“Is this the same Jeremy you talked about a few weeks ago?”
“Yes. The same. ‘Every time a friend succeeds, a small part of me dies’. I do subscribe to that Vidal quote. I think I carry over a lot of bitterness over Jeremy.
The dream is always the same. No, that is unfair to say. The dream is the same theme but it differs in the genre and setting. So what was different this time? I couldn’t really say. When I arrived at the cobble stoned street it was light. But by the time I saw him dining with his friends the night was cold and a light misty rain seemed to be there. And then I was wearing one of those Burberry trench coats. He was inside one of those restaurants that have a curved glass window pane – which is why I mistook the location. I could have been in Soho... New York.... And surrounding him were these good-looking people and they were laughing. I could tell he kind of saw me from the corner of his eye and chose to ignore my presence, but instead seem to lower his voice and continue talking. I was so frustrated because I thought ‘how dare he, how dare he be my nemesis and not heed my presence’ and that only made me more angry. Somehow I left my suitcase by the street next to a street bench. I pushed open the restaurant door and a bell chimed and I thought ‘maybe it’s Paris’ and I walked up to the table and it was as though now I had attracted his attention, but in doing so the entire table seemed to turn simultaneously and look at me. What is worse, half of all these good-looking people at the table seem to turn back toward the conversation as though I was either a nuisance or else that I were completely insignificant. I could feel myself heating up – and I flashed back to a time when my parent’s had shamed me as a boy for something I did – I must tell you this later - and then I realised I had reached a tipping point, from which now I could not be passive and easy going – that everyone but me knew what my intentions were. That my mere presence had forced me to act, now, and that I didn’t want to and my heart was full of fear’. He fell silent for a moment and drew a long and heavy breath.
“Shame is a very powerful emotion to feel. There have been many studies done to show how shame and shaming people has an incredible effect on people’s lives and that often we are forced to walk around and carry this shame wherever we go”. The therapist now gently nodded her head forward for him to proceed.
“It seemed, from my perspective that Jeremy has gone from strength to strength. The people at the table seemed to all have slender physiques. They looked like the type of people that treated their bodies as temples. They looked ‘cool’ and unflustered, and I have always grinded myself in the direction against ‘cool’, if not only for the purpose of trying to be different. And they seemed to be wearing jeans and comfortable clothing whereas I seemed to be over-dressed for the occasion. It was as though they were all at peace with themselves whereas I was some negative antagonistic force – but I didn’t want to play that role”.
“And is this where the dream ended?”
“No. It got so strange. So, now it seems as though the table they are sitting as is a ‘lazy susan’ styled table but there is no ‘lazy susan’ .”
“So it was a round table?”
“Yes, and the table is stained, the light is yellowy, so too are the walls. I think I’m in a Chinese restaurant and they have those little Chinese cups with no handles and they are indeed drinking Green tea. They all now seem to be older and more authoritative. I walk up to the table and I say ‘We need to talk’ and Jeremy looks up from the table and without flinching says ‘Sure’.
He stands up and he seems to be more muscular than the last time I saw him, more lean than anything else, and I feel myself faking a stoic resolve. We walk towards the counter where the cash register is and he looks at me in the eye and says ‘What is it?’
And as I start to speak I feel my mouth dry and the complications of my words and thoughts as they try to leave and strain in my throat and I say ‘You stole my idea’. But at the moment I utter the words, I see his blue eyes react in a manner as though I have played such a poor game of chess and that he had won the game before we had played. In fact, his expression suggested that we had never even played at all and I was extraordinarily humiliated but that now I must hear his response, that there is nothing I can do because I have played all my cards.”
“Oh dear me” said the therapist with kind, gentle eyes and pursed lips that spoke of humorous compassion for her patient’s folly.
“I am so glad you understand this. It is a great tragedy that I cannot share this with my girlfriend – I find it too difficult to expose this much vulnerability to her”, here he paused briefly and shifted himself in his seat, “he looked at me with such, it wasn’t contempt, it was indifference, he looked at me as though to say ‘I am Jeremy Winterbotham, I know who I am, and I am so far removed from you that I need not explain myself at all’. And then he said to me “I am sorry that you feel that way”.