Sunday, August 03, 2008

Letting Go of the Past

In my session on Friday Dr. X. asked me what I was working on with my painting. Immediately, I felt intensely self conscious, fake, and that my art was trite and unworthy. I began to cry. I felt like a fraud with my art. I felt embarrassed by it, and by my ideas. Yet, while by myself painting, and when I look at my paintings alone, I feel an intense sense of accomplishment. I experience a sense that this is what I am supposed to be doing; the direction my life is meant to go in.

I think when I share something this valuable to me with Dr. X. I have a tendency to project my Dad onto him. Dr. X. instantaneously and magically BECOMES my father. I am unable to consciously recognize the person in front of me as the trustworthy, caring, interested and compassionate Dr. X. I cannot see him as the person who wants me to succeed. Dr. X. has left the building. My Dad is sitting in front of me.

I feel almost re-traumatized by the unconscious/subconscious fear that an extremely important person in my life will ridicule or dismiss my ideas. So when Dr. X asks me what I am doing with my art I become the child of an arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic tyrant. A Commander-in Chief who ordered me to listen. The all powerful authority figure who ridiculed, rejected and dismissed my ideas, my opinions and tried to slaughter my creative soul. The man who seemed almost obsessed with putting me in my place and proving he was right and I was wrong.

As a child I accepted he was right. It was me. I was wrong. I wasn't good, or smart, or good at anything. I was stupid, never paid attention and never listened. I believed this for so long that now, as an adult, I have forgotten how to be my own person without fearing I will make a mistake, or I won't be good enough, or I won't do well enough at anything I do, or I will embarrass myself, or my ideas really are stupid, or people will not like me. I will be rejected.

When I was a kid I wanted so badly to be involved with, and to please, my Dad. As a child I would wait , laying wide awake in bed; waiting to hear the late night news come on. I would sneak out and ask my Dad if I could watch it. We would sit on the couch together watching the news. This was the most important thing in the world to me. A sense of shared experience with my Dad. I would read the newspapers for the same reasons.

I did these things because I so desperately wanted to have something in common with my Dad. I wanted him to be proud of me, to be pleased with my seeking knowledge, to be able to talk with him about things. It never worked. If I tried to discuss something we watched together, or an article we both read it inevitably became an argument about why my perspectives were wrong and his were right.

I don't know why my Dad did this. I know he loved me, and I know he loves me, but he still does treats me and my ideas the same way. I love my Dad and I am trying really hard to let go of the past, but my past haunts me and slips unseen into so many areas of my life.

I forgive my Dad. I think he was probably treated that way by his parents. Also, being a policeman, and the "top down" military lifestyle life that type of job entails, would reinforce a sense of "authority" and "correctness" in anyone doing those kinds of jobs. He was a product of his environment. On top of that, there are no perfect manuals for being a good parent and the 60's and 70's child rearing mores were much different than today's. I can forgive, but my body and mind cannot forget.

I still react the same way to certain circumstances as I did when I was a child. I want to please all men, all authority figures, anyone who remotely has any control or authority over me no matter how tenuous the connection to their being an "authority figure" is. I am afraid of, and go out of my way to reconcile my opinions with, anyone who disagrees with me or anyone who has the potential to hurt me. I react with fear, terror, anxiety, and sometimes panic when someone, anyone, invades my personal space, or physically intimidates me or threatens me.

Obviously, given how I sometimes project my Dad onto my kind pdoc, I often react this way in situations that do not warrant such a reaction. This is when the therapeutic moments between myself and Dr. X are the most powerful. When the Dr. X, and a I are involved in a discussion or situation in my appointment that causes me to have such a severe reaction, I need to, and/or he needs to help me, recognize that these are the times to take note and to back up, examine my reaction and start again.

As he asked me about my art and I began to cry, I expressed how I was afraid my art was trite and unworthy. He spoke up and asked me to examine what I had said. As I sat there crying and feeling ashamed I was suddenly reminded of who was sitting in front of me. I remembered he is supportive, not dismissive. He is nurturing and interested in what I am doing, not judgemental. Almost instantaneously I began sharing my new ideas. I heard the excitement in my voice. I felt the joy of sharing something I cared about with someone who wanted to know. I felt one tiny step closer to letting go of my past and learning to be proud of my future.

4 comments:

Dr Shock said...

Very curious about your work besides the pictures posted on this blog, regards Dr Shock

Aqua said...

I will post about your curiosity.
...aqua

Aqua said...

I realized this afternoon, after I posted more art re: Dr. Shock's curiousity, that maybe I was repeating my pattern of "pleasing" authority figures or perceived authority figures. (Did anyone else catch this?)

If that was a lesson...thanks. If unintended as a lesson it helped me see the pattern again so it was good for me to recognize what I'm doing, when I do it, even if it is hours later. and I enjoyed posting my picture and thinking about what other art I might post.
So, all around thanks,
...aqua

Aqua said...

oh yeah, I just realized also that I wasn't posting about "your curiousity"...I'd have to know you better to post about that(ha, ha).

Rather I was posting about that which you were curious;>)
...aqua