June 2008, I logged on-line the name of my long-missing father who I barely knew. I believed the only thing of his that was mine, was his name. Something came onto the screen I had never seen before, a blurry facsimile of his death certificate. Some of it was legible. He died in San Francisco in 1970. That was a complete surprise. There was clearly more information on the screen image, but I couldn't make it out. Writing to the California Board of Health I requested a paper copy. They needed to know my relationship to the deceased. Writing in the word daughter in relation to my father was a unique experience. The paper certificate soon arrived. Everything on the document other than the date of his birth and his profession was a surprise. Suddenly I owned more than his name.
When a parent goes missing how do we shape and fill the empty space?
And how do we shape and create ourselves from our missing parents?
A Pot from Shards, a memoir, explores absence, imagination, movement, dance, language, psychoanalysis, love, death and the creation of a life.
How can a person animate a missing father from no live interaction or lived experience together with him? How can a person put together something or someone vibrant and discernible from what appears broken and empty? Joan Wexler tells her own story here of making and remaking a world within, through the use of her talents as dancer, mental health professional, psychoanalyst, family member, friend, musician, reader, student of life and writer. The urgent energy of her longing search for wholeness takes the reader on an odyssey of discovery, sometimes pained and disappointing, sometimes ebullient and joyful, into a rich and intimate world that is now created within the beauty of her text and gifted to the reader - one senses, from her soul.
Rosemary H. Balsam MD, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, Yale Medical School. Winner, Sigourney Award in Psychoanalysis, 2018.
With nuance and emotional texture, Wexler draws us into the psychological experience of her relationship with her father who she barely knew. Her writing is evocative and poetic, and provides a rich lens into the kaleidoscopic way that we each create and experience ourselves and our relationships. The book will be enjoyed by readers who value memoir and rich literature, and also has the potential to provide a rich addition to the syllabi of classes designed to teach about human development and the internal world of relationships.
Sydney Anderson, Ph.D., Cincinnati Psychoanalytic Institute.
About the Author:
Joan Wexler is a clinical social worker and psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis in New Haven, Connecticut