1. When I was little, maybe younger than grade school, my mom and I were driving in our neighborhood and from the back I asked, “Mom, who am I?” I remember this well because my mom said, “Ah, this is one of the questions great philosopher have asked themselves for millennia!” She left it at that and I felt absolutely awesome about being so little yet already in the company of great philosophers.
2. My mom was not much into acknowledging my awesomeness, so this moment was super special to me.
3. Recently (how long do these things take!) I’ve been asking myself what was a little girl doing with questions like that. Maybe all little children ask them as they figure themselves out. But this is where I think this question came from for me: I was an unclaimed child. I was no-one’s child. When a child is unclaimed, I think, she begins to shape herself in relation to others. An unclaimed child does not know how to be herself. An unclaimed child belongs nowhere. Since floating is intolerable, the child barnacles.
4. An adult who has barnacled all of her life has no way of knowing who she is when unbarnacled.
5. A human who cannot exist unless barnacled will not survive childhood; it may take a while but she will die. I don’t know how I did it, whether it was sheer tenacity or a hand from above. I’m going with both.
6. As an adult I have been much loved. This is both a hand from above, tenacity, and the infinite giving of the people who have loved me.
7. Still, I would be dead without psychoanalysis. The two analysts I worked with claimed me. It wasn’t easy to get there, but we did (though it’s still and always a work in progress) (many other therapists and analysts did not claim me so I was lucky to find someone who did). When the first analysis broke down I found another. This is both tenacity, a hand from above, the infinite givingness of good people, and psychoanalysis.
7. Psychoanalysis trains regular humans to great love. In this way, it is like religion at its best. (I am not saying that all psychoanalysts are good at loving their patients well, just as I am not saying that even a majority of religious people are good at love, though of course that is the only thing they should be good at since nothing else matters).