I was so anxious in therapy yesterday! Don’t you just hate that feeling, of being so jittery you might just jump out of your skin? Anyway, being a good patient (ho, ho – because I always have to be “good”) I brought it into the therapeutic space: “I’m feeling very anxious.”
My therapist asked why, but I couldn’t give him an answer. He asked me what I was afraid of, which was an excellent question, and though I came up with a list, my feelings of unease didn’t lift. Finally it hit me: “I’m afraid of leaving here today without feeling better.”
“What is it that would make you feel better?”
“Being heard. I love that here, I’m always heard.”
“So what is it that you want to say, to have listened to?”
I stared at him in frustration. I just didn’t know.
Suddenly I said, out of the blue, “Hey, I had a fascinating dream this morning! I was a man, living alone in a house, a pretty strange house built on three levels, and he was always afraid, because he thought someone was invading his space. He kept finding signs that someone had been there, but he didn’t know who, and locking the doors was no help, they got in anyway. But as the dream went on he figured out that he had dissociative identity disorder and he actually turned into a woman, but of course he had no memory of it. Anyway, by the end of the dream he’d figured out that he was the man and the woman, and he was able to be conscious the whole time, and he wasn’t scared any more.”
My therapist just looked at me, and I looked back. Then he said, “So there was something going on in this man’s mind which was making him afraid, but which he wasn’t aware of.”
Well, duh! No wonder that dream sprang into mind when it did. I swear, the unconscious mind never ceases to amaze me.
I slumped back into my chair. “Yeah, that’s about it,” I said, glumly. “But I still don’t know why I’m afraid.”
And as I sit here typing, fifteen hours later, I still don’t know why I’m afraid …