MY DREAMS ARE TELLING ON ME

After a lonely Christmas, a series of repetitive dreams reminded me what I miss most: the content missing from Longfellow’s lines on ships passing in the night.  My graduate school days in clinical psychology were the happiest and most alive of my life. Everyone was either real or trying to be so. “Thank you for the gift of your anger” was a common response to a heated exchange, as well as my more frequent “I know, and I’m working on it.”

How do other retired therapists cope with the everyday prattle?  I seem to have turned avoidant from fellow humans who avoid their depths.  The well-bred don’t cry at funerals; the “strong” avoid their own depths.

It’s been said that the layperson is leery of shrinks for fear they are psychoanalyzing them on sight. A smidgen of that is true. After years of training and observation of body language, it’s difficult not to pick up on a stranger’s stress, concerns or ambivalences.  And there’s no “I know, and I’m working on it” in sight.  Often there’s empathy for the struggles a stranger appears to be going through, but no way to comfortably acknowledge it.

I first noticed him at a free church lunch, due to some leaves caught in his dark knit cap.  After the luncheon I saw him seated in the damp grass, smoking. I’ve been wishing he had a pad to sit on, to protect him from the cold damp.  Maybe that’s just a problem of my loose boundaries.  (That’s something else I’m “working on.”)

I’ve learned one must be extra specially careful to phrase it just right when attempting to reach out. I tried ineptly with a fellow blogger and received a rather intense bite. Served me right for attempting to go where angels fear to stray (glad I can be free with my cliches here).

On top of it all is my slipping into senescence, and making errors in judgment.  I still cannot absorb nourishment from prattle, however.

OH, ABOUT THE DREAMS in my heading?  I’ve had a slew of them in the brief time since Christmas in which I’m attracting others to a group support session. The room in my house is overflowing with people–some I know and others strangers. In my past I not only participated as a member of a greatly therapeutic group, but also formed a women’s consciousness raising group in graduate school and another with staff wives at the mental health center where I worked.  In the therapy group we always began with each person describing how he/she was feeling at the beginning of group–remember, one usually feels different ways at the same moment.  And in reality I did lead many groups with regularly troubled individuals plus the groups with sex offenders.

Working for years at the nearby prison has isolated me from most of the psychologists in my small town,  and I do wonder how other longterm retired psychotherapists maintain.

Maybe it was just the magic of my graduate school milieu that developed my thirst for the depths.

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
This entry was posted in A mixed bag. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to MY DREAMS ARE TELLING ON ME

  1. RhScribbles says:

    Therapy groups can be very helpful. Are you wanting to start another one?

    Like

  2. Sorry you had a lonely Christmas. I, too, got to be all by myself while my children celebrated together in my own city. What did I do wrong? Probably the same nothing that you did. (better if you don’t approve this for posting?)

    Like

    • Nan Mykel says:

      Thanks for the comment. Happier New Year.

      Like

    • I don’t see why one should forever consider another’s feelings, even those of very close family while one is flabbergasted at the dismissal of one’s own emotions. Glad you somehow got through the day. It’s luckier for me as I decided long ago to forego on the December holidays and I live remote so am not bombarded by the advertisements and minute by minute reminder of what it all is supposed to mean. It won’t help the hurt but know it isn’t you.

      Liked by 1 person

Please share your own experiences here...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.