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Staging the Dream

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I recently reached a milestone in my life with the completion of my bachelor’s degree. Incidentally, the occasion coincides with my 5 year “anniversary” as an analysand in Jungian psychotherapy. At my recent session, BTW (Best Therapist in the World) and I discussed the transformations that have taken place in the last five years. Most notable was that going back to school was never one of my original goals, but one that surfaced after years of inner work. Yet, my education has become the center of my existence. Everything that I do is somehow related to my academic goals and/or my future work as a psychotherapist. And my desire to do all of it is a direct result of my experience in BTW’s consulting suite.

BTW shared that she knew I was going to “perform” based on the first dream I shared in therapy many years ago. Keep in mind, that at the beginning, I knew nearly nothing about Jung or analytical psychology or what it meant to see a Jungian psychotherapist. I knew that Jung was “old school” and I think that was part of the draw. But part of that old school flavor was doing dream work, which I thought was pretty archaic at the time. BTW told me that the answers to all of our problems are located in the unconscious and a way to access that information was to pay attention to my dreams. I didn’t buy it at the time, but she seemed nice, so I kept going back. I didn’t share a dream for quite some time—at least six months. And when I did finally share a dream, I was surprised at the way she took apart the dream and put it back together again using my own words in a new and meaningful way. The dream focused on the image of a ballerina, which has been a theme in my inner work ever since.

At the time, I didn’t know (and didn’t have the ability to comprehend, if I did know) the way that the dream spotlighted a part of my personal psychology. Five years later, after completing my undergraduate degree and giving my senior symposium on the significance of dreams, I was privy to BTW’s revelation of her early insight: she knew I was going to attempt daring and complex things and I was going to succeed. Had she told me then, I would not have believed her. Just like if someone told me then that I would go back to school in order to become a psychotherapist, I would have laughed. Or that dreams would become such an important facet of my life that I would feel obligated to give my synthesis presentation on the topic. That was my frame of mind at the time—unable to grasp the bounty of growth and experience that awaited me. But one of the hallmarks of a good therapist is the ability to recognize where I find myself in stories and in my personal mythology, all of which is easier to do when I share my dreams. As a result, the therapist can hold the space for the client to grow into. And that’s exactly what BTW did for me.

After years of inner work and a rigorous academic curriculum, this past Monday I finally walked the stage at McCaw Hall to receive my diploma. As far as I know, this is the first year commencement has been held at that venue–the same place where the Pacific Northwest Ballet performs season after season. And no, the significance was not lost on me. I was very well aware of the synchronicity of receiving my degree on that stage where the ballerinas dance lithely and gracefully with strength few people will ever know. They make their moves seem easy, when years of practice and training are required beforehand. I realized this on my own, after years of studying Jung and depth psychology. And the next day, BTW told me that she knew I was going to do something great all along. She knew that I was strong and capable of doing that which seemed impossible. And my dream came true. The dream from my unconscious, my true Self, that knew it was true all along.

As I move forward toward my goal of becoming a psychotherapist, I know that these last five years in psychotherapy are as important as my next two years in graduate school. The personal therapy is where I experience the work working for me and through me. It’s where I see the example modeled for me week after week—when to move forward, when to pull back—how to be a guide on the circumambulatory spiral. The work has been difficult and visceral, but also joyous and enlightening and I wouldn’t change a single moment of it. I have learned to align my outer goals with my inner Self, and in the process I set the stage to live my dreams.

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