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my soul laid bare: dream, 10.30.2014

October 30, 2014

The first thing I remember is emotionally charged: dream-J, approximately 13 years old, comes up to (taller) young-adult me, with mischief in his eyes. His light green eyes. I catch a feeling of delight in the air. He puts his hands on my chest. Time stops. I grab his hands; I say, “don’t you want to touch me?” With that, my shirt now has slits in it, and I place his hands on my bare breasts.

I see a micro-expression cross his face: I’m not entirely sure, but dream-me thinks it is . . . disgust. Maybe it’s distaste. My heart falls. I take his hands away from my body, which I turn so that he is facing my shoulder. I walk away brusquely. I find some activity to do in another room, alone, until I can regain my composure.

My brother D is on the boat too, although he mostly stays in the background (as far as I’m concerned). He is often a rival for J’s attentions, although my brother, being a fellow male, has access to parts of J I don’t (and don’t want to have) — parts that enjoy tormenting people.

While I’m in the other room, I hear both dream-D and dream-J moving around elsewhere, along with dream-E (my sister), and possibly others. I hope that dream-J is not telling the others what happened; that level of betrayal would make it difficult to face anyone.

When I come out, though, everyone else is acting “normal”, even dream-J, which means they are distant and merely polite. We all might be strangers.

We are now on a boat, gliding down a large, slow-moving river. I am trying to find landmarks on shore, without much success. Suddenly I see, at a junction with a perpendicular tributary, off to the right, a large white orb (perhaps the size of a Ferris wheel), nestled among the trees. I recognize the image as resembling a photograph I had recently seen in a magazine article about a particular city along a river. In my mind, I’m running through names. We have just left a city whose name begins with A; I’m somehow sure this image is also from a city name beginning with A. [I actually think of Charlottesville, Virginia, which I have never seen, but is where my dear friend K from grad school lives now, but obviously Charlottesville doesn’t begin with A.] I suddenly shout, “Alexandria!” And it both is, and is not. Because even in the dream, I know that I have been in Alexandria, Virginia, many many times, and while it is on a large river (the Potomac), it is not one of the rivers I’m looking at, on our boat. Yet the one thing I am sure of is that we are moving in a southerly direction.


I hate dreaming about J. I haven’t done so for (as far as I recall) months and months, and I had hoped I never would again.

My heart feels cracked wide open, which is . . . uncomfortable, painful, unwelcome.

Traditionally, for me, Samhain really begins on 10.30, and I was definitely feeling the tension and strangeness of it very-early-this-morning, while on Twitter, and then on a midnight walk. I went to sleep feeling it. And here we are.


I am diaphragmatically breathing into my discomfort and my dismay at this dream. I will not turn away from it. I will sit with myself until I find aspects I can bear to think about. I will try to stay open. (It is very hard.)

The two rivers. Moving southerly. Two cities whose names begin with A. Navigating. Emotional distance from people I’m trapped on a smallish vessel with.

My heart’s desire, who doesn’t love me. Who doesn’t burn to be with me, the way I burn to be with them. But why the mischief then? Whence the delight? I didn’t imagine them — they are the truest feelings I know.

What am I missing?

“Large white orb” looked almost like a ball of white yarn (except that it was 30 feet high), but now that I think about it, it reminds me of some of the spiderwebs I saw in the rainy walk last night/this morning. So maybe an egg case?

On my walk, photographing spider lines and webs, glistening in the rain despite the dark, I realized . . . I have an Inner Spider. I don’t even know what that means, except that it appears to be analogous to my Inner Alligator (which I also don’t know much about). My Inner Alligator keeps narrowly missing appearing in poems.

Last night, hours before my walk, I tweeted about a “cute tiny jumping spider” that traversed my laptop. Refused my offer of paper to relocate it; leaped onto the blanket and was lost from sight. I said I hoped neither I nor Spouse would roll over onto it, as we would never see it. (Much much later, I realized it’s a really good thing Spouse isn’t on Twitter; he freaks out about jumping bugs, and would have flipped out, thinking we might be sharing our bed with a jumping spider, even a pinhead-sized one.)


Why cities whose names begin with A? Why Alexandria-that-isn’t-but-sort-of-is?

I had an unlikely connection to Alexandria, Virginia, that long predates me moving to Maryland. Ages 13–15 or so, my best friend was a girl I’d met at a Girl Scout Camp in the wild woods of Wisconsin. She lived in Alexandria, Virginia. The summer after my freshman year in high school, I went out there to visit her. She took me to the Torpedo Factory, which made the biggest impression on me of the whole trip (which is saying a lot, because even little things about the trip . . . blew the top of my head off — there were so many possibilities in the world I’d never even imagined).


{The title of this post . . . is operating as kind of a dare to myself: not to look away, not to stint, not to lie by omission. Which I’d normally be extremely tempted to do because this dream was Disturbing On Many Levels. And yet, therapy is about stretching my comfort zones, healing, making new things possible. Can’t get there from here if I don’t . . . look stuff in the eye, acknowledge it, learn from it.}

Last summer, at AROHO, I wrote a poem that sort of follows a form (albeit a form of my own design, I guess), even though that’s not my thing at all. A poem that talks about rivers. Rivers I have loved, rivers that shaped who I am. I don’t completely know what the poem is about, as, every time I read it, I gain new insights. I do know that it needs a better title; it’s currently on its (I think) fifth name, but none of them quite work. I showed the poem to a poet I follow on Twitter, amongst a group of my favorite, most-meaningful poems. He said he liked parts of it, but the ending was a letdown, because it was “too predictable”. Obviously, for a person who hates the idea of ‘ordinary’, hearing that this highly-charged poem has a “predictable ending”, cut me to the quick. But beyond that, every single time I read it, I’m surprised by the ending, which I don’t know how to parse. It’s sort of a metaphor, sort of true, sort of something else. The ending came directly from my unconscious; my conscious mind remains mostly mystified by it. So how can it be predictable?

But now I’m afraid to show the poem to anyone else. This deep truth of my life that I barely grok . . . is banal? is a cliché? Really?!?

After I told Spouse this story, he wants to see the poem, so he can tell me what he thinks. No, no, no. Hell no. I don’t need another man passing judgment on me. Finding my deepest truest self . . . wanting, a little sad, boring.


During my senior year of high school, my family of origin readied for a summer vacation to Europe. This time we were old enough to get a say in (some) things. We got to vote on some destinations, although my parents’ votes counted more than any kids’ votes. I also suggested several places that no one else cared about. (None got the go-ahead.)

My parents invited J to come along. In my mind, how I thought of this offer was, “yeah, sure, 4 weeks in Europe, all expenses paid! That’ll be excellent, definitely. I can hardly wait! But . . . you’ll get to spend 4 weeks with me! Together! It’ll be awesome!!”

Some part of me honestly thought . . . that aspect would be irresistible.

He said no. He said he wanted to . . . spend time with his friends. I countered with, “This is just four weeks — you can spend all the time you want with your friends, for the rest of the summer.” I honestly thought he would change his mind, when he realized how unprecedented and amazing this trip could be. If I’m not an inducement, Europe?! All expenses paid?!??!

But no.

I got my wish to spend all the time I wanted, alone with him, months later when I was sent in disgrace to live with his parents. He tormented me, terrorized me. He molested me, raped me, and tried to kill me.

Probably just as well he didn’t come to Europe. He likely would’ve spent all his time with my brothers, not me, and all three of them would’ve tried to torment me. I guess that’s fun if you’re a guy.

Or they would have just ignored me altogether. That actually did happen, fairly regularly, but I turned a blind eye because I couldn’t bear that to be my reality. I thought I knew who he really was. I was wrong.


I’m afraid to explore my masculine aspects, because I didn’t grow up with any men I wanted to emulate. They were all (at least when it came to me, personally) dismissive of girls and women in general, often contemptuous, often really mean. And I was physically afraid of some of them.

What am I opening myself up to be, if I admit to myself that I have masculine aspects? And they want to be expressed?

No men in my family of origin would accept masculine aspects in a person who seems to be a woman. I would be in even more danger than I have been. And all the women would watch, silently. My mother would hand J the knife. (I have dreamed this many times.)

I’m allowed to be a woman. Women listen. Women offer support. Women keep their needs to themselves.

I am not solely a woman. I’m certainly not solely a man. I’m partly both, and mostly something else entirely. I would like to find out what that something is.

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