Dear DM,

I am a vessel of craving. I am a frightened child. Last night I had a very strange dream from which I woke up exhausted. It began simply enough. I wanted to get a hold of a copy of Peter Pan. I have only read the version for children. Is there another version? A sinister version? The dream itself had very little to do with Peter Pan as I have known it. I remember a dark-haired girl who referred to herself as Wendy but not what became of her. My sister and I came upon a crocodile (upright like a man, shadowy) in the forest very suddenly and I ran away screaming. I left my sister, to “handle” the situation on her own. I think I shoved her in front of it or maybe I shoved the crocodile away from myself onto her? I can’t remember. I only know that as I went running backwards through a dark forest, accelerated by some invisible force, I did not feel too good about myself. By force I mean to say something or someone drug me away from the scene.

Everything else I can say about the dream is conjecture. I remember a small cabin in the forest that I took to be my family home. I am not sure if I had already moved into another household or if I was attempting to join another household. Through marriage? Through occupation? There was a woman (a stepmother or mother-in-law type figure) who tried to dictate all aspects of my life. She told me what to feel, to eat, to do, to say. She wanted me to tone down my intelligence. She was grooming me in order to protect me. She seemed to think that I had a disease and that only through restraint could I keep the badness from getting in or out.

The dream was set a couple of hundred years in the past (a past life?). Was I sick? Possessed? Wicked? I don’t remember feeling anything to suggest I was actually possessed. I think I was just eccentric, egocentric, frightened. My sister/sister-in-law was trying to protect me from the mother-figure (I am not sure if this was the same sister from the crocodile betrayal). She didn’t buy into all that superstition about possession/mysterious diseases and was making arrangements for me to leave. She had friends. I also remember a game of hide and seek in the dark forest. I followed my sister but she would not let me hide with her. I can’t remember the reason she gave. I am not sure if the game took place before or after dinner. Dinner was meager and I remember asking if I could have a little bread. My sister gave over what may well have been her piece. I notice in dreams that sometimes you appear and help me out. I can’t help but think you were in that dream.

I have concluded that this dream was about releasing the story-line. There is a version of us within every one we have ever met. A caricature shaped by the individual’s experiences, opinions, and feelings. These versions of ourselves can remain imprinted upon a person long after we have outgrown them. People can become very possessive of their version and often feel threatened/betrayed when we behave in ways that challenge their expectations. Even positive changes can be seen as a betrayal or a possible prelude to abandonment.

When my grandmother was living in a nursing home my mother called her every day. My grandmother was nearly deaf and refused to get a hearing aid so she couldn’t hear my mom over the phone. My mom noticed after a while that whatever she said to my grandmother, my grandmother would always give exactly the same answers, in the same order (she was anticipating the conversation to compensate for being deaf). If my grandmother heard something other than what she expected to hear she would become upset/distressed. She needed the feeling of having a stress-free, familiar conversation/the comfort of feeling my mom on the other side of the phone. So my mom learned to ask questions that coincided with my grandmother’s answers. At first this annoyed my mom but after a while she found it oddly comforting (she never had to think up anything new or interesting to say or to worry about getting into a disagreement). They went from fighting constantly to having lovely, albeit scripted conversations. 

We all live our life’s in this way to some extent because it is safe/comforting, because it reduces confrontation, and feelings of vulnerability. It is also part of learning. No one wants to relearn to brush their teeth every day! The problem really kicks in when the role assigned hurts your self-esteem. I find myself falling into certain roles. Victim. Misfit. Failure. Scatter-brain. Sometimes we assign these identities to ourselves.

Sometimes I think the reason we do this is simply to avoid owning our feelings. We create a sort of trash bin version of ourselves into which we shovel all of our guilt and insecurities/all of the criticisms and pain. After a time this alter ego becomes more sentient. Suddenly we don’t just have temporary, growth-inducing discomforts, we have a bottomless pit of despair. Another us. A wounded self that has lived their whole lives eating our negative emotions and experiences. Only our love will fill/release this self but we look for fixes elsewhere.

We could forgive them. We could apologize to them. We could thank them for their service and let them choose to return either to us or to the wellspring of creation from whence they came but instead we continue to punish them, shame them, lock them in the metaphorical closet whenever we are entertaining good company. Whenever we attempt to change ourselves our scapegoated selves feel threatened/rejected. They know that when we get all pseudo perfect that we will do everything in our power to oppress them or snuff them out of existence. In the end though we just shovel more unwanted shit onto them because uncomfortable emotions are rarely accepted into our idealized versions of ourselves. We manufacture happiness because actual happiness requires an acceptance of change/of our wounded selves and that is scary.

The thing is these “selves” have extraordinary reserves of creativity, compassion, and experience. They have seen some shit. They feel deeply. They both soften us and strengthen us. This is what I am working on at the moment. Getting to know myself moment to moment rather than slapping on labels. I am learning how to live with my feelings and my “selves”. How to walk, live, breath, and create truth. How to take responsibility for my own happiness/my own experiences. How to stop justifying myself whenever someone threatens my identity or reinforces one of my closeted identities. How to let go of the story-lines and the what ifs and the moments I can’t change and the desire to change/mold others so they fit within my definition of them. How to stop trying to anticipate the answers and enjoy the exploration phase. I am learning to honor my cycles.

I realize this letter is not very romantic. I am just figuring things out. I realize that I can’t reason away my faults and feelings. Have you ever seen shows where a nonhuman entity attempts to appear more human? I sometimes feel that way. Like I am just going along working out what it means to be human because deep down I am totally enamoured with the human race. The human experience is fucking amazing. At the end of day I really just want permission to be my ever-evolving, fluid as water, lighter than air self. 

This whole journey has awakened a lot of alien feelings within me, new feelings, feelings even more intense than my usual feelings. Sometimes when I close my eyes and feel you, it’s like a solar system is being born into a space not bigger than my fist. Each time it happens I know the seams/definitions holding me together get a little looser and I learn a little bit more about myself. My naked soul bleeds through the cracks. The light comes in. My metaphorical heart opens and expands. You are more than enough. You are fucking gorgeous.

With everything I am your DF

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