Disclaimer: Tina's et al.
Spoilers: minor, "The Collection", "The Bubble", "Apollo, Apollo".
Summary: Liz has Donaghy issues. Jack has Lemon problems.
A/N: An experiment in dialogue.
"I had the dream again."
"The one about your friend?"
"That name seems to come up alot in our sessions."
"Is that a bad thing?"
"Merely an observation, Liz. How would you categorise your relationship?"
"How would I categorise it?"
"No. Really. We're just friends."
"Why do you feel the need to repeat that?"
"It sounded like you didn't believe me."
"Do alot of people doubt that you and Jack are just friends?"
"Some, I guess."
"What do they think you are?"
"Would you prefer me to guess what that might be?"
"Yeah, I would."
"I assume when you say something else, you mean…something more. Right?"
"Why do you think some people might assume you mean more to each other?"
"I dunno. We are together alot. We're both single alot. And I guess from the outside, we must look like an odd match."
"Does that bother you?"
"Not at all. Jack's the best friend I've ever had. We just, we… you know."
"I don't. But you are free to tell me, in your own words."
"We get each other…That's rare. For me, it's rare."
"Liz, how much of your life would you say you share with Jack?"
"Why's that important?"
"It's just a question. I'm trying to establish the nature of your relationship with this man."
"No-- he's not a man, it's not a relationship. We're friends. There's nothing more to know. Nothing to discuss."
"You don't wish to discuss him? It makes you uncomfortable?"
"It's not that. It's just…I'm supposed to be talking about my problems. And my…whatever with Jack is probably the one area of my life I'm totally happy with."
"Sure. It's easy, it's comfortable. I can tell him anything, I can call him any time. He gives great advice --mostly. He gets my jokes -- mostly. He knows what I like and loathe, he--"
"He let's me be. For the most part, anyway. He lets me be who I am…So no, I don't want to question it, or pull it apart, or change it. Because--"
"I'm not sure I'd stay sane. Without him."
"What's that mean?"
"Well, objectively, Liz, you seem very attached to this man. Quite territorial, almost."
"No, I'm not. And, like I said, he's not a man. He's Jack."
"He is a man, Liz, an important man in your life. One with aspirations and desires of his own."
"So what happens when Jack has lovers? I assume he has lovers?"
"All the time."
"And how's that for you?"
"It's fine. I don't want to be Jack's….what you said, if that's what you're implying."
"That's not what I was implying. I was more asking if the dynamic changes between you when he, or you, for that matter, takes a lover. Is there a shift when there is someone else in the picture?"
"I suppose it changes a little. But he still tells me about his girlfriends. And I tell him about the guys I like... That's normal, right?"
"Why do you ask?"
"You're the therapist. You know normal."
"Does it feel normal to you?"
"We define the relationships we're in, Liz, not others. And it sounds like you have a good friend in Jack."
"Yeah, I do."
"It sounds like you enjoy a very special intimacy with him."
"I wouldn't go that far."
"Makes it sound…"
"My only concern here is that he might reinforce your Jackie Mason complex."
"What's the matter?"
"Do you have to call it that? It makes me feel like you're writing a dissertation on me."
"You know what I'm referring to though?"
"I wish I hadn't told you that."
"This is what therapy is for, Liz. To nut out those deeply seated neuroses and see them for what they are."
"Have you told Jack about it?"
"About the night I…came on to Jackie Mason?"
"Because he insulted you."
"I think I did."
"What'd he make of it?"
"I think he laughed. And made some crack about me getting turned-on by criticism."
"He may be right."
"He usually is."
"From what I've gleaned, from what you've said in here in the past, Jack can be quite critical of you himself. Would that be correct?"
"How often would he say something critical to you, or something disparaging?"
"Yes, you do. How often? Daily?"
"And yet you keep going back for more. Why is that?"
"Well, it's not 'cause I get turned on by it."
"Why is it then?"
"He does say nice things too."
"The other day…he said I was…pleasant-looking. Well, he didn't say it -- he almost said it. And it wasn't the other day, it was awhile ago."
"No, see, I know how it sounds. And yes, Jack can be critical, he can be brutal, in fact. But only because he thinks I'm better than I am. He wants me to be…better, to be happy, to have it all."
"So this is his idea of…encouragement?"
"And while he is encouraging you with this brutal criticism, is there any sort of attraction present, like what occurred with Mr Mason?"
"Seriously, that was one time!"
"Well, I see a pattern, Liz. The nice men in your life seem to come and go rather swiftly, while this incredibly controlling, highly critical authority figure seems to be something you embrace quite wholeheartedly."
"What're you suggesting? That Jack is bad for me? That I not be friends with him?"
"I am only suggesting that you may be drawn to Jack's critical nature. Possibly because it keeps you at a safe distance."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, tell me, has there ever been a time, Liz, when Jack wasn't keeping you distanced with criticism? And you weren't keeping him distanced by telling jokes?"
"I'm not sure I know what you mean."
"Do you want me to spell it out?"
"Probably not, actually."
"I'm talking about attraction. That mysterious thing that can occur between two people -- generally when they stop talking."
"We don't stop."
"Why? What would happen if you did?"
"Are you sure?"
"I've…never really thought about it."
"Well, think about it. Think back, Liz. What happens in the gaps? What happens in the silences when you are with this man friend of yours? What passes between you apart from simple words?"
"Okay, yes. There's been a few….moments. And once, I thought he was going to…kiss…me."
"He didn't. And he certainly hasn't tried since."
"Did you want him to try again?"
"No. I dunno. That was aeons ago anyway. Before we were even really friends."
"So the friendship prevents you acting on the attraction?"
"But you admit there is an attraction?"
"Do you think Jack is attracted to you?"
"Do I think--?"
"Answer the question."
"…Sometimes. Yes. But…I don't know why he would be--"
"You don't know why he would be attracted to you?"
"That's what I said."
"I know, I just wanted you to hear your own words."
"It's not low self-esteem, doctor, it's realism. You should see the women he dates."
"How long does he date them?"
"And is he critical of them?"
"No. He's lovely to them. Real sweet and attentive. Completely absorbed."
"Well, they do say there is nothing so attractive as a man who's in love."
"I don't know that he…loves them."
"I think he thinks he does."
"You seem to know his heart better than he does."
"Somehow, I don't think it's his heart they appeal to."
"And what do you appeal to? In him?"
"His funny bone?"
"You're deflecting again, using humor."
"I know. It's a habit."
"One we are here to break."
"So the obvious follow-up question here is, do you find Jack attractive?"
"I should've known that question was coming."
"It's what we've been building towards."
"Am I secretly in love with my best friend, no matter how critical he is of me?"
"I never mentioned love. I asked whether you find him attractive."
"Do you have a response?"
"Jack is an attractive man, sure. Objectively speaking."
"How about non-objectively?"
"Come on, Liz, it's a simple enough question. And we are here to tell the truth. Might as well out with it. It doesn't go beyond this room, no one's going to know but me."
"But. I don't even want to know this stuff. I don't even want to think about it."
"Because. It'll change. Everything. I like things the way they are. I like Jack. I need him. And I don't want--"
"You don't want what? Liz?"
"I don't know."
"To lose him?"
"And who says, by being honest about what you are to one another, you will?"
"It's not…like that. I just meant-- I don't know what I meant."
"Perhaps you can answer your own question then."
"Are you in love with your best friend?"
"That's who we've been discussing."
"He probably thinks I am."
"You said he's usually right."
"Care to elaborate on that?"
"I'm not a big elaborater, really."
"You don't have to answer, if you don't wish to."
"Okay, good…Not that that's an admission."
"I didn't take it as one. But one of the reasons you came to me was to explore your inability to maintain a romantic relationship."
"You make that sound so pathetic."
"It's not pathetic, it's realistic."
"And from what I can tell, your relationship with Jack is a very good sign."
"It shows that you are ready to share your life with someone. Providing it's the right someone. It proves you are capable of sharing your history and hopes, of communicating openly and freely, of supporting another, of being seen at your worst."
"And that's a good thing?"
"It's very good. You just need to combine that dynamic with the sexual component of a full-grown relationship."
"Do I have to?"
"Is Jack as adverse to sexual relations as you are?"
"Are you kidding? He'd do it all day, everyday if he didn't get off on business so much."
"Why's that interesting?"
"Do you want my opinion, Liz?"
"I pay you for it, I might as well hear it."
"I think you need a little perspective. I think perhaps a little healthy distance would do you good."
"Distance? From what?"
"Isn't it obvious?"
"To me, it's clear that you're letting your friendship with Jack fulfil your need of a stable relationship in your life. As long as he is there, helping you, keeping you company, encouraging you, in his own way, you are not available to receive anything else."
"That's not true. I'm available."
"No, you're not. You're involved, is what you are. You're in your comfort zone, and you're not budging from it."
"Jack is my comfort zone?"
"Most assuredly. You said so yourself. Look, there's no need to discontinue his company. You just need to create some distinct boundaries."
"But…who am I going to talk to?"
"Who did you used to talk to?"
"So, talk to them. Talk to me. Talk to Jack -- just don't share everything little thing with him. Try to keep it purely professional for awhile. Keep things aloof, casual between you. See how that works for awhile. Give yourself space to refocus, permission to like other men. Start going out again, go out with Jenna some place, meet some new people. If you are not in love with Jack – or if you are, either way -- it might clarify some issues for you."
"I'm not sure I can do that."
"All of it. But the not-talking-to-Jack part most of all."
"It's your life, Liz, it's your choice. And I would never urge you to do something you weren't comfortable with. But if you're interested in allowing another man to enter your life – are you interested in allowing other men into your life, Liz?"
"I think so."
"Then you will, at some point, have to let go of the one currently filling it."
"What if I can't though? What if I don't want to let go?"
"That's up to you. But, give it a try. Okay?"