I just woke from an important dream. It wasn’t a pleasant dream; in fact I’d call it a nightmare. This dream brought all my fears, insecurities, frustrations, and more than anything, my past experiences with betrayal and abandonment to the surface of my awareness. I must write this down immediately and have my therapist print a copy for us to look at together when we meet later this week.
I’m in my therapist’s office, and he seems strangely distant. Instead of sitting several feet in front of me, intently interested and leaning forward toward me the way he usually does, I’m laying down on a couch and he is sitting somewhere behind me where I can’t see him, like in traditional Freudian psychoanalysis. He’s much quieter than usual. In real life, my therapist is very engaged; he doesn’t stay silent the whole time. While of course I do most of the talking, he often interjects his opinions, observations, or sometimes instructions (“talk to ‘Chair Girl’,” etc.), making our sessions interactive and seem more natural than if he just sat there saying nothing at all.
But in the dream, he says nothing at all. At one point it occurs to me that perhaps he fell asleep, so I turn myself around to look at him, which means stretching my neck into an uncomfortable position to get a good look. He looks awake. I ask him if he fell asleep before and he says no. I say, “you’re awfully quiet today.” He nods, and apologizes, admitting he has things on his mind. At least he acknowledges his silence. His personal issues, whatever they are, make me a little concerned for him and want to take care of him, but it also makes me think he’s a little incompetent, letting his personal issues get in the way of being engaged during our session. I still worry that it’s something personal and maybe he doesn’t like me anymore or that I bore him. The old abandonment trauma is triggered. I feel the old shame and all the insecurities come flooding back.
Our session is over. I want it to go on longer, to resolve my feelings of triggered shame and fear or at least talk about them, but he’s adamant about our ending time. He’s very strict with boundaries, which is good, but in this dream, it’s not. I feel rejected. I sink deeper into my shame and humiliation. I’m Chair Girl again, but not the sensitive, artistic soul I want to protect but the sickly, weak, needy brat I’m ashamed of, the one I want to keep in hiding forever. I’m her again. I don’t want to be her.
I leave, feeling sad but working hard to keep a smile on my face and not let on how vulnerable I feel. I suddenly don’t trust him. I can’t let him see how vulnerable I feel. He’ll hurt me. He’s no different from the rest of them.
I remember having parked my car in front of his house, slightly to the right, but it isn’t there. I start to hyperventilate, ready to overreact the way I always used to. I try to stay mindful and keep my wits about me. I take some deep breaths but they do little good. Maybe I didn’t park it there after all. I look up and down the street, but I don’t see it anywhere. Frantically, I reach into my purse and find my set of keys, but the car key is missing. Who would have taken it? Who had access to my purse when I wasn’t looking? I dump the purse out onto the sidewalk. Everything else seems to be there, but the most important thing–my car key, is nowhere to be found. And my car is gone.
Then I realize I can’t find my phone either. I have all my numbers saved on there. I can’t call anyone because I can’t remember their numbers. Who would I call? Who can help me? I look back at my therapist’s house, and think about knocking on his door and asking for help. But I can’t do it. It’s growing dark; it’s getting late. What if he’s eating dinner with his wife right now, and I interrupt their dinner with such a petty request? Maybe it would cause him to really reject me.
Somehow–I’m not sure how–I get a ride from my ex. He’s taking me back to my apartment and I tell him what happened. I wonder if somehow he stole my car, because in real life he always used to play cruel gaslighting games with me, hiding things and then telling me I was crazy when I finally “found” them after he’d replaced them. He stole from me all the time and would deny it. I don’t ask him if he took my car because I know he’ll get mad or make fun of me. But somehow I know it must have been him, even though he was nowhere near my purse or my car keys and could not actually have taken the car.
I realize with no phone numbers, and no car, I cannot go to work the next day. I’ll have to make a bunch of phone calls to try to fix this mess, but I can’t because I don’t have a phone.
I’m back at my house, and my laptop doesn’t work. I need to get on it ASAP. I have to call my therapist. I no longer care how late it is, I have to talk to him. I’m having a crisis. I’m freaking out, about to lose my mind. I rationalize that I have an excuse to interrupt whatever he’s doing. I demand to use my ex’s phone but I can’t find my therapist’s number anywhere. He’s not in the phone book either. It’s as if he never existed. My ex brings in an old desktop that looks about 20 years old and tells me to use that to look for him. I can’t log on. It’s using an old system that I have no idea how to use, and I start yelling and screaming. I feel frantic and helpless. I’m Chair Girl, the bad, helpless one, the one who brings me shame. My ex makes fun of my bad temper and tells me I’m stupid for not being able to use a simple computer. I demand to know why mine doesn’t work. I know I’m whining and acting like a baby but I don’t care. My world is falling to pieces all around me. It’s after 10 PM and I still can’t find my therapist’s number. I have no car, no phone, no connections to anyone but my ex who always hurts me. I feel like everything’s been lost. I’m lost.
I wake up with tears swimming in my eyes, almost spilling over. I’m hyperventilating, but also relieved none of this really happened.