Last night, I allowed myself to dream. When you become adept enough at controlling the transition out of body, dreaming is a choice you can consciously make. I do it from time to time in order to gain more awareness about the contents of my own subconscious mind. I was taken to a dream I have had several times before…
I am riding in the old Isuzu trooper that my family used to own. It was white with a black covered tire on the back. When I was young, each member of the nuclear family had dipped their hand in white paint and placed it on the tire cover, leaving behind four white handprints. My family had a sentimental attachment to that car. In the dream, we are driving it to the red deserts of Southern Utah; a frequent vacation destination for us when I was growing up. My brother is beside me, playing his old grey game boy and he is young again. My parents are playing the radio show we used to listen to at the cabin growing up (A Prairie Home Companion). They are smiling and talking to one another, but I can’t hear what they are saying.
I feel as if I am the only one who is truly conscious, which is an eerie familiar feeling. A bit like being the only one awake within a dream. I sit back in the seat and surrender to the momentum of the car. I feel like I’m being drug on a family vacation that I don’t want to go on. I can feel the feeling of being pressured into being there and I can feel the pressure of being expected to have a good attitude about it. I watch the landscape go by until we pull up to a place that is nestled into a string of red rock cliffs. It is a single level motel the color of a red barn. It sits atop a perfectly manicured, bright green, grass berm. The poplar trees that tower over the place are quaking in the wind and swaying back and forth. I can’t shake the feeling that something is “off” about this place. But the manager of the place that greets us is smiling ear to ear. He leads us from our car towards the motel and my childhood dogs (two West Highland White Terriers), Sidney and Blanche run up the berm and around the motel into the poplars barking as if they are chasing something. My mother is yelling for them to come back. For a brief second, I see a large shadowy figure dart between thee trees, trying to evade the dogs. I feel the sensation of horror. I know that no one sees it but me. I look at my parents who have forgotten about the dogs and are now casually chatting. And I look at my brother who is still staring at his game boy screen. I start to feel sick realizing that everyone but me is oblivious to the evil that is going on just under the surface here.
I step backwards in slow motion to exclude myself further from the doom of being the only one who sees what is going on in this place. I step on something and as I do, I smell the sickening sweet smell of death. It is a smell that emanates from corpses as a result of the bacteria breaking down the flesh. It is the smell that attracts necrophagic insects. I look down at my feet. It is the rotting corpse of a raven, lying bent and twisted in the perfectly cut lawn. A panic sets in and I cannot swallow. The desperation kicks in. We have to leave this place. I try to scream to my parents who are only 10 feet away. But no sound comes out. I start to wave my hands frantically to get their attention. They do not see me. It’s as if the evil of this place has veiled me from their awareness. The level of desperation and despair that I am feeling makes it so I fall to the ground. I start crawling away from the place. I vomit, but I can’t let myself stop so I crawl right through it. I know that I have to leave this place without my parents and brother because I cannot wake them up and make them see. I crawl to the roadside and head south along the empty road. The gravel is ripping up my knees.
Gradually the heavy, horrific possession that had come over me like poison lifts and I am able to stand once again. I turn around and realize I have crawled at least half a mile away from the place. It is so hot that the road, which extends endlessly through the sagebrush and sand into the horizon, has a heat halo. Like a mirage, it teases the asphalt beneath with a kind of cruelty. To the left in the far off distance, I can see an ancient looking gas station. It has one pump in front of it and advertisements from the 1950s still clinging to the windows. Despite how dilapidated it is, it represents a sanctuary to me. I feel instant relief and run to it as fast as I can. I want to hide. I am thinking they will have a phone and I can call someone to come get me. I open the door. It is deserted, like a scene from am apocalyptic movie. There are products on the shelves, perfectly stacked. Cans of soup, crackers, candies, medicines and chips. The lights are off. I go to the counter and I pick up the phone. I try to think of anyone I could call that lives back in the town where I grew up. But I can’t think of anyone. The reality is that I have no one. I think of my aunts and grandparents who all live out of state. I don’t know their phone numbers. I remember that in school they told me to dial 911. And so, I do. But again and again when I do that, the old phone operator message comes on... “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again”. It is clear the universe is against me. I am in deadly game of chess with the universe at large. After 20+ times trying, I give up. I’m going to have to walk home, even if it takes me months to do it.
I wonder to myself what made the people who lived here abandon this place. I turn around and in the corner I can see the outline of a person. It is blurry and standing there in an inviting way. I walk towards it, thinking to myself that perhaps it will help me to find someone who can help me to get back home. But as I approach it, I still can’t make out its face or even whether it is human. It is not responding to me in the way normal people respond. It isn’t communicating with voice or body language as I approach. I cannot make out its features, even though I am now only one foot away from it. It is as if it too, is a mirage. But as I lean in closer, it comes into sharp focus in one fell swoop. It is not human, nor is it non-human. It is like a hybrid that I instantly know eats human flesh. It opens its mouth wide and aggressively as if to bite my face. I jump back and slip on the floor but when I land, I realize I have slipped because the floor of the gas station is wet. The panic sets in, like a knowing before I have seen. I pick up my hand and it is coated in red. Blood runs in a small river across the floor, it is flowing from a human corpse. This time it is the fresh corpse of a young boy about my age. His face is indistinguishable, as it has been eaten off. “They’re trying to eat my identity so no one will ever know who I am” I think to myself over and over in the process of escaping as fast as I can, knocking things off the shelves in the process of my escape.
I run for my life down the deserted road once more. I run south. To both sides of me there is nothing but mile upon mile of unforgiving wilderness. I hear a sound behind me. I turn and in the distance, coming towards me, I see my parent’s Isuzu Trooper. I step out into the middle of the road and wave my hands. I am sure they have come to rescue me and that they too have awoken to the horror of this place. I feel so much relief and salvation seeing the headlights of that car. I start crying with relief. But as they approach me, I see through the windows that all three of them are singing along to the song “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. They look joyful and together and they are oblivious to me. I brace for them to hit me. Hoping they will. Wanting to die with the pain of realizing that I will never be seen. But my father unconsciously steers the car around me, oblivious that I am there. Oblivious that I am his daughter.
Despite the feeling of wanting to die, one last surge of desperation for life and rescue hits me. I cannot be left here in this place of torment. I run after the car, screaming and crying. I can hardly see through my tears. I can just make out the family handprints on the back of the car fading into the distance. Except, my handprint is missing. Instead of four, there are only three handprints now. I reach out, despite the fact that the car is over a hundred meters away now, to try to put my handprint back on the car, but the car disappears into the mirage of the heat halo and they are gone forever. But I can’t stop running. The desperation is now carrying a heart that has given up. I start to feel intense pain in both my legs as I run. A kind of sharp, crushing aching in the bones like you get when you break them. And I hear an odd sound, like high heels on sidewalk as I run. I am still running, but I look down while I’m running and I realize that my feet and ankles have disintegrated. I have run so hard that the flesh has come off completely. All that is left is two protruding ends of shinbone. I am running on them, like stilts. The asphalt is so hot, it has cauterized the bleeding and it is burning the exposed marrow of my bones. I realize how badly I am hurt. I fall to the floor. I roll off the side of the road into the gravel. I lift up my head and look at the road leading to where I have just come from. I see what I have lost… A long and gruesome trail of the remains of the bottom portions of my legs and feet.
I am crying hysterically. I am screaming at the sky to take me already and to let me die. But there is no mercy to be found there. No sanctuary is granted. I will die here like road kill. I cry until I can’t cry. The emotional pain of this moment of the dream is ineffable, like it so often was for me as a child. Death in this emotional hell is a gift. A gift that is not given by those who revel in seeing you in pain… Nothing I can do about it.
I roll over and see a lucky penny in the dust in front of me. I pick it up. I flip it over to the side with the Abraham Lincoln Memorial building on it. In between the copper pillars of the building, I look for the tiny little outline of president Abraham Lincoln. Out of desperation, I imagine that I am lying on the giant stone lap of his statue in that building in Washington DC. I imagine the cold of the marble against my skin. I feel safe and protected by the godlike, confident morality of the man that has been immortalized in that marble. I can smell the blossoms on the trees and hear the geese on the lake beyond the building. I close my eyes and let the marble hold me, knowing that it is only an imagined place. Knowing that I have abandoned my body, which is actually far away and beyond repair, waiting to be devoured by the first scavenger that finds it. I feel guilt for leaving it. But I am not brave enough to return. There is no further to go. I wake up from the dream. This is always the point that I wake up from this dream. I wake with a feeling of doom and grief in my veins. This dream is my mind’s attempt at resolving my past.
There are two distinct phases of sleep. Many scientists refer to this as REM cycle and non REM cycle. In general, Non REM is about the past and REM is about the future. In non REM dreaming, we are processing memories, making them useful by learning from them (the past). In REM dreaming, we are in the creation or simulation phase of sleep. Whereby we try to take the learning we processed in non REM and try to move with it into (the future) to create something new. We problem solve. We try to connect the past with the future in a way that benefits our progression. We try to reach or actualize potentials within the dream construct. We are rehearsing creating our reality. For example, in non REM we may dream about skiing and in REM dream, we may dream we are buried in an avalanche and are trying to find our way out of the snow. This simulation may be a reflection of the fact that in life, we feel trapped and it may be helping us to find a way to get free. Nightmares, more so than any other kind of dream are simulated rehearsals of threat so that we will be prepared to survive if we continue to encounter a similar threat in our waking life. They are an invitation to resolve what is unresolved within you.
I have not yet done my favorite process for decoding dreams on this particular dream (the process is described below). I will do that today and reveal the results in a follow up blog.
My personal favorite way to address dreams happens to be the most accurate way to interpret dreams. It takes the form of a perception experiment. Write down your dream as if it were happening in present tense and then go into the perspective of (or become) every significant aspect of the dream and then explore and express your perspective as if it were taking place in present tense. For example, let’s say that I had a dream about an alligator in a swamp and there was a broken down shed by the swamp and the alligator ate my father. I would first record my perceptions and feelings as Teal. Then, I’d switch into the perspective of the swamp itself and say my perceptions and feelings like this… “I am the swamp; I am ancient and full of sorrow. I am lonely and people are repulsed by me and I want Teal to wade into my waters, the alligator is my only companion etc.” Then I’d switch into the perspective of the shed and state my perceptions and feelings. Then I’d be the alligator, and then I’d be my father being eaten. Do this with as many elements as you can to form the whole picture. See how this changes your perception of the dream. Every aspect of your dream is in fact an expression of yourself or your perception of life. In other words, every part of the dream is the dreamer. There’s no wrong way to do this. This is an exploration of the subconscious mind. Doing this, allows us to re-own the fractured or split off aspects of ourselves.