Monthly Archives: September 2014

Throwing the towel down and being seen

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My dreams are trying to tell me something about how I see myself and what a liberated version of me feels like. It’s hard not to ignore a vision of me running around naked with not a care in the world! And to feel the delicious caress of a breeze on naked skin is like a huge billboard advertising how good it would feel to just try this new idea or concept.

What I find interesting is that my mind has used someone I know with powerful energy in real life to drive a message across. To give you a quick background so you understand the context of my dream, M is a business colleague who is also an acclaimed writer, producer and comedian. We have met a few times at events and chatted about our lives. M is lesbian and has been with her partner for around 20 years. Her partner is a psychoanalyst and M was in psychoanalysis (obviously not with her partner!). M and I always chat about psychology, the meaning of our relationships and the effect that our past has had on our present. We also both keep dream journals. M can seem quite butch and intimidating but has a magnetism to her. She has been an autobiographical ghost-writer for two famous women and described to me how attached they became to her in the course of sitting together for many months. It’s hard to describe whether her magnetic energy evokes the feeling of a powerful but nurturing mother or that of a “sensitive” father.

Now to my dream about her. I have highlighted parts that have meaning:

I arrive at my aunt’s apartment, which I am looking after. Just as in real life, her apartment is trendy, airy and light. The walls are white and everything feels comforting. The only difference is that this dream apartment is on the ground floor, like a house, and is surrounded by garden. My gran’s little black poodle pup is there. I am not staying in the apartment but in a small attached cottage that seems outdated and misplaced. The furniture is a bit old. The place seems dull and scruffy in comparison. I am about to shower and lock the door connecting the cottage to the apartment. As I do this, I hear the front door of the apartment being unlocked. I wrap a white towel around me and go to see who it is. It’s M.

We are surprised to see each other and she says my aunt gave her a set of keys to the apartment for emergencies. Today it is my aunt’s birthday and she has come to drop off and arrange purple lilies in a vase in her kitchen as a surprise. While we speak, I feel quite vulnerable and exposed in my towel. She asks why I am covering myself and I am surprised by her question because I think the answer is quite obvious (you don’t show yourself to people you don’t know). In the moment, I am ashamed I am not more confident about my body. She appraises my body. I leave her to arrange the flowers and tell her I will be in the cottage. As I am about to take my towel off in the cottage to shower, I see boys playing cricket outside and they notice I am semi-naked. I try to draw the curtains closed. They run away. I look through the window and see my gran’s dog playing in the garden. Dogs from other apartments are running across the lawn and into our property. I am scared this will put her in danger because she is so small. I run outside to chase away the dogs and M comes through because she hears a commotion. My towel flies off as I chase after the dogs. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter that I am naked anymore. I am aware that M is looking at me but I feel beautiful in the moment. Her loving, appreciative gaze radiates. As I run, I feel the grass tickle my legs and the breeze caress my bare skin. I feel free and sexy at the same time. I manage to scare the dogs away and grab my gran’s dog in my arms before walking back to the cottage.

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I think the comparison between the apartment and cottage is like a comparison between myself and my aunt. She is comfortable in her skin, confident, bubbly and a true role model in the assertive way she tackles life. Growing up, I have always tried to emulate her but felt like I paled in comparison.

M adds something beautiful to my aunt’s space. The shade of purple is quite spiritual, intuitive and healing. She leaves it in a transparent vase in the kitchen, a place of nourishment. She has used her key because it is an emergency, what she describes as celebrating a day of birth (or re-birth).

I am in this dingy cottage trying to clean myself but never getting around to it. I am naked save for a fluffy, white towel. I feel vulnerable but at least it swaddles part of me.

My gran’s dog is a symbol of the wild, spontaneous and carefree animal urges. She is very affectionate and I feel safe, close and loved when I have her in my arms. She has a child-like playfulness to her. The pet dogs running amok represent the natural drives that, despite usually being well socialized, have a tendency to revert back to their wild, spontaneous state. I scare these away because they are a threat to my playful but more well-trained poodle pup. Scaring them away and having her in my arms feels like I have a healthy balance between the two sides of the animal.

And the running free part is quite self-explanatory. The fact that my senses were ramped up in the moment made it particularly memorable. Could it be that M’s adoring gaze, as someone interested in women, made me feel confident enough to truly be seen? Or did she act more as an archetype of the loving parent, a somewhat androgynous being in that she is female physically but more male mentally… a union of both parts shining the way to self-acceptance.

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Broken mirrors

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Letter to my therapist DS (Deep Soul)… I feel icky for sharing my insecurities with you. Being aware of my self-doubt and baggage tonight made me feel weak, gross and broken. I said that when I looked into a mirror, I felt flawed and like I needed to be perfect. After our session, I feel sick with shame. I have so many things to be grateful for, like my health and things like having legs and arms and functioning lungs. Instead, voicing some of this toxicity inside makes me feel like an ungrateful, sick person.

I just feel so tired. You saw my confusion tonight. I was trying to answer your gentle probing questions about these feelings around my body. I don’t know what to believe. I feel conflicted. I don’t know how to explain this. Some days I feel presentable, pretty even. I feel calm and strong. Other days I feel revolting unless I bath, clean up, put make up on and dress well. My skin literally crawls with revulsion unless I do this. My mom and sister’s joking remarks about my big bum size, small boobs, paleness and gawkiness while I was growing up have no doubt been internalized. As have the insults from idiotic bullies when I was in school. I still look in the mirror today for signs that these flaws are visible. These routines and habits are like a safety blanket. I feel more confident when I have a presentable exterior.

You hear this but I wonder whether you are confused because you see a relatively normal body in front of you, not someone overweight or underweight. You see someone with makeup, good clothes and a whiff of perfume. I make sure I am this way for therapy because it makes me feel a bit more self-assured, a bit more like-able, a little less f-ed up. Looking good is part of my identity out in the world. Often, I contemplate pitching up at therapy with a bare face, greasy hair and baggy clothing. No doubt you would remain professional and not say a thing. But I would be wondering about your reaction on the inside.

I cannot shake off this yucky feeling after seeing you. I feel like I am less in your eyes for sharing these concerns. I wanted to be strong, at peace, even desirable as a healthy woman in your presence. There is an intense urge to switch off and separate from all these thoughts.

Perhaps it comes down to something I told you tonight… As a major attachment figure, I feel little embers of self-acceptance glow when you truly see me and accept anything I bring to the session. I told you it feels like I can only find self-love through this mirroring. The deep compassion and care I easily extend unto others is something so inaccessible to myself. Outside of therapy, It mostly feels like there is only my cracked mirror offering a pretty warped reflection.

Right now, I don’t know what you think of all of this. Yes, I could see in the session that you were empathizing. I guess I wondered how you REALLY felt. And what seemed so present and comforting in the hour seems so far away now.

May I gather the strength to work through these feelings this week without giving into the need to email you in the hope you will reassure me that I am worthy, just as I am. I know that will never happen. It is too sickening to think about how much I want that reassurance and know I’ll never get it. To email you in between the session would be a failure in my eyes. It would be confirmation that I had finally broken down and broken your rules. It would confirm I am just another needy girl.

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