As if to form a counterpoint to the previous two “laughing” dreams, last night's was horrific.
The Dream: My best friend from high school is going to be tortured and killed. She will have her skin removed and then be executed. I am distraught and hope that she will be killed before she is flayed; thinking of this procedure has made me hysterical with anguish.
After a while she returns. She has obviously been hurt, tortured, beaten, but she's alive and has her skin. It seems her ordeal is over. I am afraid she's going to tell me about her experience, and I don't want to know: it's too upsetting.
Interpretation: A friend from the past is having her skin removed; the friend is from my vulnerable teenage, high school years. One of the triggers was someone else's dream that I had read the night before that featured underwear falling down. Both the skin being removed and the underwear falling down represent an exposure. At the same time, I was reading Elaine Pagel's book on the gospel of Thomas (a name similar to my friend's last name). Pagels lists the tortures and ignominious deaths meted out to Christians.
This distressing dream tells me something I had not realized: that my distancing myself from the suffering of others (not exposing myself to it) comes from my reaction to their pain and, at a deeper level, to my own. I turn away; I try to ignore it—because it is so fundamentally upsetting. Just as my friend has survived the dream ordeal, I can survive becoming aware of painful events that occurred long ago. And once I can accept that, I will be a more compassionate person.