(Take this medication only after consulting your physician.)
On the drive towards Leiden, I alternate between blinking my eyes and using the windshield wipers with the spray to clean the windshield. I turn down the heating, and turn up the airco; I turn down the fan and close the vents. I still can’t see clearly.
A silly song comes on the radio. I sing with it, jumping up and down and making silly sounds that aren’t really words. I laugh at myself as I do it and marvel at my rapid mood shifts.
Suddenly, without warning, a car is inches behind me, on the highway, as we are both driving 120 km/h. My heart starts racing as I see his big black car in my rearview mirror. It’s so close I can’t even see the driver, just the headlights and his grill. I can’t move to the right lane as a van is driving there, next to me. I honk my horn to scare off the tailgater, and feel stupid that I’m honking – won’t that just warn off the car ahead of me, not behind? Why didn’t I just put on the warning blinker, instead?
Eventually I arrive at my destination, early, for a change, and I sit in the car for a few minutes before my appointment, rereading my notes from last time and going over my week, full of highs and lows.
“I can’t see clearly,” I say to my therapist. “It’s a metaphor for how I am now. Like my contact lenses are foggy.” Like there’s a road ahead, but I’m not sure it’s the right one, and I’m not sure if I need to slow down or go faster. At times, I feel like I’m in a Mario Kart racing game, and the car could veer off the road, onto the shoulder and if that happened, would the magical hand pick me up and place me gently back on the right path?
I recall a Facebook post I read earlier today, by Yael, a good friend and a coach. She talked about self-criticism and how negative that can be. She gave a tip to write “Next” on your hand and whenever you find yourself saying bad things about yourself, just say, ‘next,’ and move on. I agreed that this works for me – but only on the golf course.
“Are you a golfer?” My therapist asks. Or maybe she asked me if I like golf, or it could be that she just said, “Golf?” I explain that it’s Theo’s sport, but I have come to enjoy it – being outside, playing calmly, without having to run around and get out of breath.
“In golf, when I screw up a hole, I can easily swipe “next” and move to the next one. Maybe I should just stay on the golf course all the time,” I say, laughing and crying at the same time. “That’s the only place where I find it easy to let things go, and not worry about whether or not I’ve done it right.”
Towards the end of the session, I look over at her potted plant, which is actually a small tree, in a small pot, placed inside a wicker basket. It has three stems which are braided into each other, and green leaves at the top on a few branches. I can’t even tell if it’s real or fake. “I’m like your potted plant,” I say, “I’m not free. I was born in the pot, grew up that way, and have stayed there.” I’m all about the metaphor today, I think to myself, while I wonder if I’ve insulted her potted plant.
On the way home, I decide to drive through the yellow, purple, and pink tulip, daffodil and hyacinth fields. I wonder at the force of nature that pushes that beauty up from those hard round bulbs that sit in the ground for months, under ice and snow. Another metaphor? I ask myself, as I sit in the warm car, at the edge of the fields, looking out at the growth and beauty under the dullness of the cold grey skies.