Dreams: A Vehicle for Self-Reflection

I’m waiting in the RV for my husband to finish shopping and drive us away.

This is how a recent dream begins.  For over thirty years now, I have been recording and working with my dreams as a means to personal growth.  Often, where the dream takes place establishes context.  For me, currently disabled and dependent on others, this opening line paints a clear picture of where I am right now.

Dreams, however; are not intended to simply reiterate the obvious.  The messages that bubble up from our unconscious offer us new insight, if we are willing to open them.

A small child climbs aboard, and take a seat…she wants to come with us…but I am worried that her mother will be looking for her, and think we kidnapped her.  I tell Ric we can’t bring her with us.

When we purchased the RV, it awakened in me a new sense of adventure.  After three years, primarily home bound, life seemed to be opening up; I felt a kind of youthful hope, and at the same time, I was flooded with concerns:  Are we being practical, or irresponsible?  What right do we have to even consider traveling under our current circumstances? 

Then I notice there are two other women aboard …. also intending to come along for the ride…and the RV is now a yacht and more people have imposed on our space and Ric is enjoying himself while I am trying to gain control of the situation.

What started out simple enough, has now become very complicated, and even as I type this I recognize my role in all of this – I have an uncanny ability to blow things out of proportion.  I just don’t seem to be able to sit back and relax and enjoy the moment.  Part of it is this disease, I know, and much can be attributed to life experience.

Incensed that no one is listening to me, I decide to investigate further and find that the uninvited guests are sleeping in our beds….and there is even a dead body in our bathtub.  Who is going to clean all this up? I wonder.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and propose that the uninvited guests are all the excuses and obstacles that I put in my own way, sabotaging any attempts at autonomy or personal success.    What makes me draw such a conclusion?  Dreams use exaggeration, as well as humour, to illustrate a point.  This dream is poking fun at my over-worked sense of responsibility – “Who is going to clean all this up?” Indeed.  As if I could ever be responsible for the shenanigans of a boat load of adults.   Assigning responsibility to myself makes me look like a victim, and if I look like a victim, who can ever fault for me for my failures?

It’s a clever trap I weave for myself, and I might not have gleaned it from the dream, if it were not for the dead body in the bathtub.

The odd, the perverse, the horrific, are all gifts from the unconscious.   I could not shake the image of the dead woman in my bathtub.  Of all the places for her to die, my bathtub is the most personal.

I decided to dialogue with her, imagining myself seated beside her, and allowing the conversation to flow (rational interpretation set aside).  She had much to reveal, the gist of which inspired the poem:  A Body in the Bathtub.

The main message I came away with from this dream is that no matter what our circumstances, financially, or otherwise, there will always be challenges to potential happiness.  Most of those challenges are self-imposed.  The problems of the dream could have been avoided by the setting and assertion of clear boundaries.

There are things I want to accomplish in life – and that we want to accomplish as a couple – if I can only get out of my own way.

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

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