I had a patient who was terrified of scarecrows. Scarecrows are just effigies, I explained to her, stuffed doppelgangers meant to terrify crows. They're just patchwork, straw-filled dummies, even if their smiles are off-kilter. Most of them don't even have real legs. I suggested the best way to turn any such symbolic monster into a buffoon was to watch The Wizard of Oz while listening to The Dark Side of the Moon. While baked out of her mind, of course. It is much easier to see how the scarecrow is a loose-limbed imbecile, I told her, when you're listening to Floyd and re-breathing a marijuana haze. She wasn't impressed, but the suggestion did break the ice enough that when I told her my actual plan for curing her, she didn't walk out on me.
Her scarecrows were filled with rats, and their smiles were filled with holes that the rats peeked out through. I know because we went in to her Oneiroi and faced not one, but three. They all wore the same style of overalls, with knotted rags hanging out through broken zippers. When we had dispersed all the rats and rendered the strawmen impotent, I untied the knots in one of the rags and showed her the three symbols burned in the fabric.
"Maybe it is time you told someone," I suggested, and she agreed. She went back to her regular therapist, who suggested a support group that was very effective.
I told this anecdote to Nora, during one of our early sessions. Before we went into the Oneiroi together. She wanted to know how I had helped someone, wanted some reassurance that I wasn't going to take advantage of her while I was in her dreams.
Funny, that. I think she's in mine now, and she is taking advantage of me. I'm not sure how, being that she is dead and all. But there's a symbolic trail being laid out, a path through this maze (no, Harry, a labyrinth) that I am meant to follow.
A yellow-brick road, perhaps. I do feel like the scarecrow at the crossroad. We could go that way. Or that way. Or that way. Tangling myself in knots.
Maybe it is time you told someone.
No. That won't liberate me.