I trust myself to trust you

A man goes to the doctor and the doctor asks him, “what can I do for you today? What symptoms do you have?” and so the man explains to the doctor that he’s having these emotional dreams and these dreams are disturbing his sleep. Every time he rouses from one of these dreams, he’s unable to fall asleep again because he’s thinking too much, trying to figure out what the dreams mean. The doctor nods his head and thinks about the man’s problem for a minute before finally saying, “so essentially you’re having trouble sleeping?” The man nods halfheartedly and the doctor takes out his prescription pad to prescribe some sleeping pills. The man thanks the doctor and takes the prescription to the pharmacist.

That evening the man takes a sleeping pill before going to bed in the hope of finally getting a good night’s rest. The drugs in fact have their desired effect and the man sleeps sound and well. One of the side effects however is that the drugs cause his dreams to be much more vivid, much more emotionally draining and psychedelic. So even though he wakes up physically rested, he spends a significant amount of time during the next few days thinking about the dreams. This goes on for a week before he finally decides to stop taking the sleeping pills and go see a psychiatrist.

So the man sits in the psychiatrist’s office and explains his predicament once more. Again the first reaction of the psychiatrist is to ask him “so you mean you’re having trouble sleeping?” This time the man refuses to go down that road and explains to the psychiatrist that the problem is not that he’s having trouble sleeping, the problem is that he doesn’t understand why his subconscious is creating those emotional dreams. “Tell me more about the dreams,” the psychiatrist says. The man explains that he’s a happy man in a healthy relationship with an extraordinary woman and yet he can’t stop dreaming about his first girlfriend and the emotional hardship their breakup caused. The man explains that he loves his wife and has no feelings left for his ex-girlfriend whatsoever. So the psychiatrist asks the man to tell him a bit about his relation with his mother and the man looks at him a bit puzzled. The psychiatrist insists however and so the man tells him that his mom died when he was a little boy and that he never really knew her. The man adds that he hardly has any memories of her. The psychiatrist nods his head and thinks about the man’s story for a minute before finally saying “so essentially you have a fear of abandonment and you’re afraid to commit to a relationship?” The man sits in silence for a minute, mulling things over in his head before eventually nodding ever so slightly. The psychiatrist advises the man to schedule a regular appointment with his secretary so they can resolve his issues. The man kindly thanks the psychiatrist but on the way out of his cabinet he walks passed the secretary without making any new appointments.

That evening the man meets up with his best friend and goes to a bar to play some snooker and have a beer. After the game of snooker they go sit in a booth and the man tells his friend about his visit to the psychiatrist. The friend listens intently and at the end sums the story up by asking “so basically he thinks that your dreams are about your mom dying?” The man laughs and shakes his head. “No it’s not that simple,” the man says, “he thinks my dreams are about my fear of abandonment. It’s my defense mechanism kicking in, reminding me of what happened the last time I got so emotionally attached to someone.” His friend nods and orders another round of beers. The night continues and the discussion veers of onto a variety of other topics. At the end of the night as they get up to leave, the friend asks the man “so what did that shrink propose as a solution anyway?” The man erupts in laughter explaining his friend how the shrink’s brilliant solution was to schedule expensive regular meetings to fleece him out of his money. They both share a laugh and go home.

Later that weekend the man has an honest discussion with his wife about his dreams. He’s having a hard time explaining to her why he’s dreaming about his ex-girlfriend and worse still why he’s having such an emotional reaction to those dreams. He tries explaining that his subconscious is attaching his ex’s face to more general bad feelings and sentiments, that it’s not about his feelings for his ex but about his angst in general. He stops short of explaining how maybe those dreams are much more about his fear of losing his wife rather than about any latent love he might have for his ex-girlfriend. Eventually the discussion slows down and it seems that they’ve come to a mutual understanding. That night he sleeps a dreamless sleep and wakes up physically and mentally refreshed for the first time in weeks.

The next day the man is sitting behind his laptop, wondering if by talking about it with his wife he somehow resolved the problem. Would there be more dreams or would his subconscious be content now that he had brought the issue out into the open? Only the future will show but for good measure he sat down and wrote a story about it in the hope that therapeutic storytelling would take care of any residual dream-material.

I trust myself to trust you.