I've always been intrigued by the fact that my astrological sign is Gemini. Though I personally give no weight to the mythological fascination of astrological signs, I am intrigued by the fact that the ideas behind being a Gemini have to do with a duality between positive and negative characteristics. Lately, this idea of twinship or duality has surfaced as I've grappled with some rather disrupting discoveries. Through my own personal processing, engagement with some of the thoughts and readings from my current courses, and the beginnings of a relationship with a therapist I have found a new metaphor to play with a bit in my life. I'm becoming increasingly fonder of the use of metaphors. I'm learning how useful they can be when the substance of our minds is to difficult to bear without them.
My practicum professor from last year (who is currently my professor of psychopathology) once said that what surfaces in our dreams is what we cannot bear when we are conscious. They are tools for the mind, much like metaphors are. I've had a series of disturbing dreams in the last week that have prompted much processing. I thought I might utilize this blog entry to process through my most recent dream which has given birth to a new metaphor.
It began in what appeared to be a city alleyway (though it was physically located in a field just west of WBCC - right where Centennial was built). It was dusk or dawn...I'm not quite sure which, but there was an eerie feeling to the entire experience. I knew that walking down this alleyway was dangerous. There was a long line of abandoned warehouses and old broken down homes that had become the primary residence for many people without homes or with serious substance abuse issues. Despite my cognizance of the danger, I proceeded to walk down the not-quite-dark, yet not-quite-light passageway. I physically felt myself swallowing my own fear. It somehow made its way to the pit of my stomach where it remained throughout the course of the entire dream.
As I was walking I noticed that a figure began following me. Initially my pace simply increased until I realized that his pace was increasing incrementally with my own. Without much thought, I turned around immediately and faced my stalker. He was a scary-looking dude. He looked like he had been far from the arms of love for quite some time. Instead of screaming or giving into my fear, I felt a surge of strength propel me to confront him. I instructed him to travel with me and I began to run backwards facing him. I told him that once we got to the other end of the alley I would feed him and care for him. Though I found that taking control of the situation made me appear to be unafraid, it was merely a cover for the deep set fear still making itself known (at least to me) in the pit of my stomach. Surprisingly, this scary dude seemed to succumb to my demands and I soon felt as though I had power over him. At the end of our jog together I indeed fed him and also pulled my handy little wet-wipe to clean off his grimy face. As I wiped clean the thick and greasy dirt from his face, I felt increasingly tender toward him and whispered aloud, "I am wiping clean a face that was once loved dearly."
That was the extent of the dream and so you may be able to already assess how much there has been to engage with. Initially I was fascinated with my determination to walk down a path that I knew from the beginning was dangerous. I don't think this was simply a reflection of my ability to often take the plunge when it comes to walking down the right, yet difficult, path. This was more associated with a part of me that wants to dare people to hurt me or do any more damage than what has already been done. I was then intrigued by the way in which I dealt with my own fear throughout the progression of this dream. The physical manifestation of swallowing my fear felt so real. What was that all about? I wonder about the ways in which I have simply swallowed the red-flags - or better yet, the anxiety indicators that protection is necessary.
When the stranger began to follow me and I felt my fear attempt to creep its way up to my throat (it sort of felt like pregnancy-induced acid reflux), I fought it by taking control of the situation...by taking control of the person whom I was most afraid of in that moment. This has been the idea that I have been stuck on now for a couple of days and this is where my metaphor began to develop. There seems to be a duality that has taken place within my very being for as long as I can remember. There is a little-girl Shauna who is severely vulnerable, desperate, and incessantly needy. And then there is big-girl Shauna who has actually taken little-girl Shauna hostage. Big-girl Shauna says, "Be quiet. Stop whining. Stop feeling needy...heck, stop feeling anything. Don't worry, I'll take care of everything, just let me be in control and you'll stop feeling the pain." Little-girl Shauna helplessly takes the hand of big-girl Shauna until the pain is just too much to bear, and the desire and hunger overwhelms her tired and lonely little body. So she begins to scream for help. She runs away from this big girl in desperate pursuit for a mother or a father to hold her and rock her and weep with her. But she never seems to find the one she needs and eventually big-girl Shauna finds her again.
Big-girl Shauna is not numb to the pain, but she has learned how to bury it - in the pit of her stomach. And she actually loves the little-girl Shauna and believes that she is doing what is best for her. Her life is consumed with quieting the needs and taking control. She is constantly filled with anxiety. This cycle never seems to end. So as I am coming to terms with this duality living within me, I am struggling to figure out how I can grow into an integrated self. Abuse and defense mechanisms have driven my life thus far. So how do I begin to free the little-girl Shauna and teach big-girl Shauna to trust again? Relationship seems to be the only answer. It can only be in the context of relationship that desires and fears can be given a voice. And yet genuine relationship is what this duality has prevented from occurring.