Entry 3: Well, well, well, if it isn’t the bridge I said I’d cross when I got to it
If I close my eyes long enough, I see a witch. At least, I think she’s a witch, she looks haggard and wicked, angry and swampy. Tendrils of soaked hair obscure most of her face, and she’s comes off huge, but stuck, emerging out of the well.
Go on then, you said you’d be by the well to talk to anything that came out of the subconscious, a voice in my head says. I did write that, it’s true. But she doesn’t look like she’s a beaming bundle of joy. Nevertheless, I will myself into the scene, by the well. I regard the clambering she-creature, her enormous form rising like dough or a soufflé, but not quite making it out. A very wet soufflé. I try to perceive past the curtain of hair, to get a better idea of what I’m working with.
Absolutely not, I quickly open my eyes and exit the scene. I can’t even describe the monstrosity of a face, I’d much rather not attempt to.
Oh, come on!
Get back in there, what are you doing?
She’s not going to hurt you, she’s not even real!
Why do I have to do it, why can’t any of you? I think to myself.
Because you’re literally the one writing this down! You’re the storyteller, that’s your job! I sigh.
Oh I’m sorry, would you like to swap roles with any of us? Perhaps you’d like to perpetually read and interpret cues and expressions in all social interactions?
Or take over for me, and constantly suppress and soothe the itches and urges that come from the body.
Okay, alright, calm down you lot, I think to myself. Gently, I close my eyes, hoping it might inspire a gentleness from her, but the creature shrieks as soon as I arrive by the well. She takes a swipe in my direction, I can’t tell if she’s trying to get me or reach for something that can pull her out of the well. I close my eyes, in scene, attempting to collect myself. I peak out one eye, see that monstrous face, and shake my head. I turn myself away from her and the well.
Stop being a coward and face her, you’re dragging this out longer than it needs to be! An omnipresent voice echoes in the scene.
‘Look if I’m going to do this, I can’t do it alone! I’m just a storyteller! One of you is going to have to come in here and help me!’ I yell to the blue skies of my mind. Silence is the response. Then a flurry of voices, one conscious part talking over the other.
I have no business in there!
You’re gonna have to drag me if you want me.
Can I do both things at once? Surely I can.
Send the know-it-all, she’s perfect for this!
This is a slippery slope, any further depersonalisation….
An older version of myself pops into existence besides me, who’s just as surprised to see me as I am her. ‘…could cause more harm than good. Great, now I’m split off,’ she finishes and sighs. She examines her hands, arms and new form. She’s me at 50 years old, older, wiser, much better at figuring these things out than myself.
‘What do you know of it, it’s not like you’re a real therapist anyway,’ but she’s clever and that’s exactly what I need to figure out what creature this is and what it wants.
‘I’ll have you know that for an armchair psychologist, I have successfully diagnosed countless people, many of whom the qualified psychologists gave up on.’
You should really stop doing that, its unethical. We can always tell when ethics has the microphone because they end everything with ‘it’s unethical’.
‘Please, do tell Dr. Lucas, pathologise the beast rising from the well,’ I welcome (or usher) her forward with a dramatic wave of my arms.
‘A moment to get my bearings. Let me get this straight, we’ve depersonalised and used visualisation to converse with at least three versions of ourselves: you the storyteller, me the therapist, and a part of our subconscious, the entry point of which is this well.’
‘The start of every great story right?’ I joke.
‘And you invite any part of the subconscious to travel through this imaginary well and interact with us, the conscious mind. Although, I would argue the jury is out as to whether we can consciously interact with the subconscious mind, more likely is that we’re projecting our thoughts and feelings into personified characters to better understand them.’
‘Okay, I see now why they call you the know-it-all.’
‘Irregardless,’ she continues with a glare. ‘Even if connecting with the subconscious mind was possible, there’s no assurance this is a safe practice, what is the end goal here? We could hurt ourselves, bring something up that isn’t meant to be brought up.’
‘You tell me Doctor. Something’s coming out of the well, I can barely stand the sight of it, can you please do your job instead a monologue,’ I ask exasperated. She stares at the she-creature much longer than I could.
‘Be mindful with your words around the subconscious. The subconscious can’t discern the passive in passive aggressive or the sarcasm in your dry humour, that’s a conscious process. It takes things literally and on your word. Speak kinder,’ she stares at me next and I’m surprised to find myself respecting her authority and opinion. I’m not usually one to listen to others, even myself.
‘Thank you for giving us a chance to talk to you, we really do appreciate it, even if some of us are still learning how to better express that,’ she says to the witch in the well. It yells something fierce in response.
‘I do like a challenge,’ she slaps her hands together. ‘Can you visualise me one of those fancy clipboards and pens, I want to feel professional, really settle into my role here. And maybe a rocking chair just by the well,’ she paces and encircles the well. I was going to make a joke about how she should take her time while she’s at it, but I reconsider writing those words within perception of the well-woman. I spare a glance to the subconscious part in the well, she seems to be deflating in size, seems a little less intimidating already.
The therapist scribbles into the clipboard furiously. ’It’s a fitting production you have going on. You visualise me as an older part of yourself because you want to learn from a better version of yourself, it’s symbolic of the generational nature in which humans pass on knowledge. You imagine a well for the subconscious, a life source, but functioning here as a gateway for you to integrate parts of yourself you’ve taken for granted. Very good. It’s also the plot from The Ring isn’t it?’
‘Is it? Dammit, I thought I was being original.’
‘It’s okay, there are no original ideas anymore anyway. It’s a metaphor, we have about a week before we transform who we are, a sort of death of our previous self,’ she smiles at me affectionately.
‘What is she? Is she a part of us?’
‘The subconscious doesn’t normally speak in words, it speaks in images and symbols, at best when we’re asleep and unconscious. She’s probably a previous version of us, discarded as no longer relevant but clearly she represents something not fully processed,’ to that, the woman in the well spits out a flow of bile in my direction. Fortunately, since I write the words, the bile narrowly misses me.
‘She doesn’t look like us,’ I comment and try to see past the tangle of hair covering her face.
‘There’s countless parts of yourself that you can’t recognise. Hey,’ she sits in the rocking chair and puts her hand on the witches hand. ‘You look like you’ve really gone through it, do you want to tell us about it?’
‘You left me…’ the creature mutters from the well. The glimmer of her eyes looks straight at me with an accusation.
‘But you’re here now, and we accept you just as you are,’ the therapist assures her.
‘I was drowning. I was lost. I don’t know what I did wrong to deserve this. The waves overcame me…’ to this, my sympathy moves me bridge the gap of misunderstanding between us.
‘Hey, I’m sorry-,’ she tries to swipe me as I near, which stops me in my tracks.
‘She’s all black, except for a bit of red. Red is a strong colour, symbolic of anger. She’s wet, symbolic of emotions. If I had to guess, I’d say she’s been traumatised,’ the therapist explains.
‘Oh I know what this is. This is my abandonment issues… She has to be, that’s my core wound. But why is she here, why is this the first thing to come up?’
‘Probably because you’re seeing your father soon, with an unexpected four hour car ride that you have not mentally prepared for.’
‘Ah yes. The original abandoner, father dearest himself,’ I’ve never been good with abandonment, still am not good with it. The therapist rises from her chair and stands by me.
‘This is your chance to prepare for a potential trigger. You don’t want to regress into a child around him or be overrun by physical discomfort. Tell her all the things your father should have told you, rewrite your history,’ the therapist suggests. There’s a small cry from the well, and the witch she-creature has changed size. A much smaller, feeble girl clings to the brim of well. But she’s not strong enough, and just as she loses her grip to fall back into the darkness from where she came, my hand catches her and the therapist grabs onto her other. I couldn’t approach her, but I’m not letting her go either. We both heave her out of the well, and she lands onto her hands and knees coughing water. When she lifts her head, she reveals that she is actually just a teenager. She looks just as fierce as I did at that age, and confused. She then collapses into a heap.
‘Hey, hey, hey,’ I start and collect her up, fashion her to sit upright, tug her wet her behind her eyes. She’s deathly pale, her pupils perpetually dark and seeing right past me. She can barely hold herself straight and I wrap my arms around her for support.
‘She was stuck in the well because you didn’t accept her in all her ugly fury. She let go just as we were about to accept her because she didn’t want be rejected from us. She wanted to beat us to the punch,’ the therapist explains.
‘I don’t want to be here, let me go,’ she whispers in a hoarse voice.
‘That’s okay, you can go whenever you want to go. But before you do, just know that I’m always going to love you and accept you the way you are,’ I thought that’s what she wanted to hear but she groans and pushes me off her.
‘Get off me! Everyone loves to talk,’ she tries to help herself up but struggles. When I step forward to help, the therapists gives me the hand slicing the neck ‘don’t do that’ sign.
‘Not you though, you’re better than that. You don’t need to talk, your actions speak for you, right?’ The therapist asks to which she nods.
‘I understand. I’m the same. But do you know what really sucks? Sometimes you can do all the right things, you can try your hardest, you can love with every fibre in your being and still be abandoned, and it’s not your fault. Sometimes it has very little to do with you, there’s not much else you could have done, or said, to have changed the outcome. It doesn’t seem right, but it happens a lot. And it’s okay. Do you know why it’s okay?’
‘It’s not okay,’ the little girl shakes her head in disagreement. ‘It’s never okay to do that to another person! Especially when they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to! They chose to hurt me!’
‘They didn’t chose to hurt you anymore than you’re choosing to hurt us,’ the therapist levels with the little girl.
‘I’m not hurting you. I would never treat someone like that,’ she retorts.
‘You are, but not in a way where it’s your fault or that we’re angry about. Sometimes, within people’s universes, there’s struggles that are hard to share with others. It can make us avoidant, or close us up, or make us seek external validation or make us insecure. And that’s okay, because you deserve to be accepted just as you are and that’s what we’re going to do,’ the therapist plops down onto the ground besides the girl, and indicates to me to follow. ‘We’re going to stay here with you for as long as it takes until you feel you belong with us,’ she assures her and rinses the water from her hair.
‘I belong with you?’ The girl asks in wonder.
‘Of course you do silly! We’re you’re biggest fans, if it wasn’t for you, none of us would be the amazing people we are now. We show our respect to our elders here. If you want to stay here you can, or you can go back into your own time through the well. It doesn’t matter either way we’ll always be connected, all three of us, and any other parts of ourselves,’ the therapist promises and I wish she didn’t because there’s tear in my eyes now and I don’t know if I can turn them off. The girl turns to look at me for confirmation and I force a half smile, half grimace.
‘Sure, I have nowhere else to be. The only thing I will say is I am flattered by my own confidence in my creativity ability, but I don’t think I have the skill to write this moment into a captivating story,’ now it’s the therapists turn to reach out to me say:
‘Then don’t. No one’s making you write a captivating story. Just be with us.’
I pry my words away from the screen, leaving the rest to your imagination.