Gestalt Therapy and Existentialism
Evoking the actual, by Ralph Evers
Can you say something about something that cannot be put into words? No. But does it stop us from speaking? Nor does it.
I can't force myself to meet, I can't decide to meet. I can do my best not to meet someone or something. I only have to put on my identity and I cover up a part of my uniqueness. People say that I am always this or that, those people who know my identity well. Different groups of people around me have different identities. I can have the impression of myself that I am firmly rooted in my identity. I am sufficient in the world in which I operate in the way that I present myself to that world. I am that inspired speaker, knowing which hobbyhorse to prepare in order to get the audience on board with my narrative.
I have my opinions on all sorts of issues ready, usually 'borrowed' from other public figures, political leaders, opinion makers and a smattering of my own experience. Sometimes I adjust my view of the world around me when I hear a new speaker who is inspiring, who opens up a new perspective. Every day, I work carefully on my identity, my mask, my persona, and feed myself with information that is congruent with this window on the world and myself in it.
But sometimes it gnaws. Sometimes I experience something that is dissonant with my usual view of the world. Occasionally, there is a flash of insight that I might be completely wrong. Or that a completely different interpretation of my specialty would be possible. In the kitchen, this is still easy to try out, often leading to a change of way of doing things, but in the big picture, I mean, for the way I have arranged my life, how I understand that life, no, for that
there is too much at stake. When these thoughts present themselves to me, I usually push them away, because they are too confusing, chaotic, restless, uncomfortable, elusive, you name it.
Now I heard about this colleague the other day. She is only a few years older than I am and now appears to be incurably ill. What's more, she doesn't have long to go. To come face to face with death at such a young age, I don't want to think about it. The night after I heard the news, I did not sleep well, I remember. I had a nightmare; around me was a black hole that sometimes looked like a core, but felt completely unknown. The following days I felt burdened. I noticed that my appetite was less, I was quieter. God, I remember that I was talking saltlessly. What I remember is that the listeners dropped out. That too. My partner also noticed that I was more distant, more absent. The internet told me that I might be depressed, or have an adjustment disorder, or perhaps an anxiety disorder. Somewhere I also found evidence of burnout. Have I always been fooling myself? Things are not that bad, are they? Worrying at night doesn't help either.
Maybe I should talk to someone. But I don't feel like a diagnosis! I would like to talk to someone about that hole in the dream. That image keeps haunting me and I haven't been able to find anywhere on the internet what diagnosis it leads to. I am afraid, however, that this conversation will end up with things that I normally escape from so easily, things that I have always managed to push aside. I knew it was there. Sometimes a friend, a colleague, my partner would point it out to me. So what, when I get to that denied piece, what am I supposed to do with it? It doesn't serve a purpose, does it?
Well, that was my first session. My therapist called 'that' my 'real'. At first,
I found that rather presumptuous, as if I wasn't real. But she hardly ever talked about all the things I can do well, and the few times she said she would meet me, that was real. Well, I can name them.
... However, calling up the real thing is not possible, but it can happen and in that, experience can be gained. It is a constant search, an attempt to be present with the other, beyond the graspable. A craft without hierarchy. Not the teacher, but the situation is your teacher.
Would you like to learn/experience this or are you curious about it?