Therapy – dreams

…continued from previous

I try to tell Ron a bit about how cut up I feel following the surgery. From this point in the session, I’ve more or less switched into the teenager, which Ron doesn’t pick up on. He recognizes the kid, who is hard to miss once you know about her, but not the parts that have minds that are more similar to an adult’s.

E. So like I was telling you in my email, I’ve been feeling fragmented and stuff from the surgery.

R. Surgery is pretty f’ing invasive.

E. Yeah, it is. I’ve been flashbacky, and I’ve had to take a xanax to get myself to cook a meal, I’ve been so anxious. So in the hospital, one of the surgeons, a resident, came to see me every day. I guess he is on the bottom of the food chain, so that was his job. It was nice to see the same doctor every day. And he was kind. One time he even came back into the room, without his med student, when he thought I was hesitating to tell him something. I liked him. He’d come every day at seven, mostly waking me up actually. And….I’d end up checking him out! Too embarrassing.

Ron smiles at this.

R. What was the connection between being woken up and checking him out?

E. Just that I didn’t have my usual social filters in place. I hope he didn’t notice.

I am embarrassed by this, somewhat. On the other hand, here is this good looking man, kind, intelligent, mid-thirties, dressed in very thin surgical scrubs, concerned about my welfare….Ack. How could I not look.

E. But then, in the last few days, I started thinking of him as threatening, as coming to close, as a bad person somehow….

R. You transferred these feelings you were having on to your thoughts about him.

E. Yes.

We sit for a bit. I can’t think where else to go with this. Eventually I pull out my notebook.

E. I brought some dreams. Should we work on some?

R. Sure.

E. I have quite a few. How do I decide what ones are important?

R. Well, any that stick with you, or have a lot of charge, might be good to look at.

E. OK. Um…here is one. It is really gross, but I remembered it for a long time, so maybe this one. This upset me a lot.

E. My father is working on a car. He tells me to make soup, so I do. I come back with a bowl of soup with sausage in it. I notice there are pieces of shit floating in it as well. At first I think this is OK, but then I decide to take the shit out. I wonder what my father thinks.

E. I remembered this dream for a long time. I felt horrified by it.

R. What do you associate with the car?

E. Not much. Don’t know. It’s red maybe. My father wasn’t much of a mechanic.

R. OK. So you were in gender stereotyped situations, with the car and the soup.

E. Yeah, I guess so.

R. What do you associate with the soup?

E. When I was living at my parents’, my father was obsessed by a kind of soup he wanted my mother to make – beef shin soup. He was always talking about for instance where they could get the beef shin…Finally they went and bought it, and my mother spent hours making this soup. He controls things. My mother wouldn’t say, for instance, I feel like making a different kind of soup, or I think I’ll make lasagna today….She just does what he wants.

I continue to feel reluctant to discuss this dream. It just makes me feel really bad, and I don’t want to discuss it.

R. But actually, it’s quite a hopeful dream. You are taking the shit out of the soup.

E. I guess. OK, can we go on to a different dream now? I don’t know therapy – but I don’t have anything else to say about this.

R. How do you feel about your father controlling everything?

I’m upset and whining….

E. I wish he wouldn’t have been like that. He just controls. He was like that when I was a kid also….

R. When did he stop?

E. I guess when he stopped talking to me. Why was he like that? I wish he wouldn’t have been like that.

E. Huh. OK, I have another dream. This one didn’t upset me as much. It’s about A from the group.

E. I am at a desk. A group of us is working on putting out a paper. My story is up on a whiteboard. A is working with me. He draws a lot of arrows over different paragraphs to illustrate points. I get mad and tell him to get rid of the arrows as they cover the text. He erases the arrows, but now the story under the arrows is also erased. I am am mad and tell him to write the missing text back. He says he will but he doesn’t and wanders off. He says it’s hard for him to read so much.

E. This one I woke up feeling OK, just a bit gloomy, but not scared.

R. What do you associate to the paper?

E. It reminds me of journalism school, when we’d be putting out a paper. And A erasing my story – it’s like when he didn’t have time for me, he’s getting rid of my story.

And I’m getting upset.

R. What about the arrows?

E. It’s like what a teacher might do. My father was a professor, so there were lots of points being made all the time.

R. Do you think the person not allowing your story to be told might be a part of you?

E. No! Why would you say that? (crying) You’re being mean to me, and I’m trying to tell you things, and you’re being mean!

I’m crying a lot now.

R. I’ve hurt your feelings.

E. And it’s not me, it’s a another person. And I don’t know why they’re so mean!

I’ve switched into the kid, and I’m crying a lot.

R. You’re coming from a much younger place….

E. And they cut me up, and that’s not nice, and there was lots of blood….

Yep, the kid has taken over. So much for dream analysis. I am crying so much I cannot get up, though it’s the end of the session.

R. Are you OK to leave? You can sit a while here. Would it help to check in with me later? You can email me if you want to set up a phone call, OK?

E. OK. I’m….I’m….I’m here.

And I plant my feet on the ground.

E. (switching out) And this is the problem I have. And this is just what I don’t want to happen.

R. It’s safe….it’s safe to let that part of you tell me about the operation.

E. OK.

I get up, thank Ron and leave.

Once out of the office, I pull myself together pretty well. I don’t end up calling Ron. I feel sad, but I also feel less fragmented from the operation than I did.

It’s amazing to me how these dreams tap right into my emotions. We don’t get that far with analyzing, but I end up expressing some things I need to express.

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4 comments
  1. weareonebyruth said:

    Dreams are often more representational and like you said tap into emotions much more quickly. Sounds like a lot of progress. Hoping for your continued healing.

    • Ellen said:

      I’m really surprised at the emotional aspect. Thanks Ruth

  2. harrietmwelch said:

    Wow, telling your dreams really led to an emotional experience, even if the analyzing wasn’t successful, or even attempted. I think it was a really meaningful session. Do you frequently remember your dreams?

    • Ellen said:

      Yes, it was helpful. I have struggled with remembering dreams. In some states of mind, I wake up completely blank, but lately I’ve been more relaxed, so I remember a dream sometimes. I find it’s a struggle to write them down – often I don’t want to do that at all. But the more I’ve been writing them down, the more I remember. Of course after this session, I stopped remembering any dreams at all – as if a part of me said, no more, this is not a fun thing to do.

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