strairsI feel sad tonight. But it was an OK day.

The weather is brilliant and beautiful driving to my session. I get there a little early, and we start a few minutes early – maybe two minutes. It’s so important to me – do I get extra time, or less time, or what….

R. You wrote that you were angry with me.

E. Yes. I don’t feel like that anymore though. But it seemed like everything was your fault.

R. What was my fault.

E. I don’t know….my headache wasn’t better. And, you remember the dream I told you about? Well, I was angry with you for part of the dream – it kept going through my mind. I wrote it out – shall I read it to you?

Ron nods.

E. I am in your office. Before I can start talking, R. comes crashing through the wall. You talk to him for quite a while, but finally he leaves. You tell me you are fighting cancer, and I see you’ve become very thin. You say you are taking Fridays off from now on, to fight the illness, and you don’t know when you will be able to see me. I want to talk about the headache and how I’ve been feeling, but you get up and walk me down the stairs. We reach the bottom and you turn into a black woman. She doesn’t give me another appointment and I walk away, sad and bereft.

Last session, I’d given Ron a summary of the dream, and he latched onto the idea of my not getting to say what I want to in therapy. I didn’t think that was right, so I’ve brought him the complete version.

E. When I was angry with you, I kept thinking of you walking me down the stairs – that part made me so angry. But it doesn’t make sense.

R.We may not know why we feel as we do, but there is a reason. Shall we start at the beginning of the dream?


R. Who is R?

E. R is a co-worker. He’s got a bit of a bad reputation for being a bit lazy. He’s very friendly, and chats with me.

R. Is there a part of you that feels similar to R?

E. Not really. Just, what it reminds me of, is how parts keep breaking in here in the therapy, so I don’t get to discuss anything, it’s always about them. And….when we discussed another dream where someone crashes through a wall, you said it could be about having boundaries broken through….

We discuss this a bit more. I notice I feel quite angry with the R situation, him crashing through and ruining my therapy.

E. The next part is you having cancer.

R. What does that bring up for you?

E. Well, I had cancer, obviously. I got thin. It brings up a lot of fear actually – I guess it still bothers me.

R. Do you ever talk about it with anyone?

E. No. There’s no one to talk to really.

E. Then the next part is walking down the stairs.

R. What do you think that’s about?

E. Beats the heck out of me. I don’t know. But for some reason it made me really mad.

R. Walking down a staircase is sometimes used….

E. Oh! It’s like a path to the unconscious! I am walking down that with you, maybe.

This is something I hadn’t considered at all. It makes sense. There are lots of places that scare me and I don’t want to visit, and sometimes it seems as if Ron is making me go there.

R. What do you make of the black woman that I turn into? What is she like?

E. She is middle aged, shortish. Not thin. I don’t know.

R. Do you think she is my shadow?

I laugh at this idea. It’s a good one.

E. Could be. Hmmm…..

I look at Ron.

E. You are a very pale skinned individual. And tall. And of course male. She’s like your opposite. You’re the person who cares, she’s the part of you that doesn’t care.

R. And she fails to give you another appointment. Giving appointments is an important way to show caring in therapy.

I sit back, thinking this over. I feel like this makes sense. It’s so interesting, the sense that can be made of dreams.

  1. Ashana M said:

    This really strikes me: “E. Not really. Just, what it reminds me of, is how parts keep breaking in here in the therapy, so I don’t get to discuss anything, it’s always about them.” So, what is it you don’t feel you’re getting to say? Or is the presence of parts just repeating a situation in which you feel ignored?

    But it also reminds me of what you said about your childhood–you distanced yourself from your siblings out of preference, but then also felt left out (or feel left out now). When we have parts, some parts have feelings about the decisions other parts have made. So, while one part may have decided to withdraw, another part may have felt lonely.

    You may be making time for the parts deliberately in session, but another part may feel that it’s crowding them out and they aren’t getting heard.

    • Ellen said:

      The first time I told the dream, last week, Ron really focused on what I’m not getting to say. I felt then that the dream is more about him rejecting me, and I couldn’t think of what I wasn’t saying. Then this week, I thought that was about needing to spend a lot of time on parts, so I never get to have an adult conversation. Now, I actually think it’s how some parts of me feel – they don’t get a chance to speak. Mostly, only the kid gets airtime. I often feel that I’m not getting to what I really want to talk about, in therapy, without an idea of what that might be.

      What you say about parts is true for me. Everyone has different ideas and feelings. Makes it difficult to act. I think you could be right with that – mixed feelings galore.


      • Ashana M said:

        I sometimes want tea and coffee at the same time–some parts like coffee and some really prefer tea and we are all usually in a hot beverage mood at the same time. What I end up doing a lot is just drinking huge amounts of caffeine, which ends up hurting my stomach. I know what you mean about mixed feelings.

        • Ellen said:

          lol. Not about the hurt stomach though. ouch.

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