As Dorothy says in the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home.” When you find your “home” you are OK wherever you are, whatever you are doing, regardless of what other people may think about who and what you are.
Where and how we grew up scripts us for the rest of our lives. If we do not re-frame that scripting in a productive way that is compatible with our own inner compass and our budding inner potentials, it will shape us into a bonzai – a diminutive distortion of who we were meant to be.
In the following interview, Andrea discovers that her childhood home looks at the world in a different way than how she does. It looks at itself in ways that unlock possibilities for her that can make real, concrete improvements in how she approaches her work, how she relates to others, and how she feels about herself.
What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?
How I relate to my work – I self-sabotage through insecurities – I fear I won’t be good enough or I charge forward without thinking through the best way to proceed out of fear. I need to be able to identify my work goals and be strong enough to identify what is going to be beneficial and to do it.
Living for myself, living intentionally, developing as a person so that I don’t feel that I am getting swept along in life or tie myself to other people.
General low self-esteem, insecurity, confidence issues.
Tell me a dream you remember. It can be an old one, a repetitive dream, a nightmare, or one that you’re sure you understand.
I’ve had it maybe fifty times, from later adolescence to two years ago, while I was in graduate school. These dreams are variations on a theme. I would be trapped inside my childhood home, unable to leave, arguing with my mother. I would be desperate, trying to carry all my stuff, teddy bear, clothes, radio… stuff would be falling…I always forgot something very important, like my brother. Family members would show up. I’d have to deal with them.
Why do you think that you had this dream?
I think I was afraid that my life was trapped there, that I would never be able to get away from what I came from, that the same problems would follow me through my life.
If this dream were playing at a theater, what name would be on the marquee?
A psychological horror film of some sort…
These are the characters in the dream, beside yourself…
Your childhood home, mother, teddy bear, clothes, radio, brother, other family members.
May we interview your childhood home?
Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor? It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are this or that character in your dream and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind. If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!
Childhood Home are you a character in Andrea’s dream, yes?
Childhood home, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?
I’m a place that’s supposed to be happy but there’s always something wrong. I’m messy and dark with unmet potentials. There are all these places that are supposed to be childhood amusements like basketball hoops and video games but it feels like a dead place, like the curtains are gone; there’s trash everywhere.
I’m sick! There’s something wrong. I’m not supposed to be a place that’s containing, but welcoming! I’m containing the wrong memories! Andrea has affection for me. She’s sad that I didn’t end up being the place I started out as.
What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?
I like that Andrea’s dad and grandfather did all my remodeling! I have this history of being funny, a little make-shift, a little badly decorated in early 90’s Southwest style. I like my quirkiness, my uniqueness. I am not a ranch-style house. I am not a house where the doctor’s and lawyer’s kids live. I am a hundred years old, near to everything, and I don’t try to be the modern, trendy house!
What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses? What are they?
I dislike that I ended up being this dark space where Andrea doesn’t feel happy, the staging ground for her feeling trapped. I dislike that I was neglected.
Childhood Home, what aspect of Andrea do you represent or most closely personify?
I am her connection with the past. I am her long course. I am the reminder that she comes from somewhere, in a general sense, a part of her that lived in Illinois, that played those kinds of childhood games and listened to that type of music and went to the lake for vacations in the summer. In the dream I am a place that she loves but is really unhappy in. I am everything that threatens to reappear and keep her from living the life she wants to live, that maybe she won’t be able to live that life. Others will have their husbands and kids and vacations but something will happen to her and she will end up in the bad version…
Childhood home, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change? If so, how?
I would like to be lighter. I would like the curtains to be pulled back again.
It feels like there’s breathing, it’s not as hot, it’s breezier inside me. It feels like summer instead of like fall. I would like my doors to be open; there would be a garden again where things are growing. The separation between inside and outside is no longer there. It feels great! Andrea doesn’t feel like she has to leave any more because she doesn’t feel that she can’t leave. Now she knows she can. Other people can congregate in me.
(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)
(Character), how would you score yourself 0-10, in confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, peace of mind, and witnessing? Why?
Confidence: 8 because I feel very light and open and doing what a home is supposed to do,which is welcome people. I feel there are other rooms where the air and light are not quite going. I have a basement and an attic with low ceilings… Andrea goes there in other dreams, attempts to escape and is found. I am still a bit embarrassing to her…
Compassion: I0 I can accept anyone who comes in me, providing warmth and shelter, regardless of their state.
Wisdom: 8 I understand myself as a fixture and that I will always be where and what I am. I have foresight that everything works out and that small and large plans in the bigger picture – some succeed or not in the way people hope…My permanence gives me wisdom. I know what I do not know.
Acceptance: 9 Everybody gets to do their thing; I get to do my house thing, be a welcoming place and conduit.
Inner Peace: 7 My attic and basement I don’t really know; they might be problems…They’re hidden. Inner peace would mean that I didn’t worry about what is there, that I trust that what is in those rooms is a part of me in a good way.
Witnessing: 9 Drama comes in and out; I do my best to be a stable space that doesn’t amplify it.
Childhood home, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different? If so, how?
I would be glowing! I’m radiating energy! People would be drawn toward me because they would also have a chance to feel all of these things…It would be more universal, that I was a good place, without question without having to determine it or declare it. Others would be present within me and lose their worry about goals, time, and insecurities…I don’t know if I would have a basement; the attic would have a guest bedroom and an office decorated in some kind of funny Japanese style with wood paneling, tranquil, like a conference center! There wouldn’t be hidden rooms…
How would Andrea’s life be different if s/he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?
She would take me, as welcoming space, with her everywhere! She would enjoy herself every moment! She would be really grateful for the opportunity, to BE! Excitement about being! It would be inside of her instead of a response to something that happened in her external world.
If you could live Andrea’s life for her, how would you live it differently?
I think she’s doing a pretty good job! She’s getting on the right track! I would be there to remind her at any moment that she is where she needs to be physically, spiritually, emotionally, that it’s not about being somewhere else. Sometimes she feels trapped; at a party she will want to go to the bathroom or she will be out and want to go home to feel better. I am here to remind her that she is where she needs to be and it’s OK. That is underneath her guilt, worry, planning – that she’s not where she needs to be.
If you could live Andrea’s waking life for her today, would you handle her three life issues differently? If so, how?
How I relate to my work – I self-sabotage through insecurities – I won’t be good enough or I charge forward without thinking through the best way to proceed out of fear. Identifying my work goals and being strong enough to identify what is going to be beneficial and to do it
I would give her confidence to follow instinct, to step back, to see what is possible, not out of fear; decide what is interesting and what is not and then pursue it in her work, knowing there is always grunt work, grading papers or uninteresting research and that she is never trapped in a particular course of action. It is always up to her. She doesn’t have to run; it’s her project and there’s no need to avoid it!
Living for myself, living intentionally, developing as a person. So I feel not that I am getting swept along or tie myself to other people.
I would remind her that she is where she needs to be. Like me, she is a fixture, not tied down, but with a firm foundation, so she is not going to get swept off her foundation. She has a solid foundation. People can come into her and meet with her and it’s not about compromising or not or getting swept along because she is always going to be firmly rooted.
General low self-esteem, insecurity, confidence issues.
That’s SO grandiose!!! She’s always worried about being normal or eccentric! Just be herself! Not trying to be weird; it’s not hiding the peculiarities; they’re just part of her charm! It’s not a performance; it’s not a masquerade! She doesn’t have to worry about having a Permastone exterior in an era of aluminum siding! And she’s the only one that knows the difference! No one knows the difference! It’s about not worrying about the reception!
What life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of her life?
1. As a house I am constantly invested naturally in domestic renovation pursuits. My first thought is that I need a Tiki bar and a jacuzzi in the back! That’s for hospitality! I would look more toward irreverent, hedonistic pleasure! Seek out hot tub diversions with her friends! Embrace the little, whimsical opportunities!
2. She is very renovation-minded now. I would remind her that you can go overboard with that and get caught up in perfectionism. Chill out about that a little! Don’t get obsessive about the transformation process! She shouldn’t try to do everything so goddamned seriously!
In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Andrea to imagine that s/he is you and act as you would?
When she gets skittish and nervous; when she “falls into the pit,” or gets agitated. It would help her feel that she is in the right place and there isn’t a sense of urgency; she would have a sense of security.
Why do you think that you are in Andrea’s life?
She feels homeless! That’s ridiculous! She’s not homeless! She takes me with her! She only remembers the bad side of me! She now can remember the good side of me. I have been trying to be a comfort but she hasn’t let me. I became a burden in her mind instead of a source of comfort!
How is Andrea most likely to ignore what you are saying to her?
Pull my curtains shut, populate me with trash! Put cigarette butts of her mother’s on the floor! She’ll overlay that to forget how I’ve changed and grown and make me into an uncomfortable place. That will undermine all the advice I have given her and I will become aversive to her in her mind again.
What would you recommend that she do about that?
I recommend that she imagine cleaning me! Opening my curtains, cleaning me with a dust pan, opening the storm windows and taking off the tape – spring cleaning! Simplifying!
I think Andrea had this dream because
I think it was about that was the place I felt trapped and I was afraid that I would be forced to go back there. And also it is about a sense of homelessness that I have had for years. I hadn’t cast it in those terms to myself before. I only lived in one place until I moved in with my grandmother. Then everything fell apart. The shoe shop got taken by the bank and they had to sell the house. I no longer had a house. I would negotiate places to stay after that. I felt like I didn’t have a home.
I think this dream event happened or (some character) was in the dream because…
Her dropping things or forgetting things were stress dreams; she was trying to force some path in her life that circumstances weren’t going to allow. She didn’t feel that she was in control and there wasn’t anything she could do to make sure everything would turn out OK.
What have you heard yourself say?
I heard myself saying that I am where I need to be; I’m always where I need to be and I am rooted. If I open up and let the light in I will be a welcoming place where I can feel accepting. I can be around others and feel calm. A warm, sacred feeling inside. Accepting, calm, rooted, fixed, on a firm foundation. I can be opening and welcoming and stable but not stagnant. The attic and basement are parts that I feel guilty or stressed about. If I don’t worry about trying to be something it won’t become an issue. I already am something! Don’t try to be a certain way around people. I don’t have to perform!
If this experience were a wake-up call from your inner compass, what do you think it would be saying to you?
Chill out a little bit! It’s OK! Everything is already here. Nothing’s missing. Nothing got taken away; nothing is holding you back. Everything is already in place, where it should be. I’m doing what I should be doing. It’s just about accepting. Don’t have to worry about missing something, being held back from something, not taking advantage of something, trying to be somewhere else or be someone else!
Notice that Andrea’s childhood home reframed its meaning for her in her mind. It no longer needs to be associated with homelessness, with fears that life will not turn out the way she hopes, with things that have held her back in her life. Instead she can relax into being who she is, confident in the knowledge that she is strong, sturdy, and has a solid foundation that is not going to get swept away by events or the agenda of others. She no longer has to feel trapped by her work or her life circumstances; she can remember that they are hers to create, shape, change, or stop whenever and however she desires.
This interview gives Andrea permission to take a broader, more encompassing perspective on her past, present, and future. It invites her to look at her life from the perspective of an important part of herself that scores high in core qualities associated with being awake, alive, balanced, detached, free, and clear. One interview cannot, does not, and is not intended to change years of scripting. However, what it can do is open doors and windows within the mind and let in light. It can move Andrea toward knowing that she too can glow and radiate energy in a way that will draw people to her.