Image by Peter H from Pixabay


Judith Peck, Ed.D.

A large table in my bedroom had been moved away leaving a whole corner area empty. The next morning seated and lacing my shoes I glanced at the empty space so previously cluttered and was seized by a glimpse into the future. Not my future, for I was no longer here as I was dead; my bedroom existed as simply space.

Using my hands as blinders, I captioned off that corner space and it no longer held an eerie glimpse into the future. Instead the room fell into place as it belonged. There were the black slacks slung over a chair, the rumpled bed, the cascading books on the night table, the earrings and neckless I hang on myself as adornment in the world outside my bedroom door. All that crumble and clutter, glitter and immediacy.

I had a similar glimpse into future when my daughter embarked upon the task of slimming down a bookcase that appeared to beg for release of discomfort. Watching her from a nearby couch, the glimpse came over me: this old body gone and other daughter joining her to empty the books and other possessions transformed into the detritus of my life.

How these glances into my future (again, not mine) occur seems oddly similar to a being inside me who appears quite often, not depressingly but on occasions in life’s full flower. This observing self is the disembodied “person” I complain to when fretting about someone’s behavior that I can’t talk about to real folks. I talk and talk, the grievances passionately articulated with not a breath exhumed. Not that there is relief because the aggravation remains, though the phantom never tires of listening.

So, who is this listener, observer—that second self waiting in the wings to appear when summoned by the script I write, direct and act in? I suppose it is my mother, she to whom at bedside I could complain about childhood injustices with no repercussions from the villains. She offered calming words of advice, perhaps—in retrospect just to get me to sleep—but the overarching message was that she cared.

Who else cares like a good mother? The ears and eyes of a good mother probably continue to reside in a child to become that phantom, the interested listener. Just as sleep allows daily experiences to be organized and unimportant images discarded to refresh the brain, the phantom figure affords some needed equilibrium. I love this lady, this other me: She provides a forum for my aggravating grievances to sputter out and she gives license for the utterance of forbidden thoughts. Like sleep, she frees the emotional airways to breathe in all the challenges of a new day.