Saturday, January 31, 2015

Parked in the Wrong Spot

The Dream:
I am driving my convertible in Livermore, a nearby town. Its downtown is deserted, covered with a foot or so of snow. The car skids out of control and I almost hit a parked white truck, but it drives away right before I would have run into it. I leave downtown and find myself on a stretch of road that that resembles what you might see driving along the ocean. There's a sidewalk on one side with nothing beyond it. No sea in sight. My car slowly flips over.

I'm unhurt, mostly embarrassed, feeling as if I've done the wrong thing. Some fellows come over to help. We right the car and then easily push it to the side of the road.

I don't want to leave it there, unattended, and—having seen how easy it is to push—think that I'll push the car through the snowed-under downtown and then back to where the streets are clear. My first challenge is to maneuver the car out of the “parking spot” the guys have left it in. I think it would have been easier if they hadn't put the car here.

Interpretation: Everything seems to be wrong in this dream. I am driving a convertible that I'm unable to control in snowy weather. I have the wrong vehicle at the wrong time and in the wrong place. My well-meaning helpers make my goal, that of protecting my vehicle, more difficult. Yet once I give up “driving” I discover that “pushing” is not difficult. The implication is that I need a different way to approach my difficulty. And the dream is pointing out that others won't solve the problem for me; they are willing to help, but then it's up to me. If I want to avoid being stuck in a place that others have chosen for me, I'd better get out and push.

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Shaken World

The Dream:
Four girls, two of them my daughters, are in a one-story Victorian building when an earthquake breaks it in two. I am very worried about the girls, but it turns out they are fine, unharmed. After a while I think I should survey the damage, thinking most of my crystal will be broken. When I look, all seems intact, surprisingly. I do find evidence, however, that a piece has broken, there are some pieces of glass on a shelf that hold the goblets. I can't figure out, however, what broke.

Interpretation: Dreams have a way of taking what is going on in our interior world and merging it with images from waking life. One of my daughters had been abroad visiting her primary school (a Victorian building). A recent television show had featured buildings with destroyed interiors. The dream tells me that I've been shaken up (the earthquake), so my question to myself is: “What threatens me?” Both my daughters had been traveling, and I had been worried, perhaps subliminally, about their safety. The dream shows me my parental concern and asks me to decide whether or not it's realistic. While their being away may have shaken up my interior world (my serenity), the dream points out that no damage has been done, even though I'm expecting it and go so far as to look for it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Can I Live with Mother?

The Dream: I am with my aunt and my mother. They tell me that Mother is coming to live with me. I realize they've mentioned this once before, and that I had failed to respond, hoping the request would go away. This time there's no ducking it. I am annoyed that they've told me rather than asked me, and I envision myself as the old maid daughter living with her mother. I feel that her close proximity is a threat to my autonomy. In the dream my mother is youngish and attractive, and I'm a young single woman.

I can't see how to say no, or get out of it, and I wonder what sort of sex life I'll have. Will she accept my adult sexuality or will I never be able to spend the night with anyone? I say to her, “You can stay with me, but you can't be too bossy.” She looks surprised that anyone would think she's bossy.

She says, “We can move into Grandma's neighborhood. It will be nice and inexpensive.” My heart lifts at this idea. Grandma's neighborhood has become arty and trendy. I think I'll enjoy the area and meet interesting people. Suddenly I'm excited about the thought of a move.

Interpretation: The dream was inspired by a piece that Helen Hwang wrote about her relationships with her mother and grandmother. She had been closer to her paternal grandmother than to her mother, and at a point in her life she realized she needed to connect with her mother. In the dream I become happier and stronger when I connect with my maternal ancestor, my mother's mother. The dream is a step in my working out my own autonomy. In the dream I confront who I am as an adult with my now internalized “mother.” Can I live with what I've inherited from my ancestors and still be myself? The dream tells me that I can: I learn that I can be in the place I want to be even with Mother in my life. She has been integrated into my psyche to the point that we both want the same things; I unconsciously realize that at this point in my life she does live with me, even if not physically, and I'm getting the two of us in sync.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Family History

The Dream: We are visiting acquaintances, a little older than we are. They are very nice, salt of the earth, mid-Western. As we converse it becomes apparent that the man, slightly heavy, quiet, almost dour, is a keen genealogist. Clark doesn't immediately let on that he is as well, but I say, enthusiastically, “Oh! So is Clark!”
I go on to say how either you're interested in this sort of thing or you're not, and I'm not. And I tell him it's because I know everything there is to know about my family, and I proceed to tell him.

“My grandparents are Russian, my father's family from Belo-Russe; my mother's were Russian speakers who lived in what was Austria Hungary at the time, now Poland. There was all sorts of ethnic, political complexity at the time, I explain. “My mother's father died when she was 2, and my grandmother worked cleaning office buildings to keep the family together.” I find I am getting choked up as I say this, fighting back tears. My listener is impassive. “She was a hero!” I say.

Meanwhile, the wife's large family of sisters have arrived. They remind me of the women in my exercise class: pleasant, but I feel I have nothing in common with them.

Interpretation: The mid-Western people I have nothing in common with represent the larger American society and culture that, as a child, I felt too ethnic to be a part of. My estrangement is echoed in the present by my feelings about the women in my exercise class. The impassive mid-Western man understands nothing of the immigrant experience and really isn't interested; he's very comfortable in his own deep experience of endless American ancestors.

What the dream brings up about my feelings for my poor, overworked and very kind grandmother is new to me. I hadn't been aware of this sadness lurking inside over the difficulty of her life. I'm not sure why I'm telling the man about it: it's as though I'd like him to understand, but he isn't interested. With the appearance of the wife's large family at the end of the dream I'm thrown back to a women's group (like the members of my exercise class) that I can never be part of: they are sisters and I'm not. This dream points to one of the reasons I have often felt somewhat alienated.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

What's Going on Here?

The Dream: I hear a very young child, 2 to 3 years old, screaming in a bathroom. I fear she is being molested. I bang on the door, saying I will call the cops. I push the door open. She is standing next to the bathtub, fully clothed. There is a man with her. I leave them, and make no report. Then I wonder if I've been remiss: I should have checked her for evidence of whether or not she had been molested.

Interpretation: This dream was very disturbing; the child was screaming in terror. It seemed she was not being harmed, but I didn't take any action to make sure this was the case. The dream was triggered by a snippet of a television show I'd watched the night before on PBS about a Chinese woman who had been raped and then abandoned by her family. I remember thinking how typical it is to blame the woman for her own misfortune. In a book I'm reading, Trollope's Vicar of Bullhampton, a young woman is ostracized for “prostitution.” It seems to me, the reader, that she was either seduced and abandoned or raped.

The child's scream is the scream of womankind at the injustice of centuries of abuse. Her youth emphasizes her innocence. The water of the bathtub represents the water of the Unconscious, where these terrors lie submerged. I turn away, just as society turns away, from what is clearly wrong, but inconvenient to acknowledge and difficult to deal with.