copied from October 25, 2009 post:
I am thinking about this dream posted yesterday:
March 11, 1981 Wednesday
I had a strange dream last night. I was in a room with someone and we were looking out a window across a valley when suddenly what appeared to be the sea a great distance away began to rise. It just rose like the water level in a glass when liquid is being poured in. This mass of water came very fast and flooded everything and soon completely swallowed the building we were in. The person in the room ran out the door and I could hear them getting carried away, but the door shut and no water came in the room. I wondered why the pressure of the water did not cave in the walls and then realized they must have been built strong enough for such a happening as this.
I struggled inside with the knowledge it was inevitable that I would have to face that water and my death, wondering how it would feel and knowing others were experiencing it. I decided to wait in my room as I knew there was enough oxygen to last awhile, and that’s what I did.
from journal entry found at: *Age 29 – Greyhound bus trip started February 17, 1981 – Journal entries
Looking again at the dream I included with yesterday’s postings, I think about the fact that nearly 60% of the human body is water. I think about how everything we have ever experienced is stored as memory inside our body, most of which will never be accessible to our conscious mind.
I think about my childhood, and about how for all my mother’s writings I have transcribed, not one single thing I have found in them triggered any conscious memory retrieval of anything new that I don’t already know about (which is a pitifully small part of what happened to me). Most of my life seems to be gone. Missing.
Does that happen for everyone, traumatized or not, that we do not remember consciously very much of our lives at all? It makes me wonder, “What’s the point of any of it if that is the true reality of our experience here on earth during our lifetime?”
One of my dear friends in town here told me on Friday that she has a friend who has a friend in Bisbee who has refrigerator boxes in the rooms on the second floor of her house that contain diaries and journals that were written by members of her family as far back as the sixteen-hundreds! I try to imagine that! Neither this woman nor her only brother ever had any children. My friend figures that arrangements must have been made for those journals to go to somebody in the family when this woman dies.
Very few people write hard copy letters anymore to one another. How many people write today only online or on their computers? What is becoming of the paper trail of our own simple writings that record the experiences of our lives? Who will be able to read them 50 or 100 years from now? Where will all these words, and the memories they contain, go to?
When I think today about my ‘flooding’ dream, I know it is related to the kind of obliteration that would happen to so many of us, especially with severe trauma and abuse histories, should we ever have to know what our body remembers and we have no words or conscious thoughts for. I see myself today, 29 years after I had that dream and wrote about it, as having lived most of my life inside a tiny little room of consciousness because what I have really experienced would be too dangerous and overwhelming to remember. Was that dream about an ocean of tears? Does it describe how ‘defense mechanisms’ keep us alive and are within us for a very good reason?
Yet my 29-year-old intention on taking that 30-day bus trip was in part to find some part of my missing self. I met myself meeting my adult sister whom I hadn’t seen since our shared terrible childhood. Yet in all my writings, I never could I say that I loved her. That is so sad. So much of my being has always been tied up inside that vast ocean that has had to stay at bay so I wouldn’t have to drown.
What survival-based part of me ever decided what needed to remain in that dangerous ocean and what I could know as I sat ‘protected and defended’ in my tiny room of consciousness? Do I even now have to simply remain content with the fact that most of my life is known by and in my body, without the rest of me remembering consciously, and that is enough? Is this something I never had a conscious choice over because my body wanted me to stay alive and so it took over the chore of deciding what I should know and what I shouldn’t?
I think about that dream now, and I don’t believe anything has ever changed. I don’t think there’s any way my conscious mind could begin to make sense out of what happened to me for 18 years. Yet it seems nearly everything else that has happened in my life — except for the big and obvious pieces of my adulthood, somehow also found their way into that vast ocean ‘out there’.
Yet at the same time I know that I will never be immune from feeling what is in all that ‘water’. I think about the hippopotamus who has two completely different sets of ears. When it sits with its head partly in the water, partly out, it can hear what’s going on in the air above the water with one set of ears while it listens at the same time to what is going on in the water with its other set of ears.
Can I be more like the hippo? What a concept! But it might be a useful one to me to help me find ways to tap into what my body knows about me and my life, like art does. I really know I can still trust the wisdom of my body. It kept me alive through 18 years of hell, and we are a pretty fine team even today. How I handle my ‘little room’ of safety, security and salvation is something for me to think about.
It wasn’t an accident that out of 30 years’ worth of journals in my pile that I randomly picked the one I did last night. There’s something important here for me to learn about being myself in my own life. Why don’t I have a grand old boat, anyway? Do I have to remain afraid of my own personal ocean? (Oh, I wish I could afford to go visit the real one!)
What can I learn if I find myself two sets of ears so I can listen both above and below to hear my own life song, like hearing my own blood rushing when I put a sea shell up to my ear and hear the ocean waves roaring? Oh, how ancient are the mysteries of the sea.