Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dreaming still

I never used to remember my dreams. I know that we dream three or four times a night, but I could never recall them But something strange happened to me when I was away last year. After a turbulent five years, I took the opportunity to go on a sabbatical to Australia for six month. I allowed myself to get away from the daily madness we call routine. And that is when things started going strange. One of which was dreaming.

I found myself waking up startled. 2:22 on the clock. I had a nightmare...agian. My heart raced me to consciousness. I woke up with a start. Shit.

I have also been remembering my dreams. Nightmares and dreams. I could never remember my dreams before, and rarely have I ever had nightmares. So much so, that now,  I am puzzled.  I do not know if my experiences are real experiences, or dreams. Since I did not remember my dreams before, I had no reference for how to deal with them. Before, anything that I "experienced" I believe to have happened in my conscious life.  My real life. I had such a clean distinction before. I had a sharp demarcation between conscious experience that I remember, and unconscious dreams which remained hidden.

My nightmares are happening with such consistency now that I have to remind myself, that when I am awake and conscious, that I am not dreaming. My dreaming has infringed upon my waking consciousness.

And this has continued after my return home. Back home after six months of travel, I am changed. My dreams seem to equate with empathy. I experience events that other people have told me about but which I have never experienced. Some are pleasant (flying unaided) other dreams are not quite so (being abused.)

In the past when I was told that they feel lost and out of control, I, who have never ever felt ungrounded, could only acknowledge the facts. I knew intuitively that the experience they were relating was bad, but bad in my way.  And despite my empathy, my "bad" is different from your bad. And it is not just in terms of degrees of bad, but in terms of the repercussions. The ripple effect of bad.  Having half my leg torn off by a dog, requiring 17 stitches, is bad, but there are simple repercussions--I (was) afraid of dogs.  Being beaten senseless by your husband/ wife/ boyfriend/ girlfriend leaves indelible marks that cannot be cured by getting a puppy. My dreams taught me that.

I now dream about how it is to experience events from another perspective. It is not all sublime. Some of my dreams involve mundane things like driving a truck. Yes, mundane, but do you know how invincible you feel driving a truck especially when you have never actually been in one yourself? Other experiences are not so easy to accept. Being physically abused was difficult and traumatic. Dreaming of being the abuser while at the same time feeling the consequences of those actions was unique. As the abused, knowing that you are not in control, leaves you utterly de-humanized. Like a rag thrown away, splattered against the rocks. Knowing that the abuser is also impervious to you, the abused. It is not about you. The selfish and egoistic desire to lash out has nothing to do with the recipient. I learnt that in my dreams. I always thought that if  am hit that I will retaliate to save "me." But it is not about me about ego. It is about the abuser and their issues, their psychosis. A lot of sleepless nights where I wake up startled.

It also gets funny. I woke up to my tinnitus, ringing in my ear. That was funny since I woke up answering an imaginary phone. I laughed so hard I had to run to the toilet.

I never used to remember my dreams. Now I am not sure whether they are dreams or just a reconstituting of my reality. Trying to make sense of the people around me so that I can empathize with them and undersand my world as it is rather than how I wish it.

Predictable Life

I have a pattern in my mind of how my life ought to be. This pattern is simple, uncluttered and linear. It goes something like this: I will grow up healthy, go to university, excel, fall in love, marry, have healthy beautiful kids, make an impact in my field, grow old and loved. I know I should have included "died", but remember that this is "ought to be", there are no deaths in ought to be.

You might have a similar pattern bouncing in your head. I wish I did not, but it is there. Even knowing that it is only a pattern--unreal and unattainable--it remains indelible. It eludes destruction. It has the ability to shine through my darkest moments. When all I can see is an all engulfing blackness of my utter incompetence--when my lights are at their dimmest,  fueled unrelentingly by what I have not been able to accomplish--my pattern shines at its brightest.

I try and ignore it, diminish and hide this internal light. Indelible, running like a stain in my otherwise imperfect rhapsody of colorful experiences.

Every aspect of life mirrors us, mirrors me. So there are aspects I do not like and which I try and grow out of me. Wash out the stain to leave the clear and predictable pattern. These themes conflict with what I want my path to be. They are impediments. Imperfections. And despite conscious attempts to be in the present I face these themes as barriers, as deflections.

Having children have made me look at the perfect pattern in my head and how unreal it is. I am lucky. I have two healthy bright active children. I wanted girls. I wanted my life to revolve around a nurturing loving family, cooking together, enjoying nature, the environment, books, art, and all the finer expressions of what makes us human. You can taste the seductive nature of my perfect pattern. Simple expressions of love, care and nurturing.

But healthy kids do not conform to such perfect visions. Healthy kids think that they are immortal, all knowing gods of cool and righteousness.

I always joke that only a woman could have written Frankenstein. I assumed only women could appreciate giving birth to another soul. An independent being with a will of their own. But I am wrong. I also see it. I also see how out of control their development is. I see my peripheral role.

Like Frankenstein, my kids are not real monsters, they do not threaten anyone but themselves. And Mary Shelley had an insight into this, except that she did not admit that the Frankenstein she wanted to create was a better version of herself. As I wanted my kids to be.

There is a reason for the enticing pattern. I am driven to repeat a pattern that has been engrained into my genetic path. We all share this pattern. Frankenstein is the anomaly of what reality is like. Yet, aberrations--despite their ostensible dissonance--is the musical theme of my life.

Look at your life, what has been unplanned, and unforeseen, remain pivotal moments of change, transformations and self realization. It is the pattern that is hiding the real colors underneath. Colors that are not predictable, and orderly, but are reflecting a greater wonder than a simple pattern concocted by beliefs, prejudices and simplicity. The colors underneath represents life in all its swirling and undefined brilliance. I have a pattern in my mind of how my life ought to be and it is about time I stop honoring it and looking away from the obvious and to start seeing the eurythmics of colors playing underneath.