Disclaimer: A Message About the Language of Metaphors in Dreams About Sexual Abuse

rear view of a boy sitting on grassland
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September 29, 2018

Yesterday a post which was written last September in 2017 was published on this blog. For those unfamiliar with the language of metaphor used by dreams to communicate messages about transformation, the dream described in yesterday’s post may have seemed appalling, maybe even scandalous. The post is no longer visible on this website, but for those who did not have the chance to read it, in the 18 hours it was published, I’ll briefly describe that the dream had a scene of sexual abuse in it, with a mother sexually violating her daughter. Some might call that kind of dream a nightmare. These kinds of nightmarish dreams are one of my favourites to work with because they embody a high degree of fear & disgust. With daily attention and diligence, Fear & disgust can be transformed into Courage & Contentment.

Even though the dream scenario was a metaphor and to the best of my knowledge did not depict things which happened in the real world, the reason I decided to publish it is to initiate a conversation through this venue around the complex issues of sexual abuse of children and the society of secrecy which surrounds it.

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Coincidentally, there was a show on CBC yesterday which I listened to while driving to work. The show featured an author who was originally from South Africa, and moved to Canada with her family when she was 10. Her book talks about her experience of racism and also of having been sexually abused by someone close to her family. What I found so interesting about her telling of these stories is that she said even when she was sexually assaulted at the age of 7 she knew to keep it a secret. She knew to speak of it would bring shame to her and “mark her” as tainted or spoiled in some way. When she experienced a racist incident at 10 she knew she could turn to her family for help and support. Instinctively she knew the difference between these two types of attacks and way her reaching out for help would be perceived. In the program she described that her father, an outspoken revolutionary, taught her to “not own” the problems of the racist. If someone is ignorant and acts out of a racist mindset, they must be held accountable for their actions. In that way, you give them their problem and do not own it.

But for sexual assaults, it is not so easy to disown the violence. Even as a child she knew to keep it a secret, that the man would not be held responsible, even if she reached out for help and in that way, she sort of “owned” his assault. She owned the problem. It wasn’t hers to own, but she did, because what other options were available to her? None.

The dream I shared yesterday was about this issue. It was about an adult in a position of trust manipulating those in the environment so that she could get away with violating the dignity of someone who she perceived she had power over. When a person perpetrates sexual assault they are trying to go for Power, power over the recipient of the attack, power over those who watch but do nothing, power over the situation which they want to control with a vengeance.

Since the dream was a metaphor, and not about a real life situation, what it means is that the dreamer has someone in their life who is saying things and doing things which are as violent and abhorrent as sexual abuse. To solve the problem in the dream, the dreamer must begin to see themselves as capable of driving the situation forward, out of the power struggle. The sexual assault happened in a car in the dream so that is a metaphor for the solution to drive forward and out of the power struggle.

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When I work with women who have experienced domestic violence and when I work with men who are in jail, I often see that the violence they’ve experienced or perpetuated has clouded their abilities to envision a positive future for themselves or others. Trauma has a way of doing this. The part of the brain responsible for responding quickly to threats is the small almond-shaped amegdala, which connects the temporal lobe of the brain and is responsible for fear & aggression. When someone experiences a high degree of fear, the amegdala is activated and a flight or fight or freeze response is triggered. One traumatic event is enough to rewire the brain’s fight or flight response but even more so when there is a pattern of abuse, such as with children growing up in abusive homes, or with women (and men) caught in domestically abusive patterns of behaviour in adulthood.

The work for someone who experienced abuse in childhood is to become conscious and “wake up” to the ways in which the abuse affected them and then change the negative emotions and patterns to more positive. It is more difficult work because many of the abuse scenarios may have happened before the age of 4 and are not a part of the individual’s conscious memories. This is why dreams can be very healing and therapeutic, because the dreams reveal the unconscious memories or fears which have been buried away for so many years.

Alternatively, if a person had not experienced abuse in childhood but had experienced it as an adult, their nightmares can be a direct result of that fear-filled experience and as they work through the metaphors they can process the negative emotions associated with the violence and they can take the lesson from the experience and develop themselves to be able to help others even more than before. The purpose of our lives is to continue to transform, to grow, to change, to evolve so that we can be ever-more capable of supporting and accompanying more and more people in their personal & collective evolution.

When the sexual abuse post was published yesterday there was not a lot of explanation about the metaphor so today I thought I would write more about it even though I am fully aware that our society is just at the very beginning of being able to speak of these atrocities with any degree of capacity. The “Me Too” movement has made great strides in this arena so in a small and trite way I’m addressing the issue of sexual abuse and the way it is handled by all parties through occasionally sharing violent dreams on this blog.

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  I have a very positive vision of the future where families are healthy and free of violence, where children are safe & protected and free from threats of all forms of abuse. When I write about things which are negative or difficult in nature, I do it to expose the Negative Truth. In this way, the lesson can be learned and more positive relationships can be developed. That is my aim. That is my intention. That is my goal. And that is the purpose of this blog.

The Problem with the Way Most of Us Set Goals and Go for Visions

This is still so true today!

Dreams For Peace

I have been doing a lot of work recently in my counseling sessions with various people who are having difficulty achieving what they really want to do in their lives.   One of the things that I have discovered is very revealing about the process.   Most of what I have read in the past about goal setting and envisioning emphasizes the aspect of clarity about the future targets.   You are supposed to see what you want to do as clearly as possible and then go for it.   While there are issues around questionable goals using this process, such as in the way you acquire financial wealth,  for the most part it is a sound process.  The problem is often not in the goal and its clarity.

The bigger issue is the “me” that it is trying to achieve the vision.   So here is the problem.   The vision or the goal that…

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My dream about a horse riding by in the dark

September 18, 2018

40932412_10160947345250595_686116915252297728_nIn the dream I am walking down a dark street with the only light being from the home screen of my phone. Then a horse comes galloping by on my left, whizzes by leaving me wonder what it was but I figure out it was a horse.

Then I’m at some sort of gallery, a gathering. I ask someone to pay $80 saying I’ll promote something or them and they agree but then the next day when the event comes I hadn’t been able to do the promotion and no one came and I enjoyed the learning but the people were disappointed to not get the turn out they felt they had purchased. I tried to show them what we learned from the situation but they were annoyed. Then I realized what we had learned could/would go into the book and I planned to tell them they were going to be featured in Chapter 8.

A bunch of stuff was going on, food trucks coming and going. There were 20 piglets ordered which were going to be roasted for the evening meal and it was making me sick to think about it. I turned my head & covered my eyes.

How Dreamwork With Prisoners Helps Bring Peace to a Jail

653-02261091When I do Dreamwork with people in jail, they either call me or send their dreams thru the post, snail-mail style. The jail allows one 20-minute call at a time and the inmates get into a cue to line up for use of the phone. They can use the phone anytime they are not locked down in their cells. They are locked down at 7:30pm until 9:30am every evening and for two-hour intervals throughout the day.

From 9:30 – 11:30am,  then 1:30pm – 3:30pm and at 5:30 – 7:30pm they are out of their cells in a common area with access to phones, showers, & TV.

When someone calls with a dream, I just listen to the dream and then tell them the message of the dream with a focus on highlighting a positive in the dream. This will be some gift or quality or skill the person has which is showing up in the dream and I tell them this skill so they can remember to use it when facing the challenges coming up. Then I follow up with a letter to them with a more full interpretation & some suggestions or solutions for the problem in the dream. Every dream shows a problem & a solution. Without exception.

Sometimes people are calling just once. Sometimes they are calling several times to work through a specific metaphor showing up in the dream. Sometimes they are committing to working through issues in the dream which can take many weeks, months, maybe even years.

The reason why some problems can be solved in one conversation and some problems take years is because if there is trauma or abuse in the person’s background there could be a lot of fear or negativity coming up and those strong emotions take time to work through to heal the trauma.

Walking together through the strong emotions around the trauma is a powerful way to process the negative and to discover the hidden positives within the situation.

When working through a trauma-issue like this, as the dreamer starts to become aware of the source of his fears or anger and is becoming aware of the skills and tools he has at his disposal to help him deal with the problem then he can start to choose to take actions which lead away from the trauma and are more peaceful. In a practical sense, this means someone who used to go to punching as a way to express fear or anger, starts deciding to hold his anger in, and instead of punching does a bunch of pushups to release the energy. Or someone who used to turn to a drug to avoid the negative feeling, may decide to sit with the negative and work through it with the strength of their determination instead. Or someone who used to cause a lot of chaos around them to confuse the people they love in order to hide their negative behaviour, may decide to be more honest and direct and not cause negative distractions.

For example, one inmate who has shared about 15 dreams noticed a recurring issue he had which led him to punch other guys when he became angry. Recently, he noticed the anger coming up when someone broke a promise and the dreamer was able to calm himself down and not punch the guy. He chose not to react, and focused his attention on something else. Later he told me that it was the work he’s been doing on the issues which were coming up in dreams which made him realize he didn’t have to punch the guy.

In this way, the simple sharing of a dream and working through the interpretation creates a more peaceful environment for the inmates. This has an affect on their families too but I will write more about that in a future post.

 

Snakes in dreams are about …

Dreams For Peace says when you see a snake in a dream start looking for jealousy.

Snakes in dreams, when the dreams are negative, are about issues around jealousy, either within the dreamer or with the people in the dreamer’s life. When the dreams are positive, then the snake message is more about the qualities of flexibility, about having the ability to change easily.

Snakes are a good metaphor for transformation because of the way they shed their old skin.

When humans go through a change, it can be like they are metaphorically shedding their “old skin” or their “old self.”

For people who don’t have issues with jealousy, change and growth, the transformation process is exciting and welcomed. For those who have issues, whether it’s fear-based or whatever, then change, growth and transformation can elicit strong feelings of resistance. This resistance, and the resulting actions can really darken things and slow progress.

Sometimes there are snake-like people in an environment, in a family, group or work-setting and the key to working with them is to try to understand the origins of their fear of change. At first, offering a lot of encouragement & support may be enough to help them to trust the process and move forward. But if some time passes and their behaviour doesn’t change, then it’s time to decide how to detach from their negatives, either by leaving the environment or having them leave the environment.

Sometimes snake-type people are doing their negatives unconsciously and when they become aware they wake up and change and the negatives go away.

Other times, snakey people are fully aware of their negative behaviours and they continue with their actions because they feel they have something to gain, some kind of power. They may be trying to manipulate others to get their own way. It’s usually about wanting something they don’t have.

Some Masters of Snakery, have figured out a way to be so dangerously negative that they use their negatives for criminal behaviours, usually motivated by the lure of power or prestige.

For this reason, jails are filled with snakey behaviours.

But not everyone who is in jail is a snake, and not every snakey person is in jail.

The key for empowerment for someone trying to detach from jealousy, anger, fear is to get really comfortable with change to the extreme degree that it becomes just so very easy to adapt to anything. With a lot of flexibility, open-ness, and curiosity, then no matter how many snakes are in an environment, nothing the negatives behaviours are doing can alter the positives.

Becoming empowered in life is a bit like becoming a Snake Charmer.

Then it doesn’t matter when the snakes are there or not, their negatives just don’t even matter anymore.