“Why do I hit the child I love?” Author Miri Yū reveals family secrets and the dark feelings she has struggled with for much of her life in this raw, unvarnished record of a series of intensive counseling sessions she underwent.
Yū, 41, lives in Kamakura with her nine-year-old son and her 26-year-old lover. Tormented by bipolar disorder and insomnia, she has a history of exploding in anger at her son, abusing him both verbally and physically. Beginning in August 2009, she undergoes counseling with clinical psychologist Hirokazu Hasegawa, a child abuse and family pathology specialist.
Yū is shaken when told by Hasegawa that both her father’s domestic violence and her mother’s unmotherly treatment of her children constituted child abuse. He tells her that the absence of maternal love in her own upbringing has left her without a sense of motherhood for herself. In the course of relating her dreams to Hasegawa, Yū learns to identify the Jungian “wise old man” archetypes in them.
During her final counseling session on January 25, 2010, Yū describes a dream suggestive of death and rebirth. This dream, too, includes a sage-like figure. Upon listening to her description, Hasegawa declares their sessions finished, saying the wise old man will awaken her and help along the road to recovery.
Yū’s condition worsens after that, and she is tormented by a death wish as well as both visual and auditory hallucinations. On March 31, she turns off her cell phone and visits the Gumyōji district of Yokohama, where she had lived as a child. There she begins opening up to her internal sage about the pain she is in. As she does so, she gradually comes to understand how she has been piling blame on herself within the confines of her family, repressing her true feelings. Then she brings her narrative to an end by saying, “I am grieving for myself.”