My therapist said something interesting today. He got it from a book. He apparently falls asleep at night reading books. Books are littered all round the floor of his bed. In his office too, books are littered around the floor.
The book posits that the soul of a child knows what is in store for it in life. The book gave examples. A famous bull fighter as a child hid behind his mother's apron. This is because (and of course it takes a psychologist, maybe a new age one to see it) the child's soul knows that the boy will grow up to be a famous bullfighter and die in the ring, gored by a bull. Winston Churchill stuttered as a small child, and this is because he knew he grew up to become the voice for his country of freedom against a Nazi enemy that was evil. And me? They used to in kindergarten spit out the windows of the bus on my hair. I was ostracized and signaled out as different. In kindergarten, for whatever reason, the school sent me to see a school psychologist. In kindergarten I felt different from the other children and alone.
So my therapist said that maybe I knew I would grow up to have this feared illness called schizophrenia. And he said people really do fear schizophrenia. In the past he and I have talked about health care workers that fear schizophrenia and ostracize the patients they work with. He said an example was the health care workers who warned my husband not to get romantically involved with me. One of them said I would be a "monster" off of my medication. This from a very popular health care worker, some of my mentally ill peers really adored him! Another example I am currently experiencing from my medication provider, who predicted incompetency, irrationality, and paranoia on lower doses of medication. She made me feel like without my medication I was a poor excuse for a human being - that the medication humanized me. And then my therapist said never mind about the time I was institutionalized as a teen, that was in his eyes too terrible to even discuss again.
We had begun the session talking about my vision for a new painting. Its a self portrait. I've always wanted to do a self portrait, but never had a theme or vision for it. What am I wearing? Is my hair up or down? Are there angels whispering in my ear? Or lions in the background goring each other? I adore Frida Kahlo self portraits, it seems to me she portrays herself as a goddess, sometimes wounded goddess. She's very glamorous. I even bought a necklace once that I thought I would wear in a self portrait. Frida wears exotic jewelry in hers. So what do I finally, in a burst of inspiration, get for the theme of a self portrait?
I am standing in the center. And the canvas is perfectly square, so the center is obvious. And there are animals and angels and strange sort of creatures, and they are all running, in all directions, north, east, south, and west, in terror, trying to get away from me. I look ordinary, a self portrait working from a photograph, but to the sensitivities of all these living things I am a monster and they try to get away from me. They use flying machines, they use boats and carts pulled by horses, they trip over themselves and tumble, they are afraid, they are moving fast with their legs extended, and they all wish to get away from me!
My therapist said that the idea for the painting was a delusion. Not a psychotic delusion, but one of the ordinary sort that ordinary people have. I said it was more a myth, a story that contains a seed of truth, and I said I feel this way in my heart, its a feeling that is very close to the bone. And it started in Kindergarten, no, I think in pre-school, way before mental illness and school, the feeling that I was rejected by the world.
Every session I make certain I bring cheese bits for my therapist's dog. Today, even though I was running late, I shoved cheese bits into my pocket before leaving home. Usually I have the time to put them in a plastic bag. So I feed his sweet black lab husky mix, and then she jumped up on the couch, curled up next to me, and went to sleep. My therapist said look at the dog, she does not do this with everyone, she is not a creature that is rejecting you, instead she likes you.
And we discussed a walk I took several nights ago with my husband and our dog. I was tired on the walk and let my husband do the work of leading the dog and training her on our walk. At the end of the walk was a park that my husband likes to let the dog play with sticks in. He asked me if I wanted to play with him and the dog in the park. I said no, I wanted to go home. So we parted ways, me continuing on the sidewalk and him going onto the grass of the park. I heard a shout behind me. I turned and saw my dog pulling the leash hard in my direction. "She doesn't want to be parted from you" said my husband, and that was that, no play time, we all went directly home. But evidently I have some place in my dog's heart that I did not fully realize. Because until that incident, I worried that I was not very important to my dog.
Our last training session with a professional dog trainer the trainer talked about my "energy" and that my homework for the week was to play more and have fun with my dog. What can you do when your dog knows that life is a struggle for you, more a fact of survival than fun, and picks up on your negative energy? In class my dog plodded along when she walked next to me. When she walked next to my husband she bounced and leaped a bit. The trainer showed me how, by simply changing his energy, he could change the way she walked. What happens when you feel that your dog rejects you? I wept bitterly after the class. The next day the vision of the self portrait came to me. I felt that my dog was one of the multitude of living creatures that ran from me.
I haven't done my homework for dog training class yet. I haven't gone outside and played with my dog. I will try this weekend. I have been so sad. It isn't depression really. It me feeling like I'm a freak and a failure.
Haven't painted for several days. Unfortunately this does nothing to bolster my self esteem. Spent all day yesterday in bed watching comedy DVD's of the television show "The Office". My back hurt by the end of the day for spending so much time immobile. Will not paint tomorrow. Tomorrow supposed to see my therapist with my husband, my therapist wants to try to convince us to change medication providers. And I think, in general, he wants feedback in how I've been doing on the lower dose of medication. If my husband needs to vent, this gives him the opportunity to vent. Then we go to a special clinic and for $10 get a rabies shot for my dog. THEN I WILL SUMMON UP HAPPY ENERGY AND PLAY WITH MY DOG. Probably go to the woods.
But the day after I will paint.