Putting my inner Trump on ice

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Mar 02, 2017

Lately, I have found myself dreaming often about the president, his administration and others associated with it. This is quite unusual for me, since ordinarily my dreams do not involve anyone famous in real life.

I dreamed the president wanted to get someone on the board of Wal-Mart, and then his candidate got on. I dreamed about Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer. I dreamed the president had said Jews were the enemy, which, of course, he has not done.

The point is not whether any of these dreams corresponds to anything the president or his government has actually done. Dreams are a projection of the dreamer's interior world, so my dreams about the president are less about him than what he represents to me, and how that is active in me. It's the classic, “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” Little as I like to admit it, I do have an inner Trump — this is my dream world, remember, my symbol. It is my inner dictator.

Almost everyone has an inner dictator, the part that knows how the world should be organized, if only others would see the light. Or at least, if they can't see the light, they should do as the dictator says, because it knows best. My inner dictator wants what it wants, when it wants it. It is petulant, thin-skinned and unable to see things from anyone's point of view but its own. It imagines that anything that happens to thwart its desires is done deliberately to get in its way, and feels righteously indignant about such perceived slights. Gratitude is unknown to it: it is far too consumed with its own sense of victimization and entitlement.

I came face to face with this interior monster recently. Maureen was to take Riley, my cockapoo, to his chemotherapy appointment in Portland on a Monday morning. Though she is not by any means a morning person, she was also taking me to work before the appointment, so as to use my car for the trip to Portland. I checked on her about 45 minutes before we were due to leave, and she was still in bed, barely awake.

After a brief conversation, I went downstairs to wait for her, having already done various chores to make myself ready to leave. As is typical of me when I'm in dictator mode, I was pacing around downstairs, muttering to myself about how Maureen should have gotten up earlier and why wasn't she more considerate of me and she was going to make me late to work again and on and on when by some happy chance I heard myself.

I thought, wait a minute. Maureen isn't doing anything to you — she's just being her not-a-morning-person self. Do you really want your identity to be that of victim? Do you really need to feel superior because you're ready to go and she's not? She is not only taking your dog to Portland for you, she is standing beside you through your dog's cancer. She's supporting you, instead of letting you face that alone.

I got kind of choked up and gratitude replaced the sense of entitled injury, which felt a lot better. The dictator hadn't been deposed, but was at least sent into temporary exile. I found waiting easier. I complimented Maureen on what she was wearing when she came downstairs. And I made a point of thanking her, on the way to work, not just for saving me the drive to Portland — a large favor in itself — but also for letting me know that we are in this together. By "this" I mean the cancer fight, but also everything else. We have each other's back.

To a larger extent than we imagine, we do make our own reality. My interpretation of events — the stories I tell myself, usually to shore up my own ego — can completely alter how I feel about those events, and my own behavior as well. Noticing what those stories are, and how they make me feel, liberates me to choose another way. To be the kind person I really am, at heart.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Mar 03, 2017 08:21

That was lovely.



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