If you and I are meeting for coffee on Friday, I will think of you during the week. From time to time the thought of you will come into my mind. I will think of the last time we spoke, the topics that might come up, questions I would like to ask you. I will imagine our conversation. I will imagine the place and the drink and/or snack I might have. Depending on our relationship I will have various feelings about our upcoming meeting. I may feel nervous or excited or I may need you for something. I may be concerned about you or afraid of what you might have to say to me. All of our history together and all of my history on this planet provide weight to my orientation towards you on Friday.

None of this is organized, unless, of course, our meeting requires that I allocate some formal time for preparation. The thought of our coffee just flits through my brain like the wind. And one moment later I am thinking of something else. As events draw closer they take up more brain space or I might say body space.

And much of this is not thought out elaborately. It consists of brief flashes, moments, memories, logistical plans. My preparation for you is inevitable.

So when we meet, we don’t meet blank. We’re never blank.

From how I’m feeling to what happened last night I come loaded. As do you.

And my ideas about you are dense and thick and probably largely off the mark.

And then we have our experience.

It’s a wonder we can experience anything new at all.

And often we don’t. Conversations can be more like side by side presentations - two people but no exchange.

In therapy sometimes we try to unpack this loadedness that we bring to our sessions. We talk about what we imagined talking about. Our feelings, thoughts, glimmers throughout the week. These reveal much about our orientation, our being, our history. Especially when our orientation upon arrival turns out to be different from what we encounter when we are actually in session.

We imagine getting angry at our therapist and instead talk around a knotty problem for a while.

We imagine telling our therapist how much we care about them and instead tell a dream.

We come with thoughts and ideas and feelings and when we get to therapy we go somewhere else entirely.

We arrive feeling we were too much in the last session; too much. And on voicing it we find out that this was not at all our therapist’s experience. That she welcomes that part of us.

We come feeling good, thinking it is about time to end this therapy. And we leave having uncovered another layer.

And on and on.

Among many other things therapy is an awareness practice. A practice of doing something that opens us up, increases our understanding, broadens our experience, and helps us to strengthen our muscles and open ourselves wider to try new things outside the room.

The weight of my imagination often tires me. I am glad for the many hours of talking in therapy that has morphed it into a more engaging and responsive creature.


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