Thursday, 20 August 2009

An exercise in catharsis

I'm a great believer - if not excellent practitioner - in mood control, ie, bucking yourself up, finding something to smile about, giving yourself a good talking to when all you actually want to do is throw yourself on the floor in a stormy tantrum. Or worse, hide away under the duvet until the clouds have passed - worse because this is sometimes worth giving in to and extremely hard to resists - duvet days were a great invention, but for most of us, unfortunately, a weekend luxury. Life's not that convenient.
In my post last week I talked briefly on feeling blue and shaded in and how I'd 'had a word with myself' as a friend puts it and came back to some sort of equilibrium - a truce with myself that I could feel down for X amount of time, but thereafter, back on with life, hi-ho. And I managed it and the last few days have been fine, but I still feel a little wound up inside, not quite back to sunny normality.
Now, I'm not apologising for this - I believe that in actuality, humans have a licence to feel how they wish as long as they don't inflict their mood on others (and goodness, isn't that a demanding and incredible position to maintain, but we can all aspire), but I do find that during a consistent bout of feeling a bit down (no more no less), my dream-subconscious decides that it might as well get in on the act and give me a good psychological battering just when I really really don't need it - and it's this I want to explore.
One of my most frequent dreams that occurs when I'm feeling low is undoubtedly a Freudian classic (and I'd love to see how Jung or Adler might approach it), and it never fails to leave me feeling the next morning as if I might just give it all up now and go take my black and stormy person off to some wasteland somewhere where I might not poison anyone else.
So what is it? Well, the dream is always along the lines of a scenario being played out (last night it was Christmas Day) and my parents are extremely disappointed, then subsequently angry and dismissive about what they view as my childish point of view/behaviour/feelings in that scenario, and then dismissive of me as a person - it's like I'm wiped from the family unit. I, meanwhile, feel extremely frustrated and angry that I can't get my point across, that I'm being shown up as childish and behaving badly. Always in the dream, my parents end up taking my sister's side and pretty much constantly you can bet that my dream-sister has done something to antagonise the situation, making me furious and look like the bad party. So far, so very consistent...
Last night's was a humdinger though. This time my dream-sister and I didn't actually end up in yet another physical fist-fight, where I want to hit her so hard - and yet somehow can't quite land with the power I want - but she in fact called upon a gang of kids (good grief!) to threaten me with violence, push me around and make sure I was terrified.
The therapy-view is reasonably easy to guess at in these circumstances - it's never my husband in these dreams ever (for which I am endlessly grateful, one less stick for my subconscious to beat me with), but my family, whose opinion I respect and need (I surprise myself in writing that, but it's true) and my sister whose existence I'm sure I did at one point in my toddlerhood deeply resent, but it's all worked out now - but these things run very deep - the people whose love and sympathy I need most are those who are natural objects for the subconscious to use to turn that around. And - hard to believe - I'm not a depressive, although it was touch-and-go for a while there a couple of years back - God bless the old therapy couch.
By writing this down, I wanted to see if it's easy to gain some sort of perspective on the whole. Naturally I don't feel at my most loveable after these dreams and it takes a good couple of hours to bring myself around, talk myself back into a less harsh and judgmental stance on myself and feel a bit sunnier. However, I'm interested in how I'm responding to it writ large in black and white.
I still feel at the bottom of it all an underlying sadness and sense of worthlessness that stems deeply from the dream, that I'm better off on my own (a feeling I have to fight with all my being sometimes, because it's both untrue and ridiculous - no-one is). I find it hard to address these feelings or to talk to my amazing husband about them, because it would feel as if I was admitting an intrinsic failure in myself and an innate unloveable-ness - if I have these dreams, I'm both evil and unworthy and definitely insane, goes the thought process.
I suppose by writing it down, I'm trying to take away, or at least subdue, the power this recurrent dream has over me. It attacks me when I'm already at my lowest, reinforcing all my self-doubts, which I've worked hard to get over anyway, and it takes a while to pick myself up again, emotionally at least.
I now want to write - flippantly - what a nice, self-indulgent post that was and what you're quite supposed to do with it, I'm not sure. What I'm quite supposed to do with it, I'm not sure either. It's an exercise in reducing the power of dreams and taking back a little control - look, no hands - and I'm not sure yet if it's done the trick, but I'll keep you posted.
And tomorrow - just for added light relief - pickling green beans and whole-roasted Tandoori chicken - who says I don't do rounded.

No comments: