PSYCHOLOGICAL LIFE begins in the imagination. That’s one reason I have a sign in my office, dangling from the mantel, that asks clients if they have a dream to share or if something unusual happened since their last session.
The latter — odd, sometimes surreal experiences — often communicate at great depth what is going on in a person’s life, conscious and unconscious. They essentially occur in an altered state when our repressed feelings — even the refusal to acknowledge our circumstances — demand expression. Such occurrences typically transcend hopelessness and often point to needed change. But they aren’t altogether without pain.
In the last few months, I have been in a dark night of the soul that is still too painful to describe in detail. Suffice it to say that it involves the loss of love — probably the most painful blow life delivers — and severe financial trouble.
My longtime friend and colleague Rose D’Agostino has been helping me with twice-weekly sessions. Rose works with energy and the way our psychological blocks are somatized. Like me, she believes the heart is an organ of perception. If you shut down its perceptual function, life loses much of its beauty and, as if suddenly blinded, you turn obsessively inward and feel alone, aimless.
I left a recent session with Rose to meet my friend Frank to see the new film, “Kill Your Darlings.” I decided to stop at Rhodes Bakery to buy some of their famous cheese straws for us to eat during the movie.
WHEN I CAME OUT OF THE BAKERY, a pathetic guy in his early 20s — obviously a crack or meth addict — approached me and asked for money. I balked, as I usually do, then felt guilty, then gave him a dollar. I apologized that I couldn’t give him more and he laughed. “Don’t feel bad about that,” he said. I got in the car, wondering if I would have given him more money had I not just spent $7 I couldn’t afford to waste. Probably not. My priorities seemed pretty distorted.