For someone considering, or even actually having therapy, it can take a very long time to come to the point of jumping into the lake, and when we do, it can take a long time to find our monster. And when we do, it may not be a monster at all. It may be a little shrivelled mewling thing so pathetic and powerless that we wonder how we could possibly have allowed it to wreak such destruction and terrorise us so much for so long. It may be a mirage, or a story. It may be something else.

For a long time I had a recurring dream in which I was walking the streets of an old town, middle European in style. It was full of beautiful old half-timbered houses leaning across the narrow streets with pretty shop and cafe signs hanging from them and flower-filled window boxes on the upper stories. As I wandered about I came to a part which was no less attractive and prosperous looking but which had fewer shops and cafes and fewer people. At this point the holiday atmosphere which had pervaded the jollier parts of town disappeared and despite its prettiness it began to feel grim and full of foreboding.

Gradually the streets grew deserted until I came to the top of a street which led steeply downhill. The street was deserted and as it led downwards it grew darker, until I reached a point where the street and the houses on either side were shrouded in gloom. I was standing in front of a large and imposing house which towered above me in the darkness. Up a couple of steps in front of me was a large old door of nail-studded dark wood, and, as I stood there, without my touching it the door swung open. Inside I could see a flight of stairs going upwards into pitch darkness.

I knew that there was something terrible at the top of that dark house. I knew I had to go into the house, that the door would swing shut behind me and that I had to climb the stairs to meet whatever waited at the top. The fear which always gripped me at this point in the dream was so great that I would actually wake myself up rather than go on. I can remember the almost visceral feeling as my consciousness intervened and hauled me out of sleep rather than leave me to face whatever was in that house.

More tomorrow.