“Which Bloomingdales?” Igor asked.
“I don’t know”, I answered surprised that he knows more than one location. I just can’t imagine Igor shopping at Bloomies.
“Sitting next to me is an African-American woman, she is sitting to my right, and she is trying on shoes. I overhear her telling the saleswoman that she isn’t going to take the leopard print boots. I get excited and I tell the saleswoman that is helping me that I want those boots. I imagine that they are the Cole Haan leopard boots that I didn’t buy two years ago and how I have lamented letting them get away.”
“Did you really want those boots in real life?”, Igor asked.
I felt the need to explain that these were Cole Haan and that they were very nice and high quality and classic and timeless. I got a horrible image of fakey-cheap leopard skin boots in my mind and I danced as fast as I could to explain to Igor that they weren’t the boots he was imagining or that I feared that he was imagining, “Really, they were very nice,” I defended.
I returned to the dream. “I gave the sales gal a Bloomingdale’s gift card and she went off to handle the transaction. I overheard some kind of kerfuffle and I wondered if I had enough on the card to pay for the shoes. The saleswoman returned to me, the shoes in her hand. The shoes were in a beige and understated box, on the box were the words “Christian Louboutin”. I was very excited and thought to myself, ‘these are my first pair of Louboutin’. I then spent the next five minutes explaining what exactly Christian Louboutins are. You see, my dearly beloved Igor, he knows nothing about fashion. Once it was clear that these shoes were made by a high-prestige shoemaker whose shoes I value and would like to have Igor was satisfied and we moved on.
“Then I opened the box and the shoes were NOT the Cole Haan leopard boots that got away and were instead a horrible monstrosity. Let me describe them for you”, I recounted in horror, “they were made of canvas and had leopard print. They were a high heel boot and open toed and had shoe laces lacing up the front. They were hideous. I immediately told the saleslady that I would be returning these and how these were not for me. And that was the end of the dream.”
I usually end the dream by sitting in silence and waiting for Igor to say something about the dream. I didn’t do that today. I instead said, “This is what I think the dream is about. I think it is about how I feel about moving to Pasadena”. I know I had to do some fast footwork to get Igor on board with my interpretation. “You see, the other day when I was in Pasadena I was overwhelmed by all the traffic and chain stores and restaurants and how crowded it felt and how I had to fight for parking. I found myself overwhelmed and wanted to be in a more spacious place, I wanted to go home. I wanted out of there. And I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. In the dream the thing that I longed for and never had relates to Lake Bluff, longing for a place that is more dream than reality. In choosing Pasadena I chose blindly, I was, as in the dream, saying “I’ll take the dream in the box” and the exterior looks good but the inner experience doesn’t measure up. I don’t feel the sense of openness and spaciousness in Pasadena that I do in Lake Bluff. I am not going to take what doesn’t work for me—even if the box looks good”
“And,” I explained, “I think you need to know a little about my fashion psychology to make sense of this dream. I, as you know, have a conservative, tailored and classic style of dress and my shoes are the one place that I can be a little wild and whimsical. I can wear red shoes or leopard shoes because my feet feel far enough away for them not to be identified as me. As James Hillman says, when we imagine what “my body” is we often imagine from the head to above the pelvis. Hillmans says that we cut off the extremities, they don’t feel as much us as the trunk does. Feet feel the most distant from the “me” and so I can wear things on my feet that wouldn’t feel okay worn as clothing. I would NEVER wear a leopard sweater. I feel much more uncomfortable wearing red on my body than I do on my feet.”
At this point in the session Igor brought in a little lecture on Winnicott and space and Transitional Objects that I can’t recreate. What I will first do is try to explain Winicott’s thought on Transitional Objects and space and me and not me and then try to explain how all this relates to being in Pasadena and the dream and the boots. Wish me luck!
Transitional Objects are, according to Winnicott, something which works to compensate or recreate the mother-child bond. The most common and obvious of Transitional Objects are dolls, teddy bears, or blankets—-but one could make a case that a bag, shoe or other non-childhood object could serve as a transitional object. Transitional objects are used as means of tolerating the transition between the psychic and external reality. You following me?
When we are infants we are not initially able to separate ’me’ from ‘not-me’. In early development the child experiences the mother as part of itself. The child, as it develops, begins to separate the ‘me’ from the ‘not-me’ and this awareness is seriously anxiety producing. It goes from feeling like it is omnipotent and responsible for meeting all of its needs into being aware that it is independent and separate and dependent on mommy to meet its needs. The way it tolerates this emerging separation through Transitional Objects.
This is where the teddybear, blanket or Cole Haan boot comes in, the child( or some red weasels) find comfort in fantasizing about the object. The child( or in my case, the adult) experiences the object as a ‘not me’ posession and the child needs space from the object ( just a little) to experience it as seperate. If the blanket is too close to the child the child feels it is part of them. If the blanket is taken out of the bed or washed or is out of site the child feels that the object is divested of all its me-ness and creates anxiety for the child. As the child learns to tolerate the growing awarness between ‘me’ and ‘not-me’, and is capable of keeping inside and outside apart yet interrelated then the Transitional Object is no longer needed.
After Igor suggested I read more Winicott as a means of exploring the space between me and not-me and how what Winnicott had to say on the subject might be meaningful to me I had an association, “The reason I didn’t get the Cole Haan leopard boots is that they were high. They came up too high. And in them being not just on my feet but taking up a lot of leg I felt that the boots would be more ‘me’ and that didn’t feel good. That was not me.” I sat silently and tried to make sense of all of these things but instead another association came to mind, ” I was walking to the gym this morning and there was this voice in my head that said: Isn’t it enough that you don’t want to move back to Chicago? Isn’t it enough that you are opening a second office? Isn’t it enough that you don’t hate it here? Do you have to jump into a move? Can’t you just enjoy this space for a while?”
Igor said in his Igor’s gravitas voice, ” I like this voice. This voice is asking you to give yourself time in this Transitional Space. This voice is creating a relationship that honours space. This voice is you and not you. This is an important dream.”
I left the session aware of the following: I don’t want those Cole Haan boots. I don’t want the Christian Louboutins that are not me. I don’t want to make a choice based on fantasy. I don’t want to live in Pasadena, I want something smaller and more ‘me’. And I left the session with no desire to shoe shop.