Joe

In my dream last night, among other things I went to Joe’s office for an appointment.

His real office is in an office building, but in the dream it was in part of his home. I walked in, looked around, and said, “Oh it is so great to be back here.” I started talking about stuff, only to see that he was reading a book (maybe a comic book) and not paying attention. I don’t remember if he asked me to repeat myself or if I asked him to pay attention.

———

This dream reminds me that, while Joe is an excellent therapist and has been very valuable in my life, he’s not God — he’s not The Answer, just part of it, and he’s not perfect.

Have I ever mentioned that when I was teaching at the homeschool co-op, they asked me to teach a math course, and Joe’s son was going to be in it?

Joe thought this would be a good idea — he thought my empathy and such would be good for his kid. I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea — what if I had to talk to Joe about the kid’s progress? I agreed to do it with the assurance that I would be able to talk to Joe’s wife instead of Joe.

That’s not the way it worked out. My teaching style wasn’t working so well for the kid, and most of the time I did have to talk to Joe about him instead of to his wife. And it was affecting my therapy.

Joe realized that, because of my vulnerability to him as a client, I couldn’t act appropriately as his kid’s teacher; I was too invested in being a good patient, doing an impossible job well. He put his kid in another class. Then I was fired from that position (but asked to stay on as the English teacher), but that’s another story.

It took awhile for us to work through that snarl in our therapeutic relationship, but we did.

I sent him a birth announcement. I wonder what he thought when he got it — did he wonder how soon I would be calling him for help, did he wonder if somehow new motherhood might go smoothly for me, did he have to think a minute to remember who I was, did he pray for me?

I do miss his office. It was good to do phone sessions during PPD, especially since no local therapist seemed to suit me, but it’s not the same as a) being able to see each other’s faces and body language and b) being in a room with healing and safe associations, with a cup of Sleepytime tea (no sugar or honey or milk — he didn’t have any of those) in one of his stained earthenware mugs. The tea itself was a reminder of how excellent and yet how finite Joe was; a variety of good teas, earthy good solid mugs, but no honey — genuine caring service, real, but Other, not the ideal I would envision.

That room, and the healing work done within it, was a taste of goodness and safety that will only be fully realized in heaven. Not that the taste is meaningless or worthless or even necessarily idolatrous, but simply a shadow, a dim look at what’s to be.

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