Lately I’ve been having a lot of bad dreams. Just this week I dreamed about finding a baby on a table at a flea market and feeling I had to rush over to prevent it from rolling off. Of course, I had to take the baby home because the mother was nowhere to be found and I was filled with fear about how I was going to find the time or the money to care for it. I also had a dream about people out eating and I had to run to each table to stop them from eating the bones in their fish dinner. Just this morning I woke up shaking due to a dream in which one of those drawbridge bridges that rise up over waterways, rose up with several cars on it and the cars were plunged into the water below. No, I wasn’t in one of those cars, instead I was the person in charge of the people who were so irresponsible to let it happen. I just remember trying to find out why that horrible event even happened and who was responsible. Of course, I knew I would get the blame.
Am I crazy? Sure…that goes without saying. But what I think is interesting is how my nightmares reveal my real fears. I must be terrified that everyone else is a complete idiot and I am the only one in the world who can handle anything. I’m sure it’s all based in my upbringing. My family had a very clear procedure when faced with a problem.
First, identify the problem. This was often tricky because the problem could change in mid -identification. For example, the toilet was backing up. Was it really the toilet or was it all the plumbing in the whole house about to give out at one time? In my family, bigger was always better!
Second, panic! No one ever appeared calm. Voices were raised and faces got red at the first sign of trouble. Not only did this teach me that something bad was about to happen, but it was really, really bad and it was only going to get worse. Often, grave medical problems were hinted out. Cries of “I’m getting dizzy or I feel pressure in my chest or my right arm is getting numb” often accompanied getting the toilet plunger.
Third, assess blame! This was probably the most important step in dealing with a problem. Whose was really at fault when the toilet backed up? My mother for falling in love with a house whose plumbing is surely a time bomb? My father for not making enough money to buy a bigger house with uncloggable toilets? My brother for not doing well in his math class which somehow caused undue pressure on the pipes? Or me, for being in the general area of the bathroom when the bubbling sound was first heard?
The final step was forgetfulness. Take our toilet example….after the clog was dealt with and the house did not explode and no one keeled over; the whole incident was forgotten. And I mean forgotten! It was as if all memories were wiped clean. I would find myself shaking, huddled in a corner begging for forgiveness or asking if I needed to call 911 and they would all look at me as if I was crazy. “The toilet? There was a problem with the toilet? Gee, when did that happen? Well, it’s fine now…no need to get all agitated.”
I have worked hard to recognize how these events have shaped my adult life. Not only to recognize them, but to modify these reactions.
Still the nightmares keep coming…..