Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Self Defense

The Dream: I am leaving my apartment building at 61st and 1st. As I exit I want to lock the outside door, but I don't have the key. A slightly built young man with close cropped blond hair is standing uncomfortably close. I'm not too concerned about the missing key because the door is self-locking, but I do wonder how I'll get in later, and whether my unlocked apartment is safe.

As I exit the man shows no sign of leaving but comes toward me in a threatening manner. I go across the street, toward total darkness. He starts to follow and I threaten him with a pair of kitchen scissors. Even as I threaten him, trying to drive him off, I question whether or not I could actually stab him. I'm not sure my posturing is convincing. I awaken in fear.

Interpretation: Dreams are generally triggered by a recent event. At a dinner party the night before Hilda, a woman from Germany, told the story her mother's teaching her to carry scissors as a defensive weapon. At 17 Hilda had the opportunity to test their effectiveness: she saw a man attacking a woman and used the scissors to drive him off. The story and the storyteller provided the raw material for a dream that weaves these influences into my personal issues.

The setting of the dream tells me that the conflict goes way back: I lived at 61st and 1st many years ago. I can't lock the door on this, even though I'd like to. (I don't have the key.) The fact that this door is “self” locking says two things about my dilemma: that it limits the full expression of who I am, and that I'm the one responsible for my own limitation. The dilemma is subtle: I am threatened by being locked out (denied) my authentic self—but equally threatened by being open, by leaving the place where I feel safe (my apartment) unlocked.

The German lady telling the story activates my familiar inner Nazi (my rigid, totalitarian part) who, in the form of the young man with close cropped blond hair, frightens me here. I'm pleased that he is now “slight” (diminished) but he still scares me. To get away from him I retreat into total darkness. (I'm sure in the dark about this problem!) It is probably a good sign that I threaten him and attempt to drive him off, even if I haven't quite convinced myself that I'm capable of getting rid of him.

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