In fact, I had not cried when my grandparents drowned. In fact, I had not even felt sad when my grandparents drowned, at least not in the way I understood the word. What I felt was something else, a big, loose, empty feeling, and the right words for it didn’t seem to come from the language of emotions at all. I didn’t think I was wrong to feel this way, exactly. But I sensed that in some way it was a wrong answer, an answer that lay outside the interpretive paradigm we were meant to be working within, so without really thinking about it I told the therapist a story I thought he would know how to explain.

Note that I never imagined I might not understand what he was looking for. Only that it would be impossible for him—for other people, possibly for anyone—to understand me.

Where on earth, at eleven years old, had I gotten the idea that it was my job to be easily understood?

Brian Phillips can flat-out write.