And with two semi-epics on the way, I want to keep this just the size we planned. :D
I hope you've all enjoyed this little glimpse into the grey matter of the family!
Author’s Note: Dr. Elliot Marrin never uses full names in his private notes, preferring abbreviations in an effort to conceal his patients’ identities. His codes have been decrypted here for your convenience.
In some people, age deepens their neuroses, makes them ever more uncompromising in their defenses. Fortunately Lois isn’t one of those. Age, motherhood, and marriage have brought out a side of her I barely knew was there when she was young. For the first time, I can truly see a way out of the endless cycle she’s been locked in for her entire life.
She’s always been a neurotic mess, but a highly functional neurotic mess. Lois’ particular blend of quirks and vulnerabilities leaves her fiercely focused on achieving success in whatever she attempts, and she’s fortunate to have largely attained that. Of course, then she has arrogance in her own accomplishments resting uneasily atop insecurity, but the imbalance is what drives her.
Caught between defiance of her father’s authority and trying to live up to his expectations, Lois was rarely happy in her youth – unless she was chasing a story. Now, though, I’m beginning to see contentment in her. She still needs some reassurance about her abilities as a parent and about her status as a wife, but time will finally wear that away, I think.
When I spoke with Lois, I hadn’t yet heard both sides of the issues between her and Clark. I’ll need to bring her in again so I can give her some work to do. I’ve already assigned him his homework, and he’s the type to follow it diligently. Lois needs to make an effort to draw him out, to overcome her fears of showing weakness and actually tell the man what she needs from him.
She also needs to give up keeping secrets from him, something she claims to have done. I suspect she’ll need some maintenance in that regard. It’s Lois’ nature to hide things, whether she’s cherishing forbidden knowledge or sitting on an exclusive story to keep other reporters from breaking it first. Her curiosity has always been one of her defining traits, but she’s never really trusted others – even the people she loves most – with her secrets.
The secret she’s keeping from me is something she really doesn’t want me to know. It makes her practically ill to think I might discover it. I’m not sure if that’s just another trust issue, or if it has something to do with our former relationship. Strangely enough, I’m also sure it’s something she has no moral or ethical qualms about. Such a secret would weigh on her much more heavily. This isn’t that kind of burden, though it is terribly important to her. I suspect it has something to do with the incident she was especially cagey about, where “someone” thought she couldn’t keep a secret and made decisions that affected everyone.
If Lois thinks I don’t realize the “someone” in that statement is Superman, she’s seriously underestimating me. Only he causes that amount of nervousness in her, and only he would be described as “damn near perfect”. Still, I understand why Lois wouldn’t want to say anything, even in an unrecorded session.
The family comedian may be the least neurotic and in need of analysis. He’s quite self-aware and views everything through a lens of good humor, perhaps because he knows how lucky he is. Of course, no one is perfectly normal or completely sane, since those values are averages and people are individuals, but Richard comes fairly close. He is certainly the least stressed person in the group.
It intrigues me that he gave Lois up when he so clearly loved her – and still loves her. Richard made a choice many people don’t, to act in the best interest of others before himself. It shows a sense of honor that, along with his straightforward personality, I’ve come to associate with ex-military people. Lois is much the same way, even though she’s never served. I suspect another feature of that ‘military character’ is the way both Lois and Richard prefer to work on fixing something rather than complaining about it. And in Richard’s case, if he can’t fix it, he’ll make a joke about it.
Out of the entire family, including the twins who have been in therapy for a decade now, Richard was the most relaxed about it. While he does have something to hide – all of them do – it’s not something that stresses him. He doesn’t find it shameful, and I get the sense that it’s probably something that he’d be proud to announce. Whatever this secret is, it’s affecting the rest of the family, and he’s keeping silent out of loyalty.
His inability to discuss specific problems between Lois and Clark speaks to that loyalty as well. Richard is a man who loves his friends and family deeply, unconditionally, and unendingly. He speaks highly of Clark, clearly admires him, and likely would have no problem saying something like, ‘Of course I love the guy, who wouldn’t?’ His attitude toward Lois is a little more familiar, more willing to admit her flaws and tease her, but they were lovers and have never lost that flirtatious spark or the intimacy they had.
One of the things that impresses me about Richard is how well-adjusted he turned out to be, given his parents’ issues. If what he says about his family life is true – and I have no reason to doubt his account – then he is one of the lucky people who learn what not to do, instead of repeating their parents’ mistakes. He didn’t outright dismiss the possibility of conflict in his own marriage, as I’d expect from someone in denial, but instead spoke of their strengths in compromise and resolution. That focus on relationship maintenance and interpersonal communication makes him an excellent role model for the children.
Most people I know could benefit from some counseling. We all have challenges to face. Richard is one of the very few who are probably better off not being analyzed. He has effectively neutralized the aspects of his past that are harmful, and most therapists I know would want to revisit the issues with his parents in detail. To me it sounds like he’s made his peace with that and moved on from it, and progress is better than circling back around to old issues. Not that most people – Lois for example – don’t need to revisit the past and lay it to rest. Richard just isn’t one of them.
I always knew this one would present me with some challenges. There’s always been something about the boy, some extra dimension I was never privy to, and to which he simply never allowed me access. That has been extremely frustrating, like trying to rearrange furniture while all of it is still draped. I know the general shape of what he’s protecting by the space it occupies, but I have no idea what it looks like or how it will fit with the rest of the ‘room’ that is his psyche.
Hmm. A nice simile, that. Must save it for future use.
He’s not a ticking time bomb of psychosis, I know that much. There’s nothing drastically wrong with Jason. His deviations from the norm tend to fall in directions that the rest of society generally approves of, at least until they have to deal with it on a regular basis. Jason is more serious, more responsible, more considerate, and all around more mature than his peers.
…I was going to write, “Luckily for him he has a twin sister to help him with spontaneity, living in the moment, and having fun.” But then I began to wonder if Kala isn’t part of the reason why Jason is who he is. According to Lois, they had distinct personalities from the moment they were born, and Jason has always been the calmer, quieter twin. Perhaps, though, in the inevitable process of developing their separate identities, Jason and Kala have both moved further into opposing roles as they grow. Said opposition then drives them to connect further with each other, balancing out the same extremes of temperament that the differentiating process created. It’s an interesting exercise to wonder what both twins would be like if they’d been born singly.
Having known Jason for a decade, I cannot imagine him without the protectiveness of an older sibling – never mind that he’s older by a span of minutes, in his own mind he is Kala’s big brother and always will be. That’s a large part of why he chooses to define himself by his devotion to others. I expected him to go into a service profession – doctor, firefighter, something like that – but he plans to pursue science instead. I’m sure he sees that career choice as another way to benefit humanity as a whole, and I’m not surprised that his goals are so lofty.
Regarding Elise, Jason’s devotion to her is sincere. He’s not simply trying to mimic his parent’s relationship; he is unusually mature for his age and he may even be ready for the marriage he claims to want. It wasn’t so long ago that most teenagers were married and having children; adolescence as we know it is a fairly modern phenomenon. Without meeting her, I can’t say if he’ll be successful, but the rest of the family approves of Elise and welcomes her. She’ll never have in-law troubles, and that’s a major source of conflict gone.
Whatever the family’s secret is, Jason knows it, and he will never give me even the slightest hint about it. Something that happened in Nevada had a lot to do with it, but it’s deeper than that. From our very first session discussing the events aboard Luthor’s yacht, Jason has kept things from me. All I can tell from him is that it’s something about his family, something he’s proud of but afraid for the world to know.
It takes monumental hubris to write ‘rock star’ in the box marked ‘career plans’ on a guidance counselor’s forms, but Kala has that much confidence in her talent and in her ability to make her dreams come true. She’s always been a curious mix of arrogance and insecurity, much like her mother, though for different reasons.
Lois may have already realized that she’s passed on some of her own troubles, and if so, she hates it. I know she never wanted Kala to doubt herself the way Lois always has. But Lois and Kala are not a rerun of Sam and Lois. For one thing, Kala is utterly certain of her mother’s love and acceptance – now, anyway, that Lois almost died trying to save her in Nevada. A harsh cure, but an effective one.
No, Kala only has the problem of trying to live up to all of her parents’ images. Lois is a trailblazer in a traditionally male field, a Pulitzer-prize-winning reporter of international renown. Clark is a paragon of another order, a reporter just as good as Lois, but his strength is that he embodies the simple virtues of another time: chivalry, kindness, patience, courage, loyalty. Richard is a globe-trotting pilot and yet another fine reporter, and he has a wealth of experience and sophistication. Lana is an extremely successful millionaire who hasn’t let money corrupt her. Somehow Kala has to become someone who doesn’t disappoint any of them, and that’s a tall order.
Personally, I think she’ll be successful. Many young people in the entertainment industry get swept up in the parties and drugs that come with fame, but Kala has the integrity to resist all that. And she’s told me she intends to use the celebrity status she could gain for a nobler purpose, hopefully getting involved with political lobbying as well as grass-roots efforts to educate people on things like the importance of recycling. A very unusual choice, for a child of any other family.
Kala’s attitude toward boys – or more correctly, men – reflects her varied and conflicting influences about what relationships should be. Lois is deeply secular and has had several lovers; Richard was quite promiscuous in his youth; while Lana and Clark have tried to conform to traditional small town virtues with varying degrees of success. Then, too, Kala has two loving fathers, but both of them are above average men, and then she also has her brother. Sebast figures in there, too, as another example of unattainable perfection. Almost any boy she meets will not compare favorably with those role models. At least she doesn’t have Lois’ fears of showing vulnerability and half-antagonistic relationship with the male half of the species. On the whole I think she’s as capable of healthy relationships as her brother, but she’s more ambivalent about them and will take longer to settle down.
As to the family secret, which I can’t seem to leave alone even though I know it’s beneficial to them, Kala certainly knows it. She’s quite proud of it, too, but unwilling to discuss it, and she shows more discretion than is customary for her. Often in our sessions, Kala will talk around something so much that I can figure it out, but she hasn’t done that with this secret. I do get the feeling that it’s something the twins have known for a long time and internalized, become accustomed to, a bit better than their parents.
The designer surprised me the most of everyone in the family. I admit I’d been thinking of her as a sweet small-town girl who lucked out, dismissing her as the mildest member of the family. I was thoroughly shocked to discover she’s the most insightful – and manipulative. It’s a different kind of intelligence than Lois’ cunning, largely because Lana takes her time to come to conclusions while Lois operates on the fly, but she’s just as smart.
The entire family is fortunate that Lois and Lana chose to become friends, and I suspect a lot of that is Lana’s doing. The two women had many reasons to become bitter rivals, and Lois has never been very good at getting along with other women. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Lana was the one who decided they’d have to be friends in order for the extended family to get along the way they do, and that she then set about coaxing Lois into accepting her. It’s much more like Lois to see her as a threat, and Lois has never tolerated threats. By the time Lana had her own misstep – pregnancy hormones do tend to play havoc with women’s emotions – Lois was already a firm ally.
Lana is the one I’d like to get back into my office. She has a keen perspective on the family, she’s evidently privy to all of Lois and Clark’s secrets, and she’s somehow managed to turn out level-headed in spite of everything that’s happened in her life. The woman went from small-town housewife to millionaire without losing sight of who she is and without compromising her principles; I admire that.
Sadly, I’m fairly certain Lana won’t be coming back. She’s right; the problems within the family are progressing toward resolution, and whatever the secret they’re keeping actually is, she’s afraid of letting it slip somehow. Lana speaks of this secret – and she was the only one to actually say something about it – as if it’s a sacred trust. It’s not something that goes against her principles, but it is something that she’d be horrified to let an outsider know. Which is fairly interesting.
I’d already established that whatever this secret is, it’s inclusive – it brings the family together. It may even be integral to the bonds of friendship that allow the Whites and Lane-Kents to operate as one family instead of the more common quarreling-step-families model.
The clues are, as always, in the relationships. Lana loves her husband, and the pair of them dote on each other. But she’s also surprisingly loyal to Lois, and extremely defensive of Clark. And then the twins, to whom she’s as devoted as her biological daughter. The connections there are much deeper than mere friendship. I’m still mulling over her last remark about Superman, however. She spoke almost as if she knew him personally.
Most people are fairly easy to read. For ten years I thought I had a good read on Clark, based on our momentary meetings when he picked up or dropped off the twins. But he turned out to be a cipher from the moment he walked into the treatment room. Take a cursory glance at him, and he’s the kind of man you wouldn’t expect Lois to look twice at. The dashing pilot seems a much more logical choice, considering that Lois has never been attracted to gentle, humble, courteous men like Clark. Fierce Lois with the shy wallflower? It seems ridiculous.
But Clark isn’t what he seems. I doubt he’s actually shy; the diffident air seems calculated to put people at ease and make him seem nonthreatening. He is a very big man, broad-shouldered, and if he carried himself more forcefully – say, with Richard’s cockiness – he’d be almost overpowering. I certainly caught a flash or two of much stronger character than his outward appearance projects.
Jason is the best evidence of his real character. He learned how to be a man from both Clark and Richard, and his intensity must come from Clark since Richard is far more casual. The dedication to service likely also comes from Clark. In fact, Clark has stated that he sees a lot of himself in his son, so much of my remarks about Jason should also apply to Clark.
Why, then is Clark intentionally misrepresenting who he is? I’m not so easily misled. He isn’t the quintessential fool; there’s a level of sophistication in his misdirection that speaks of keen intelligence. And of course he has to have drive and determination to match Lois’, or she’d steamroll him. He isn’t cowed by her; he adores and admires her, even enjoys her quirks, and he’s extremely protective of her. I’ve seen nothing to indicate that he backs down from her.
Backs away, maybe. Clark is gracious – the humble, patient, kind, courteous part of his image is true. He just ramps up the self-effacement to extremes. A genuinely good man is what he is, at heart, and for all of Lois’ fascination with difficult men (I’m counting myself in that category), not even she can resist the attraction of a truly noble spirit.
I have the sense that he’s keeping the most secrets. In fact, I think the entire family secret somehow revolves around him. If Clark is not what he seems, then the mystery begins to make sense. That line of thought, however, is one I won’t commit to print, not even in my private notes. In fact, I’m not even going to think about it any further.
Rereading my notes, I realized I closed the file after Clark but without developing an alternate theory. If I’m not going to pursue my original suspicion, I have to find some other explanation for the secrecy. So let’s review: it can’t be anything that violates anyone’s principles. It’s something that Lois doesn’t want me to know especially. It’s something that the traditional moralists, Lana and Clark, are the most worked up about. It’s something that Richard is proud of but keeps secret for the others’ sake. And it’s something the kids know about but which they’re so used to that it’s just part of their lives now.
One possible explanation that accounts for everyone’s attitudes toward this secret, and also makes sense for how they’ve made this blended family of very different worldviews work as a cohesive whole, is that the two couples are cross-involved at a level well beyond friendship. It would also explain how powerful the loyalties are. If this were true, then Lana and Clark’s casual discussions of what might have been, and Lois and Richard’s continued attraction, would also be explained.
I can’t wait to see the look on Lois’ face when I tell her I’ve figured out her secret. It will be interesting to see if she’s relieved or horrified – or both – when I outline my suspicions.