My Dad was a special guest star in my dreams last night. I was a teenager in all of them, not really surprising, because that’s the era of my life that I saw the most of him, as I lived with him for three years after things became dark and unpleasant with Mom’s husband. Then I graduate from high school and left home.
In one memorable part of the dream, Dad and I were following a young tabby cat. The cat had gone down a sidewalk. I hurried after him, and discovered him rolling around on the cement walk in some freshly cut grass.
After that, the dream scenes fluttered and crackled. There was Dad and I driving in a car, and I’m looking out the window, checking out passing scenery. We throw a baseball back and forth in sunshine. I hear his laugh. Dad enjoys laughing.
The dreams grew darker and faster in nature. Then, suddenly, it became “This Is Your Life” from when I was in my mid-teens.
Life wasn’t going well. Most of my time was spent reading books, riding my bike, playing sports, drawing and painting, and listening to music. Although I enjoyed math, history, science, and literature, school was a bore. I was becoming a loner and acted out out a lot, and the dream managed to feature sharp memories of that era. In one sequence, a boy two years younger than me was riding a bike. A bunch of us children were in front of his house on a late summer afternoon. We weren’t doing much but hanging. I think I was fourteen. This kid, though, was riding around and bantering with others. Then I heard my sister say, “He spit on me.”
I don’t believe I’d ever reacted as fast to anything in my life, and I have always, from childhood on to even now, been known for amazingly fast reflexes.
He was riding his bike by me. My hand shot out, caught the rear of his bike and jerked it back, pulling it out from under him. As he fell free, I tossed the bike to one side, stepped forward, grabbed the kid, and hauled him to his feet. I told him he needed to apologize to my sister. I remember that other kids there were freaked out and afraid I was going to do something terrible to the kid. But he apologized to my sister. I released him. He took his bike and ran to his house.
His mother came out and confronted me. I was unapologetic. I told her nobody was going to spit on my sister while I was there. She didn’t know her son had spit on my sister. That changed things.
The scene was just a brief flash in my dream, the part where my sister said, “He spit on me,” and I grabbed his bike. I remembered the rest, along with other memories from that period, after awakening.
The whole dream and memory sequence left me emotionally shaken as I went about my morning routine. As I wondered why I’d dreamed so much about my father and childhood, I reached out to him to ensure he was okay.
Mutterings of a harsh and mean nature whipped around him. All of it wasn’t about him, although that omniscient and omnipotent unseen ‘they’ kept forking him more than anything else.
Although he’d been going straight, a tunnel had swerved over him. Light became dark, up became down, and all became meaningless, a perfect mood, if you’re in an abused porta-potty — which he wasn’t, although, “in his mind,” quote, unquote, everything that he touched was shit, as was, in fact, everything that he’d ever done or had tried to do, and the world was hastening down the sluice, so, Good God, what’s the fucking use?
The obvious remained a quicksilver truth until he saw, damn, this is where I’m at. Make no sudden moves and keep your words to yourself. Be wary of the tunnel animals. They’re real and they’re not, but their teeth and claws are sharp. Keep going as straight as you can. The tunnel will swerve again.
It did, pouring him into sunshine on a smoked-filled day, letting him breath again, even though the air was polluted with particulates. Just been that time again, when he was going through a tunnel.
It was another anxiety work dream last night, and I don’t even work! I haven’t been employed for several years after working for IBM for fifteen. I’ve been doing nothing but pursing the writing dream since then, after postponing that goal for a few decades.
The dream found me with two co-workers. I don’t recognize them from my life. The three of us were dressed in business suits with shirts and ties, the kind of attire I wore when I was in marketing. We were at a big convention to get some work, the kind of function that I was forced to endure, and that I hated. It was a familiar setting, a large but crowded and noisy ballroom in a hotel or convention center filled with tables with white tablecloths and napkins, and pseudo-fine china and flatware.
I don’t know what business the three of us were in but we were there to network and generate some leads so we could have an income. While we were talking, they informed me that I’d paid for the previous night’s meal. They were dismissive when they told me this, without humor or sympathy. They said that I had insisted.
Well, the bill was for over five hundred and fifty dollars. I’d put it on my Amex.
Horrified and shocked, I couldn’t believe what I’d done, and I didn’t remember doing it. Panic and anxiety filled me. This is when it got twisted.
I don’t have an Amex. I gave that up a few years ago. I never wore a suit and tie while I worked at IBM. (My marketing roles were with a couple previous start-ups.) Meanwhile, in the dream, I now worried that my employer, IBM, wouldn’t pick up that tab. Hell, that was completely against their policies, and I knew it. But I didn’t understand why I thought IBM still employed me even while I was there as an independent contractor, trying to generate business.
I was also sick with worry in the dream because my wife would be furious, because she knew IBM wouldn’t pay for it, so I’d need to eat that bill and pay for it myself. Funny, but in reality, that’s the sort of thing that she would shrug off, should it have happened.
Anxiety, frustration, confusion, worry, and fear. This dream had it all. Waking up and thinking about it, I knew it stemmed from my writing. I’m reaching the end of the beta version of the series, and I’m worried that all this was for naught, that I suck as a writer and story-teller, and have no creativity.
You know, just the typical writing angst.
With all of its elements, I recognized what it was all about, and laughed at how my mind works. The dream was beneficial, because it feels like a storm has blown through, leaving me relaxed and ready to write.
Not an uplifting song, but one that inspires a sense of hope. “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. came out in 1992. It works as a vehicle for when you’re down and suffering, when the shit’s gone wrong, and you’ve hit the bottom, and you’re ready to start climbing back up again.
Knowing someone was about to die, and not knowing, but having someone die unexpectedly, made little difference to him, he discovered. The death was a loss he felt, regardless of how much the other’s death was anticipated.
Nor did the quantity of tears shed reflect the pain he felt.
Have you ever exploding with anger without understanding why you were so angry, and then walk away and wonder, what happened?
No, me neither.
I try to stay emotionally balanced and optimistic, but with my personality and worldviews, balancing on a paring knife is almost as easy as it for me to keep my balance.
I fell off within the last few days. As usual, I crashed into angry, bitter darkness. I felt lost and alone. It’s not fun. It’s exhausting. Walking and writing both help me climb back out of the dark canyon. It was a long climb this time. Today’s walk definitely helped.
So did conscious efforts to release my anger, bitterness, frustration, sadness, despair, hopelessness…name a negative emotion or reaction, and I probably had it in the mix. Each step on the walk was punctuated with me hissing to myself, “Release my anger, release my bitterness, release my frustration,” and so on. Eventually, feeling stronger and cleaner, and enjoying a sense that those negative energies were evaporating, I turned it into a more positive urging, “No anger, no bitterness, no frustration.”
This plunge felt deeper and darker. I don’t know why this one was so deep and dark. I don’t know why that was so. Outwardly, all was well. I’m editing a novel. Other novel concepts swirl through me head. Projects are established.
I was having issues with Amazon KDP and their paperback process. It took longer than expected. Of course, I’d been set up for disappointment with claims about how fast – five minutes – and easy it’s supposed to be. It was not that easy, which might just be me, and nothing else. I found their support process short of expectations, too. When I contacted them with a problem using their Cover Creator, they kicked back something nonsensical and suggested I use their Cover Creator.
Eventually, with stubbornness and persistence, I overcame the issues. Then the darkness hit.
So I walked today. I hadn’t planned to go so far. Sometimes I intuitively know what’s needed. Today, my mind and body requested a hard, fast, long walk.
After a mile, I was striding fast. Sweat soaked my Tilly hat and shirt, and tickled my neck as drops dripped off my hair and ears. I breathed hard and my heart thundered in my ears. Still, I pressed on until I realized that I was out of the shadow of darkness. The world seemed better, then, and my hope and optimism were restored.
Still, in the aftermath, I wonder what it is in me that causes these regular, recurring crashes. I know my wife hates them. I’m not fond of them, either. I imagine others experience them, too. If they’re like me, it’s probably only those closest to them who are aware that they’re going through. If they’re like me, others probably aren’t aware of the depths of despair, bitterness and frustration encountered.
My outward signs are that I become almost a mute. I’m often truculent when I do respond to others. It’s not deliberate, or a choice, but something I endure, and try to overcome. I’m probably okay for another twenty to thirty days.
Then it will come again. I’ll try to be ready, and I’ll resist it. Sometimes, I’m more successful than other times, but it’s not at all predictable.
I’ll take it on when it comes.