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Dream: 3.12.15

March 12, 2015

My viewpoint character experienced this dream from at least 3 different angles:

  1. It was a movie, that she wandered into the theater as it playing, when it was well underway. At intermissions, she asked people in the audience for details about the context she hadn’t been able to figure out.
  2. She was actually in the action, with the other characters. But she was sort of like a Ghost of Christmas Past, because no one else knew she was there (?), but she could sometimes affect events.
  3. She had been wandering through a large mall, when she came upon a museum, and went in. The museum was dedicated to specific characters/viewpoints of the story unfolding above. But there were no texts explaining the overall story arc, nor who all the characters were, and how they interrelated.

My viewpoint character got emotionally invested in the story right away, because apparently, she was contacted by/became aware of … a great-grandchild who was never born, but should have been, and wanted to be. My viewpoint character had been selected? to try to “fix” the past.

Julie Andrews was in part of it, but now I don’t remember which character she was.

The main setting is c. 1880s, possibly Australia, on a prosperous farm station. Main characters are a husband and wife, their children (3? 4?), the housekeeper who is the husband’s mistress, me, various replacement mistresses for various male householders (who have not yet taken up their roles). The story takes place in real time, in the 1880s, but also sometimes jumps to subsequent generations, struggling with the same shape of dysfunctional patterns.

The first scene I remember: I’m observing the interplay between the wife and the husband, from the drawing room where things are occurring. The wife has been meeting with some kind of professional (a counselor?), to whom she has confessed that her marriage is in trouble, but she’s not sure why. With the support of this other person, the wife appears at the threshold, and speaks to her husband. She’s awkward and uncomfortable at the beginning, but as she goes along, she draws confidence from what she is saying. At the time my memories start, she is telling her husband she’s willing to “become a tigress in bed (if that’s what’s necessary)!” She blushes charmingly, and ringlets of hair fall out of her updo. {She wants this partnership to work! She loves her husband, and their children!} The husband looks at me, and rolls his eyes; emotionally, he’s moved on. He assumes I’m, of course, on his side, but privately, he strikes me as a spoiled baby of a man; I’m just glad his wife didn’t notice his rude reactions (because she was nervous and caught up in her own sense of self-discovery).

I become aware of the mistress after this scene. She’s a tall, full-figured, imposing woman, stern, she never smiles. {It is impossible to imagine her unclothed, or sharing moments of intimacy with someone.} The children are afraid of her, but also strangely fascinated by her. At least one of the children “falls under her spell”. Her name sounds like classical Greek: Hymphona, or Pamphone, or something like that.

Later, I’m walking through the museum, and all the artifacts reflect the life of the wife. Other people walking through the museum at the same time openly ridicule the wife. I don’t like that; I feel indignant on her behalf.

Hugh Grant, who has a very leathery, pockmarked face, plays the modern-day father (the third generation patriarch of this family). He also keeps mugging for me, assuming I’m on his side, when I’m actually deeply ambivalent.

The modern-day housekeeper is younger than the 1880s one, prettier, still has dreams for her future. Is a nice person, who genuinely likes the kids. When this scene begins, someone has told the housekeeper, or she has figured out for herself, that the husband doesn’t love her; that he’s selfish and thoughtless. The farm station is (still) isolated, but she finds a way to escape it.

Later, I’m at the entrance to the museum, and a glint in the eye of the ticket taker causes me to recognize them as (somehow) a child of the 1880s father. I realize that, if the young, pretty teenaged woman ahead of me, Alice, buys a ticket and enters the museum, she’ll get sucked into the drama, and have to play it out in her own life. I line-jump, and persuade her to go see something else. The ticket-taker glares at me, thwarted.

I buy a ticket, and enter the museum myself. This time the artifacts aren’t about the wife, they’re about the husband. The tone of the exhibit is… ironic? Definitely not complimentary to the husband. I recognize that the exhibit changed because I (somehow) changed history.

I don’t know, though, if the great-grandchild got born, or not.

===

I’m in the outback of Australia, on a tour of some kind.

There’s water. A marsh.

===

Later, I’m standing on a crowded boat, on a waterway, looking out at the marsh we’re approaching. A youngish man in front of me starts insulting me, my body. I realize I’m not wearing a shirt, so the things he’s saying are about how small/supposedly inadequate my chest is. I angrily refute him. Then slap him on the torso, several times. He backs away.

+++

I was just feeling déjà vu: surely I had a different-but-similar-sort-of dream, months ago, about a 19th century farmstead? It might even have been Australia. Why would I be dreaming about 1880s Australia? Twice?

Wait a minute. I actually have Australian relatives (although they’re not my direct ancestors). The family genealogy software is… on the backup hard drive from 3 computers ago (so I can’t easily look anything up), but, from what I recall, family legend says, “there were 3 Irish brothers: one went to America; one went to Australia; one went to New Zealand.” The NZ brother was lost to the rest of the family.

From what my October 2009 post about Down Under relatives doesn’t say, it seems that the “Irish brother that went to Australia” is likely to be the father or maybe the brother of my own great-grandfather. I know my father’s father’s father (paternal great-grandfather) had a farm in Ireland. My grandfather was not the oldest son, so he wasn’t the heir; but he’s not one of the 3 brothers — that happened before his time. I also know my grandfather was friends with one of his Australian cousins, who was, iirc, highly decorated in WW1.

Okay, so hypothetically, say it’s the generation of my grandfather’s father that includes the 3 brothers. Say my own great-grandfather is the oldest brother, so he inherits his father’s farm in Ireland, and doesn’t emigrate. But his younger brothers have to seek their own fortunes elsewhere, so they head off in 3 different directions.

Since my grandfather was born in 1896, and he wasn’t the eldest child (a daughter, iirc), or the eldest son, his father was likely born circa 1860s.

So, the patriarch of the family in my dream could, barely, be my great-grandfather’s younger brother. And then “the great-grandchild that didn’t get born” ~ someone at the level of my generation.

But why am I dreaming about it?

= + +

The dreaming-about-a-marsh thing is getting weird. What’s weirder is that, no matter the ostensible setting of the dream, the marsh itself always looks similar. Like, it’s the same marsh. The only marshes I know personally are in Assateague and Chincoteague, and I don’t think it’s either of them. I think it’s Chesapeake Bay. I think when I’m asleep, I can “hear” it directly trying to catch my attention, and entice me to … come visit?

I clearly need to do something.

= + =

The guy harassing on the boat is interesting because, even though he used different insults, that really happened to me. (Not on a boat, nor was I actually topless.) Someone I went to middle school with tormented me, in public, about my undeveloping chest. My brain froze up: I couldn’t figure out how to respond, so I just stood there, frozen with dread, listening to insults pouring over me. People were laughing, but I couldn’t move. I kept thinking one of his friends would intervene, make him stop, but they didn’t. It went on and on.

Wait a minute. The thing with Tony… was the same kind of thing. My brain froze first, so that, as a result, I couldn’t think to walk away, or to tell him to shove it. His friends laughed, too. Dammit.

For that matter, the thing in Philadelphia, in 2013. I’ve wondered so often, after — why didn’t I just get up and walk away? Well, why didn’t I?

Brain freezing is a trauma response: if you’re under attack by a predator, being frozen/immobilized can save your life: they think you’re dead or dispatched, so they walk away temporarily. And then, you “wake up”, and make your escape!

Except in my case, they never walked away, they kept poking me with sticks. Just cuz it’s fun, I guess.

Which means high school Tony was cruel, not just thoughtless. He could still be all the things I liked about him, but he was also cruel, to people who were, demonstrably, helpless. Oh, fuck.

The middle school bully who tormented me about my chest was Adam. Tony’s brother Adam. The Tony and Adam I’ve been dreaming about for 30+ years. Fuck.

= + =

I guess the good news is that, in this dream, I told the asshole off, and drove him away from me. He was embarrassed, and confused.

So, I’m healing.

+ = =

In the dream, I seemed to look androgynous, which people read as the sort of person they expected me to be. The father figures treated me like I was a fellow man.

I don’t know how I was dressed.

= + =

I didn’t know the names of anyone in the 1880s Australia parts. Because all the children were wearing the long dresses that children wore back then, although I know that there were boys and girls, I don’t know which were which, or how many of either there were.

I don’t know if the “great-grandchild that wanted to be born” had a gender already, and if so, what it might have been.

= = +

I may have looked like a man, but I identified with the wife — who was fighting for what she wanted for herself! — and then with “Alice”, the teenaged woman who escaped before she was drawn into the whirlwind.

+++

What dysfunctional social patterns keep repeating in my family, generation after generation?

  • Child abuse
  • Trauma
  • Learned Helplessness
  • ‘Poking people with sticks (often, helpless people)’ is entertainment, but it’s also done as if it were a sport — something to deliberately improve one’s skills at
  • Ridiculing people who are “different” // Conformity to a very narrow standard is mandatory
  • Emotional intimacy is to be avoided at all costs
  • ‘Showing vulnerability’ makes you prey ~ “You brought this on yourself! What were you thinking?!? Well, now you have to deal with the consequences!”
  • Dangerous & asshole-ish behavior is never called out. Endless excuses, ‘mitigating circumstances’ are always used to defend the predators. Who are never expected to show remorse, never mind atone.

 

So, apparently, I’ve been perpetrating all these horrors on my self. Fuck.

By historically making excuses for the real Tony (because I liked him), I, in effect, excused the dream-Tony too.

As recently as this year, I made excuses for real-Tony, while hating on real-Adam, but they both pulled the same kind of shit on real-me. And instead of calling them out, instead of enforcing — entirely reasonable — boundaries between us, I… chased after them. Essentially begging them to continue mistreating me, as — clearly — I was fine with it.

{Actually, I didn’t know I could be treated better. Because I never learned that. But anyway.}

I could say my ‘heroes’ have feet of clay, or even bodies of clay… but I like clay.

I HAVE BEEN COMPLICIT IN EXTENDING AND REPEATING MY OWN TRAUMAS.

The boys I grew up liking and admiring and wanting to be like… were not just thoughtless, but cruel. And dangerous. But that’s okay, that’s fine, because Boys Will Be Boys, and That’s Just How the World Is.

To have power, to wield power, one must be dangerous and cruel. One must be a boy/man. But I repeat myself.

We can never set limits on the behavior of boys/men. We can never say, “that is/was unacceptable.” We can never demand an apology. We can never insist on reparations.

Girls/women suffer the consequences. But that’s okay too, that’s fine, because Everybody Knows that Girls Are Worthless. Girls Don’t Count / Only Boys Matter.

Everybody Knows.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2015 16:20

    I read this on the metro this morning on my way to a work meeting. You distracted my anxious brain and helped me focus on discerning a most peculiar dream from last night. I really admire your commitment in investigating your dreams and find continued inspiration from you in looking at my own.

    • March 13, 2015 16:26

      That is welcome news indeed; thank you for sharing it.

      I hope your dream interpretations yield fruitful insights for you too.

      • March 13, 2015 16:27

        You’re welcome!
        Thank you. I mused over the dream after I read the post and it made a lot more sense after I looked at it through metaphors and associations rather than in the literal sense. I find reading your blog posts helped my mind sort of… “prepare” to be that abstract. It was nice.

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