Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dream Work

Last night, I had a horrible, horrible dream about my father.

I had a, to put it mildly, conflicted relationship with my father, but, in this dream, he was far crueler and far more hateful, on a v visceral level, than my waking father, who was, trust me, no prince, ever was. And all day, kind of the way that your tongue does with a loose tooth, my mind kept coming back to that dream.

I don't think that our dreams lie to us, but I also just don't believe that my father was, really, as hateful as he was in my dream. In the waking world, he was full of floating anger that would suddenly burst, like a hot, red, angry boil, exploding unexpectedly, all over everything, poisoning the entire world of our family, of my childhood, of his surroundings. Yet he believed that he loved me and he could, either when it didn't matter at all or when it mattered v, v much, be at the v least the sort of worthy sparring partner who does you the honor of recognizing your worth. A few times, he was even the guy who had my back.

And, yet, our dreams don't lie to us.

I learned two relevant things in Reclaiming classes. The first was how to go back into my dreams, even much later (and it will be a while before I go back into this one), and work out a different ending. I won't try to change what my father did or said or expressed. I will change what I did in response.

The second was that doing shadow work on ourselves is one of the best gifts that we can give to our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. (All tied up with that ugly dream, I kept reflecting on ways that I'd failed Son, difficult situations that I'd put him in, things that I'd have done differently, had I been older, smarter, better off financially, more evolved.) Shadows live for generations and all the energy that we can suck out of them is that much less energy they have to suck the light out of our children's lives (and the lives of our children's children's children).

One of the overwhelming themes of my childhood was: not enough. Don't ask for anything because there's not enough, and even if there were more, there wouldn't be enough for so many children, you and all of your brothers and sisters. It's rude to ask for what you want because the person you're asking will have to say no and feel ashamed and you could avoid all of that by simply never asking for anything. It's your asking that causes the shame. It's wrong, rude, unkind of you to ask for what you want.

And, you know, fuck that shit.

Today, G/Son and I went to the park. We rode the train that G/Son adores. And then, we got off the train and we got directly back in line, and we rode the train again. And then, we rode the horse on the carousel with a blue blanket and a brown saddle. And then, we rode that horse again. I simply cannot tell you how v foreign, not to mention terrifying, such a practice would have been to my childhood. And then, we went to the nature center and we spent as long as we wanted looking at the turtles and snakes and bees and playing computer games sorting animals into classes. It's perhaps no random thing at all that I've always adored Auntie Mame's assertion that life's a banquet and some poor suckers are starving to death. And G/Son and I can ride that train all freaking day if that's what we want to do. And that's what we did and that's what we'll do again, any time we want.

The other thing we did this weekend was to "play trick or treat." We made a paper bag with a pumpkin on it and G/Son came to my porch door and said, "Trick or Treat!" and I put three M&Ms into the bag, making sure to include at least one blue M&M (the best kind) in each bunch. And then, we did it again. And again. And, well, you get the idea. G/Son definitely did. There's probably a thousand things I love about Halloween, but one of the things that I love about it is the idea that you ask, outright, for something and you get it. You hold out your empty bag and people fill it full of wonderful things. (Maybe I also love the safety that comes from the fact that it isn't really "you" asking; it's the butterfly or the princess or Malificent or, well, anyone but "you.")


This post rambles all over hell and gone, as my G/ma used to say, doesn't it? Is it self-indulgent? Maybe I'll delete it in the morning. But, for tonight, what shadow are you trying to purge before it goes any further in your line? What do you do with dreams that break your heart? What is it that you love about Halloween?

Picture found here.


Aquila ka Hecate said...

The Shadow of Expectancies.
You will be a great scientist (or whatever) and Make Me Proud.
Freaking hell - a person who either can't, or doesn't really want to, live up to the previous generation's expectancies is in for a rough ride.
I consciously try, now, not to expect anyone to be anything other than true to themselves. I focus on what we can do ourselves best. Often, children do know better than their elders, and I try to keep this in mind in dealing with everyone.
Thour Art God, so you should follow your own divinity wherever it leads you.
I also had a somewhat conflicted relationship with my father, although like you I believe it was not for a lack of real love.Dad often appears in my dreams and I try to work through them and their messages in my waking life.But it is my Mom who has installed herself as one of my ancestor-guides.I listen to her.
Terri in Joburg

Nora said...

Your discussion of "not enough" resonated with me; perhaps it's something to do with growing up in a large Catholic family at a particular time. Deep in my bones I still believe that there's not enough to go around, that whatever I get is precious and likely to be all that I get (and all that I deserve), and that if I got it, I must have taken it away from someone else.

I've spent a lifetime trying to break the emotional rhythms that go with that, the need to compete with other people to get what I want, the inability to ask for what I need (because there isn't enough to go around, and therefore I shouldn't even ask). It's hard work.

Anne Johnson said...

My mother suffered from the dual curses of bad DNA (severe bipolar disorder) and terrible nurturing (white trash/bigoted/angry parents). Short of killing me and my sister, she was the worst that a parent can be, and I hated her until the day she died. I hummed happy tunes as we drove to the graveyard. I know that sounds cold, but you had to be there as little Anne, or (worse) little Anne's little sister, who is truly scarred for life.

Just as an abused prisoner does, I took shelter in the land of Faerie as a kid, and it served me very well. I also vowed that I would not be the same kind of parent. Thanks to my dad's DNA, and the time I spent with his wonderful parents, I've been able to be a whole different kind of mom to my children. I'm proud of that.

I'm glad my mother is gone. I rarely dream about her. I rarely dream about my dad, either, although I had a visionary dream about him just before I went in for my surgery.

I hope when Mom comes around again she has better parenting of her own.

And as long as I'm posting on someone else's blog, I might as well add this. My mom was an identical twin. Her twin was also bipolar. Mom and her sister were given free care at NIMH in a research project. It turns out the project was tests for lithium (which had already been in use for years in Europe). My cousin recently told me that Mom's twin got lithium in Europe and was therefore the lithium user in the NIMH study, while my mom was the "control" who got a placebo. So my mom was a dangerous psychotic for a decade, when she could have had lithium, which at least controlled the psychosis, if not the white trash worldview.

On the latter: Mom was thrilled when I got into Johns Hopkins, because it meant I would "marry a doctor."

On a brighter note. I will never forget the first Halloween when my daughter The Heir understood what was happening. I had given her no prior notice or explanation of trick-or-treating. She dressed up in a lion costume that she loved (and doubled as a sleeper). I gave her a bag and told her to knock on the neighbor's door and say "trick or treat." She knocked, but she forgot what to say. She just stood there, holding the bag. The neighbor put in a piece of candy. The Heir stared at the neighbor. She stared into the bag. She stared back at the neighbor. She stared back at me. And then she took off running, knocking on doors so fast I could hardly keep up with her!

I have a million great Halloween memories, and more still to come.

Sarah said...

I'm pretty new to your blog and really enjoy it. So, when I say this, I don't mean to be rude. But as an artist and photographer, I just have to say this:

If you are going to post photos on your site that weren't taken by you, and you don't have express permission from the artist to use the photo (or even if you do have permission), I think you might at least attribute it to the artist him/herself by saying something along the lines of "This photo was taken by Andy Goldsworthy" and then link to it, rather than just saying "this picture found here". It's just respectful to attribute a work to the person who created it. =0)

left rev said...

I had an absolutely wonderful grandma who I love with all my heart. She made me feel more perfect just being me than anyone else in the world.

You are an absolutely wonderful Nonna and you bless your grandson simply by the unflinching honesty with which you look at yourself and the grace and care you give to your spirit. In the long run, that will mean even more to him than the train rides.

Peace to you.

Anonymous said...

The 'not enough' meme also resonated with me but what completely caught me by surprise was what you referred to as the Reclaiming class. I didn't know it had a name. I have often reentered dreams to rework my side, to do or say or act differently that a better resolution would be found. I think was twelve the first time I did it; I'm 53 in two days and I've experienced the kinds of dreams that forced me to revisit them many times.

The day with your g/son sounded like very much fun for you both. May each day you share with him be full of the joys of life -- and blue M&Ms.

-- Margaret

Rhode Island Rules said...

Ah, dreams. I am an avid dreamer in full color and sometimes it seems book or movie length with a beginning, middle and end. I also haven't slept through the night in 20 years.

Hecate, maybe your dream is telling you the truth that you chose your conscious memory to tamp down. The real and immediate sometimes overwhelms us to a degree that we have to remember it as not that bad, but our subconscious might always know.

I think as women we have all been told not to ask for what we want. If we do we are too (pick one) needy, graspy, naggy, blunt, bitchy, etc.

Life is short. Try to spend your days as you want. It isn't easy, I can't right now either due to money constraints, but when you can - do it.

And leave the post up, it isn't in any way self-indulgent.

Crowfoxes said...

The shadow of not asking lingers over me too. Polite young ladies (I was constantly told that I was "so pretty, but too loud") don't ask for anything. Ever. How wrong that is. And the shadow of "It won't work, don't even try." That one I finally fought off in my 30s. (Guess I'm a slow learner.)
As for dreams that break your heart, I've had a few of those, too. With me, it usually has to do with missing something -maybe back to the first shadow.
And Halloween -- not much fun as a kid, never really liked it, again, that whole first shadow thing. But when my nephew, the Crown Prince, was young, seeing his excitement -- that was special. He came up to my neighbor's house, she held out a dish of candy and said "You pick what you like." He took one look back at me and I'm nodding my head. He reached out his hand, took a candy bar and grinned the biggest grin I've ever seen. I still smile when I think about it. May the shadow of never asking not touch his beautiful life, ever.

Anonymous said...


Powerful dreams that occur within the arc of a Full Moon are usually chock full of information for our Souls. Not just yours, all of us. Many thanks for sharing. Best wishes when you revisit it. As you often say, goddess pouring into goddess, etc.

This Full Moon is in 23 deg Pisces.
May be of special import to you, per DOB.
Please see this link:
Quote below is a gem from first para.

This Full Moon is also the Native American Full Harvest Moon. In accord with the theme(s) of "never enough", lack, want, even the Rune Nyd (necessity), and the first para of the above link, seems the time is nigh to put down the filter of cynicism, in addition to the cruelty and hardness displayed by the archetype in your dream.

One silver lining of Necessity/Need is that it is the Mother of Invention. Persevering through such times is a source of resilience of the human spirit and sheer awe at the magnitude of our capacities to overcome the divisions that seem to inhibit us from championing one another's dreams & spiritual gifts. Pisces is the All Cosmos, the time to synergize and maximize the potentials of common ground we all share. Pisces, as All Cosmos, is itself potentiated by the receptivity of the Moon. I think of Receptivity as the Yin our current policies, practices and institutions are lacking (there's that word again). It is why Women's & Environmental issues are front and center at this time.

Here's the gem from the above link:
"Two truths: We are all connected and there is no security; for all things are uncertain. We are nothing and everything; full and empty." ~ Lisa Dale Miller


Thalia said...

Oh no, it is not self-indulgent. This:

One of the overwhelming themes of my childhood was: not enough. Don't ask for anything because there's not enough, and even if there were more, there wouldn't be enough for so many children, you and all of your brothers and sisters. It's rude to ask for what you want because the person you're asking will have to say no and feel ashamed and you could avoid all of that by simply never asking for anything. It's your asking that causes the shame. It's wrong, rude, unkind of you to ask for what you want.

And, you know, fuck that shit.

this, just oh. That's my childhood too. I am so sad for you, and for myself.

Shadows from my childhood that I'm still fighting off? That necessities like hot water are ridiculous luxuries and I am a "princess" for complaining; don't ever expect to be warm in the winter, put on another layer, I'm fine what's wrong with you? A real lack of warmth, on a lot of levels, wasn't it.

Now I'm being self-indulgent. I hate autumn.

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