Good day. I am Dr. Michaels and I wish to introduce an interesting patient of mine. She has experienced very vivid dreams consistently over her life. At age 36, the dreams continue with no significant changes from her childhood.
What follows is her narrative
The full length mirror hangs on the closet door. I see it clearly, yet my entire body is not reflected. Only my neck to my knees reflects back. While I ponder this odd vision, the mirror inexplicitly shatters.
Next I see my old childhood room. The dreams always take place in this room. The room contains my small single bed, a dresser and a small desk with chair. I feel comforted, in my bed, covered with the soft baby blue blanket. The drapes darken the two windows, or maybe it is night. I cannot tell. I sense a stirring in the room. As I begin to wake up, I look around, rolling my eyes but otherwise not moving. A ghostly image, amorphous, seeps into the room, visible through the furniture.
The apparition, vaguely blue, shimmers. The more I gaze at it the more clear certain aspects become. The face shifts to almost resemble characteristics similar to my father; a large nose, thin lips and even my father’s bushy long eye brows. I then notice the ghost has hands. Again, similar to my father’s, large, callused and with a round wart on the left index finger. I can even smell the honey on his hand. He had the idea that rubbing honey over his hands would remove warts.
Emotionally I feel it is my fault that this apparition is so restless and does not stay put. I remember my father as a good man and this look- alike ghost deserves better than a loose existence.
My mind whirls at this fantastic image, and then the scene switches again.
I’m still in the bedroom seated in a chair, a big easy chair in the corner. The fabric is green corduroy and is large enough for me to curl up in rather like Edith Ann on Laugh In, remember? All of a sudden I notice the fabric feels strange, does not feel like corduroy and I instinctively jerk my hand away. It reminds me of my father’s dark blue fuzzy bathrobe. An image forms in my mind of spitting out fuzzy bits. Where did that thought come from?
Several versions of my mother hover around the chair. My mother as she appeared when I was very small, when I was in school and when I was a young woman. She appears to be scolding me and the smell of disappointment steams off the impression. I don’t know what I did to make her so cross with me Maybe she thinks I told a secret. Our relationship was not the best She died about 6 years ago .
The entire dream is so bizarre yet I have had this dream all my life.
My husband and I are divorced. He never listened to what I said, even if just discussing the weather. He never asked my opinion even for home improvements. We rarely spoke, had no connection and I began to hate him. I trusted my husband and he betrayed me. I always had the feeling that this wasn’t the first time someone let me down.
My best friend urged me to seek professional help which is why I am here Dr. Michaels. I hope that you can solve the mystery of this dream.
These notes date from several months ago. Since then the client and I have been discussing her dreams as well as her day to day life. The old Maya Angelou quote came to mind when we first met. There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. Actually that quote sums up one reason why I love my job. I assist people in telling their story and eliminating their anguish.
After utilizing various psycho analytic tools breakthroughs have emerged.
She told me she felt safe in my office with the warm wood paneling, comfortable soft chairs and soothing quiet. The sessions usually started with a coffee and just some idle chatter while she readied herself for the work ahead.
A therapist’s job is to ensure a safe environment for the patient. After a few sessions she knew I would neither judge her or be shocked by her thoughts and feelings and that I would offer her as much support and validation as she needed.
I believe the atmosphere contributed to the positive work we have accomplished thus far. Make no mistake, therapy is hard work; Confronting thoughts and history that normally gets pushed aside, bundled into a closet and forgotten about. But it is not entirely forgotten as she knew the bundle sat in the closet waiting for spring cleaning to come around one day. When that day arrived the bundle would have to be delved into to see just what it contained and what could be tossed or kept.
I told her (sorry I am just full of old adages) that the word “team” does not contain “I”. It would take both of us to do the tough work necessary for her to understand her dreams and feel better about herself.
During one of our meetings, while talking about her husband, she started to talk about her father. The more she tried to concentrate on her husband, the more the words out of her mouth related to her father. She would say, “my husband wore an old blue bathrobe. No, no that was my father. My husband had bushy eyebrows. No, that was also my father.” With her rising self awareness and while physically acting out, biting her nails twirling her hair and fidgeting, we began to dissect her dream.
She realized that her family and her former husband never acknowledged her intelligence. Thus, the cut off head in the mirror and the shattering of glass represented her frustration at this lack of recognition.
The ghost, symbolized her dad and her feelings of guilt directly relate to him . She finally remembered he abused her. She straightened up from her slouch in the chair, her eyes went wide, staring straight ahead. It was truly an epiphany. When we first met and she described the dream I surmised this may be the root cause but clients must come to these conclusions themselves
Her mother had always known about the abuse and said nothing. It was the family secret. She knew in her sub conscious that her mother must have known yet did nothing to protect her daughter. Nor did she face her husband and demand an explanation out of fear of his retaliation
Armed with this comprehension of her past, she literally heaved a huge sigh of relief. She was not “crazy”! She has now been able to live her life, and throw off the burden of the bundle in the closet.
Everyone has “issues”. The unhealthy ones are those who aren’t aware they have issues and don’t confront them. Facing psychological problems and resolving them is the most successful route to good mental health.
Blogophilia 50.3 Topic: “There is no “I” in Team“
(Hard, 2pts): mention a Maya Angelou quote
(Easy, 1pt) : incorporate a unique use for honey