One night last week, I awoke from a very real dream. It was not horrible or frightening. In fact, it was quite ordinary. It was a very accurate depiction of the everyday exchanges that commonly occurred in what was once my life. As dreams go, things were slightly out of place and somewhat strange, but I understood.
In the dream, it was a crisp October evening. I was dressed in jeans and a sweater. He was dressed in navy blue dress pants and a white shirt. The accoutrements were missing from the shirt, as they often were in reality. Why we were together, as he came from work, I have no idea.
I was younger in the dream, the age I was the day we met, but he was his current age. We were at the library in the town where I grew up. It was the library from my Story Time days and evening high school study groups, but it looked as it did then, not now . I went upstairs to gather a few books. He went downstairs to read magazines. We agreed to meet at the front doors at 7:00pm, allowing an hour of free time. At about seven o’clock, I approached the large stained glass doors. I waited….and waited.
Familiar territory: the land of insignificance and blame
Just before 7:30, I began my descent down the wide stone staircase in pursuit of a reason for the delay. I passed the children’s section, and headed to the room that housed the magazines. I was irritated that I had been kept waiting, but was willing to hear his explanation. Maybe he lost track of time. I tried to remain calm, but my insides were churning, knowing that blatant disregard was responsible for my wait and that my experience would remain void of explanation, apology, or any decent form of acknowledgement.
There he was. Sitting as if he had all the time in the world and was the only one who mattered, he casually thumbed through one of many magazines he had selected. I asked if he knew what time it was. He nodded in the affirmative, with his eyes glued to the periodical. No eye contact. I asked if he remembered that we were to re-connect at 7:00. Again, an almost undetectable shrug in the affirmative.
When I realized that he knew of the plan and had knowingly disregarded all that was supposed to be, I felt my breathing quicken. Sensing my upset, he slammed the magazine down, glared into my eyes, and blamed me for not coming to him sooner. The fact that he did not follow through with the plan he initiated, under the terms he agreed to, now became “my fault.”
Glimpses of the slipping mask
Angrily, he stood up. Glancing about, checking to insure that no one was nearby to witness his rage, he quietly, but forcefully pushed the chair in under the table. He directed me to move out, and through gritting teeth snarled, “Another night, ruined by Linda. Are you happy now, huh, huh?” I remained silent while in the library, but tears welled in my eyes. I felt alone. As I passed the fireplace, its warmth, coupled with the emotional storm brewing within, left me feeling scorched.
I felt as though I were walking through a spinning tunnel where only I existed. Everything was surreal. The sounds were muffled as I made my way to the doors, with the exception of the loud thumping sound of the date stamp machine (the library was not yet electronic.) Once outside, the rushing river and crisp fall scent brought me back. The fallen leaves crunched beneath my feet, as I made my way to the car. I blocked everything and everyone from my existence, until I slid into the cold, gray leather seats of the “work car,” the one that was ok to leave out in the elements for several days.
The quest for understanding and justice
Then, it began. My search for sense amongst madness began. “Why did you blame me for that? I was waiting for you. How did I ruin the night? I didn’t want to ruin the night. It was time to go. What did I do? What should I have done?” The insane “hamster on the wheel” feeling reigned supreme. I was surfing on a rotating sit and spin. This was the “push-pull” of what used to be.
I kept talking and asking. I, so badly, wanted an explanation and understanding. I also wanted things to be ok. My questions met with silence followed by rage at “my behavior.” I think by now I was crying, confused by the state of the goings on, while he had nothing to offer but misdirected anger. I was sitting next to complete emptiness, caught in a spinning vortex of rage.
Although younger in the dream than in reality, my soul felt experienced. I felt abused and beaten from years of things starting out normal and morphing into disasters. I was exhausted from replaying seemingly benign occurrences repeatedly in my mind, trying to figure out where I went wrong.
We rounded the corner from the library. As we crossed the train tracks and headed for the village’s downtown, he exploded. “You are such a…(insert mean, vulgar, and insulting expletive.”) He raised his hand to me, with his accusing index finger in my face, a breath shy of grazing my eyes.
Back to reality
With that I awoke. At first, I was shocked and a little upset. How had I allowed this person to enter my dreams? Then, I settled in, once again, content. I NEVER have to live through scenarios such as these again. Not with him or anyone else. The understanding set me free, regardless of any residual nonsense that may continue.
Words and blame must come to mean nothing. We must accept that their belief systems and the “codes” that they live by are not only flawed, but perverse. We must no longer seek explanations for things we did not do – from anyone – including those they have lied to us about. Time will tell those tales.
Although, I don’t really need to re-live a snap shots of the craziness, I ultimately saw it as a positive reminder of the journey. Was the dream symbolic? Perhaps. Maybe there is reason behind my presence on the upper level, while he headed to the basement. Maybe it’s nothing more than my preference for books over magazines. I’m going to try not to read more into this than necessary. The simple truth is that this experience, good or bad, is part of me. To expect that this would never surface would be unhealthy. Dreams help us do the work our conscious minds sometimes cannot and can help us bring us order and peace. When an occasional dream, replaces the living nightmare, we can’t go wrong!
I see a connection between the tornado and the snake. They are both coiled things that move in swirling motion.
Thomas Scheff describes hidden shame as a spiral. It is recursive because the initial shame creates shame of being ashamed, and them more shame of that etc… So it has a spiral “shape”.
Scheff writes about Helen Block Lewis’s shame research:
So in the tornado, I think you are seeing the spath’s humiliated fury. Coiled and unleashing its power. Then the coiled snake under your sweater is the shame you are letting go of, it is a black thing but not part of you. Furthermore you see that so many other people are carrying this shame, some of them have let go but other still carry it, hidden under a veneer.
The paint on the door is representative of how he has painted you to appear to others. It’s the slander, perhaps. You weren’t sure you liked it but you accepted it. Then, when you saw the fingerprints left on it, HIS fingerprints, you know you didn’t like it. You don’t like to be reminded of who he painted you out to be.
Then the hallway is a passage between rooms, as Kim said. So in this passage, or journey, you ask God to fix how others perceive you but you didn’t get what you expected. Instead, you found your own painting tools. You can paint yourself however you like.
Phallic is a penis.
hmm… I was planning on working on my own shame and I never got to read finish: Healing the shame that binds you. I was planning on taking that part/topic of my healing, but I had to work on other issues instead. Anger and lost dreams. I’ve touched the topic sexuality regarding my childhood, but I didn’t go through it because I didn’t understand and still don’t know exactly what sexuality really is. The more Aha moments I’ve gotten by reading this blog, about the guilt, the blameshifting, some shame has dissolved by its self. The more healthy decicions I’ve made for my self, like dodging bullets and boundary settings has helped me take more pride in my self, instead of shame.
So is the shame his or mine? Can’t quite pinpoint that one. I think that we who have met spaths to some degree share similar frequencys. If I carry shame, I will attract someone who does too- sort of thing. As spath blame others, and we victims/survivors take on responsibility we carry theirs as well. When I let go of that responsibility I put the shame/feelings back where it belongs. Maybe they somehow can smell it?
And yes, he did paint a picture of me to others I didn’t like, but I accepted it. I drank two bottles of beer and he said I was a drunken alcoholic in dire need of help. I once just laughed about it to one of his friends and he (his friend) got a really strange look on his face. (I’d been out and had some drinks with my co-workers and he picked me up to drive me home) He really saw I was never drunk at all and was in complete control of my self. I can’t believe this friend never got what he said about me wasn’t true, even when he saw me with his own eyes. I seldom drink and when I do, I never get drunk. Having a glass of wine to a good meal does not mean I’m an alcoholic in my opinion.
Thank you all for good answers. I think all of you are on to something 🙂
Skylark nice interpretation. I never thought of the smear campaign. Very Interesting about shame and fury being spiral shaped.)(
I hadn’t thought of the connection between the tornado and the snake until Sunflower posted this. It has an interesting potential, doesn’t it? “A tornado of humiliated fury”, is one way to describe the mass shooters, like Anders Brevik in Norway and the Denver movie theater killer.
I think that spaths sense a certain shame in us, but they misinterpret it as arrogance and they become determined to take us down a peg or two.
For me, my shame is that my parents couldn’t love me. But I bypassed that shame and didn’t want to acknowledge it. Instead, I acted like a martyr, always doing things for other people showing how capable I was of suffering in their place. Tot the spath, that looks like arrogance. And he was determined to make me see how powerless I really was.
So I think that we each have our little hidden coiled snake in the sweater, that we need to release. While the spath has a tornado of coiled shame that slams and slimes everything in it’s path. It looks like humiliated fury.
Your analogy in your dream is amazing. Your right brain is very wise. I always wonder how much we could each accomplish if we could harness that power of symbols to understand the world around us better.
Yeah it’s so wise that my left one don’t understand it 😛 LOL
Jokes aside. Skylar, You say that they are determined to take us down a peg or to, but I beg to differ.
A “friend” of mine said one thing one day about her boyfriend. She has very similar traits as my ex, VERY much so. She’s admitted that she is very jealous of him. She say’s it’s about outer things, but this is what she said exactly:
“He feels so safe about who is is. He feels so safe that I love him, I’m never secure if he loves me back at all. Why is he allowed to feel secure within him self and I’m not? I will not allow it.”
Says it all doesn’t it?
And thanks again for your interpretations. Really helpful, thank you so so much 🙂
Kim Frederick, I just got it about Sunflower’s dream. It’s all about HER recovering. The fingerprints: the marks left by the spath entanglement. The front door being altered on the surface, only, with the door and frame still intact.
It’s a strong recovery dream, to me.
Skylar, I agree that spaths can sense a strong shame-core. In my situations, I have always felt guilty about other people’s inabilities to be happy, successful, etc – always about THEM and never about ME.
They sense shame like a bloodhound picks up shed skin cells to follow.