Author Note: Sorry the post today is so esoteric and navel-gazy. My thoughts are all in a jumble lately. A hazard of too much introspection, I suspect.
Going to a new therapist is like dating. You look for chemistry, a general sense of whether the therapist “gets” you, and whether their observations resonate with you and can engender change. Of course, all the therapist can see into your life is what you choose to tell them – and how you choose to tell them. And so lately, I’ve been in the odd situation of telling my doctor (heretofore known as Dr. T) about myself or what I think and feel, and then feeling as if she’s not quite getting me.
Of course, as I am not a trained psychologist, I’m sure she also takes into account a bunch of other things, so she isn’t totally going on what I say alone. And since we are still feeling each other out, there are bound to be misunderstandings. I get that. (And I’ve been quick to clarify or speak up when I feel it’s not quite right. At $140/hour, I’m not wasting sessions!)
But it got me thinking: What makes us who we are? Can we ever see ourselves clearly? Or are we destined, as Paul writes, to see ourselves “through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor 13:12 KJV) until we reach Heaven? Will we ever see each other “face to face”?
I find that not only can I not see myself clearly, I cannot even adequately explain myself without resorting to metaphor.
I am an infinite onion. Just when I think I’ve unlayered myself enough to get to the core, I find that the core I was looking for was really more layers. And that each section I peel back reveals not really my heart, but more protective layers.
I am an archaeological dig and what we are searching for is my true self. My true motivations buried under centuries of dirt, to be found only after much digging, sifting, and patience. Even then, a dig is only a glimpse of the past, not truly the past.
When Dr. T asks me questions and I answer, and then she draws a conclusion and asks me if the comment rings true, I find myself scrabbling to explain myself.
I am a mixture of oil, vinegar, water, and other debris all shaken up, waiting for the different layers to settle and split. I am all mixed up, all these different aspects of me both true and untrue. I am unsure which is the deepest part, the most true.
Even this post seems unnecessary opaque; impenetrable.
But seriously, how do we explain who we are? How do we begin to sum up decades of life and experience and feelings? Am I only my thoughts? My deepest, cruelest thoughts? My greatest hopes and dreams? Or am I merely my actions? My worst sins? My best moments? What is the Real Me? And does it matter?
I think of how millions of faithful Christians were devastated to learn that Mother Theresa harbored deep-seated doubts of God’s reality and did not feel His presence for the back half of her life. Does that mean she was not truly Christian? Faithful? Her whole life a lie? Or does that make her even more faithful because she persisted in doing her work and laboring as if God did exist?
And if even Mother Theresa didn’t have herself all figured out, how can I have a chance?
I tell myself that the map is not the terrain. That we are all paradoxes.
I hope that is true. That I am not only just one-dimensional. That we are all infinite. That we are all just a coin toss away from being gods and goddesses.