Sometimes the answer can be found, inside.
I have been missing Anna so much. Trying to find a way to stay connected to her. Feeling like the whole thing is a farse. The pain of attachment tricking me into believing that she doesnt really care about me. I’ve been trying to bring back a sense of connectedness. Looking at her photo… searching for traces of her online… reading old session and journal notes… I’ve been thinking about drawing a picture for her or about our relationship but every time I tried my mind drew a blank. Actually, a lot of the time I would dissociate, I guess the young yearnings are too much for my system sometimes.
Then I had a dream. Normally my dreams are horrible and leave me feeling like my brain is my biggest enemy… this one has actually turned out to be the answer I was looking for.
It was about Anna. I woke up crying. In the dream I was standing at the back door of my car which was open. I was making space between the kids car seats and my back was to Anna’s house. There was a lot of stuff all over the seat that I was having to sweep off and tidy. I could hear children playing and laughing behind me outside her house and I knew they were her grandkids. It was breaking my heart knowing that was all going on behind me. I felt that deep pain in my chest like a longing to be part of something that I can never be part of. I didn’t want to turn around because I didn’t want to see them, their faces, her house… I didn’t want to have a clear picture of what I was missing out on.
I knew I was there to collect something important from Anna. We had prearranged this visit. I was then aware that Anna was standing right beside me, very close so the sides of our bodies were touching. She handed me a cardboard box (it was small, maybe 8 inches square) which I put between the two car seats and noticed how perfectly it fitted between them. I was going to turn to face her with my head down to thank her and tell her that I didn’t want to look at her family but she put her arm firmly around my waist to stop me from turning. I knew in myself that she knew it wasn’t a good idea for me to see them all. I whispered, ‘you know how much this is hurting don’t you?’ and in a really gentle voice she said, ‘yes… just get in the car and don’t look back, I look forward to seeing you at your next session.’ And I woke up.
Initially I was really upset about it. I felt like my brain was once again telling me what I don’t have… but then later I reflected and came up with a different insight. As much as it hurts that I am not part of her family life, that I can’t look and can’t know about what she has… so too can they not know about what I have with her. Our relationship is just as protected and private as hers with her family. She gave me the box, a gift of something only she can give me that’s specific to me, that she wont give to anyone else. Something she has chosen to give me, with care and consideration, that fits perfectly in my life… possibly for my inner child, as it sits between my children’s car seats. It was in a plain carboard box, didn’t look much on the outside but was very precious. I knew it was exactly what I needed. Our backs were to her family and she was standing beside me. We were united together in that moment, keeping what we were doing shaded from anyone’s gaze.
She had her arm around me, caring, firm and knowing what I was experiencing. She keeps the work we do and the things we talk about private, she won’t tell her family about our sessions… it’s between me and her. She has to balance both her family and her work. She protects me from knowing about her family by maintaining firm boundaries, not because she doesn’t trust me or want me to be part of her life but because she doesn’t want to cause me any more pain than I already feel. She gives me what she can give me within the therapeutic frame.
I feel comforted by this interpretation of the dream. I’ve wrestled for years with feeling like a disgusting burden that no therapist could ever love, someone that the therapist would want to keep at arms length, keep the toxic waste away from their precious family. But this dream helped me see it differently. That there is a genuine care. That it doesn’t have to be a comparison between how much she loves her family and what she feels for me… that one doesn’t take away from the other. She gives me time, her emotional energy, she reflects on what I need and works to give it to me… and that is a very precious gift.