Dream a Little Dream

I have always had vivid dreams. I think of it as the wellspring of my creativity and imagination. You know, if you dream it you can do it. Unfortunately flying is still only capable in a plane, but I love flying in my dreams. It means you’re happy. I haven’t flown in months. What I don’t normally have are nightmares. Dreams where you are so relieved when you wake up and realize it isn’t true, when you have to repeatedly assure yourself ‘the monsters aren’t real’. I realize now that writing in my journal on Saturday defining my current mental state and having a frustrating conversation about my mother and brother with my sister the night before might have been enough to crack open the door of darkness.

The Dream

I was with my mother again and she was ordering me around like a five year old. I felt compelled to move around boxes, like wood shipping cartons, in a storeroom to “straighten things up”. The containers were too heavy, too over my head and the utter helplessness made me feel too weak to tell the monster of my dream “No, I don’t want to”. I was plotting to let one of the oversized vessel fall carelessly on my forearm and I could vividly envision the ulna and radius shattering about one third of the way up my right arm; essentially hurting myself to escape the situation I was in. I was successful at talking myself out of it because there was the an urgency of having to have to move in a set amount of time oppressing the whole psychodrama. I felt as trapped as I was when she was alive. Back at the time I didn’t realize I was feeling trapped because I committed to taking care of her, I just felt tired and drained. Not knowing I was trapped it never occured to me to gnaw off my leg to get away because it would be better than to be dead. I was trapped again, I was terrified and I couldn’t find a way out. Then I woke up.

My Interpretation

  • The boxes: Boxes that are out of the way, tucked high on shelves in a dark warehouse-y environment I see as the major issues I still need to address in therapy. They were on huge gorilla racks and I needed an industrial step-ladder on wheels to reach them. The shelves below were empty. There was trash on the top shelves around the boxes I was able to remove but trying to get my arms around these sharp edged monstrosities was not really an option. I’m not sure I was able to even shift them on the shelf much less navigate them to break just my arm, I did try. Luckily unsuccessfully.
  • The Warehouse: This is rather obvious, but the portion of my subconscious where I store all the things I don’t/can’t deal with right now.
  • The Shelves: The lower shelves were empty. To me, that is a confirmation of the work I have completed. I have done a lot of work. However, I have done the stuff that was in reach, the more recent trauma/drama of the last, I dunno, fifteen years or so. Having made the room, maybe that means I can move the bigger boxes down to the lower shelves and spread out the items in the box one by one. This would negate the need to accidentally lose control of the box and break something in an act of defiance and avoidance.
  • The Trash Around the Boxes: I’m not completely unaware of the storage facility in my subconscious. I know there are big things in there that need to be addressed. Since the lower shelves are clean I keep making a superficial attempt at moving the boxes around to make it look like I am working on it. Its like I can’t open those boxes until everything in my life is perfect. I need to stop studying the trees with a magnifying-glass and take in the scope of the forest ahead of me. I have tools, whether they are strong enough to fell trees we will see.
  • Mom: Other than being the general dragon in my dreams, trapping me and stripping me of all power, I don’t think she has any more weight in my dream than that. I believe your subconscious pulls the best characters in your mind to put on the scariest, freakiest and most unsettling drama it can to both scare you away from what it’s protecting and yet to encourage you slay the dragon.

what’s Next

I don’t know if it needs to be said, but I need to slay the dragon, (overcome my fear), bring the boxes down to a safe and comfortable working height (figure out and deconstruct the hidden trauma) and then store it in the light and close down the hidden place where only trauma dares to tread (bravely confront the past injuries, resolve the confusion, and end the subconscious suffering to move forward).

To Forgive or Not Forgive…..

My bee-line to end my chemical dependence put some of the needed emotional journeys on hold. I didn’t realize this until I picked up my journal and what started as a travel-log kind of entry turned into a soliloquy about the nature of and the need for forgiving. I hadn’t forgiven my mother and the anger which welled up in me whenever I spoke about her to anyone would attest I wasn’t about to forgive her. A sweet young woman spoke in church Sunday and she explained how she came to forgive her philandering and abusive father because she knew her happiness and salvation rested in the balance. She said she would never let her father back into her life again to hurt her but she had forgiven him. The spirit that glowed through the digital link was inspiring, obviously because it amounted to 7 pages of my 9 page journal entry, and it makes me want to share the transformative effect it has had on me.

Most of the entry was angry, a lot of what I put myself through for “living amends” seems ludicrous to me now. I felt I needed to serve my mother as a way to earn her forgiveness mostly for the un-Christlike thoughts I had of her. I’ve learned as a caregiver those thoughts aren’t completely unhealthy, but the guilt of not being perfect in the care of her, of not living up to the impossible expectations she set for me twisted and warped my perception of life at that time and my mother rode that donkey all the way to market. There is some anger in those words, and that is not forgiveness. I don’t know if narcissism is learned, or if its a chemical imbalance or if its a chosen avocation when one realizes it’s easier to get what one wants by undermining the people around them……I honestly don’t know but assigning an illness isn’t forgiveness. There is blame on my part for the role I played in this psycho-drama by allowing her to do this to me when I knew it was wrong, when I thought I understood the depths of the abuse and was “handling it”. (Handling it through inhuman doses of anti-drugs, copious amounts of chocolate and escapism through movies and all the sleep as I could steal in a day.) I should have called her on her behavior, I should have left her to her other children, I should have…..But blaming myself and redirecting the forgiveness towards myself isn’t forgiving [my mother] either. Those are the three major examples in the entry, to list them all would probably put you to sleep.

Christ says He will forgive whom He will forgive, but we are required to forgive all. While writing I prayed. I needed to know what it means to forgive. Don’t get me wrong, I know the definition, I know the process of repentance, and I’ve asked for and given forgiveness in the past. This level of forgiveness was a level I didn’t think I could attain let alone actually grant. I wanted to know if there was a magic bullet, or a wrapped gift, flowers, something I could do to make it happen. I wanted to forgive but I didn’t want to forgive either. I didn’t want forgiveness to erase what she did to me, yet I want to be healed and move beyond the pain and anger. In essence, I guess I didn’t want her to win. We are promised that mercy cannot rob justice and we will all stand before the holy bar of judgement where no one will win alone. Our forgiveness will be the only character witness to be called on our behalf.

At the end of the journal entry I asked three question:

  • Do I forgive her? Yes
  • Am I still angry with her? Yes
  • Do I ever want to see her again? At this exact moment, I never want to see her again but maybe someday that will change.

So, why am I sharing this now? The anger is still there as you’ve picked up in my words, but the level of vitriol behind it has waned to something I can push against and move beyond it instead of letting it tripping me. I might still fall and skin my knees from time to time but forgiveness is a balm for all wounds.

Pruning the anger and dischord from the family tree is the next step. I am working at getting passed the feeling of abandonment from the siblings and their offspring. Those feelings are tangled in with my twisted ideals and entitled expectations from that time. Forgiving the dead is one thing but forgiving the living adds an element I don’t know I am emotionally ready for…yet.

Who do you need to forgive? A parent? A spouse? A sibling? Yourself? After this weekend I can testify to forgive and allow yourself to be forgiven. I promise the light is brighter on the path out of the void when you do.

Almost a Year

I had a dream this morning, half awake and half asleep kind of dream.  I heard my mother call me from her room.  Not her normal morning call but more of a genial kind of invite.  My mom was in her room and my sister S. was asleep in her bed while C was asleep down the hall.  I walked into my Mom’s room and she was sitting on the far side of the bed while S slept.  She was a solid vision, no apparition, do diaphanous edges, but solidly real.  She came around to the end of the bed and I sat with her.  I could feel her arm, literally feel. her. arm.  I held on and hugged it.  I apologized to her about not taking care of her the way I wanted to take care of her.  I wanted to do better by her, but I just physically couldn’t and I couldn’t seem to rise above the fray in my mind which exhausted my body.  (you know depression).  I don’t remember if she accepted it or not, but it didn’t matter.  I was able to say it to her.  S. woke up and saw Mom but couldn’t hear her and C. came into the room and could hear her but not see her.  Mom was happy.  There wasn’t the roiling discontented aura she had in life, I think she was at peace.  We wanted to know if she had seen my brothers J. and D. but she hadn’t.  She didn’t want to face them.  We encouraged her to see them.  We didn’t believe they wouldn’t want to see her.  I think I fell out of the magical level of sleep and into a deeper sleep because my dream degraded into something more surreal than pseudo-reality.

So, it’s been almost a year.  10 December 2017 feels like five years ago and yet it hasn’t even been a full 365 days.  So much has happened this year, considering what I was dealing with there are days I am amazed I get out of bed at all.  There is still a part of me that is a recalcitrant depressive but it has always been there, I’m learning how to work around it and move forward.  The post Rectal-Cranial Inversion talked about how I “accidentally” hit June 6 as my start date for phlebotomy class.  Had I stuck with that date I would have taken my test about the same time I took my test and I probably would have gotten my externship the same time too.  Having the benefit of hindsight I realize the June 6th start date would have been a better time for me to go to school because my head, some days, is still solidly inverted but mostly not now.   I wouldn’t have needed Red Bull to keep me awake through class, but it tweaked my anxiety to the point I couldn’t trust myself.    For the externship I changed my buspar (anti-anxiety) and then dosed down my bupropion, my puppy-upper than can also tweak anxiety.  Once I did that I didn’t panic and my externship people saw a noticeable difference.   I’m planning on dosing down again in the new year to see if I can finally be free of some of these meds.

So, yes, I passed my test; 96/100.  Not bad at all.  I finished my externship with glowing reviews.  I’ve gotten my certification and card from NCCT and I’m going to work with someone today about my licensing.  I feel I am ready to go out on a job interview and nail it.  At least I have the chemicals straight in my head so I don’t blather on like an idiot through the interview.

On the darker side of life I am still dealing with some of the little, annoying aspects of the depression.  Like not taking care of myself.  I have food but I don’t want to cook it, I’d rather go without or take a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter and be done with it.  I’m working as a Lyft driver so I’m having to have to be more social than I like and than still wipes me out.  I need to shower more, but who doesn’t.  To help with pushing out my bandwidth I have started courses that will put me back on the path to getting my bachelors degree.  I’m going for a basic interdisciplinary degree so I can include my history credits from 100 years ago but then I’ll be able to put on my resume I finished university.  I might even go further to get an MFA in writing.  Again, my dreams writing checks my body may not be able to cash.

I’m happy though.  I mean for the first time, in a long time, I’m happy.  I’d be happier with more money, but God has always provided when the world wouldn’t.   I don’t think I’m ever going to mourn for Mom, not the way some people do when they tear up when you mention their mother.  There are still parts that are angry with her but after the dream not so much.  It’s done and I’m moving forward…..one step at a time.