My unhelpful fantasy life
Posted by Simon Parke, 02 February 2018, 1.08pm
Mark Godson and I were with some wonderful head teachers yesterday, able just to be themselves for a day.
As one of them said at the end: ‘It was great not being spoken to as a head teacher – but as a human.That’s rare.’
At one point, Mark was reflecting on the dangers of our fantasy life - our fantasies about people or institutions, which might involve the expectation they’ll look after us in some way.
It reminded me of a woman who had worked both for the church and the NHS.
She’d become furious with them both for ‘not looking after her’... revealing significant abandonment issues from her past.
‘I’m aware now that institutions can’t be substitute parents,’ she says. ‘It’s not what they do. And maybe now they’ve failed, I can learn to exist more happily in myself.’
My fantasy might project hope onto another: this person will save me.
(Though this leaves me as vulnerable to disappointment as a balloon in a pin factory.)
Or my fantasy might project negativity onto another: this institution/person is useless and terrible and despicable.
(Or, ‘it’s not being what I want/need it to be!’)
So really, God help anyone caught up in our fantasies, whether it’s our partner, children, stamp club president or employer.
The moment we label someone, defining a role they must play in our lives, (probably unbeknown to them,) the end is nigh for a healthy relationship.
We can even put time in our fantasies.
If we label the day as bad at 8.00am, it probably will be. It’s now appearing in our negative fantasy, from which there’s no escape.
(We need an attention shift here…give the brain a different focus.)
It’s a good day when we allow people and institutions to step out of our fantasies and free them to be as they are… neither saints to save us nor demons to scream at.
We release them from our fantasies for their sake, certainly, it’s a wretched imprisonment…
but even more, for our sake, and the freedom beyond.