by Tilly Pink
Note: Maria had no knowledge of my past relationship, which had hurt me so deeply on both physical and emotional levels.
There is a popular psychoanalytical notion that to be able to do the work a loving relationship requires, it is necessary to be active in a relationship. While this is undoubtedly true – we are experiential learners after all – my own ‘choices’ in experiential relationships were becoming deeply destructive and, quite honestly, dangerous to my physical and emotional well-being.
Perhaps something in me needed to experience this kind of relationship? A darkness that seemed tightly woven into some mysterious unconscious web. The word ‘choice’ does not seem applicable; I couldn’t simply choose not to attract dark and harmful relationships, even by making it conscious (I was fully aware of what I was doing.) The power of desire and sexuality, and all it is linked with, was a force far too strong to overcome within the three years of Psycho Dynamic Counseling work I had done in a small room. I have no bones to pick with Psychotherapy, it helped me greatly, but having lucid dreamed for some years, and recognising the benefits of exploring the unconscious through dream, one day I thought: ‘Perhaps we don’t need to actualise some experiences. Perhaps we can walk with our shadows in our dreams, or in our imaginations. Rather than using dreams simply to interpret the workings of our unconscious, by using the lucid dream, we can consciously walk with shadow aspects. The experiential nature of learning, processing and essentially growing, can take place while the physical being – and the psyche – stays safe from harm.’
My last relationship had damaged me so deeply, I simply had no energy left to try again. There was no blame there toward my last partner, but I could not escape the darkness of it. I felt I had lost some vital part of my self – of my soul – and it felt irretrievable. I inevitably got ill, a chronic fatigue syndrome that left me only able to function on a day to day level. I had no energy for anything creative. My life was nothing but brittle bone.
I met Maria on Rory Mc Sweeny’s site during a shared dream experiment trial. We discovered that we had met in dream space. An excerpt from my dream:
I was standing in the frame of a window wanting to jump out into a half lit garden where two women walked. The women were wise and lovely, older than me, and I wanted to share their company. One of them looked at me. But I could not let go. I held tight onto the window frame. It was not that I was afraid to fly down – I knew beyond doubt I was dreaming – I was afraid to join the women in the garden.
I discovered Maria was an experienced dream worker, and a profound lucid dreamer. I continued to interact with her online, and we spoke more of the possibilities and potential of dream sharing. But I still felt afraid. There was something about the intimacy of conscious dream sharing that frightened me. Although through my study of the collective consciousness, I understood that we are always dream sharing, the act of working with someone consciously, or with a group, intimidated the damaged aspect of my self. My shadow, this dark man I had allowed to sit in my psyche and eat all of my creativity, disallowed it. But when Maria had the following dream – a huge shift took place within me.
Maria’s Dream, April 8, 2014:
I leave my home, full of people I have served drinks to as they take refuge there en route to somewhere else in the morning. I move swiftly through the nocturnal cobbled streets of a city reminiscent of old Boston. I become semi-lucid as I discover I have made almost a full circle, and will soon be right back where I started. I know this happens frequently in dreams. I wonder about the phenomena as I think of the people in my house, especially my mother. Looking down at the cobbled sidewalk, shining as if wet with rain, I feel my love for her seeming to permeate every stone, the entire scene. I feel, and know, that everything surrounding me is love. My mother is the Mother, Her loving, caring essence in all I can see and experience around me always.
I continue past where I began in my dream home, moving impossibly fast and without any effort. As I enter a large structure (an impossible to classify blend of mall, rail station, grand theater and university) I know suddenly that I can fly and I promptly lift off, soaring over the heads of people who are also moving toward a dark-brown central staircase. I am on an urgent mission, the reason I was racing through the streets to this place, and I have no time to lose. My ability to fly and the awareness that I’m dreaming happen seamlessly, but I don’t have time to think about it because someone is in grave danger. Except now I’m moving more slowly, and I think how odd it is that I can run faster than I can fly in the dream space. I begin doing what I call my “dolphin kick”, my legs together as though I’m swimming through the air, and immediately I’m flying swiftly again. I think—Of course this works better. Seeing my arms outstretched like Superman, I immediately lower them and press them against my sides. I think—How silly, stiff and awkward to think I need to imitate Superman to fly.
I have all the speed and agility I desire now as I fly up the staircase, and although I don’t think I really need to, I stretch out my right arm as I make a sharp right turn, which brings me to a dark wooden door I hope will lead me to the corridor I’m looking for. The door opens onto a room, but my momentum is so great I know it can’t stop me, that the place I seek is just beyond the next door, and it is. I come to a stop in a dimly lit hallway. To my right I see two or three more dark-brown doors. I sense one of them is my room, like in a hotel or dorm building, which means I’m where I’m meant to be. On my left, the somewhat seedy looking corridor ends in a wall with a large square window through which only darkness is visible. A blonde woman is standing before it. She’s the one I’m here to protect from the life-threatening danger I sense about to emerge from one of the rooms. I step quickly over to the window. With the heels of both hands, I shove the glass out of my way and escape, with a swift agility that pleases me.
Turning to face the building, I begin descending feet first toward the ground, which is far below me. I’m not plummeting downward as I would in waking reality, but I am moving fast, and I anticipate the impact of landing hard on my feet, although I know, of course, it won’t hurt me. I’m looking up at the window, in which a large man has appeared who is obviously angry and searching for me. He has dark, somewhat sparse hair in a buzz cut, his body is stocky and tall, powerful looking in a worn, off-white and short-sleeved t-shirt. I can feel how much he wants to kill me because, by escaping him, I have somehow made it possible for the blonde woman to get away from him and be free of him. He will never be able to get to her now. It makes me very nervous when he looks down at me, but thankfully it’s too dark for him to see me. Although he is still standing in the window, I stop my descent and begin floating backward away from the building. I know this will enable him to see me, but it’s necessary. Even in the midst of this frightening drama, I think—I love my new found powers in lucid dreams! The man does indeed spot me, and yells at me, warning me what will happen if I try and expose him. Knowing the woman is safe now, that my intervention has somehow delivered her from him, I smile and reply, “I’m going to tell!” as I float away triumphantly.
I find myself hurrying into a well-lit restaurant, minimalist and tasteful, with blonde wooden tables and chairs, and stainless steel drawers set in wooden furniture. A blonde woman and her male partner just stand there watching me as it is communicated, by way of some mysterious dream space intercom, that I have forfeited my share in the business. I don’t regret it, because it is a consequence of having saved that other blonde woman. This blonde woman glances at her partner, and I feel how pleased they both are they will now be full owners of this place. I’m happy for them, and I’m hungry! I open one of the stainless steel drawers looking for silverware, but it contains only stainless steel cooking utensils, and the same is true of the other drawer. No matter. I grab two fluffy white short baguettes, squeezing them to feel their freshness, and put them on my plate as the dream space makes another announcement. A woman, who is somehow also me, addresses all the people inside and outside, assuring them there will be no traffic jam because, “I killed him this morning, so you’ll be on your way.” Smiling with satisfaction, sharing in the triumphant amusement I detect in her/my voice, I wake.
So how does this work? What did Maria do? Did she really go flying into my psyche, knock out the windows (similar to the window I was afraid to jump through to meet her in my earlier dream) and literally save my soul? As I read her dream, I felt overwhelmed, and asked myself these questions. It reminded me of the notion of Shamanic soul retrieval, but generally I stay away from working with any perceived ideas, only enjoying their cultural creativity. But it did seem that Maria had managed to retrieve a part of my soul which had felt irretrievable. Readers will have to trust the utter sense of release I experienced after her dream. It seemed that Maria had proved to me, by having this dream, the very point I was making about using the dream space to consciously experience relationships, and to heal traumas while remaining completely safe. But more so, she had proved to me that because our consciousness is already entwined, we can heal each other as well.
In the first paragraph of her dream, Maria writes:
I become semi-lucid as I discover I have made almost a full circle and will soon be back right where I started. I know this happens frequently in dreams.’
Yes it does. I too have had those deep dreams where I have unconsciously meandered through dream experiences, and ended up back at the beginning. Is this not reminiscent of waking life as well? And the same de-ja-vous that can be responsible for waking one up in a dream due to this repetition is similar to that of the ‘wake up call’ in waking life… ‘Oh, here I go again… another damaging relationship…’ So by becoming conscious in waking life, we can extend that to waking up in the dream, where we are able to work with our shadows consciously, lucidly. I wonder if Maria’s psyche had already picked up that she could not work with me in dreams if this great big Shadow aspect was not somehow integrated into our relationship?
Maria then speaks of her experience flying:
‘I begin doing what I call my ‘dolphin Kick’, my legs together as though I’m swimming through the air, and immediately I’m moving swiftly again. I think – Of coursethis works better. Seeing my arms outstretched like Superman, I immediately lower them and rest them against my sides. I think – how silly, stiff and awkward to think I need to imitate Superman.’
Superman! My hero! One day I will have a super man that may come and save me from the horrible baddie that keeps my soul locked in the dungeon of my ego. Except that won’t happen, because I am the only one keeping my soul locked up. These very dark and destructive shadow aspects of mine had become innately and stereotypically masculine. The idea of the male superhero as medicine – whether it be Super Man or a knight in shining armour – is just a fantasy, and the polarisation of a symptom can never be the cure. Maria’s dream seemed to embody aspects of the divine feminine – how she describes her mother – and the fluidity of the dolphin demonstrates the ease with which she could reach me in the dream space, as we are already connected there.
I was quite surprised when she described the physical appearance of my ‘captor.’ As I read her dream, I was already aware she was working with a distortion of my masculine psyche, my damaged animus, but she aptly described my ex-partner. What’s more, my ex-partner had actually expressed that he would have liked to have ‘kept’ me in a house just for his private amusement away from others. That very intention of his had led me to feel aroused by the idea of ‘protection,’ and made me feel so special – like some sacred work of art – that my ego may have submerged the idea into an imaginative reality Maria perceived in her dream.
This man was a fiction within myself, and I was actualising it, playing it out in my relationships. I was not really a victim, I just wanted to take a walk in the underworld. The strong feminine aspect of Maria (who perhaps had been wanting to connect with me through dream) came up against this very dark and angry masculine part of myself, determined not to let go and allow myself to be the very best creative person I could. My inactive feminine aspect (the blonde woman – another stereotypical image I had allowed be imposed and projected onto me) simply stood there while Maria fought this force. And thus we became one and the same thing.
‘Even amidst the drama, I think – I love my new found powers in lucid dreams! The man does indeed spot me, and yells at me, warning me what will happen if I try to expose him. Knowing the woman is safe now, that my intervention has somehow delivered her from him, I smile and reply, “I’m going to tell!” and float away triumphantly.
And she did! She told me! And I in turn told my self destructive Shadow, which put ‘him’ back to sleep and woke me up. Time is not linear, nor is the dream space. Maria’s dream, and the way my life was unfolding, were intimately entwined and synchronised. I truly believe we cannot work with dreams unless we are aware of our inner workings. I no longer believe dreams are there merely to process our waking experiences, or to be interpreted through western psychological terms into metaphors of our waking experiences. Lucid and conscious dreaming offers us wider opportunities for personal transformation and collective healing.
Maria’s ending of the dream is a perfect metaphor for the healing that has taken place. And I was very taken by the selfless aspects of it:
‘It is somehow communicated via some mysterious dream space intercom that I have forfeited my share in the business. I don’t regret it, for it is a consequence of having saved that other blonde woman. This blonde woman glances at her partner, and I feel how pleased they both are they will now be full owners of this place.’
Maria literally handed my ‘business’ back to me. It is my business after all. She had a share in it, and no doubt profited from it too, but it is mine to run now… and with a partner who will share in this greater business that will manifest into something nourishing and healthy – like the food we were serving. The restaurant of the soul.
Shortly after Maria had this dream, I suffered a return of my chronic fatigue symptoms. Maria contacted me, and I learned that she too was feeling under the weather after more than four years of never even getting a cold. The symptoms she described were very similar to my most common symptoms: an unquenchable thirst, tiredness, headache, a deep feeling of coldness in the body, and the need for warm and nourishing food. I got over my illness after only one week, which was quick compared to the weeks on weeks of unbearable exhaustion I had suffered for the last few years. I have not had a return of my chronic fatigue symptoms since, and I deeply feel that they will not be returning. Thank you Maria. x