The ways in which people aren’t.
My son has an imaginary friend call R. At first, when he was 3, R was a “grey birdie” who lived in a tree outside his room but who always came into his room at night. Six months later R was a man who came to school with him who had red eyes and lightening hair. Now R has a friend called Truck who has thunder hair. Truck and R have morphed into bad people. Sometimes, as part of his ever growing list of ways to delay bedtime, he’ll say he can’t possibly go to bed now because R has come to his room and is scaring him. I tell him not to worry, that since he made up R he can change him as he pleases.
“Look! I turned him into a marshmallow and now I’m going to eat him for you.”
“No that’s silly mum.” He says rolling his eyes.
I sometimes wonder if Psychologist J is my imaginary friend. What I mean is sometimes he is stuck in my mind when I don’t want him there. For example, Psychologist J was sick on Monday with a bad cold so there was no appointment. It always takes me by surprise when he cancels an appointment. I’m so used to thinking of him as so superior to me, I forget he is susceptible to the same illnesses I am.
But that’s ok, I have an appointment Thursday so it’s no big deal right? Wrong.
I always have a list of about 70 million things I want to talk about and a cancelled appointment just means the list stays the same or will possibly even grow longer by Thursday. Also last Thursday was a kind of turning point, it felt like I was leaving a bad country. Now I have to wait at this turning point. No one likes to be held up in customs.
I think the other problem is certain feelings were just NOT ALLOWED as a child – specifically disappointment and missing someone. I wasn’t allowed to be disappointed in anything that happened or didn’t happen to me or else I was branded ungrateful and spoilt. And missing people was seen as bizarre and repulsive. Neither one of my parents shed a tear when their own parents died.
So when Psychologist J cancels and I feel disappointed and I miss him this sets off intense shame, and then that sets off anger as in HOW DARE YOU MAKE ME FEEL THIS SHAME! You’re the worst psychologist EVER!!!
It’s just not the same as cancelling something like a haircut. The appointment is cancelled but my head is full of all the things I planned to talk about and so I keep playing out the appointment in my mind all day. Suddenly I can see how useless my suggestion was to my son. Try as I might I can’t stop imagining how the session would have gone, how relieved I would have been to have another brain dump.
When I get REALLY angry I actually want to just shutdown and go to bed. So to fight the impending collapse, I decided to go birthday shopping for my son instead. Here’s a tip, going to noisy, brightly lit, colourful toy stores does nothing to ease anger. There’s only so many kinds of slime and dolls I can look at before I start to feel like stabbing them both. Recommendation: Avoid.
When I get REALLY shutdown, I move in slow motion. I went into the shop, drifted around like a ghost for what seemed like a minute, left the store and somehow 2 hours had passed.
Excellent Long Term Friend told me her husband told her about a YouTube video where a man paged a whole shop via their speaker system and farted into the microphone. Aside from being a funny story, it got me thinking about the ways people can exist and not have a body. To be so loud, so intimate, so raw and to be heard by so many but seen and smelt by none. Amazing. It beats that person who speaks at train stations or on GPS map programs.
The other day as I dried my son after a bath he said “Hurry up mum! I’m late for my wedding!” He delivered the line with such genuine concern for a boy aged 4 that I had to contemplated the man who isn’t there yet but who is already alive. One day he will be old enough to marry. The mind boggles.