In internal family systems based therapy, I am learning how to identify defenses against pain. I’d guess I’ve had ADHD at least since secondary school, but I was diagnosed at 39. I am conceptualizing the symptoms (time-blindness, executive dysfunction, procrastination, relentless distraction) as some of my defenses against pain, personifying them (what do they look like? how do they sound? how do they feel? how old are they?) as young selves. That sense that I am never prepared enough to start, that I set the stage endlessly for a play that never starts–for some reason I see that part of myself as a clenched fist of coal or ebony. On one hand, soft and smudgy, leaving burnt dust everywhere. On the other, dense, hard, but smooth as a piano key. Both of these materials appeared this week, ebony in the form of a ring M made, and gave me in an spontaneous gesture of kindness. The other, I’ve had since the summer: the jar full of pieces of charcoal I collected from the beach at Lough Dan, leftovers from campers’ fire pits. I can draw with that for a while.