Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Addressing Sadness

I had a dream last night that I was fleeing a giant hoard of what I think were robot zombies.  Tom Cruise and I were scaling large concrete buildings which I thought were much smaller than they should be.  Or maybe we were bigger than we should be, I couldn’t quite tell.

I spent a great deal of time talking to my Sadness during my latest visit to my therapist.  I told him about how I could feel the echo of sadness I’ve explained before.  I told him I felt a distant pulsating sadness that I knew was the result of what I’d done, but I couldn’t really feel it.  I told him I was scared of true emotion because I wasn’t familiar with them.  I didn’t know what would happen, or how I would feel when I truly let myself feel.   I told him I wanted to feel emotion though, especially deep empathetic sadness.  He believed me because I believed me.

He went to an easel he had next to his chair and with scissors cut three connecting lines in the middle of the paper so that he formed a flap.  This turned out to be a door.

What’s on the outside of this door, he asked me.  What do you allow people to see?
The only rule I had in doing this was that I couldn’t use words.  Anything but words.  So on the outside of the door I drew faces of moderate emotion: laughter, annoyance/frustration, surprise; I also drew the superficial – sports, weather, work.

Ok, what’s on the inside?
This time I drew one face showing sadness and crying.  I scribbled around it indicating what a chaotic mess it was behind the door.

So what kind of door is this?
It was solid, reinforced steel.  Thick.  Very thick.  Like that of a bank vault.  I explained that the door was rusted shut as I drew three large hinges.  He asked if I had any tools at my disposal to open the door when I was ready, so I drew my hands, two handles, a crowbar, and three cans of lubricant.  Those items symbolized my ability to open the door, I just had to be ready to use them.

My therapist asked if he could add something, and I obliged.  He added a small sliding window like those of prison cells in solitary confinement by cutting a small connection of three lines.  He did this because I said I had that distant feeling of sadness.  I agreed; that distant pang was the result of a small window, a passing glance at the deep empathetic sadness I’m capable of.

That’s when he had me address Sadness behind the door I built.  I became hyper-focused on what I was saying, on how I was feeling when I was addressing Sadness.  I let my insides spill out some when I spoke to Sadness, saying that I was sorry for keeping it locked away, but I was too afraid to let it out.

I switched chairs and addressed myself as Sadness.  I (as Sadness) responded with understanding and patience at first, calmly expressing the need for my release.  As I spoke I was less sad, but became slightly annoyed, and ended up saying to other me that I was near the end of my rope, and I didn’t want to be locked away anymore.  There wasn’t much time.

As I switched back and forth several times, I could barely hear my therapist making agreeing sounds, or saying “good”, and the like.  It was almost muffled.  Every time I would switch to me addressing Sadness, I felt heavy again.  I felt a burden on my shoulders, I felt a pulling down from within my gut, I felt was going to pull me right through my chair.  My therapist said that’s good, that’s emotion.  I tried to wipe my shoulders off of the Heavy, but I couldn’t seem to get it off.  I was squirming in my chair at that point.

At wrap up, I still felt heavy, but well enough to go home.  The door was wrapped up and placed on my therapist’s shelf for another day – perhaps to revisit at a later time.

During the drive home, I couldn’t stop talking to myself, scolding myself for my behaviors.  Apologizing to my wife.  I felt a strangeness in my chest where my heart was.  Like I had to constantly rub at that spot.  I rubbed, but nothing happened, the strangeness persisted.  I wasn’t sure if I needed to scream or break something.  Instead I white-knuckled the steering wheel and tensed my entire body.  That didn’t help, but it didn’t make my face hot.

As I compose this, my feet will not stay still, like they have somewhere else to be other than attached to my ankles.  The persistent urge to rub at my chest has passed for now, the Heavy has subsided, but I still feel its presence, like it’s laying in wait.

This is entirely new territory for me.  I’m almost terrified, definitely anxiety-prone, but still willing to dive deeper into myself.  This is the hard work.  And here’s the kicker, not only do I know it, but I feel it.


  1. This is some powerful stuff, LSV. I'm wondering-how did you feel over all when you awoke from that dream? Manifestly (what you "see" in the dream) indicates that building (barrier?) isn't as "large" (overwhelming?) or you're not as "small" (incapable?) as you experienced (believed?). When presented by the building in your way to flee the pursuing robot zombies, could TC be a "stand-in" for your T? (Your partner in this "escape"?)
    What do you think the building represents? (The Heaviness? The Sadness? Both?) The "zombie robots"? Lots of great "stuff" in that dream, IMO.
    The Heaviness "laying in wait"-as if it's a predator laying in wait? As if it's gonna "ambush" you? Yes, that WOULD be terrifying.
    Maybe you can take your "dancing feet" for a "spin" with DW. Or a nice, long walk by yourself or with your family. I may not solve the problems of my universe but walking has always been a great outlet for me. I do a lot of thinking on my walks, I sleep better and am calmer when I do it regularly. I really like how you gathered your "tools"-you don't have to use them all at once, just try one then another. It sure beats my "tool" any day as I mentioned re: my destroyed LR. My "tool" was C4/'Plastique'.....!
    Thanks. This is really great even if it doesn't feel that way right now. I hear "Sadness's" impatience. IMO, "Sadness" is telling you you're "ready."
    Sounds like you're "Climbing Jacob's Ladder:" Step by step, Rung by rung...

    1. You pulled a great deal more from that dream than I ever did. Maybe the zombie robots were everything I used to know, grew up with. They follow the sameness that was my mother, all under her control so to speak. The drama, the superficiality, the narco-ness. The building was indeed the barrier which I'm attempting to climb over (to get to true emotion). I'd like to think also, that if my wife was my partner in all this (she is) then she would be reflected as such in my dream, and not Tom Cruise.

      A walk sounds wonderful.

  2. You are doing amazing stuff, even if it doesn't feel like it.

  3. Interesting idea to directly address your emotions. I studied emotions but I haven't asked my own emotions. Sounds powerful. I am impressed by your courage.

    1. I never thought to do such a thing. It was really helpful, I think. Sort of let me personify a long supressed emotion (or prisoner I should say).

  4. Darling, I think you will be all right.

    1. :-)
      Thanks Lisa, I very much appreciate the support. Now if I could only convince myself of that.

  5. I just saw your comments and the others, LSV. Yes, your wife is ABSOLUTELY your "partner." But often in my dreams it seems a more "Powerful" figure appears-not that DW isn't, but more like she's a "given" and you're working with your T on some really heavy stuff right now. (My DH showed up in my dreams but in a "disguised" type of form, but it "felt" like him.) In this post, you followed up the dream with a session you had with T.
    I'm with Lisa! Yer on yer way!

  6. If you look at dreams in terms of "Manifest"-what you actually SEE in the dream, as crazy as it appears and "Latent"-what those people/forms represent you'll get a handle on them. I'm not into that whole "Dream Interpretation" thing over-all, a la "This means That" because dreams are very personal and loaded with personal meaning.
    As a child I had one repeat nightmare and it continued for YEARS beyond the typical "Night Terror" stage. In this dream my parents, Nsis and I were sitting at the dining room table. I didn't see Nsis and Dad, I just assumed they were there, in their usual places. The room was very brightly lit, but all the other lights had been turned off-it was pitch black beyond this "area." Right next to Psychobitch was a HUGE hand. It was a stylized "Hand:" From the wrist up which started on the floor dwarfing Psychobitch as she sat in her chair and it was light green in color. Suddenly, it was as if my chair was on wheels and I was pushed from behind by some unknown force towards the hand, and the hand was closing over me. Psychobotch never moved or said a word. The whole dream was silent. Then I woke up in heart-pounding fear. This is the "Manifest" dream.
    I know exactly what that dream represents: Her hands were her instruments of physical pain/torture and annhiliation. The "Helplessness" over being pushed was beyond my control, the powerlessness we experience as a child. The green color represents her Irish background and the Corned Beef and Cabbage (light green in color) I was forced to choke down. (That and liver I STILL despise.) The over-all "feeling" was terror, for good reason. This is the Latent meaning.
    I should have said TC may have represented "Colleague" rather than "Partner." A "colleague" implies a "Professional" or someone who you work with like your T. My choice of words didn't convey correctly my thought there. Please bring your dreams to your T and work them on your own a bit. They really do tell us a whole lot about what's up.