: Brian, what are you doing right now?

BK: Besides talking to you?

Doctor: While talking to me. What's your demeanor? I lose a lot not being able to see you.

BK: Losing nothing today, Lydia. I'm in business drag, sitting in an office that used to belong to my boss, overlooking a city I don't belong in anymore. I'm smoking a cigarette with a bunch of storyboards on my desk that I have no interest in whatsoever. The people here at this office treat me with that strange blend of fear and curiosity reserved for the big wigs, and I'm amazed by that.

Doctor: Why?

BK: I still feel like one of them, not like a VIP.

Doctor: Self esteem, Brian. You've earned it. Revel in it.

BK: I'm not much of a reveler. Not that kind of reveler anyway.

Doctor: Are you smoking?

BK: (Laughed.) Yes, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it, either.

Doctor: You finally got to smoke during a session. Tell me Brian, how has it enhanced the experience?

BK: For one thing, it keeps me calm.

Doctor: Why is that a good thing during a therapy session? This is the one place you can express your true emotions with no fear of blowback.

BK: Control ...good. Out of control...bad.

Doctor: Control FREAK...bad.

BK: (Laughed.) Jeff went back to New York today. He's still consulting, but he does have other patients.

Doctor: How do you feel about that?

BK: Relieved in one way, sad in another.

Doctor: Still torn?

BK: Yes, but maybe...let's just leave it at yes.

Doctor: Brian, has something happened with Jeff?

BK: No, not really. I had a long talk with an old friend. He made me think.

Doctor: Michael?

BK: God no. I'm avoiding him.

Doctor: Why?

BK: He pulled this intervention on Jeff, which was really juvenile and embarrassing. Jeff was great about it, but I can't believe they did that to me.

Doctor: What kind of intervention?

BK: Basically told him to leave me alone.

Doctor: How do you feel about that?

BK: Embarrassed. I'm not a two year old. I don't need my friends to govern my love life.

Doctor: But you don't plan to tell them that?

BK: Yes, I'm having lunch with one of them, in fact.

Doctor: I'm sure their intentions were honorable, Brian, but I tend to agree with you. You don't need that help right now. You're aware of the implications and are working them through. Intervention is a valuable tool to shock someone out of denial. Used improperly, it rather resembles extortion.

BK: (Laughed.) These clowns couldn't extort lunch money from a first grader. I'll handle it. And it takes more than that to rattle Jeff. He's the most composed person I've ever known. Holy shit!

Doctor: What happened?

BK: I just picked up a storyboard and a face jumped out at me.

Doctor: Whose face?

BK: Freddie. Friedrich, this male model Jeff used to live with. I wonder if he's signed for this ad campaign. That's weird.

Doctor: Why is it weird? He's a model. This is what models do, isn't it?

BK: Yeah, but...

Doctor: Why hesitate? What were you going to say?

BK: Nothing.

Doctor: Brian...

BK: Just that it would be interesting to meet him and not because he's a Nordic god.

Doctor: Do you think that's wise? To pump an old lover about a current friend? Unless you know the precise reason for the break up, you may get a spin on your friend that is deeply colored by hurt feelings.

BK: Yeah, I guess, but...

Doctor: But you have every intention of meeting him.

BK: Well, hell, yes, Lydia. He lived with Jeff for three years. I want to meet him.

Doctor: I've said all I plan to say on the subject.

BK: It wouldn't be the first mistake I've made.

Doctor: That's cold comfort.

BK: I just want to talk to him, not boink him. Although...(Laughed.) Just kidding. But he is a beauty.

Doctor: Brian, focus on having LESS intrigue in your life, not MORE.

BK: I promise to behave.

Doctor: You have to make your own decisions, and then live with the consequences, Brian. I'm not your mama. I won't tell you what to do.

BK: That makes you a distinct minority, lately.

End of Excerpt

Doctor's Notes: BK is suffering from his over-identification with Molly Taylor, sister of his partner, JT. He has displaced his unresolved feelings about JT's bashing to Molly's current illness. This could create a major emotional setback for him if he is unable to establish some appropriate boundaries, and if she doesn't recover. Layered onto that is his guilt over his homosexuality, enhanced by the fact he is banned from donating bone marrow because of the AIDS risk. He still has not resolved his complicated feelings towards Jeffrey, and now threatens to involve a former lover of Jeffrey's, in order to secure information on the man. I have a concern that BK is floundering, emotionally. He is trying to deal with too many significant concerns at once. At the same time, his emotions are becoming accessible to him after so many years of constructing defenses around them. This leads to confusion, overload and inappropriate acting out. I want to see him in person for our next session, to better analyze his current emotional state.

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July 25, 2004