Last night I settled into bed for what should have been a quiet, restful night. My day had been active but not stressful, and I was looking forward to curling up under freshly laundered sheets for a long night’s sleep. I drifted off almost immediately, but into a series of dreams that kept me in a state of simmering rage all night long.
They were problem-solving dreams, the kind where you have a task to complete but obstacle after obstacle prevents you from doing so. The details of my (various) missions are already pretty hazy now that I’ve had breakfast and a cup of coffee, but I do remember one of them being an attempt to smuggle Haiti’s state silverware (?!) out of the country and into safekeeping until order was restored (how very Indiana Jones of me, don’t you think?).
As is generally true of dreams, the specifics don’t matter so much in relation to the overall emotion involved. And I was *pissed*. Time after time, I would alter a plan to allow for some unexpected development, only to have it fall apart again. I spent the night maneuvering, counter-maneuvering and constantly re-evaluating our progress, only to find myself back at the drawing board once more.
Yes, *our* progress – I had a team working for me, only this team was really my family. Well, my family is so small, my subconscious mind threw a couple of extra members in to keep things interesting, I guess, so in addition to my parents I had a sister (EVIL) and a cousin named Gil. These people were the real source of trouble in my adventures. The evil sister constantly worked against me, manipulating each family member in turn to undermine our progress. Every time a crisis had been dealt with and we were all on the same page, she would draw attention to herself, her troubles, playing on everyone’s sympathies (even mine) until we found ourselves once more at a standstill. It got to the point that I felt I was the only one who could see through her games and I loathed her with every fiber of my being. I woke up loathing her, this fictional character created in my subconscious.
This dream is very telling, of course, about the attitudes and traits I value in people, and about those I don’t. And yes, that selfish, calculating, power-hungry trickster sister in my dream is made up of traits I, too, possess but don’t act upon (at least I like to think I don’t).
[It’s hard to write that, to acknowledge that I have the capacity to treat people in that way. But then again, didn’t I just spend last night tormenting *myself* with those qualities? Aïe, the layers.]
Another way that I find this experience fascinating is the ease with which I slipped into all that anger – just thinking about the dream makes me sense that fury as if it were right outside my peripheral vision, quite within reach. My mindfulness practice went out the door last night, and at no point as I worked my way through my nocturnal adventures did it even occur to me to pause, take a breath, to give my emotion some space. Instead, I feel as though I’ve opened the door to a long-unvisited room in my mind, only to find a fresh, hot batch of unresolved anger waiting for me there.