I want to start this blog with two quotes about doors “There are things known and things unknown and in between are the doors” (Jim Morrison)
“It is a dangerous thing to be a door.” (Neil Gaiman)
The other association I have to doors is the scene from Lord of the Rings where the questers are standing outside a door which has the motto “Say friend and enter” inscribed on it-albeit in runes. Gandalf and others spend a long time trying various combinations to open the door. In the end one of the crew simply says “Friend” and the door opens.
Occasionally doors open this easily in clinical work. (I wrote in my piece on Anger Management of my patient who found his door in two sessions with me. This is not the norm!) I have one patient who has been with me for more than a year. It has taken this long to acknowledge that there are doors-let alone what purpose they might serve. He finds the work difficult, in part, because doors imply that there there might be unknown things behind them. and he chooses to believe that he is “doorless”. It is very uncomfortable for him to spend time on a door hunt-for doors he does not want to find!
Doors present a special challenge for counselllors. We are often very aware of where a patient has a locked door-and we can have an intuition about why it might be there and why it might be locked. And we itch to open it and have a look behind it. (The point being that it is not our door! I have made this mistake both professionally and personally, pushing open a door that had been shut. In each case my victim felt violated- as if they had been mugged. Which, of course, they had been. Albeit by a mugger who believed that he was acting benevolently. But as we have seen in many conflicts, being killed by friendly fire is no different from being killed by enemy fire. One is still dead!)
Gaiman’s observation is perceptive. (He clearly understands the nature of both the inner and outer world.) Being a door is a dangerous activity.They get slammed shut, locked open; kicked against, held closed; they are expected to simultaneously keep things out and let other things in. We worry if they are left open, we worry if they are locked shut. We worry lest we be locked out, we worry lest we be locked in. Without them life would be almost impossible. But we should use them well-and treat them with due respect