Sunday, August 9, 2015

Compassion


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.

2 comments:

Emily said...

Hi Carla, I find that our dreams can present the opposites on two different nights, sometimes on back to back nights. T. Sort of their way of asking us to transcend the opposites into a new truth. The idiom that comes to mind is "skin deep". This dream presents the tension of pain being deeply felt and pain not being felt at all. I think we all have an adverse reaction to pain, both to our own and to others, and set up our own defense systems against feeling it. But, yes, that's what will make us more compassionate to others. Thus, the "wounded healer" archetype. I am reminded of a dream I heard from someone who had her skin completely eaten off by a hoard of insects, and afterwards was reborn (in the dream). The transition to this fuller sense of rebirth may yet show up in another dream. High school reminds me of a time when I had to leave all that was known to me, and towards what, I really didn't know. Another transition. So, yes, I've found that the more I can accept myself, the more I can accept others. It doesn't happen the other way around. And Pagel's book brings up all that we don't accept about someone - so much so we torture them to death because their belief system is so different from our own. "Fundamentally upsetting" is quite an apt way to put it. I'm glad you were able to give time to this dream and to give it to us.

Carla Young said...

Thank you, Emily, for this beautiful and thoughtful comment! I'll be on the lookout for a dream that signals a rebirth.

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