So my dear friend Alicia over at Forever Changed was kind enough to leave a comment sharing her insights on my dreams. Sometimes it takes seeing something through another's eyes in order to regain clarity or to at least begin the process of looking at something from a different view point. How can one go about interpreting such a heavy dream without some distance. Clearly I was stuck in the concrete and visceral images and reactions I experienced both in my dream state and as I woke from that state. Death and dying, my father, my brother, my childhood home are all subjects that are so close to my heart that it is difficult to get beyond the emotional response and move toward clarity. I tend to begin with my emotions and can easily let them run away with me. I can feel the reaction in my body even; my heart races, my thinking speeds up and my breathing changes...if I remember to breathe at all. I have to stop and remind myself to take a deep breath and move back to my rational self.
Alicia shared her outlook on interpreting dreams:
"The approach I have found most helpful for thinking about my dreams -- which may not work for you -- is to realize that the mind is a narcissist. Even when I'm dreaming about other people, I'm not really dreaming about THEM. Rather, each person in my dreams is some aspect of myself. Or, if it's about people I am close to, the dream may be about a part of me most dominated by my relationships with them."
This thought is so helpful. I think I may even know this deep down yet for weeks I have been trying to figure out why my father is angry with me in my dreams. It has made no sense to me and has been a burden to reconcile. Again I have been working to decipher this from a very literal view point. Hmmm so interesting.
Alicia goes on to say:
"I obviously don't know any more about than what you've written here. Aside from the obvious father-daughter relationship, you were also your dad's caretaker in his last illness (I think I remember that right). Why is caretaker-you mad at you? Is there someone you're not taking care of properly? Yourself, perhaps?"
This statement hit me like a ton of bricks! Do Moms ever take care of themselves as they should? No and I am no different than any Mom out there, but I don't think this is what my psyche is working out. I think, no I know that there is a part of me that is angry with myself for not doing all that I perceive that I could have done for Dad. I know my cousins reading will be shaking there heads at me but it is how I feel. I wish that I had spent that Thursday night before he died at his house. I wish I had taken him to the doctors sooner. I wish that I could have stood up for him more than I did. There are so many things that I wish I had done differently. I'm sorry that I didn't do these things. I know that I have work to do in this area. I have to let these thoughts go because I know that he wouldn't want me to feel badly, but I do. I guess writing about it and perhaps creating some art in honor of those feelings might help. We'll see.
"And your brother? Who is he in your life (aside from brother)? What part of you feels sick? With something that slowly, inexorably is taking its toll on you? You're hungry. What are you looking for? Where in your life are you not being fed? The cabinets that used to hold sustenance are bare. And so, you are all in the desert, the parched wasteland, no shelter or protection from the elements or the vicissitudes of life."
These pieces are all intertwined with my relationship or lack there of with my brother. I love him so much but we have not talked in almost a year. As much as I love him I know rationally that we have completely different perspectives on life. We do not share the same parenting philosophy, work ethic or desire to preserve family bonds. I guess we are a little like night and day. This makes me sad. I guess you could say that the lack of a healthy relationship with him and his children has taken a tole on me. I long for a relationship with a brother who does not need someone to take care of him. I hunger for a relationship that will fill me up rather than deplete my energy. I have searched for this in him for years and years. I have opened the door so many times just to be disappointed once again. I think that there is a certain level of anger that goes with the loss of this relationship. I can't hide from the anger. When I think of all that has gone on over the last 10 years and beyond I can feel the rage bubble up in my belly. It is hot and scorching like the sun of the desert. It too is something that I must let go.
So perhaps these dreams are nudging me to do the work that should be done to let go the sadness, self loathing, anger and grief. Beyond this I must figure out what it is that I can do to truly care for myself, by nurturing the child, daughter, woman, wife, mother and artist within. What fills me up? What will quench the thirst that has been brought on by too much time in the desert? A quest of self discovery and renewal.
Well I cried as I wrote this post. Perhaps that is the beginning....