In Search of Dreams (In the Cards)

Today’s card invited me to spend some time contemplating recent dreams and deciphering the wisdom of my unconscious mind. I had a vivid dream a few nights ago that led me to worry that the person about whom I’d dreamt had died. As far as I know, he hadn’t, but I lost an estranged family member a day or two later. It is always tempting to view situations like that as prophetic, but I have my doubts. Even that dream, though, generally held the same theme and energy as the large share of my dreams.

I am always attempting to have the moment arrive in my dreams. I will have intricate dreamscapes of buildings with spires and rooms upon rooms, through which I wander, never to find that for which I am looking. Sometimes, such as my recent dream, I am waiting for an appointment to begin, but there is confusion about the schedule and nothing lines up. Or, I will find myself driving along the highway, bland building after bland building passing by, uncertain of where I am headed.

People are, in general, not the central players in my dreams. It is always about searching and being foiled by the layout of the building or location in which I find myself, thwarted from meeting whatever unknown goal my mind has set for itself. There is a sense of time pressure in that I’m late or about to be late in most situations. The moment I am so desperately trying to reach is rarely an important or self-directed one; it is arranged in the service of keeping to a schedule or performing a work-related task.

My days are rushed and chaotic at times right now, but, underneath the hustle, there is a sense of lounging around as I don’t have to dress up or drive anywhere to perform my job. Even when life is “normal,” I schedule myself so that I am rarely under time pressure because of the amount of stress it causes me. I question why my resting mind anticipates and attempts to solve a problem that my waking mind has perfected many times over.

This of course leads me to a deeper interpretation. Am I searching for something other than the mundane? Am I trying to find myself, or to find answers to who I am? Am I seeking beyond my own limitations into the possibilities of the dreamworld?

From the scant empirical research on dreams in psychology, I do think it possible for our waking mind to influence our resting mind. So, I ask myself: For whom or what I am searching? Is the process of searching what I truly desire? What would it be like to sit instead and enjoy the creations of my inner world? What questions would you like your resting mind to answer?

Even in My Dreams, She Haunts Me

I dreamt of my mother last night. The specifics of the dream, upon awakening, were immediately lost to me, but the impression of herself she’s carved on my psyche feels as though it is pulsating with remembrance of the scarring she caused. So many years have past since I’ve seen her in person that the line between who she was to me and what she represents to me has blurred.

I wrote yesterday that my capacity as a person isn’t related to the approval of cishet white men. I think I need to acknowledge part of what that means to me is that my parents’ views of me are irrelevant to my worth as a person, but also admit, in the same breath, that they still contour the shape of my inner world so much more than I wish they did. My reactivity to being dismissed and disrespected, the impulsiveness with which I direct my energy to defend myself, is a straight line from being constantly verbally abused and gaslit as a child and teenager.

My mother, real and internalized, was the queen of denial. She could cry and say she was never unhappy. She could have a conversation with me and, hours later, tell me she’d not seen me all day. She could witness my father sexually abusing me and pretend nothing happened. Reality was a malleable, unsequenced energy that she bent to her will. I didn’t have access to voice recorders or cell phone video growing up, but I have no doubt she would have found a way to deny the digital as well as the physical world.

She’s entered my mind as of late because of the pandemic. I fully expect, if she becomes ill, to hear from my siblings for the first time in years as to how desperate she is for my presence. This happened a few years ago when she got cancer, and, when I tried to form a limited amount of communication with her, she denied that she in any way initiated their contact with me. She thinks she owns me and can manipulate me to suit her needs after all this distance, time and hard truths.

I feel contempt more than any other emotion for her and it leaks through when I am disrespected by people who might, even in an oblique way, stand in for her in my mind. My dream had only the emotion of terror and the sensation of being trapped, that she found a way to make the story of my life collapse into itself and become only the abuse, the denial, the betrayal and the fear that underlies my relationship templates. A part of me wants to light up all the circuit boards the next time I’m rebuked for sharing a verifiable truth, to call out the privilege that is no doubt driving the “well, actually…” I’m receiving. I know this will lead to a response of useless and defensive posturing. The truth of my triggering will be apparent if I start emailing sources and data to prove my point.

My mission statement for this year includes “powerful vulnerability.” I wonder what the response would be if I responded with “you telling me I’m wrong about something I’ve extensively researched and for which I could easily locate 10+ scientific sources is reminiscent of how my parents responded to me when I spoke a truth they didn’t want to receive as a child. I’ve learned how futile it is to argue with someone who doesn’t give my voice the weight it deserves, so I’m not going to waste any more energy on this discussion.” There are people who show me through their responses that they value what I have to say and take it in without defensive skepticism. There is a new story of my life I can tell, but I have to stop stalling out in the shallows of my past in order to do so.