Point of View In Dream Study

I’m on a field trip with several classes of middle school students. We are attending a local theatre to watch a live performance.   One boy, in particular, is concerning me.  He misbehaves regularly and needs constant monitoring.  I rotate between the balcony and the main floor keeping an eye on students and come upon the boy in question in the midst of a fist fight.  I pull him off and give him a time out and go in search of the vice-prinicipal, who is also on the trip.  None of the other adults are in sight and I find them in the lounge, enjoying their time off from normal duties.  Disgusted, I rush back to find my little problem has snuck away.  

I awake from this dream feeling angry and exhausted.  “Am I the only responsible one?” is the thought running through my head.

Recording my dreams, and working with their messages, has been a practice of mine for some thirty plus years.  One way to approach dream interpretation is by considering the story from another point of view.

The Boy

We’re on this stupid field trip to see a sissy play, and I get seated next to the most annoying kid, and well, he pushes my buttons, so I hit him, and before you know it, Mrs. K comes along and ushers me out of the room and tells me to sit tight.

Mrs. K’s alright but she gets all officious like this sometimes.  I am sorry to upset her, and I plan to sit like she tells me, but as soon as she’s out of sight, I spot the exit, and well – who can blame me – I’m outta there.  I got better things to do than sit through some dumb play.

There is much about this kid that I recognize in myself.  I was quick-tempered in my youth, and known to throw a few punches.  I spent considerable time in the hall for misbehaving.  I was also known to “skip out” often.  Even as an adult, I would rather go off on my own than attend boring conference sessions.

So how does this relate to my life now?  What part of me is feeling solely responsible, and what part is feeling like that-out-of control kid?

Dreams invite us to view ourselves honestly, by presenting current issues in story form.  They help us formulate questions about our current life situations.  While the messages are layered, any interpretation that inspires growth is a good place to aim.

The rewrite of the dream draws to my attention two opposing parts of self.  What is missing is a middle ground.  That might be represented by the colleagues, who have taken a more relaxed approach.  In the dream, I find my peers in the lounge and make a snap judgment, walking away in disgust instead of voicing my need and asking for help.

I can imagine that from their point of view, anyone of them, realizing what was happening, would offer a hand.

In shifting point of view, I become aware of an old familiar pattern surfacing:  “I’m the only one who is responsible; I’ll have to do it all myself.”

A little less self-righteousness and a little more asking for what I need is called for, it seems.

(V.J.’s challenge of the week is point of view.)

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Glue: A Dream Perspective

(Sometimes, the best way to approach dream interpretation is to retell the dream from a different character’s perspective.  What follows is just that.  The ‘she’ referred to is the ego self.  To gain further insight, I also wrote a poem, simply titled “Glue”.)

How can I justify this current state of malaise, given the opulence that defines my life? Each waking moment is filled with the busyness of minding the children, pursuing a suitable career, and tidying this enormous house in anticipation of more guests – all of it a testament to my capability and worthiness, surely.

Perfection is not too high a standard, I tell myself; I want to be that perfect mom – the PTA mom that everyone admires and strives to be. Today, for instance, I am hosting a party for my friend’s mother, themed: This is your life. I’ve invited people from her past, and I’m hoping to inspire change. Heaven knows, she needs it, has basically dropped out of existence since becoming ill, and we want her back. Well, at least, I know her daughter does, and that’s cause enough for me to help out.

I’ve chosen a bright red sweater with splashes of neon colour – an old favourite of the guest of honour – a blast from her past.   She wore it at a time when her kids were young and aspired to many of the same things as me. She wore her hair short, then, sleek, with big-hooped earrings to accent her small round head. Bright colours, she’d read were best for her skin tones – this was the era of True Colours. I can tell, when I open the door to receive her, that she recognizes the attire – she is momentarily taken aback and then composes herself, her smile wry, reminiscent.

She takes in every inch of the house, of our existence, sympathizes with the amount of work it takes to keep it all going, does not question the absence of my husband – hers was always absent too. It’s what men in our lives do. Stay away and provide. We fill in the rest. Carte blanche, I like to think of it;  I prefer it this wa

Mr. Slaughter arrives, and she is initially delighted, except the once large, broad-shouldered man, who rescued her from her teenage angst, is now hunched, wasted away with grief – his wife left him and he cannot bear the solitude. “Down and out”, I mutter under my breath. She is stunned into silence. He meant so much to her, I can see, she is wondering how this can be. The man who set a path for her, now destroyed. Life happens, I think.

Another friend arrives, pulls up in a gold toned convertible, her massive blonde hair piled atop her head like something out of a fifties Doris Day movie. She hasn’t aged a day, by the looks of her, and boy, does she flaunt it.   This elicits a smile from V.J., who always knew her friend was different, admired her moxy, her willingness to walk her own path. Even though they are years apart, she admires the younger woman’s unwillingness to conform, wishes she had a bit of it herself. “You know what you need?” the blonde bombshell tells her. “You need glue.”

I’d told her that myself – was glad someone echoed my sentiment. “Glue” I echoed. “To hold yourself together.”

She looks dubious, but says she’ll run by her doctor. There is hope for her yet.

A Nightmare in Prose

Inspiration for my writing often comes from the Dreamtime.  I play with the words, find new meaning and typically create poetry, although some dreams offer up the basis for short stories. A recent nightmare is not cooperating with any attempts to break it down, and so I’ve decided to rewrite it in both prose (offered here) and poetry (visit here).

Nightmare in Prose

This malaise, this undeniable melancholy has been hovering for days now, maybe even since we moved to this place – me now in isolation; he removed to more important matters, work. The mind, I find, is not to be trusted – conjures images of shadows, movements defying rationality.

The other night, for instance, while my husband slept soundly beside me, I caught a glimpse of someone in the hallway, or maybe it was just the play of light from the road – a flash of car beams infiltrating the curtains. I lay motionless and alert for hours, but it didn’t come again, and yet, the air of “other” remained.

I’ve said none of this to Tom; he is far too logical, and it would just stress him further; he hates to leave me as it is. No doubt he thinks I am in a heightened state of sensitivity due to this illness. The doctor says the inflammation affects my nervous system, as if I’m locked into a state of flight or fight. Wired, I call it.

th.jpgWhat was that? I swear I saw the curtain over the doorway to the closet sway. Yes, there it is again – inching upwards.

I feel a raging rising up inside me – immobilized as I am, cemented to this bed, helpless.

“I see you!” I cry aloud. “I know you are there. Show yourself.” I muster all the fortitude I can, but it is only bravado. I pose no threat to anyone or anything.

Stillness.

“I know you are there!” I repeat with insistence, deciding this intruder is ethereal. “Are you someone I know?”  My mind goes to those who have passed – so many losses, to numerous to count.

Nothing.

“How old are you?”

The curtain rises slightly.

“Do you want me to guess? Keep raising the curtain until I reach your age? I’ll count by tens.”

With each upward jerk, I count, ten, twenty, thirty, and then the curtain drops again, and the connection is lost.

“Please, don’t go!” I beg. “We’re just getting started.”

With that, a figure breaks through the veiled doorway, and emerges into the room: a luminescence outlining the body of a woman.   She is more essence than presence, and I feel an urgency emitting from her – frustration coupled with warning. Her gaze falls to the window, and my eyes follow – two looming figures approach – giant-sized men, only the slit of their eyes revealed beneath cloaks of black, like ninjas seeking prey. I make myself small, huddle under the covers, will myself invisible.

th-2But the walls have come alive now, and monsters are taking shape, and I think I must be delusional, prey I am delusional, but the floor boards recede and there I see the skeletons of those who have gone before me, and know that I am not imagining – there is danger lurking everywhere, and the time has come for me to submit.

***

Dear Reader:  Can you write me a resolution to this dream?  Comments below greatly appreciated.

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.

th-2Dreams, 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.

th-1.jpgWhat 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?  th-3

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.

th-4The 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.

Dreaming Of Work

I dream that I am teaching again, have two classes:  a grade 9 Math first thing in the morning and a senior History last period.  I am late, so someone else has to start the Math class, and when I do arrive, I am unprepared and uncertain that I can proceed.  Last class is more club-like than a classroom and I struggle to be heard until another teacher comes to help.  Nothing is working and I have to admit that it is all beyond me.

One of the functions of dreams is to aid in processing prevalent life issues.  Since illness struck in 2014, I have not been able to work: a situation that haunts me relentlessly.  I truly believed that teaching was my life’s calling. th-1

I go over and over in my head, how I could make it work.  Teaching only one or two classes is a solution I always land on, but the dream reminds me that I would have no control over my schedule, nor what I taught.  Having two classes at either end of the school day would solve nothing in terms of managing energy.  As the dream reminds me, I could be asked to teach anything (and have) whether it’s in my area of expertise, or not.  (Math and History are definitely not what an English/French teacher would choose.)

The crucial message in the dream, though, is that I would arrive late and unprepared – two things I’d never do when I was well.  Mornings, I am reminded, are my worst time of day now, as battling the fatigue and lethargy in my body is a constant challenge.  Even at the end of my teaching days, I would fall asleep at the wheel on the way to work – part of why I conceded to go off in the first place.  That has not changed, in fact; I no longer drive.

I also would not have the energy to prepare for classes that I once had.  In the past, I would spend hours each day putting together lessons for the days ahead, trying to be organized enough to handle any situation that might present itself.   I just don’t have the stamina necessary to do that right now, as the dream gently points out.th-3

Before I was diagnosed with ME/CFS, I struggled each day with being able to get enough air to project to a classroom.  Standing and sitting became a struggle.  I would sweat, and the harder I tried to pull myself together, I felt on the verge of passing out.  I now know this is characteristic of the disease, and as much as I’d like to think I could overcome the other challenges of teaching, the reality is, my body is just not capable.

Disability is so much more than just a physical challenge.  It is about loss of livelihood.  It is about losing a sense of self, purpose, and conceding to a path no one would choose for themselves.  It is mentally coming to terms with the fact that how you once defined yourself is no longer relevant, and that going back is not an option, no matter how much your soul yearns for it.

At the end of the dream, I surrender to the fact that I have a long way to go before I can teach again.  Maybe, I’ll never get there.

Maybe, hopefully, in the letting go, I will find renewed purpose.th-1.jpg

 

Only In Dreams

Some mornings I just don’t want to wake up, I’m having such a good dream.  It happened this morning:  there I was wrapped in the arms of an unrequited love, discovering what we had missed all these years.th-2

G.W., the subject of these dreams, was a high school classmate.  He was tall, blond with blue eyes, athletic, and a musician.  He had a wicked sense of humour, and from the moment we met we were instant friends.  It was the promise of seeing him each day that kept me going in what were very tough times.  And I know he really liked me too.

Until the fateful day he asked me out and I said ‘no’, telling him I just wanted to be friends.

It was lie, but at the time I felt it was the only choice I had:  I was hiding too much: bullying at a former school, rape, and my dad’s secret life. I was certain that a guy like G.W. would not like me if he knew.  It was better to keep him at arm’s length.

G.W. tried again over the next couple of years, but I never waivered.  Not outwardly.  Inside I died a little each time, knowing I would never be good enough for him.

Except in my dreams.  It’s been more than forty years and I still dream of him, and every time he is the same old friend, loving me unconditionally. And I don’t want to wake up.

th-1I know people who have chased down former crushes and picked up where they left off.  Some successful, some not.

I prefer to think it is the feeling that G.W. gave me that I crave:  a sense of being accepted, appreciated, and acknowledged. With G.W. I feel safe.  I begin to believe in my own worth.

Maybe one day, I’ll gain the self-respect I’m looking for and won’t need him anymore.  In the meantime, I look forward to more dreams.

 

What If Our Dreams Are Answers?

Daily functioning requires a healthy ego to navigate the protocols and expectations of society, however; at night, the ego becomes an observer while the tapestry of our wholeness unfolds in the language of symbols and metaphors.th

While I have been working with my dreams since 1986, I still find much of what they have to express is a mystery, and often, will carry a dream around until I find some connection or aha moment.

Recently, I decided to approach a particularly haunting nighttime missive as if it was a response to some unacknowledged questions I had been carrying around with me.  I created a dialogue between my imagined dream source (DS) and myself (Me) with the goal of discerning those questions:

Me:  I have looked for love, been rejected, want to believe in love’s power, but have only found hurt, pain, lacking.

DS:  Look to the source of your seeking.

Me:  I follow a lover home, see I do not belong there, realize his immaturity, forgive him and let him go.  I still feel unfulfilled. (The opening scene of the dream.)

DS:  You are describing love in term of romantic relationships.

Me:  Well, no…er, yes.  In this case, I am…actually, in many cases, if I’m honest – much of my writing is about the failure of relationships and, therefore, the absence of love.  Whoops…I guess I should be asking:  What is the nature of love?

DS:  Move on with the dream.

Me:  I feel alone, in this stripped down existence, now that I am confined to a bed.

DS:  What have you left out?

Me:  That my home is a castle-like structure and my bed is in the middle of the living space.

DS:  What can derive from that?

Me:  That loneliness is a perception.  That I am still amongst the living, and there are an abundance of places to explore.

DS:  Okay, anything else?  Is the home in the dream your current home?

Me:  No, I assume it’s symbolic.  I always think the house is where spirit dwells – the intangibles that define us – beliefs, values, character, psyche.  So, maybe I should be asking how it is that I limit myself (we have already determined that my definition of love is lacking) and what aspect of self or spirit is left to explore.

DS:  What’s next?th-1

Me:  The figure in the window – a doll-like puppet that I have seen.  In the dream, I discover that the perpetrator is a nosy neighbour and I suspect that the doll has a camera inside.  Sounds a bit paranoid.

DS:  On the face of it, yes.  What could it be saying about your life?

Me:  The first thing that comes to mind is that being on disability means that I am under surveillance from the insurance company.  While I have nothing to hide, I can’t help but be anxious.  If I look at this on a broader scale, what others think of me does make a difference, as much as I wish it didn’t.  In this case, the perp is using a puppet to spy on me – a wooden doll – so, in other words, he is spying on me through the lens of a soulless construct.  The question would be:  Why do I care so much about what others think, and what is it robbing me of?  This answers how I might be limiting myself, and I think it relates to the love question.

DS:  Carry on.

Me: I consider selling my home, convinced no one will be interested, so do no prep work, and put up an Open House sign. To my amazement, many people come: doctors, families, a diversity of races and cultures. I am scrambling to ready the place, view my home with new eyes,

DS:  Interesting, what did you discover?

Me: First, that I have undervalued myself – intellectually, spiritually, and in terms of what I have to offer (this has been a lifelong struggle, I confess). By inviting others in, I discover that there is more to me (my house) than just this one-roomed confinement. I get excited for once about how much there is to explore, am expressing value, selling myself, and truly excited. In sharing, I find that there is history worth exploring, and more stories to tell than I have visited before.

DS:  So, what is the question here?

Me: I think I see both answer and question here: Why is it that I need others to allow me to appreciate the gifts of self? Perhaps, it is lack of love of self. I live to be validated by others. Interesting to me that I put out the welcome sign, even though I feel I have nothing of value.

DS:  Something else propels you, maybe?

Me:  Maybe. I step outside in the dream, and from this perspective remember that the house was originally a barn converted by a man to be a castle. This to me has spiritual significance – the barn, symbolic of the birth of Christ, is a humble place, accessible, simple. Man has built castles out of religion, fortresses to defend their believes and keep out others. Religion is a complex institution which I have tried to distance myself from most of my life (another reason why I only live in one room?)
Does my fear of religion confine my beliefs/spirituality? And, therefore, my definition of love, difficulty with relationships, lack of self-value and feelings of loneliness? I feel like we are weaving a tapestry here – ideas flowing into ideas, creating meaning.th-2

DS:  (Silent)

Me: The next scene is set on a hilltop, overlooking the water’s edge, where large water birds have come to feed. (I watched a blue heron just the other day, fish in the waters next to an old mill. The effect was spellbinding, mesmerizing. If ever I held a definition of spirit it is the force of nature – raw, instinctual, a dance of harmonics.) My guests and I watch as a large brown bird – big enough to be an eagle, but not one we can identify – attacks a smaller, also bird of prey. Before we can react, the bigger bird grasps the head of the other and flies off – it’s catch firmly in place.

DS:  How did watching this make you feel?

Me:  Horrified, helpless, and at the same time reminded of the force that is nature – the food chain, how death and rebirth are part of the natural cycle.  Seeing it up close was unsettling.

DS:  And then?

Me:  The surface of the water starts bubbling, and a black-bodied entity with gold markings emerges, writhing, and we realize that it is a snake, also looking for a meal – one of the remaining birds is a target.  A man from the crowd that has gathered jumps from atop the cliff we are standing on in an attempt to rescue the bird.  I watch, horrified that he would dare to confront such a beast (the snake is huge) and am certain he had just committed suicide, but the man resurfaces and is fine.

DS:  Lots of imagery here:  what do you think it is saying, or asking?

Me:  I don’t like the brutality of confrontation, especially physical. These animals are merely carrying out acts of survival. Men, however, have free will, can rise above their base natures, like the man who wittingly jumps in to save the bird. Do we not have a greater responsibility? To ensure life, liberty and the values we say we espouse?th-3

The world right now is currently in conflict – threats of terrorism, mass shootings, civil wars – and American politics is stirring the pot. My son recently converted in order to marry his beloved, and it has brought conflict closer to home – I am reeling at people’s reactions, feel as if this beast of racism and fear is preying on the innocent – like the monstrous beasts in the dream. I am not willing to risk my life for the rights of others, like Malala Yousafzai, so how can I make a difference in the face of these rising issues?

DS:  A question many could be asking themselves.

Me: If I tie it together then I might conclude that I need to redefine my concept of love, broaden its capacity to include all relations, find value and trust that the gifts I have been given have worth, stop worrying about the judgment of others (judgment is a soulless construct), delve deeper into my own psyche/spirituality to reconnect with a simplicity of values/beliefs that help me address conflict in a more humane and effective manner.

th-4

What Is It About Hands?

I’ve been dreaming of hands lately – a single hand emerging from a pile of debris, or appearing around a corner – and it’s got me thinking about them.  Why hands?th

I made a list of all the ways we use hand in our language:  a hand up, helping hand, healing hands, lending a hand, backhanded, hand shakes, hand-y.

We gesture with our hands, greet with our hands, signal others, perpetrate violence, offer help.  Hands actually are involved in most of our daily activities.

So what it is about hands that they have chosen to show up in my dream time?  If something is trying to get my attention, why not a face, or head, or foot?  th-1

Admittedly, there is something intriguing about hands.  I always remember my Uncle Stan by his hands: huge, they were, and he’d take me in them and throw me high in the sky and set me atop his shoulders and I’d squeal with delight as we’d have to duck under doorways and I could touch the ceiling.

I have boyish hands, small with sausage fingers, not the long, feminine hands of my mother’s which were always immersed in pastry dough, or canning, or dishing washing liquid.

My father’s were large and strong, not meaty, but sinewy, and quick.  He liked to brag about how they were a lethal weapon, and if he was feeling particularly mean (i.e., drunk), he would grab me and twist me like a pretzel in those vice-grips, torturing me until I complied with his wishes.  I hated him then.  I hated myself more.

Hands appearing unexpectedly is horror-like, reminds me of the movie Carrie, where the girl, possessed by evil is finally killed and buried – or so the audience is led to believe – and then just at the end, as the camera pans to her grave, a hand emerges, and the effect is haunting.

Makes me wonder if something in me that I’ve buried or oppressed is trying to emerge, and if so, what?

Have to hand it to you this time, dream time – got me stumped on this one.

I’ll let Blake have the last words on this:

th-2

(Second image from:  imgarcade.com)

Educational Walls

I have this recurring dream that I am teaching a class, composed of adults and adolescents, which is spread out over three rooms.  Try as I might to build community through ice breaking activities, it is physically impossible to reach all the students at one time.

I am reminded of how it feels to teach grade 12 English at Summer School – twenty-two days in which to cover a semester’s worth of curriculum in a classroom populated by adult learners, or kids who have failed their regular class, or students wanting to get ahead – a nightmare worthy of repetitive dream processing.

The dream is actually a good analogy for the challenges facing teachers today.  While courses are divided into academic, applied, and essential (in some instances) we are expected to gear each lesson to different learning styles.  Recently, there has been talk of de-streaming again: lumping all students together regardless of aptitude.  th

My first teaching assignment was a grade 7/8 split class.  While it was permissible to combine some lessons, math definitely needed to be taught separately.  So my job was to figure out how to keep the 8’s occupied while I was teaching the 7’s and vice versa.  At the same time, I had to be able to switch at the sign of a hand from one grade level to another in order to answer questions.  That may sound easy enough, except that I am a language and literature major – math having been abandoned after high school.

Are you beginning to sense the dilemma here?

How does a teacher respond to the many different needs of her students, breaking down the walls of differences, so that everyone is included and thriving?    I don’t think I can honestly ever say that it worked to my satisfaction.  Bent on reaching each student, and ensuring success for all, I always felt like I was falling short.  Obviously, I was effective enough to be continually employed, but that is not my point.  I really feel, as I do in the dream, that I am not getting through to everyone.  th-1

So, what are the three rooms as depicted in my dream?  In the dream, I am teaching English, and the exercise I am attempting to do, is one which allows the students to experience for themselves how easily we change the meaning of a sentence by altering a word.  It doesn’t work, naturally, because of the walls separating the individual rooms:  a) not everyone can hear what is going on; b) not everyone can see the board from where they are; and c) I cannot monitor student reaction.  (All normal classrooms concern, by the way, even when we are in the same room.)

Most of my teaching career has centered around working with students with learning disabilities, which ironically enough, I now struggle with myself, as this illness affects my cognitive functioning.  How that manifests itself for me, is that I am not able to multi-task effectively.  For example, I cannot possibly conger the concentration needed to write this blog if there are distractions around me – no matter how innocent they might be.  I need to be in a separate room, where it is quiet.  (One room defined.)  This is true for many students, especially those with ADHD.th-2

I am also not able to process information in a timely fashion, which means that if someone throws me an idea or question for which I have no immediate context, then I need time to think it through.  I might get stuck on their tone of voice, or something I was thinking about (unrelated) before they presented their information, or even a word that my brain feels compelled to play with. Time to process, could be a separate room.

Thirdly, I have difficulty accessing stored information and articulating responses: it comes out haltingly, or as unfinished words or sentences, like a car sputtering or backfiring.  Well-meaning others often jump in with suggestions to help me along, but that only frustrates me further.  Patience is needed to enable me to express myself.  I am not stupid as my speech might sometimes suggest, I just have to work harder than others to express myself.  I need space to think through what I want to say and then formulate what and how I want to respond.

None of these rooms actually exist in a normal class, thus the need for them becomes walls.  A typical classroom is noisy, fast-paced, and demanding.

Imagine how that must feel as a child with a learning disability, not to mention what it does to their self-esteem when others laugh at their inability to stay on task, or grasp new concepts immediately, or fail to respond to questions coherently.

I am not currently not working in an instructive role, but I think about my students often, and obviously still cannot shake how deeply I believe we are failing many of them.  th-3

I don’t have answers at the moment, but as Dr. Phil says, we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge.  I am willing to acknowledge the inefficiencies, and start to ask the right questions.

Is it just me, or is anyone feeling the same way?

Patterns of Expectancy

I have noticed recently that many of my dreams begin innocently enough and then end in panic, with the need to call for help.  Recently, for example, I dreamt that I was shopping with two of my best friends from high school, and, as we would back then, we were teasing the one friend, who was never able to venture out and take risks:  always wore the same clothes, kept her hair the same, and had trademark John Lennon glasses.  In the midst of this lighthearted excursion there is suddenly an attack:  a sword-wielding male who leaves his victim lying in a pool of blood, the weapon protruding from her neck – an emergency situation. th-4

While not all my dreams end in such bloody violence, the pattern of alarm and panic at the end of each episode is undeniable; enough to make me question my relationship to bad endings.

“Your whole family are man-haters,” my former husband once told me. “I feel as if everyone is always waiting for the other shoe to drop.”th-8

He had a point.  The women in my family are overly cautious of the other sex, for valid reasons – many of us have been let down.  Even this husband left me destitute when a much younger model showed him attention.

His words have stayed with me, though – do I live in anticipation of the worst case scenario?  If I’m honest with myself, I do.  It comes from living with a father whose nature was unstable at best, violence always lurking beneath his carefully controlled exterior:  a tyrant who ruled with intimidation.  But that was many years ago, and he is long gone, and   yet still the fears persist.  How do I shake this condition?

Sometimes just by rewriting the dream we can alter our perception of outcomes.  In this case, I would finish my outing with my former friends by joining them in a quaint restaurant, sharing a bottle wine and good memories.  That is how most of our visits go these days.

And if an intruder struck, I would usher us to a safe place, away from the violence and bloodshed, leaving dramatics to the proper authorities – let go of responsibility.  An ‘aha’ moment.

No wonder my dreams end with me having to call 9-1-1.  I am always in rescue mode: a shoe-in to take responsibility, cannot tear myself away from pain (mine or others) without feeling somehow obliged to take action.  Apparently, according to my dreams, this is interfering with my own life’s progress.  th-6

It’s as if I’m addicted to crisis – a pattern I will happily replace if I can just figure out how.

If I write a new dream for myself, it will include confidence in my own acceptability, and allow a belief in the fortitude and capability of loved ones to defend themselves: faith that each of our paths bears lessons worthy of the challenge.  I will celebrate and support, rather than rescue those in need – a risky proposition, for a co-dependent – knowing that we all have the right to fight our own battles, and that in taking responsibility for others I am robbing them of that right.

Hopefully this insight will change the patterns of my dreams.