Why did I return to the diaries at just this time – when I haven’t revisited myself in that place of other since I wrote them? The Friday before I made the decision to publish the diaries on-line, Abe had gone to the doctor. The prognosis was not good and I was living each minute as if I could lose him this second, now. I didn’t realize at the time how frantic I was, but did the only thing I know to do during periods of chaos and stress – put myself inside a page.
This time I did not write, not frantically anyway. I went to the year the analysis began, 1990. I wanted to find me and Abe there, and though we were married nine years prior, I went to the analytic diary to remember who we were in relation to that period, to see what I could see of us, who we have been throughout our twenty-four years together; what I’m finding is good because it helps me understand how we’ve lived our lives together, why and how we made it through, or didn’t, and then did again.
I had been blocking something else too: I started the analysis, after eleven years of psychoanalytic therapy with the same man I was to do the analysis with, the month after my son was hit by a car. That was more than I could tolerate. He was in Harborview for two weeks and at home for another two weeks, then back to school on crutches for the next six months. But I remained on crutches and, if not for the writing, would be there still; for it is the writing that helps me care for others, and it is the writing that nurtures and cares for me.
-Esther Altshul Helfgott