As some of you may recall, awhile ago we had a post where Pat openly admitted to having a phobia of latitudes. You read that right. And as a hobbyist psychiatrist, I decided to try and help him get over this unusual fear after I spent some time making fun of him.In that first session of ours - which can be found HERE - Pat discussed a bit about the origins of his fears. We also found a soothing calming visual for Pat that we can use to help him with his anxieties when confronting latitudes. It’s an image of the lovely Jennifer Connely, which I thought we should start out with before we begin our session.
Christian: So Pat. Do you feel like you have made any progress since our last session?
Pat: Yeah, I’m doing better, and the pictures of Jennifer really help as a sort of visual mantra (on a side-note, has she had work done since “Requiem for a Dream”? Something’s different, but I can’t pin it down). Thanks for that.
It’s all mental at this point, as I really haven’t traveled further than the northern Oregon coast (about 46 degrees north) since we started this dialogue. You reminded me that I wanted to travel to Iceland, and that really helped. ‘Cause when you look on a map, Iceland is pretty far north, which means that when you look at the earth it will be pretty far north too. I think I could travel there, anxiety free. But if I get there and see that Bjork and all of those other artsy blip-beep noise bands are really short you’re going to see me freak out on a Brobdignagian level because it means that I was RIGHT about my fears!
Christian: Whoah, slow down there. I think traveling to Iceland is getting a little ahead of ourselves on your road to recovery.
I did a little of the googling to research how one gets over their fears and reaches serenity. Apparently there are 12 steps to this serenity. The first one is
We admitted we were powerless over our addiction - that our lives had become unmanageable
Which is basically admitting you have a problem. Which you’ve done. Check.
The second is
Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity
I guess for this one I’m that greater power and it seems like you have confidence in my abilities to cure you, and why wouldn’t you, so... Check.
The third is
Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God
This one seems awfully similar to the previous one so will assume I’m God here and go ahead and check this off too.
The fourth is
Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves
You should do this one now.
Pat: Check! My moral inventory is all good! I bravely conquered the parts of my life that I was willing to look at, and sensibly tucked away into deep recesses all the stuff that I just don’t want to admit or don’t ever want to see again. I did that so that I could do the first part fearlessly, so I assume it’s all within the protocol of the 12 Steps.
And guess what. Almost without thinking or using good judgement, last summer I took the kids across the border to Washington to look for a river that I heard had good swimming holes. Well, we found that river, and ultimately found a good hole, and you know what else we found? We found that swimming hole people in Washington are just as scummy and scary as swimming hole people in Oregon. So what have I been worrying about all this time? Baby steps, right God?
By the way...why are all of the steps written with plural pronouns, but you tell me to do the things singularly. Are you doing these with me or are you just sending me on a ruse? Aren’t I supposed to have a sponsor rather than a lord?
Christian: You’re not supposed to ask any questions during this process.
On to the fifth step:
Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Actually, I just skipped ahead to peek at the rest of these steps and a lot them involve God, which is me, and I really wasn’t planning on having to be so involved with this. So let’s just skip the rest and move on.
Let’s see... Yes, the two mile drive North to Washington is a good step forward. Where is the most North you have been and how did it make you feel? Did you sense any built up or suppressed childhood anger? Hopefully so, because then we can just point to that and call this baby done.
Pat: Well, I’m not totally sure on this one without a map.
(pause while Pat runs upstairs to his son’s room to study the large map of the world on the wall)
Sweden, I think. I was there when I was in second grade (or “Grade 2” for our Canadian friends of the Commonwealth). We stayed with our family friend Inga. I don’t remember much of Inga, except that when she stayed with my family (exchange student? Au pair? Mail order sister-wife?) we had a lot of dinner parties and a lot of my parents’ guy friends seemed really happy to visit. Hmm...I think the past is a vault best not opened!
So...I’ve been to the wintry hinterlands, and I know that I can do it. But that doesn’t erase the fear...or discomfort, rather. Everyone has an irrational fear, right? We might just hav’ta be content with this one as mine.
We can talk more about Inga though if you want.
Christian: Yes! We definitely need to. This Inga sounds very intriguing. I mean, of course, in respect to your fear of latitudes issue. I’m pretty sure she must be the sensual key to all of this. Do you have any pictures of her? I think that would help us, I mean you, greatly. We are finally making some progress here!
Go ahead and send me those photos so I can, umm, prepare for our next session.