Archive for the ‘relationships’ Category
“The word emotion itself comes from the Latin exmovere, and means to move out, agitate, or excite. This is where our English word ‘motion’ comes from, and of course you can see the connection with the word ‘emotion’. When emotions get stirred up, they bring about movement or action.”
From Scott E. Spradlin, Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Put You in Control (Oakland, CA: New Harbinger, 2003), 9.
Hoping that my blog readers (such that they are) can help me with some dream deconstruction:
It begins with the beauty of nature – life is simply a stunning incomprehensible fact. Present. Everywhere. Wonderful. It’s the verdant green of Vancouver Island. British Columbia. Then I notice it’s not so ideal. It’s flawed. There are signs of the hand of man – in this case some oil tanks, a chain-link fence, some crappy little sheet-metal buildings. An industrial site on an otherwise uninhabited little island as I sail by.
A sudden scene change; I’m in the suburbs or a small town with my two long time male friends – A & R – both big guys. One – R – is a Leo – the life of the party type. He’s a sensualist, full of passion and joie de vivre. The other – A – is the angry man. A guy that’s always wearing a mask – he’s a comedian and glib performer who always needs an audience and entourage, but who I often see as deeply lonely. They are my advisers in this context – just being supportive, being guys, and hanging out.
The dream is always about girl trouble – they know I don’t necessarily struggle with girls but am always after the wrong girl. They marvel that I can have a wide choice, but I always focus on the one who is…Not right.
Why? She’s the man-eater; a stunning but aging blonde who knows she’s hot and doesn’t need a man. She has a kind of “male” approach – a stable of boyfriends, guys always coming and going, but never settling into a monogamous dynamic.
I know this and I don’t care – I’m like a moth to a flame. My friends marvel at my perseverance – my attempts to charm her. They know she likes me, but they also know she knows I like her – and to her it’s a game. For me too, in a way; In the back of my mind I get it – and am OK with the chase, but still sometimes let it (her) eat me up. They think it’s pretty amusing and are always just saying: “Don’t worry about it. You have other options.” But I have a harder time always just being playful and light about it. There’s too much of the Byronic romantic in me.
A scene shift again. There are some children in a little house – actually out in front of a house, playing – particularly a little girl (I’m not sure if this is always a part of the dream). She’s hurt herself – twisted her ankle. We’re all bachelors and not exactly warm, fuzzy types so we’re not sure how to react. They stand back, concerned but distant. That’s my inclination too, at first. I wonder if her parents are around…
But then I just crouch down and say hello. I look at her leg – it’s swollen. She tries to get up and grimaces. I turn and say to my friends “maybe she should see a doctor.” They’re disinterested.
Suddenly, I just pick her up in my arms. This is a totally unusual thing for me to do. I’m generally somewhat indifferent to children and little girls even more. They seem so small and fragile. Anyway, I pick her up and give her a big hug. She smiles. She hugs me back, tightly. I am suddenly filled with joy – almost to the point of tears. This is, without exaggeration, one of the most beautiful, pure and lovely experiences of my life. Transcendental – yet so simple. I put her down and she runs off, apparently feeling fine.
The scene shifts again. Now I’m alone and looking into the water. Underwater. There’s a sort of diving bird there. A cormorant. It plunges down to grab a fish – and spears through it. Suddenly, the fish almost explodes. Gets eviscerated. The viscera then transform into…Puppies?? Totally weird, especially since I think that this fish was to be food for the bird’s young. I think about life; How we idealize animals and nature. But even the cute ones (like rodents and, yes, even puppies) can end up as someone else’s dinner.
Shift again, to a living room. Talking with my two friends about “the girl” again. They’re amazed. In the know, somehow, that this has all happened before…
I get up and leave…Drive away (even racing away from A who is following in another car). At one point I’m driving crazily, quickly backing up along a winding road. The car flips. I get out, not hurt, but feeling silly. I think that driving is an interesting thing to be doing in a dream for me, since I’ve only recently started driving regularly. Then it hits me…I’m dreaming!! Not only that, but it’s a recurring dream. I realize I’ve had this dream, or at least parts of it (my friends, hanging out, talking about the girl trouble) before. I literally try and climb up out of it…Up a staircase from some basement. All along, I am repeating to my friend – “It’s a recurring dream A!” over and over as I go up the stairs. I get to the top of the stairs and there’s a door. I open it. A man, his face and features not visible, is standing there in the doorway. I awake with a start, aware I’ve been talking – even kind of yelping – in my sleep.
N.B. When I got up I still felt very powerfully that this was a recurring (and in my notebook I initially wrote “recurrent” in every instance) dream I’ve been having for some time, but never recall much after waking. So I grabbed a pen and furiously wrote this all down.
I would like to point my readers’ attention to a blog — The Art of Life — featuring a wonderful serialized novel. You can find the first chapter, “Start with gratitude”, here. Set in a place that will probably be familiar to readers of this blog, it’s a fast-paced and sharply written mystery/thriller full of intrigue, murder, ghosts, environmentalism and art. In addition to being a brilliant writer and a totally amazing human, the author also happens to be my mother.
And yes, she’s looking for a publisher…
It’s been almost six months since the actual break-up with C (we’ll call her), and while emotions have dulled, the mental patterns that were grooved into my normally agile neural pathways over four years are just now slowly starting to dissipate. Too often in the past these pathways have short-circuited, and become choked with depressive detritus. I wonder…Why?
There’s the crux. Wondering. Wondering is something one only really does well alone. And over the last four years, I’ve been alone a lot. Why? Well, partly because I’m a loner (and yet, ironically, I deeply value my friends). Also because of lots of travel and transition. But mostly because of a romantic relationship whose central component was regular (often long) periods of distance from each other. Of course, this wasn’t good.
There could be all sorts of reasons why it wasn’t good (loneliness, lack of intimacy, barriers to communication, etc, etc…). But, for me, there really was only one. And that was reason itself.
Funny thing reason. What it means to be reasonable or “rational”, is, as many philosophers have suggested, not necessarily objective or fixed. There are myriad ways to be rational. But, invariably, to reason and be rational implies seeking explanation. And that’s where my reasoning went astray and my reason went away.
When something is both emotionally important and often missing it becomes, in a sense, everything. It especially becomes a reason for everything. Feeling sad? The reason? C isn’t around. Struggling with focus and work? The reason? Distracted thinking about C. If she were closer — nearby — focusing would be easier. Abusing substances? Well, it’s a way to dull feelings and deal with being apart from C.
C — and the distance and seeming tragedy of separation from her — became the universal solvent. She was the ultimate “reason” and rationale. The aimless melancholy mental meanderings all blurred together into a kind of pastiche of pathos. The longer it went on, the more epic it got. You can, of course, see the dilemma here. What happens when C was around and I still felt sad, unfocused or was getting high?
Well, the wheels fell off. The charade of ideals started to crumble. And things went badly.
After all, if you idealize something and it becomes the “key to happiness” then nothing simple and pure and real (and even truly wonderful) suffices. All bets are off. Like an addict before a hit imagining it’s intensity, the real never measures up. That’s why the “high” is always followed by a coming down (that precedes the real coming down…).
And there’s always that twitchiness, that uncomfortable state of being brought on by waiting for the next hit. And waiting, as Beckett once suggested, is an odd, disorienting and liminal state. When life becomes consumed with waiting it almost ceases to be. The conscious mind spins and twists on its own axis, floating through an empty and dead spiritual space. Instead of the vivid sense of each moment being limitless that comes from mindfulness, moments seem to drift away like smoke from a fire, dissipating as they mingle with a general atmosphere of malaise. Presence proves ever elusive.
As so many New Age sages suggest, we must live today, for tomorrow may never come. For the sad soul stuck in a relationship plagued by distance, tomorrow is all there is. Alas, even when the relationship ends, the patterns of mind and mood linger. One suffers the pain of breaking up that much more. All long-distance love seems sharply tinged with an air of injustice and tragedy.
Anyway, it’s over. I’m (finally) starting to feel an overall insouciance about it all. And yet, regrets remain. As does an unreasonable hope: that someday it could really work if the conditions were different. Even this is a leftover echo of the disappointment of distance. Were I to be totally truthful, I’d admit that even this essay was a vain attempt to express myself to C in a manner unburdened by circumstance. But, like much of the thought and feeling borne of loving C, it’s a frustrating and futile affair.
This, then, is the lesson of C. A lesson I may spend a lifetime trying to learn…Or unlearn.