Monday, April 28, 2014

The Reading

The Dream: I'm at a reading taking place in a storage facility. People sit among shelves and equipment. I read a piece, then ask to read another by my friend Jane. Describing Jane to the organizer I say she's intelligent and pretty—then I amend the pretty part, saying I'm not so sure about that. I wonder to myself if there is actually something a bit creepy about her looks. I think it would be good if Jane could come and talk to the group, but dismiss the idea because I think that San Francisco is too far away from her home to make the trip worth her while.

I'm allowed to read Jane's contribution. I begin to feel I might be taking too much of the group's time, having read once already. As I read I don't know whether Jane in fact wrote this—it's in the style of a Victorian like Poe--or whether it's a newly discovered old manuscript.

In any case, I read it aloud and as I do I realize I haven't prepared, and I'm stumbling over the text, not reading well at all. About the second stanza I come to a verse about farts; I wasn't expecting this and plow through, trying not to giggle like a kid.

When I've finished there is a man to my right, sitting behind a movable staircase, who seems taken with my reading. “When you smiled,” he says reverentially, “I thought you were an actress!” He speaks as if this is a great compliment, and I wonder if I should tell him that I once was an actress. I decide not to. I can see this fellow has a crush on me, and I think about telling him instead that I take my marriage vows seriously. I think about my daughter and the way she dismisses the many men who fall in love with her as if it is a homage to be expected and tolerated.

Interpretation: This dream is about acceptance. In the first paragraph the dream reveals the theme, the need for me to take a look at my stored self-concept. So as not to be too alarming, the ego is disguised behind my “friend” Jane. Then, one by one, the dream delves into my various insecurities. Apparently I am comfortable with the idea that I'm intelligent, but can't accept the idea that I am pretty—in fact, I see something about my appearance as off-putting, creepy. I'm kind of out of it, too, so far from the city that going into town is not worthwhile.

Still, I forge on with presenting myself, cloaked in the Jane character. I read her contribution, and the problems multiply. I worry that I'm imposing on the group, taking up too much of their time. I'm really not worthy of this attention. And did I actually do the work that I'm taking credit for? Maybe not. And I'm not even prepared! I stumble around, perform badly. When the unconscious finally gets fed up with all this self-abasement it presents me with a fart: a lot of hot air, and stinky to boot.

Having confronted the absurdity of my low self-esteem, an admirer appears. He lets me know my fumbling around and relentless inadequacy was nothing more than an act. He sees me as I am, and he loves me. I'm not ready to accept this acceptance so I get a little stuffy and contemplate lecturing him about marriage vows.

By the end of the dream it seems I've gone from deflation to inflation, dismissing (now in the guise of my daughter) those who love me in a high-handed manner. Or is it more subtle than that? The dream is pointing out that if I am accepted I reject the acceptor, like the old saw about not wanting to belong to a club that would let you in. That explains the man's position near the movable staircase. With this inner script there is no way to avoid climbing, endlessly.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moving is a Lot of Work!

The Dream: We've moved to a new house: it's an old new house and needs a lot of work. It was expensive, but I'm afraid it doesn't look it. My cousin is coming to visit, and I wonder how she will react. I'm concerned that she won't realize how much the house cost. I also think about my old town, that it was dull and that this is a better place. I wonder if my cousin will prefer our other house, the one we left behind. And where will I put her? The family reminds me we have moved the guest room furniture into a new guest room, and it is ready for her visit.

The rest of the place is a mess. The previous owners didn't clear out their things. The family room is full of pictures and articles pasted on the wall in a haphazard way. There's a raised work stand for chopping and cutting that should be part of the kitchen but instead is apart, on its own, in a corner.

The back garden is organized into areas but also needs attention. One section is a raised cement herb garden. As I look at what's left of the plants a small animal appears at my feet: a reptile with a long tail, plump in the middle. At first I think it's cute and point it out to Clark. It has curled, like a possum, into a pretty colored ball. It's joined by others, and six or seven or so run about our feet. They now appear to be furry and somewhat rodent like. They've started to annoy me, and I do my best to shoo them away.

Going through the garden we come to other undiscovered parts of the house. I think one area will be a good place for my studio, but then find another spot that will be even better. It's a long, large room, looking like a basement with a cement floor and cinder block walls. Like the rest of the house, this area is full of debris and will need to be sorted out. There's a large refrigerator, in good repair and not looking too old. I confer with Clark as to whether it could be useful. A woman tells us the food inside is good; we should try it. There are some health food-type drinks, white like milk, that she particularly recommends. She seems concerned that we might chuck out everything in there, and it's likely we would.

As I think about the studio, I see that preparing this place will be a lot of work: first I'll have to clear out someone else's debris. But I am excited about having this expansive studio with high ceilings and fluorescent well as incandescent light. I say to Clark, “Now I'll be able to work on large pieces.

The new house is a mess, but also full of interesting possibilities. The first thing that needs to be sorted is the family room, and the clue as to what about family I need to sort is given by my reaction to my cousin's visit. I am very concerned that she will be critical, that she won't like where I am, that I'm not ready for her, and that she won't appreciate how much I've “paid” for the place where I live, in other words, that she won't appreciate the value of my life choices. The dream tells me that I am ready to accept this, my inner critic, even if I don't feel ready. I have prepared a room for her.

The herbs and odd animals in the garden and the food in the refrigerator all point to new, if uncomfortable, possibilities. The scurrying animals represent challenges that go way back-- to the lizard and rat parts of my brain, the parts that respond instinctively and without reflection or awareness. Here dwell the beautiful and the ugly, the appealing and the off-putting, all at the same time. The new studio, with its two sources of light and it's deep (basement) location, offers me a space where I can work on these “large” issues. Perhaps my cement, the things that have been written in stone in my psyche, is being transformed into something more enlightened—if I can avoid being overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be done.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Guest Dreamer: Sacred Marriage

Thanks to Susanne van Doorn for this evocative dream and the lovely photograph that illustrates it. You can read her thoughts on this dream at Susanne's Dream Blog.  In this post I'll comment on her dream as if it were one of my own.

Susanne' s Dream: I am guarding a couple that wants to be married. We are on the road, on our bikes, me and some friends. I know L. from high school; he is my male-companion in making sure the couple can get to their ceremony on time. L. was a man when the rest in high school were boys. I know with him as a guardian-companion we can make this work; we will get the couple to the altar on time.

We stop at a crossing and hold up our hands to stop the other traffic to have a safe passage. I am looking at the carriage were the couple is in and the bride, a girl with brown churlish hair, is preparing her wedding bouquet. She arranges black and red tulips and is lacing a red band onto the bouquet, carefully lacing it. I look at her with a feeling of love and guidance in my heart and I wake up knowing we are going to make it happen.

Carla's thoughts:
In my version of Susanne's dream the couple that wants to marry are previously divergent parts of me that are now ready to unite—this is what Jung would call a conjunctio, often symbolized by a marriage. What might these parts be? L, my companion and helper in the dream, stands for a mature and capable part of me. In the dream I need this part in order to be effective, and that acknowledgment is the first step in our unification. Because his strength gives me a feeling of security I can rely on my Psyche to deal with life's difficulties.

Who is the bride? She is described as having “churlish” brown hair. While churlish might be a typo for “curly”, I have to look at the word I wrote down (as the dreamer), not what I might have meant to write. Churlish means “rude in a mean-spirited and surly way.” If hair, because it's coming out of our heads, symbolizes thought, and brown is slang for anger (I was “browned off”), I might be dealing with some hostile feelings that I don't want to face. The other colors hint at the topic that has evoked this reaction. I'm lacing together a bouquet of red and black flowers. For me red is life and passion, black is death and nothingness. Flowers are important in both life and death rituals, weddings and funerals. As the bride I lace these two conflicting states of being together—life and death. The red band (life) that I put around my bouquet holds the opposites together and tells me that they are part of the same thing. This is another conjunctio! Seeing this unity in the dream gives me the insight to get past my anger about death, something that I previously responded to with the surly attitude of an adolescent. Once this immature part united with my mature and strong self, represented by L, my reaction to death was no longer churlish. Now I have the understanding of a strong woman, one who can love and guide others as well as help myself along the path; L and I have made it safe for my individuation to continue.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Taking the Wrong Vehicle to Escape

The Unconscious experiences the vulnerability of women in this dream.
The Dream: Three couples are sharing a vacation rental. One of the husbands is charming and well-regarded, a very popular guy who is the mayor of his town. His attractive Asian / Indian wife bustles about attending the needs of the family. I'm cleaning up in the kitchen. It soon becomes apparent to me that the man is a pedophile who molests young boys, and that his wife is complicit in covering this up.

I'm on my way to the shopping center in a white rental car, and the man gets in with me. He's all charm, as usual. We park in a large garage and walk toward the supermarket, crossing a large parking lot. He makes a pass, and when I resist he gets ugly. He shows me a small closet near the market with its own door and tells me he intends to rent it and use it to seduce young boys. He grabs me—he's very strong—and I know he's planning to rape me. I tell him, in all sincerity, that my husband will kill him, but he couldn't care less about my threats. I holler for people to call the police. One woman says,“What are you making such a fuss about?—just go along with it!”

My shouting distracts him, and I manage to escape. When I run back to the garage I have a new problem: I am unable to find the car.  I don't even remember what it looks like. I am very frightened that the man will find me. It occurs to me that if I press one of the buttons on the key chain it will cause the car to beep. Sure enough, it works; I find a car, a long black station wagon. The seat seems to be in the right position, so even though I'm not sure this is the right car I take off. I become more and more concerned that it isn't my car: I notice the rear view mirror is not correctly aligned.

As I drive on one of the ramps I notice, barely, a woman in a wheel chair in front of my car. Despite my best effort to stop I can't, and I hit her. I jump out of the car, apologizing profusely. Luckily she was not injured.

I wonder if the police will stop me for stealing the car. Would they believe my story?—probably not. When I was in the altercation with the man I realized that most likely no one would believe it, and he would get away with all his crimes.

I go to a place in the garage where there's an office; a superintendent of something or other sits at a desk. A young woman with dark hair, foreign looking with a tear-stained face, has just reported her car stolen. She is the owner of the car I've taken. Realizing this I apologize, again profusely, and feel I can clear this up for her. I'm relieved to be able to do the right thing.

Interpretation: Some horrific current events triggered this dream. In the news was a woman executed by the Taliban—her husband delivering the fatal blow. Her crime? She had been abducted and raped. A football player on my local team had been accused of sexual assault, and NPR featured a program on rape. “How would I deal with such a situation?” my unconscious asked.

In the dream I am acutely aware that I have no physical defense, and my attempted verbal defense is useless as well. I experience the awful feeling of being over-powered. Luckily, I mange to flee.

The dream made me aware of the age-old difficulty that women have had in being believed when they report sexual predation. I realize that it is more than likely that no one would listen to me, sympathize, or even believe me. With that dream experience I think I came close to what victims of sexual assault feel. The man's reputation was such that he would not be questioned or suspected. There have been many accounts in the news lately of trusted figures who got away with atrocities for years: a beloved BBC host, Catholic priests, golf coaches, others like Sandusky, and so on. In the dream the man's position helps him to cover up his crimes; his own wife is an enabler. Society's point of view is reflected in the woman in the parking lost who tells me to get over it.

I do escape, but in doing so I come very close to harming other women. My car, once white, is now black and hearse like. I drive into one woman in a wheelchair and steal another's car. The metaphor is that although in waking life I've managed to “escape” these horrors, by turning a blind eye I hurt other, vulnerable women. I apologize for this in the dream, and hope to make things right. In reality, I wonder, what can do?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Repetitive Pattern

The Dream: I am working on a sweater, a complicated design with a scalloped border. One of the scallops doesn't match the others. This anomalous scallop really bothers me; it's ruining the perfection of the garment. I look for an artist I know to tell me what to do about it.
Interpretation: What is my bothersome repetitive pattern than isn't working out?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Case From Long Ago

The Dream:
A delicate-featured professor with a bald pate like a tonsured monk is killing young women. Another woman and I become aware of it. The victims never suspect him—such a refined man, and a professor! They feel comfortable being alone with him, and then he kills them.

The man acts as if these killings are a personal tragedy for him, and at one point I see my friend embracing him and weeping, as if commiserating. My reaction, on the other hand, has been to be cool and withdrawn. I wonder if my friend's reaction is a ruse to keep the man from realizing her suspicions: a wise strategy, I decide. I resolve to go along with his phony emotions as well.

The man's packed suitcase is on the bed. The pink case is small, carry-aboard size, and hard sided, as cases used to be. As my friend watches I rifle through it, taking out the items, feeling as if I won't get away with this snooping. There are several sweaters and other items, probably trousers. I try to repack it as it was when I opened the case, but am unable to do so. This increases my anxiety that the man will figure out I've gone through his things.

We are in a bathroom. I'm in the tub, and my friend and I are chatting, exchanging information. The door knob turns; I thought it was locked, but soon discover it isn't as the man enters. I try to cover myself with a towel. I think my friend should have locked the door, and I'm frightened as well as embarrassed.

The man wants to indulge in his self-pity. He looks very doleful and tells us that as if he hadn't been through enough, someone has killed his dog. We both affect sympathy, still feeling it's best to hide our true feelings.

When he leaves I say to my friend, “I think I know how he disposes of the bodies.” I show her the tub drain; it's been chiseled away at the edges to make the hole bigger.

Interpretation: Some past dream images come together here: previous dreams contained a serial killer and a professor with a bald head. Clearly, the case has been re-opened, and I'm in the process of rearranging the contents of this particular complex. Something new has surfaced about these two characters, however, besides the fact that they've been combined into one. Now the man is effeminate, and at times it seems I'm complicit in his crime: one part of me (my woman friend) both embraces him and leaves the door open for him. This tells me my feminine side works with this unevolved masculine side of me to kill many parts of myself, to put them down the drain where they'll never be seen or heard again.

So—I have to ask myself, what's gone down the drain? What's draining me? Can I ever get rid of these self-imposed (at this point) limitations that are killing me? As I reopen the case I'm frightened but I don't discover much; all is very tidy. On the other hand, I'm not able to put things back as they were, and while this makes me uncomfortable it might be a good thing.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Can't Hit Them When They're Down

The Dream: My friend Martha has let me know, without directly saying so, that she is very angry with her husband George who suffers from a debilitating disease. It's an anger too deep for words, and she expresses it by holding a baseball bat in one hand and tapping it against the other.

I'm in the house; my mother is with me, as are others. It's a party of sorts. I have a drink, and my mother makes a “joke” about not saying anything about my reaching for a drink for fear I'd whack her with a baseball bat.

Martha and George show up. Martha is seething at George. I tell her the comment my mother made, thinking it's a hilarious joke. Martha talks about anger toward the ill and helpless, pointing out that it is very difficult to express. At this point she is so angry at George that I wonder if she will leave him, and part of me would be happy to see her free of him and all the obligation that caring for him entails.

Interpretation: At first I thought this dream was about unexpressed anger toward my husband, but when I asked myself who in my life had been ill for a very long time—and who did I resent because I couldn't express this anger and frustration—I came up with a very different answer. I couldn't leave my ill mother or mother-in-law (be free of their needs and influence) while they lived, but the dream points out that it's okay to be relieved to be free from those obligations now.